The easiest way to get from Cairo to Alex is by train. Trains leave from Ramses Station in Cairo almost every hour throughout the day. You can catch a direct train which usually only makes one stop in Tanta, and it will take you approximately two hours to reach Alex. Some of the trains make other stops as well. Leaving Alex it is the same thing. You can go direct to Cairo, or catch a train that terminates in Luxor. You can see the complete train schedule with fares here on the Egyptian Railways website.
I rode this train back and forth from Cairo to Alex every weekend for three months when I was taking the TEFL Course in Alex. However, I had not been back to Sidi Gaber Station in Alex in over one year. They were doing construction and as a result, only the front six cars (out of ten) stopped on the platform. You can hear me say several times on the video "We have to walk all the way back". I usually don't complain so much, but one thing that I had learned is that you should always get on in your assigned car (printed on your ticket). The reason for this is, with the amount of luggage people travel with - especially during the summer season - it becomes very difficult to walk through the train. Anyway, it turned out to be relatively easy this time. We got to our seats for find someone sitting in them as often happens when people don't purchase tickets. Since the seats are assigned on the tickets, if you don't have a ticket you can get on the train and try to find an empty seat. You can pay the conductor when he comes and then hope no one with a ticket shows up to claim the seat. If they do, you will find yourself walking the entire length of the train looking for another empty seat. If you don't find one you can end up standing the whole time, or sitting on the floor - but I don't recommend the latter. Always purchase your tickets at least two days in advance of when you need to travel because the trains fill up fast in the summer time when everyone vacations in Alex. Tickets can be purchased at the Stations of departure and at certain Metro Stations that have Egypt Rail ticket windows. Maadi Station is one of them.
(This video was filmed at Sidi Gaber Station in Alexandria July 2009. First train shown was a local train.)
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