Going to Algiers, Algeria. What do I need to know?
December 5, 2006 8:44 AM   Subscribe

I’m going to Algiers, Algeria next week for one week. What do I need to know?

What should I bring/not bring for the weather this time of year? What are some good souvenirs? What should I see? What food should I try? Any safety tips I should know?

I’m pretty excited about going – I’ve never been to Africa and I’ll be there with my sister for the International Festival of the People of the Desert. Someone will be picking us up at the airport and taking us to our hotel (don’t have the details yet). They will be our guide while we are there. I haven’t been able to find much on travel tips for this city and would appreciate any insight.

posted by KathyK to Travel & Transportation around Algiers, Algeria (6 answers total)
Best answer: Here are a few general tips to remember anytime you travel to Asia or Africa:

1. Don't drink water unless you know it's been boiled or is clean: You can get a host of nasty viruses from dirty water. If I'm at a restaurant in Bangladesh, I tell them to bring me a bottle of cold mineral water, and break the seal on it open myself. Insist on this.

2. Judging from your name, you are a woman right? Be sure to dress modestly. While Algeria is a Muslim country, foreign women are fair game. If you dress in shorts, short sleeves, or other semi-revealing garb, be prepared to get catcalls, groped, or even worse. Don't take the chance. It's worth it to sacrifice comfort for safety. I'd say take a some ankle length skirts and long sleeved tops.

3. Food: If the restaurant looks sketchy, give it a miss. Restaurants in that part of the world are not subject to the strict regulation they must obey in the West. The locals have developed an immunity to all the bugs and other nasties in the food. You haven't. Just be careful.

I know the above makes it sound dire, but it doesn't have to be. Keep an open mind, experience the culture and the country, and remember to have fun!
posted by reenum at 8:58 AM on December 5, 2006 [1 favorite]

The best man at our wedding was from Algiers. I would suggest that you take note of Islamic codes of dress. Avoid wearing short-sleeves and shorts if the weather is warm.

I would say any knowledge of the French language or Arabic will be helpful. Here is some information on safety for you to keep in mind.
posted by Gooney at 9:10 AM on December 5, 2006

Reenum has some good tips, but as for food, you can just as easily come down with something in a 5-star hotel. When I'm out and about in Morocco, I try to choose restaurants that the locals seem to favor. I also carry Immodium, Ercefuryl, etc...

Also, pack layers.
posted by Liosliath at 11:32 AM on December 5, 2006

iirc William Boroughs reported stayed safe by '... seeing everyone before they saw him...' on the streets.
posted by porpoise at 11:39 AM on December 5, 2006

Not sure if Malaria is a big risk in N. Africa, but take some decent mosquito repellent just in case.
Also wash your hands after handling any money.
Some more recommendations here...
posted by bhell13 at 1:34 AM on December 6, 2006

Response by poster: UPDATE: Just got back yesterday. If you're an un-married woman, wear a ring on your ring finger unless you like unwelcome male attention. I didn't drink the water though I did drink the watered-down juice which probably aided my traveller's disease. Learn some phrases in French, like "Yes, I am married" and "Do you have a napkin?" (they don't use toilet paper and there's a curiously strange bottle of water on the back of most toilet tanks). It rained half the time I was there. I wore capri pants, a long sleeve shirt and flip flops. I brought back some dates, Algerian wine, ceramics and jewelery from the airport. Due to the strict security constraints I was under, I was not able to eat any Algerian food or go to any local stores.

I probably would have had a better visit if I hadn't felt in danger all the time. I never did get a straight answer about why I had to have a security guard with me at all times. Most people were very nice.
posted by KathyK at 11:40 AM on December 20, 2006

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