Land of the Mummies

Trip Start May 01, 2010
1
24
33
Trip End Jul 10, 2010


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Where I stayed

Flag of Egypt  ,
Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Daniel here:

Well we are in Egypt now!  It is pretty exciting to be here because unlike the Greek islands we have a lot to see and do here although we definitely enjoyed our time relaxing.

We flew from Mykonos (an extremely basic airport) back to Athens airport.  We were then told that our flight had been changed so we would have around 6 hours wait at the airport.  Needless to say by the time we arrived in our hotel in Cairo we were pretty tired and it wasn’t long before we were asleep.

On arrival at the hotel we were upgraded to a Nile view room which was unexpected and the next morning it was great to open the curtains and look out over the river and the buildings of Cairo.  The hotel like much of Cairo seems to have quite obvious security.  Our hotel has guards on the gate and retractable bollards to secure the driveway.  To get into our hotel we have to pass through metal detectors and there are x-ray machines for bags.  Everyone is very friendly though!

We decided to go on a tour of the Cairo Museum which our friends Sadia and Andrew had gotten us for a wedding gift.  The museum seemed close and we decided to walk which was probably not the best idea.  It is extremely hot here and always at least 30 degrees.  We were probably the only tourist walking anywhere in the whole of Cairo which we soon realised.  The streets are dirty and the traffic omnipresent.  There are frequent traffic jams, the continuous sound of car horns and the air is thick with pollution which makes walking around quite an awful experience.  Crossing the road was a life or death experience with no pedestrian crossings.  Like in Vietnam you simply have to step out into the sea of traffic and walk slowly hoping that traffic will avoid you.  In Vietnam most of the traffic is of the two wheel variety which can easily doge you.  In Cairo the traffic is mostly cars and huge old buses that are at least 30 years old and refuse to stop regardless of how close they are to hitting you!  Add to this mess the occasional horse and cart and you can see that crossing the road is some early form of extreme sport or perhaps a human version of the arcade game classic Frogger.  The buildings are all in terrible states of repair and the smell of urine is ubiquitous which adds to the whole ambiance of the city.

We were both hungry and wandered down some streets until we found a bakery amongst some filthy travel agencies who you would not trust with any kind of travel.  We bought some pizza type bread which was really tasty and much appreciated by our empty stomaches and also bought a donut of some sort and a sweet pastry neither of which were anything special.

Anyway, we eventually ended up at the museum entrance which was secured by armed guards, metal detectors, x-rays and spike strips.  Then we passed through another gate and more guards before entering the gardens of the museum.  The gardens were a nice break from the chaos of the city and it was great to sit in the shade for a while and escape the heat.  Even in the garden there were lots of ‘Tourist and Antiquity Police’ wandering around with sub-machineguns just in case someone were to walk on the grass or something equally as serious.

We met our guide (Mohammed) and entered the museum through yet another metal detector and x-ray.  Unfortunately I couldn’t take my camera in so I couldn’t take any pictures for you all back home.  The museum is amazing and not to be missed if you are in Cairo.  The museum is packed with everything you have ever thought of as Egyptian.  We paid the extra fee to see the Mummies rooms which was worth it.  The mummies are all on display in glass cases and you can see everything from their fingernails, hair, teeth and for some their fake stone eyes.  The rooms where the mummies are kept is cooled with air conditioning at very low temperatures. Most of the mummies where royalty and the easiest way to tell is if their arms are crossed over their chest. The bodies are completely black and very thin and short. It’s hard to believe that these bodies are from 1500BC. There are no bones or skeletal frames showing which is quite amazing.  It was very interesting to hear about the mummification process and which organs went where!

One of the highlights of the museum is the collections of artefacts from the tomb of Tutankhaman.  There are his amazing gold coffins and this head piece which I’m sure you would all recognise on sight.  There was also furniture, jewellery, weapons, statues, clothes and numerous other items.   There were even boomerangs which I thought were unique to Australia but in fact were also used by the Egyptians.

My favourite section of the museum was the Animal Mummy section.  I knew that Egyptians mummified cats but I didn’t know about all the other animals!  We saw mummified crocodiles that were almost three metres long as well as a dog, mare, baboon, birds of prey and a fish as big as Ly.  There was also mummified meat which was buried with people as food and also Scarab beetles.

The museum was absolutely amazing and thanks go again to Sadia and Andrew for the chance to see it all.

On the way back we decided to treat ourselves and eat at a highly rated Thai restaurant in the Intercontinental Hotel just near ours.  The food was just what we needed after all the Greek food we had been having and the hotel was definitely where we wish we were staying!

Egypt seems like a very cheap place so far for example large bottles of water are only 50 cents.  With the heat here we have been going through so much drinking water and with all the empty water bottles our room is looking like the Pacific garbage patch.

Anyway we are both enjoying being somewhere as interesting as Egypt and we look forward to seeing the Pyramids very soon!

Daniel + Ly
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Comments

Angela on

Looks like the sun & water from the Greek Islands is just what you needed. Sounds like security has been stepped up at the museum. l was there just before the German coach tour got bombed outside the museum. Not sure if you are going near the coast but Hurghada was a good beach area for snorkellers. Have you joined the locals for a session with their pipes yet, l think it was Green Apple l had and it did taste of green apple. Hope you make it out off Egypt without a tummy bug. Enjoy the warm sun Oz is cold. Is FIFA a big thing over there ?

Charles on

Am so happy for the two of you to be doing and seeing so much, it all sounds and looks wonderful. I agree about Greek food,,,Ok for the first day... !! Yes the water is wonderful there,,,lets see if you still think it's the best after the
Maldives......

Ivy Mai on

Well you guys know how I love ancient egyptian stuff and I am devastated to hear the camera was a no go. This was also the case with the egyptian exhibit at the Australia Museum. I'm pretty sure the mummy they have is of fairly low rank by comparison to pharaohs.

By the way be sure to take a ridiculous picture of how you can hold the pyramids in your hands ;-)

Mum on

Hi Daniel & Ly, well I am back on line now! What great pictures and good to see you both looking so relaxed and healthy. Egypt sounds remarkable, it was always a dream of mine to go to Cairo and see the musuems, well I guess I am now seeing it through your eyes and I am thrilled to be reading your blog, I almost feel that I am with you there, in fact with photo-shop I might just be able to add my face to the pictures so it appears that I am!
Take care, I really miss you love mumxxxx

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