Not your average city suburb
Trip Start Sep 29, 2012
27Trip End Jul 01, 2013
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The pyramids lie south of the city, but are still only about half an hour out of town. With the luxury of time, we've held off going to see them so far. But now with a week of holiday encompassing Eid festival and half term, we set off early in the morning towards Giza.
The hopes I'd pinned on The Rough Guide in the bumpy metro carriage to help me get my head around what I was about to see don't quite make it. Watching the huge forms rise up behind the suburban tower blocks and grafitied walls, you realise you're staring at something so far removed from any of us, it's as alien a history to the arabs - and was as alien a history to the romans even - as it is to us!
To avoid rattling off the observations a billion visitors and guidebooks have already made, my pictures will show what I liked about the pyramids if you happen to be interested
We pile into a minibus to head back into town. Minibuses (there are no big buses as we know them) serve as something between a taxi and a bus, except less reliable than either and waaay cheaper than both. With the slide doors open all the way and the back row of seats taken out by an excessive sound system, this is one of the most fun ways to travel. Sitting with our feet dangling out the sides of the bus (regularly having to withdraw quickly as vehicles swerve into us), we bop to the guy's blaring music as the pyramids disappear into the distance and the hectic traffic of Cairo takes over.
As our next class in egyptian generosity, a taxi arrives at our flat in the evening to drive us across the city to another suburb - but this one the opposite side of the city to the pyramids, Heliopolis (where I arrived and played basketball on my first night in Cairo), where our friend Ahmed's family are hosting us for dinner.
Ahmed lives with his widowed mother, two beautiful younger sisters, and grandmother in an ornately decorated apartment full of lace, laquered oriental paintings and embroidered Quranic caligraphy. The 6 of us plus another englishman Ahmed befriended a few years ago make an odd company, graciously hosted at the table by the family who have laid out a spectacular feast of traditional food for our benefit. We're barley allowed to pause for breath before we've tried everything there is, being urged to try something else or have more everytime our plates begin to look slightely less full. When our hosts are satisfied that we really cannot eat any more, (most of us were into the danger zone) we take a tour of Heliopolis disctrict, ending the night sitting on the lawns outside President Mursi's residence.