Cairo

Trip Start Feb 01, 2002
1
5
Trip End Feb 01, 2004


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Flag of Egypt  ,
Wednesday, October 1, 2003

After taking a couple of weeks of work I flew into Egypt via London and Budapest. The plane at Budapest was packed with hundreds of Egyptian kids all in Martial Art Uniforms. It was chaos on the plane as they were climbing over the seats like little monkeys and screaming the whole way. I finally arrived very early in the morning and had booked a hotel in Giza. After managing to get a taxi from the airport we drove down Al-Uruba (Airport road) thorough downtown over the central island in the Nile past Cairo University and down into Giza. It was excellent to get a view of all the mosques and the Nile on the way. I arrived at the hotel at 6am and had to wait until 11am to get into my room. I ended up sleeping in the hotel reception.
I spent a good part of the morning sleeping in until the afternoon. I woke up and had a glimpse out of the window and could see the 3 main pyramids in the distance at surprising closeness.



I took a taxi down the road to the Giza Plateau. It was one of those typical spine tingling moments when I rounded the corner to get the view of the pyramids and after a quick scramble up the hill to the ticket office I was in the enclosure of the pyramids. It was Awesome! I spent about an hour wandering around the three main Pyramids before I headed back to the Great Pyramid of Khufu the oldest and largest in Egypt. I ended up climbing inside this one, up through the step central chamber, scrambling up to a central room that had an old sarcophagi inside.
After this I headed to the glass Museum that housed possibly the oldest boat in existence. This ancient wooden funerary barque was unearthed in 1954. It is really well restored and displayed with platforms taking you over different levels of the boat. After this I wandered past the pyramids and through the sand up to a vantagepoint to take in all of the Pyramids and the Sphinx. After this I wandered around some of the smaller pyramids before finally heading to the Sphinx at the bottom of the plateau. After this I headed to the gates of the area only to be swamped by a gang of kids. After diving into a taxi I headed back to the hotel.



The next day I caught a taxi into central Cairo to Cairo Uni. I then walked down and across the Nile to the opera area. From here I went up to Cairo Tower for an excellent view of Cairo. After crossing the Nile again on the other side I headed of to the pink Egyptian Museum. There were heaps of tourist police with machine guns and roadblocks to prevent the terrorist attacks of Luxor in the past. There are over 100,000 relics housed here. The highlights for me were the Royal Mummy rooms, which housed the bodies of 11 of Egypt's most illustrious pharaohs and queens including Ramses II, The jewellery room containing some stunningly intricate works and the Tutankhamun Galleries. Despite being a relatively insignificant Pharaoh his belongings are stunning due to the tomb having not been raided. The death mask made of solid gold was sensational.



I ventured into Khan al-Khalili the great Bazaar of Cairo walking down the main Market Street until Al Hussein the square and Mosque. This was a real hustle and bustle place full of traders and people shopping. The covered market area was the typical atmospheric Islamic bazaar and the type of place that is very photogenic and has the ability to render you completely lost. I walked through the maze of bazaars and headed to the northern gates. It was really run down here and old school Cairo. The amount of Mosques and minarets that are hidden in the back streets are amazing and very beautiful despite their ancient build up of dirt. I took a different route back to Khan al-Khalili which threw up just as many back street wonders. It was approaching dusk now and the markets were packing up, which turned the place into a real chaotic crush.

The next day I walked back to Khan al-Khalili and then up to the northern cemetery a vast landscape of Islamic graves. Form here I walked around to the citadel that stands atop of the hill overlooking Islamic Cairo. The fortified walls inside hold two mosques amongst other things. From here I then headed down the hill pointing myself in a rough direction to Khan al-Khalili and wandering through the Darb al-Ahmar, a maze of tourist free heaven. After this I spent the evening in the square before heading back to the Hotel. On the way I met a young guy from Cairo, who invited me to grab a meal. His family lived next to my hotel. We headed over to a local shopping centre and had something to eat at the street stalls. After this I went back and had a chat to his parents about Cairo. They of course owned a shop, which I was politely ushered into. They had lots of interesting things including perfume made from natural ingredients. After A few coffees I made my excuses and headed back to the hotel

I visited Old Cairo or Coptic Cairo the next day after catching the metro there, which predates the coming of Islam and once known as Babylon. This is the seat of the Coptic Christian Community. I wandered around a number of churches and graveyards before heading to onto Rhoda and Manial on the second Island in the Nile.
I then headed to the train station to look into my train down south After this I headed back to Giza to check out the Pyramids during sunset. The park gets locked down at night, but I managed to get some very satisfying photos before leaving.


I returned back to Cairo after visiting Aswan and Luxor before I flew out.
I also re-visited Cairo on my second trip to Egypt with Ewa (Eva) re visiting the pyramids, Khan al-Khalili, Islamic Cairo. That was fun, as I knew where to stay and also where everything was.
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Comments

allisun
allisun on

Cairo
WOW! What an exciting trip...can't wait to read your next blog!
Allison

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