Cairo

Trip Start Aug 11, 2009
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70
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Trip End Sep 30, 2010


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Where I stayed
Downtown palace hotel

Flag of Egypt  ,
Sunday, March 21, 2010

Staggering around Cairo after a sleepless night on the train, we discovered a hostel hidden on the 4th floor of an otherwise derelict building with an amazing staircase winding through floors resembling a filthy building site. Turns out this is normal for Cairo - most of the grand old buildings we pass have rubbish strewn derelict floors.

First stop, the Egyptian museum, complete with man attempting the "no, museum is closed, I can take you to the market instead, big sale today" scam. Overwhelming in size, we soon reached the saturation point of failing to be impressed by row upon row of intricately decorated mummy caskets.

Our next adventure was attempting to take public transport to the pyramids. A few hours later, and with the "help" of a local, we ended up at the dodgy side entrance with a man trying to sell us camel rides around the pyramids. He got rather angry when we politely declined, so we walked rather briskly around to the real entrance. Photos do not do justice to the scene, mostly because you can't capture the smell of a lot of sweaty camels and horses not to mention all the people hassling us to buy stuff. It is possible to climb the pyramids, in fact the guards positively encourage tourists to climb them for 20 cents in baksheesh (tips)... protection of ancient wonders anyone?

We also visited Islamic Cairo (the bit with an even higher concentration of mosques than everywhere else... very loud at call to prayer time). Amazing architecture of buildings and ancient markets that are still trading. We climbed one of the towered gates for views over Cairo and discovered where the city rubbish ends up... on the roofs. The architecture of the mosques is stunning and they are very peaceful inside if you can dodge the caretakers who inevitably hunted us down in each mosque to demand baksheesh. We went to the rabbit warren of churches in Coptic (Christian) Cairo and were not hassled for money once. Interesting.

And of course, no visit to Cairo would be complete without a stroll along the Nile, which is far filthier than in Luxor... well we are downstream I suppose.
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