Cairo

Pyramids, Papyrus and People

We got an overnight bus from Dahab to Cairo, leaving at 11pm and arriving in the dusty, horn honking city of Cairo at about 7am. We got a cab to Lialy Hostel where we had previously booked accommodation. As soon as we got out, a respectable looking man with good English started to chat to us. He said he was a mature student and would like to show us around Cairo seeing things as a local would. We went upstairs to drop off our bags then headed out, blind faith, with this man! He took us across the street (an amazing feat…crossing the roads is the same as a game of Frogger, but with your eyes closed!) and took us on the public bus towards the pyramids.

We stopped in at a papyrus museum (of course…nothing comes for free, although at this stage we still thought maybe he was just being nice!!). The lady inside gave us a demonstration about how papyrus is made and talked about a few paintings…we ended up buying a small but beautiful piece of painted papyrus…it came with an authentication guarantee (fingers crossed). After this he took us down to the 2nd less used entrance of the pyramids and to his ‘old neighbour’s camel riding company. He left us, but not before popping the question…”so can you give me a little gift for my family, Euros or US dollars is fine!!”. Funnily enough we had given all our money 600 EP(Egyptian pounds) to the camel man, so he only got 40 EP, he was quite disappointed.

Anyway so we went off on our 1.5hr ride around the pyramids and went into the one with the limestone cap. The little boy on his donkey led Chris on the front camel and my camel was behind his. The man rode around beside me telling me too much about his personal life. On one side the Sahara desert stretches for as you can see. Then all of a sudden coming up over a sand dune we could see the great Pyramids of Giza…wonders of the ancient world! The dusty view of Cairo buildings was behind them and the Sphinx with his missing nose was there too. It was so cool to have this view of them rather than coming in on a bus up the road.

We saw our guide pay off a few big machine gun carrying guards and we got tickets to do into the pyramid. We went into the Great Pyramid doing down a very steep small tunnel that they had put wooden planks across so you didn’t slip down. It was very hot and stuff inside, at the end is a big empty room with an empty box where the tomb was. Even though I know everything was either taken by tomb robbers or was in museums I kind of wish they would recreate it, so that went you final got down there you could see the room in its former glory with the gold, statues and mummy. The Sphinx was not as glamorous as you imagine it to be as it is a lot smaller and is surrounded by tourists and buses, but it was still amazing.

We went to the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities where they had Tutankhamen’s Gold Mask and coffin, Ramses, and other ancient artifacts. It was all very interesting. There was a huge big procession with horse and carriage that was buried with one of the pharaohs, amazing. There was all the things I had read about in stories as a child, like

In the evening we went to the Khan El-Khalili markets. There is a big mosque tower that rings out and you can hear chanting drifting over the bustling crowd. You can smell all the different foods mixed with spices and sheesha smoke. They sell perfume oils, gold, jewellery, cloth and zillion statues.

On Chris’s actual birthday we booked a River Nile cruise. It was quite beautiful and there was a belly dancer who made me get up and dance with her. I had got in trouble by the hotel manager for what I was wearing, and the only other pair of pants I had was these daggy tracksuit pants…it was a bit embarrassing J We went upstairs to the wheelhouse and Chris got to steer the boat!

I wish we had more time to explore Egypt…but it is off to Greece we go!