Monday, May 31, 2010


What an amazing city! Although we only spent about 3 days in total in this interesting and eclectic city, we made the most of our time and saw lots of incredible things. It's amazing to think that we have touched down on the African continent!
We arrived on Saturday at lunch time and stayed in downtown Cairo, right opposite the famous Egyptian Museum. A driver from the hotel was sent to pick us up and the car ride from the airport to the hotel was an experience in itself.
People had told me (Fifi) about traffic in Cairo. Zev had lived in Turkey for 3 years, so he was smiling and (it seemed to me quietly chuckling to himself) as the driver skilfully dodged traffic between cars, beeped his horn about a milion times and pointed out interesting sights as cars pulled out from all directions in front of us. I kid you not, I have never seen anything quite like traffic in Cairo. It is seriously incredible, the way that more accidents do not happen as cars merge into 3, maybe 4 lanes side by side on a TWO LANE highway. All the time while people are walking through traffic or bicycle riders are weaving through. Just amazing. And Zev used to DRIVE in this sort of traffic in Turkey!! It really takes some skill, that's all I'm saying.
So our hotel was comfortable and clean and the staff were very accommodating. As soon as we arrived in the hotel, we freshened up and headed out on the town, to stretch our legs and experience downtown.
The colors, the sounds, the really is a lot to take in, but all a wonderful experience if you take it for what it is- a different, rich culture in a city that never sleeps.
Although I had "read up" online about Cairo, I am SO GLAD that my sweet husband was able to navigate our way. Everything from advising me on the appropriate dress, to tipping and managing street vendors. Walking through downtown Cairo was definitely an interesting experience.
We walked a little off the beaten path and we did as the locals do- buy some sweets in an Arabic sweets shop, drink some coffee in a local coffee shop (it wasn't Starbucks which is what I am drinking right now in the airport but still nice ;-)). We then headed back to the hotel to get ready for our evening dinner cruise along the Nile. Another interesting experience.
The cruise lasted about 2 hours and included a buffet dinner with some yummy Arabic food (including more desserts), a belly dancer and a really neat whirling dervish dancer. He was amazing. Just kept turning round and round and did tricks like pour water from a bottle into a glass single handedly, while he was twirling.
Yesterday was our "big" day. We were lucky to have a personalized tour by a young girl called Christine, who had studied Egyptian history for four years. She was very knowledgeable and started off our tour by taking us to Sakkara to see the original step pyramids there, and then on to the Giza Pyramids where we took a camel ride between the two largest pyramids (probably the highlight of my day!!)
Zev had the girl camel and I had the boy camel- guess who behaved better? The boy camel of course!!
Zev's camel was acting a little temperamental. She wasn't having a good day I guess!
My camel behaved nicely and I even "steered" him for part of the way.
It really was so cool to travel through the pyramids on camel back.
The weather was warm but thankfully not humid! It was perfect in my opinion- I love the dry desert heat.
After we visited the pyramids and learnt all sorts of interesting facts from Christine, we headed to the Egyptian Museum. We were admittedly a little tired by this point, but Christine did a wonderful job of taking us through the different periods in Egyptian history and explaining how different artifacts were linked together. She even explained what the hieroglyphics meant and then took us to the star of the museum- the burial mask of King Tutankhamun. It was incredible to see this infamous mask up close and personal. I honestly felt like I was in an Indiana Jones movie (I LOVE the Indiana Jones movies- the originals please with a young Harrison Ford. Just saying. But I digress.....) There was SO MUCH to see at the Egyptian Museum, we really could have spent a whole day just there. The only unfortunate part was that we couldn't take our cameras inside.
After the Museum we farewelled Christine and went back to our hotel room to freshen up before heading to the Khan El Khalili markets in the Old Cairo part of town. We went at night which I really liked, because it gave the ancient buidlings an interesting look. The markets were interesting to say the least- lots of color, sparkle, haggling, calling out and life going on. We had dinner at a cafe in the markets across from a mosque and just watched the world go by. I won't say that we blended in (especially Zev, poor love), but it was nice to sit in the cafe and just be still while the world whirled by around us.

We are now looking forward to the next leg of our trip- AUSTRALIA!! Can't wait to see the family and meet the newest members of our family! We have really enjoyed travelling on Etihad Airways- great service and comfort. Goodbye Egypt, hello Australia!


Lindsey said...

What an amazing trip Fiona! It looked totally wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Your account of Ciaro brought back great memories of our visit there in 2004. It is a magical city and one can see that you and Zev had a fantastic time. Thanks for sharing, Gena and Hans