Cairo, Egypt
30° 2' N 31° 15' E
Feb 16, 2008 14:45
Distance 506km

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Text written in: English

Back to Cairo

Cairo.  Saturday and Sunday, February 16th and 17th, 2008.

Took an overnight train to Cairo. Was so exhausted from yesterday that I fell asleep almost immediately, even though I was sitting right next to the door at the back of the cabin.

We were now free to do whatever we wanted to, this was a totally free day other than dinner that night. We were lost, having been excellently guided for almost two weeks. Matt suggested that we hire a taxi and go to two sites outside of Cairo.

Each had pyramids on them. The first was Saqqara, where the step pyramid is. This is the first pyramid, built in 2500 BC. It is also the world's oldest stone monuments. This pyramid's blocks were not as large as the ones used on the pyramids at Giza. Those were 1.5 metres high, whereas these blocks were one quarter of the size. In the distance you could see our second destination, the Red Pyramid at Dahshur. This pyramid was built soon after the step pyramid. It could be entered, but again I wimped out. The passage way down was steep and not lit up. Mates said it was wonderful, especially as there was no one else in this tomb. Just have to accept that tunnels do not agree with me.

Got back to the hotel around 2 PM. Spent the balance of Saturday afternoon wandering about  the part of Cairo we were in. This is the tourist area, so it is safe, other than the traffic. As it is the weekend the roads are noticeably less busy, so crossing the street is not too scary.

That evening we had our group dinner.  The meal consisted of very sweet pancakes, covered with honey or whatever.  Then had an hour to wander about the Muslim market, or souk area of Cairo. Later on Saturday night, I had the good fortune to meet a Canadian who lives in Cairo.  He is the step-son of a dear friend of Lorna and I.  Cam provided a very different take on Egypt, one of someone who loves the city but can also laugh at it.  He had countless stories of life here.  For example, one was how when stop lights were introduced into the city, the police feared they would lose their jobs.  So to protest, they stood in front of the stop lights and directed traffic to go actually the wrong way thru the intersections, entering intersections on red and stopping on green lights.  Only in Cairo. 

On Sunday morning and early afternoon, I ventured out to the Coptic part of Cairo.  About 10% of the residents of Cairo are Eastern Orthodox Christians, and this is their part of the city.  Very different, the women were not wearing scarves and there were fewer hassling merchants. Then on to the airport.  Used a taxi for the whole day, from 10 until 4, and it only cost me about $20.  Cairo and Egypt are a bargain. 

And so the trek across Jordan and Egypt ended. Ten out of ten. This was the busiest tour I have been on, there is just so much to see here. Egypt is a treasure, but Petra was the highlight. Absolutely recommended, especially with Imaginative Travel in the winter, AND only one mate got ill : this is a good sign when travelling in Egypt.


Photos / videos of "Back to Cairo":

Entrance to the step pyramid. Interior of the temple in front of the step pyramid. More pyramids in the distance.  We visited them later in the day. This is the step pyramid. It is the oldest pyramid and oldest rock monument in the world. Donkey carrying palm branches.  These are unique sights you see when you travel, but to the locals are just so part of life and normal. Standing on the side of the Red Pyramid.  I do wish I had the nerves to go in.  This is one of the first pyramids; the blocks are quite small compared to the blocks of the temples of Giza. The Red pyramid, one of the oldest pyramids in Egypt.  There are a total of 97 pyramids. The Bent pyramid in the distance.  We were not able to visit this pyramid. Note how its sides are not uniform, but rather twisted or bent.
Countryside near Cairo.  Once you get out of the city, it is farming land. As this was a weekend day, there was limited traffic.  Notice how wide the lanes are.  Getting about on Saturday afternoon was very easy and quick. Nile River near downtown Cairo. Just like the photo moment, not everything needs to be historic.  Considered these birds good karma for when I go to Dubai and return to the 'real work' of looking for work. Another view of the Nile River, where the centre of Cairo is. Cairo parking.  It is not clear whether cars are parked or abandoned.  On top of this, cars try to go both ways on the street, even though it is not wide enough for both directions.   When things are busy it can be quite a test of one's patience and horn, and how loud you can yell. Coptic Church of Saint George the dragon slayer. Sights of Coptic Cairo. Sights of Coptic Cairo. Sights of Coptic Cairo. Sights of Coptic Cairo. Traffic on Saturday afternoon.  You have to get used to the fact that Friday and Saturday are the weekend, and Sunday is the first day of the working week.  Were this a working day, the roads would be absolutely gridlocked and horns beeping everywhere. The pyramids of Giza are really just outside of Cairo.  Without traffic, perhaps 20 minutes from the city centre.