Friday, 20 July 2012

A Long Day in Cairo

We arrived back at our familiar hotel in Cairo at 6.30am, but since there was a large group already there as they hadn't left for their tour yet (the same one we had just completed) we couldn’t check into our rooms until the afternoon.  This meant again we had just one room designated to shower in and it really took a long time (almost 3 hours!) for everyone to have their showers. 
A building destroyed in the riots - right next to the Cairo Museum!

We finally got back on the bus and head to the famous Cairo Museum, which we were both really looking forward to seeing given the treasures that it contains.  Unfortunately, it was disappointingly very old, dusty and poorly designed - it’s a good thing they're building a new one as the artifacts inside deserve to be shown off in a much more presentable fashion, so we suggest that in three years’ time when it's supposed to be finished that everyone go check it out...

The highlights of the museum were seeing Tutankhamen’s mask and his multi-layed, elaborate sarcophagus, along with all the other random things that were also buried with him.  The section on animal mummies was a bit bizarre and the sheer number of ancient artifacts to look at was impressive.

Inside the Hanging Church
After a cheap lunch of foul pitas (foul are actually really delicious refried beans, nothing foul about them...) we fought the traffic and also too stay awake as the bus drove to the ‘Old Cairo’ section of town.  We visited a few mosques and the famous ‘Hanging Church’ (so named because it was constructed upon two stories of ancient supports so the floor appears to be hanging when you look down).  On the way out of the church one of our group members managed to trip and tore her entire toe nail in half – it sounds neither here nor there, but anyone who’s torn a toe nail knows how painful it can be and she was in a lot of pain.  It was amazing how fast everyone in our group had their travel first aid kits out, and even more amazing were some of the powerful medications freely offered!  Needless to say we detoured passed a small hospital on the way to our next destination so she could be patched up.

Hanging Church
We had an hour to pass at the markets and we quickly lost count of the times we politely said ‘no thank you’ before giving up and not responding to the insesant offers to buy or just 'look, look'.  Some of the wares were really nice, but the problem with backpacking for a year is that the thought of carrying something is enough to make you move on, leaving whatever it may be behind...

We were more than happy to finally check into our room around 6pm and after everyone had freshened up we all said our goodbyes and traded emails / facebook etc.  We had had a really enjoyable time with the group (well most of them….) and we were really glad that we’d chosen to do a tour through Egypt, as from what we had experienced the country would’ve been very tiring to navigate on our own since everything requires such tough negotiations and the Egyptians can be very hard people to do any sort of negotiating with. 

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