All I can say is that was one action packed break. It seems like a lifetime ago we hopped the plane to Cairo International airport and landed in the biggest and most crowded city I’ve ever been in. Needless to say we went straight to the hotel and got a good night’s sleep. In the morning we met up with a friend of a friend who was going to show us around. We figured he would hang out with us for a few hours, but he actually ended up being our own personal tour guide. It was perfect. We spent the day in Islamic Cairo, going to mosques and markets. This was the break for Eid Al-Adha, which I mentioned in another post, where it’s customary to sacrifice an animal for meat. One third is for the family, another third for the extended family, and the last third is given to the poor. This was the first day of Eid, and this was happening in the streets all around us. We actually saw a huge crowd of people in one of the streets holding down a size-able steer. Then a man came with a rather rusty looking knife, held it to its head and… well, you know. The throat has to be cut so that it dies in the quickest way, although this particular instance could’ve been handled with a little more expertise because we were upset at having to listen to the animal suffer for another 10-15 minutes. After that, we just had to dodge massive puddles of blood and animals skins. After walking around that area we walked to the citadel, where we got a great view of Cairo, and I got to see the Pyramids for the first time. Here was my first glimpse.
Cairo is very polluted, so there’s that constant layer of haze on the horizon. We also visited a coupld mosques up there and a military museum (where pictures were not allowed).
Salahudin Mosque at the Citadel.
King Tut and I.
Natasha and I outside.
That night we had an Egyptian dinner after floating on a falouca on the Nile. It reminded me of a festive Christmas lights exhibition like the one we have at Eagle Crest, only on the river… the boats are all decked out in lights, usually with a little theme. It makes the river look so pretty at night, because it’s actually a very dirty river.
We payed a little extra to get our own falouca so we didn’t have to share with the teenage boys. It was well worth the money (which was not a whole lot, because Egypt is so cheap), and I got a good picture of Christina.
We went to dinner at a little Egyptian place where we had some foul (fool) which is an Egyptian thing, and then got fresh mango ice cream. The insider’s look from our tour guide/friend, Mohamed.
The next day brought the pyramids. We first did the Cairo museum, which had too much stuff in it for them to even bother labeling half of it. There were no pictures allowed but I got one outside of it at least.
There was a ridiculous amount of check points to get into this place. We had to go through one gate three times and another twice because we first bought the wrong ticket, and then found out that we had to leave our cameras in a designated building. A little much, we thought, but we had to go in.
The Pyramids were the highlight of the trip for me. We went around sunset and it was gorgeous. I have a million pictures but I’ll just post a few.
I know… could I look any more touristy?
We actually had really good Korean food that night for dinner, and then did some shopping in Khan Al-Khalili, a famous market place with all things Egypt. Great for tourists because you can bargain, but sometimes they give you a hard time and assume you don’t know what things should cost. Which I guess is a little true…
On Sunday we went to Alexandria with Mohamed’s cousin. It was great to have our own car to do whatever we wanted. We payed for the gas of course. We visited the library, which is built as a rising sun, with water surrounding it. It also has a planetarium outside to represent the earth. The original library in Alexandria (which was quite a big deal) burned down, twice actually, and left only one document, which was in Vienna.
Oh yeah, Alexandria is on the Mediterranean. 🙂
December should not look like this… After the library we visited the Citadel and the fortress there. It was swarming with teen boys who thought they had an excellent sense of humor. But it was a cool building.
We went to the palace of the King, which has been converted to a public park since he was overthrown by today’s government. There were a lot of locals and it was cool to see a real hang out place.
Our last day we spent in Cairo, gathering some souvenirs and gifts. We took Mohamed out to an Italian restaurant which was mediocre, but then we went to a concert at the Cairo culture wheel and got a picture with the singer. She sang famous songs from a singer named Fayrouz, which all of us girls love.
It was a great way to end our trip. We were all a little reluctant to come back to the real world where the finals season is starting up, but that means home is just that much closer. I’m just about ready anyways. These have been an amazing four months of experience and learning in all aspects, but I will be happy to be home.