On our tour of Egypt, we spent the first and last day in Cairo. If you have never been to Cairo, the first thing I would tell you is that the air is really polluted and your snot will be black by the end of the day. True story. The air looks smoggy and it makes me appreciate the fresh air we have in crowded cities in the US. But, there is no shortage of sites to see in this bustling city. Our first day there we went to Giza and saw the famous Sphinx and Pyramids. I made this trip four years ago so a lot of the details are fuzzy, but one of the most surprising things I recall about the Pyramids is how close they are to the city. Our guide accompanied us on the drive there, and he made us cover our eyes at one point. We opened them a minute later and the Pyramids were straight ahead with an unobstructed view. I always pictured the Pyramids of Giza to be in an isolated desert area, but they are right next to the city, as is apparent in this photo:
There are police standing guard at the Pyramids so that you do not touch or climb on the them, however the police will happily take a little bit of money to look the other way. I was surprised at the number of tourists that paid police just to touch the Pyramids. You can also go inside the Pyramids (legally!) but you have to pay to do so. I had heard that it was small and there wasn’t much to see so I opted not to go inside the Pyramids, but instead to just walk around the area.
When I came upon the Sphinx, it appeared smaller than I imagined it would be, yet it had giant paws.
It was crazy wandering around structures that were built over 4000 years ago and to appreciate that they are still largely intact.
After the pyramids, we headed to the Egyptian Museum. This museum is one of the most fascinating, yet cluttered and disorganized, museums I have ever stepped foot in. When you walk in there is just a room full of sarcophagi (is that the plural of sarcophagus?) and it’s difficult to figure out what’s what. Everything is labeled with these wilting typed labels that are falling off. Things are clumsily roped off, and it is easy to touch ancient objects. Rooms are overly packed with objects and cases of small items. I assume there is some sort of logic for where items are placed, but at least at the time that I went, it looked like a clustered mess. I think the gold mask of King Tut was on a touring exhibit, but even missing out on that, there was just so much to see! Regardless of the disorganization, the museum was a very cool stop in Cairo and worth a visit.
After two weeks traveling around Egypt, we returned to the lovely (but dirty) Cairo. The night we arrived, we went to see sufi dancers. I couldn’t remember where we had gone for this event, but luckily stumbled on this review and recognized photos. Click over to that link to find out the location and more information. It is a free event and a very fun one at that.
The following day Lauren and I had different agendas. I decided to go to Coptic Cairo and I believe she went to the Red Pyramid. Like I said, there is a lot to do in Cairo so we had to pick and choose with limited time. Probably the most interesting historical fact I learned on my visit was that it is believed that Saints Sergius and Bacchus Church (part of Coptic Cairo) was built ont the site where Joseph, Mary, and Jesus stayed in Egypt after fleeing from King Herod.
Lauren and I also managed to sneak in a little time wandering through some of the large tourist and local markets in Cairo.
So there you have it. Two short days in Cairo! (I should also mention that it included delicious local fare as well!)