Cairo and Giza

 Posted by Elizabeth at 8:46 pm
Aug 012011

GizaOn the way to Amboseli we decided we would change our plans again and head to Egypt when we returned to Nairobi, so I called a travel agent whilst we were driving and got things started. Once we got back to Nairobi we dropped in at the travel agent and a few days later we arrived in Cairo.

The second pyramid (Khafre's), GizaOur first day in Cairo we visited the Great Pyramids. They are amazing! They are soooo big and it is mind blowing to think the ancient Egyptians managed to build them thousands of years ago. There are 3 large pyramids in Giza and these are the ones that everyone recognises. The famous Sphinx is also located here, again it is the one everyone knows. They are located literally on the edge of Giza town – the town just stops and the pyramids are right there. It was pretty hot and humid, especially compared to Nairobi, but not unbearable. It is also low season, and Ramadan, so there were very few tourists and lots of shops and vendors were closed which means less people to hassle you and no crowds, which was fine by us. One night we went to the Sound and Light Show at the pyramids. It was OK but nothing to write home about, I’m just glad that it did not cost a lot of money.

The Great Pyramid (Khufu's), GizaGizaThe Sphinx and Khafre's pyramid, Giza

GizaFrom the pyramids we visited the Egyptian Museum, which is located in Cairo right next to Tahrir Square, the location of all the demonstrations that have been happening. We saw no sign of unrest. Yes there are still a few tents in the square and some peaceful protesters, but certainly nothing that had us concerned in anyway. Our guide told us that when the riots were happening in January it was very scary and that her family and herself did not leave their apartment for 21 days straight. It will be interesting see what the result of the trial and the election in September will bring.

The Egyptian Museum is huge with so much stuff inside it. Without a guide I think it would be difficult to understand the things that are there as the signage is very limited and it would take you days to see all of it. It could though do with a bit of dusting and maintenance so it looks quite tired and run down, which is a shame as it is full of amazing artefacts. All the treasures that were found in Tutankhamen’s tomb are here and they are truly amazing and absolutely priceless. To think this was a boy king who ruled for a very short time, yet his tomb was filled with all this gold and precious stones, just imagine what would have been in the tombs of the pharaohs that ruled for years and years! We also saw the mummys of various kings, again pretty amazing to think they are thousands of years old yet you can still see their hair and fingernails.

Old Town, CairoThe old town was next on our list where we wandered through the old streets and visited a number of churches including the Hanging Church (a Coptic orthodox church), St George Church (Greek Orthodox) and Ben Ezra Synagogue. All the churches are old, but the Hanging Church is believed to have been built around 690AD with additions and renovations along the way. It is a pretty spectacular church and worth a visit. We also visited the Al Azhar Mosque in Cairo which is huge and can apparently accommodate 20,000 people for prayer. Again having a guide with us made it much more interesting. We took a quick wander through the bazaar, but not being shoppers we didn’t spend too long there as it was full mainly of tourist stuff.

The Hanging Church, Old Town, CairoChruch of St George, Old Town, CairoAl Hazar Mosque, CairoOld bazaar, CairoOld bazaar, Cairo

We visited the Citadel by ourselves one afternoon. An air conditioned taxi was easy enough to find, and although I think we paid a bit too much, it was still very cheap. Unfortunately most of the sights within the Citadel were closed – but of course they failed to mention that when we bought our tickets. The only things open were the military museum and the Mohammed Ali Mosque, which was extremely dirty both inside and out and not particularly attractive. We were glad we did not organise an actual tour here as it would have cost 4 times as much as would really not have been worth it. For the amount we paid it was OK and filled in the afternoon, it was just annoying that nothing was open and no one thought it relevant to let you know.

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