12.12.2011 - 13.12.2011 22 °C
Had another couple of massive days. Yesterday started at the Cairo Museum, which houses 100's of 1000's of artifacts spread over 4 floors, not including the basements that hold many 1000's of items that can't fit in the museum proper. It gets quite scary looking at items that are over 4000 years old, but still in excellent condition. Tutankhamen's death mask was a highlight along with his golden sarcophagus, but there are 1,700 items of Tutankhamen alone.
At the museum the girls found out that you have to buy toilet paper by the sheet at the toilets, and it isn't really the best time to haggle.
We had lunch by the Nile where the setting far outweighed the meal but we decided the day was getting big enough without taking on the pyramids. So we agreed to defer that till the next day and we went and saw some churches that are thousands of years old, The Hanging Church and Church of St George (where the Holy Family spent some time after fleeing Jerusalem).
Far too much to take in for one day but on the way back to the hotel we stopped in to an essential oils shop and had the big sale put on us. Quite interesting how they get the oils from the lotus flower, but I had had enough by then really just wanted to take on more Cairo traffic and get back to the hotel.
This gets me to another point. How many places have you stayed do you get held up at the gates to the hotel so a sniffer dog can be led around the car for explosives, and when you get allowed to proceed, you have to pass metal detectors to get into the foyer? Very interesting, but I don't get the point in checking a vehicle for explosives 10m from the entrance.... Reckon the explosives would still do their job from that distance.
The following day (today) was to be a highlight. In the morning we visited the mosque of Mohammed Ali (not the boxer) which is a massive structure at the top of a hill overlooking Cairo. We then headed off to a market and witnessed first hand the hustle and bustle of a tourist market. Geez, if you looked at something it was a sign that you were interested in purchasing it and were therefore fair game....by every store owner within 50m. These guys are struggling at the moment with the lack of tourism, so it gets pretty desperate in the narrow alleys. At least some of the store owners are honest about it and say, "How can I take your money off you"? Of course when they find out you are Australian, they chant "Aussie, Aussie, Oi", (very embarrassing how that chant is symbolic of Australians) , and one said, "raining cats and dogs".
Anyway, after that it was off to the Pyramids for lunch and then the big visit. These pyramids are just so big. Absolutely awesome, in terms of size, age (>4000 years), how many people were involved in building them, how long they took to build, and just how the heck could anyone do this...let alone so well that they are still standing after so many years.
We decided not to go inside as it was a 350m tunnel 91cm high and the width of one person. Our guide reckons that you are just as well off by going back to your hotel, turning off the lights, and after 5 minutes you can get the same experience.
After seeing three large pyramids and 6 others (built for the wives) we all grabbed a camel and went for a ride up and around them. Was a great way to see and feel the environment. Pictures to follow.
On the way back we visited a Papyrus store and did the tourist thing. Getting very tired again after a long day and we welcomed the sniffer dogs and hotel at around 6:30pm. Tomorrow we start at 8:00 but should be back at the hotel by mid afternoon so we can get a chance to stroll around the hotel and maybe check out Tahir Square where there are still protesters camped out but things look fairly safe.