S: Memories of Egypt
FC: Memories of Egypt
1: MARCH 10-20, 2011 | March 10 - We took the 10:00 pm Air Canada flight to Frankfurt, Germany which took about 7.5 hrs. Then we had a 2.5 hr stop-over before the 3.5 hr Lufthansa flight to Cairo. March 11 - 6:30 pm We were met at the gate by Mohammed, one of our Tour Guides who lead us through buying our entrance VISA's and getting our luggage. Mohammed walked us through customs, where he just nodded at the agent, who then asked us no questions, just lifted Jacy's bag and nodded back. 8:30 pm We checked into the Pyramiso Hotel and Casino and had dinner in the buffet restaurant - a very expensive buffet by any standards - 400LE (about $80CAD for the two of us). The hotel is almost deserted. Both of us seem extremely tired and short on patience. This much travel before landing in a country with such a diverse culture and many preliminary rumours of caution is enough to rattle any two female tourists. We were in bed by 11 pm (4:00 pm Ont time).
2: March 12 - We slept in this morning; didn't get up until 10:00 am, so totally missed the 'free' breakfast. So we had waffles in the cafe at lunch and walked over 2 bridges to Tahrir Square. What a busy city with over 20 million people living in Cairo alone. Military presence is obvious everywhere and there is the constant honking of car horns and every second person trying to sell you something or get you to come into their shop. They were actually quite polite about it and we only had to tell them 3 or 4 times, "No Thank- you!" and accept their business card before they left us alone. A few blocks from the square, we came across a gathering of people waving the revolutionary flags and cheering the Revolution. We both decided that we had gone far enough and looked for a way to get across the street, but these streets are impossible. A man approached and introduced himself as a doctor from the university who would lead us to the underground walkway. We followed him for 2 blocks, while he asked where we were from and what I did for a living. I told him I was a teacher and, ah, yes, so is his wife. His daughter is getting married tomorrow. We were beginning to get far enough off the main road for my comfort, when he stopped at a corner shop, pointed down the street (away from the main street) and said he would leave us, but would we come into his shop and meet his family. I assumed it was a store, but Jacy thought it was like a pharmacy. To this minute, Jacy still believes he was a doctor, and I am still skeptical. After all, we saw a California ID card from Sherife el Shaer of the Cairo Novotel Hotel!
3: Memphis was the first capital of Egypt. The city was built by King Menes around 3000 BC, and lies 24 kms southwest of Cairo in Al - Badrasheen. Memphis was believed to be under the protection of the god Ptah, the patron of craftsmen. Its great temple, Hut-ka-Ptah, was one of the most prominent structures in the city. The name of this temple (Ai-gy-ptos) is believed to be the origin of the modern name Egypt. The ruins of the former capital today offer fragmented evidence of its magnificent past. | Colossus of Ramses II carved in limestone. | The white crown of Upper Egypt. The cobra on the crown is used as a protective symbol, believed to spit fire at approaching enemies. | Cartouche of Ramses II | Alabaster sphinx of Ramses II | March 13 - Today we met Dahlia, our Cairo Tour Guide, and found out that we were the only 2 on this tour! We drove through the very noisy and busy streets of Cairo and through some of the countryside to get to the ruins of Memphis. There really is very little left in Memphis and it is difficult to visualize what it might have been like, as any artifacts have been placed on pedestals around the perimeter of the area. Apparently, as the city slowly dropped out of existence, the stones and boulders were pilfered to build houses in the surrounding area. In other words, the city of Memphis became a rock quarry.
4: Saqqara | Djoser was the first or second king of the 3rd Dynasty (2667 to 2648 BC) of the Egyptian Old Kingdom. He is believed to have ruled for 19 years. He reigned long enough to allow the grandiose plan for his pyramid to be realized in his lifetime. The step pyramid sets the stage for later pyramids of the 4th, 5th, and 6th Dynasties, including the great pyramids at Giza.
5: After Saqqara, we were taken to the Carpet School, where all age groups from pre-teen to elders were "learning" how to make carpets. There goes the skeptic in me again! The drive was so nerve-racking. The drivers in Cairo are CRAZY! There are no lines on most of the streets and it wouldn't matter if there were. People drive all over the road, cutting others off, honking their horns constantly, never signaling and almost hitting pedestrians who just stand on the edge of the road or step out in front of the traffic without even looking. A 4-lane road may have 3, 4 or 5 cars squeezing in and veering right or left to get ahead and expecting the cars behind to move. There are like 5 stop lights in a city of 20 million people but it doesn't matter there either, because as the driver told me, "We just ignore those anyway!" I was never happier to get back to the hotel and order a beer! | March 13, cont'd: Dahlia took us to the Step Pyramids and to a jewellery store, where I spent a fortune on cartouche pendants for the girls and myself. I obviously don't have the knack of bartering down, yet. I know that I should have haggled, but being "fresh off the boat", I was still intimidated by the whole experience and I slipped up. We then went to the Giza Pyramids and the Great Sphinx. Being the only 2 on the tour meant that we had individualized attention, but it also made it impossible to duck the touts who are constantly trying to sell anything and everything. I got really good at "La Shukran!" (No Thank-you!) but there were times when that was not even enough and I would say "No, Thanks!" out of frustration. I forgot how Dahlia told me to say, "Go away!" and wasn't sure I could bring myself to say that anyway. Dahlia was very emphatic that we "go with no one!", especially at the Sphinx in Saqqara. That made me a little nervous. | The Great Sphinx is to the northeast of Chephren's Valley Temple. Where it sits was once a quarry. Chephren's workers shaped the stone into the lion and gave it their king's face over 4,500 years ago. | The sphinx faces the rising sun with a temple to the front which resembles the sun temples which were built later by the kings of the 5th Dynasty. The figure was buried for most of its life in the sand. King Thutmose IV (1425 - 1417 BC) placed a stela (stone slab) between the front paws of the figure. It describes when Thutmose, while still a prince, had gone hunting and fell asleep in the shade of the sphinx. During a dream, the sphinx spoke to Thutmose and told him to clear away the sand because it was choking the sphinx. The sphinx told him that if he did this, he would be rewarded with a kingship. Thutmose carried out this request and the sphinx held up his end of the deal.
6: March 14 - Today we were off to Luxor. Jacy wanted to cash in a couple of the Travellers' Cheques, since all the tipping is draining us dry of the small Egyptian Pounds. So we went to the front desk where they said that the system was down and we would have to go to the bank. We went through the hotel, past the indoor shops to this little hole-in-the-wall that turned out to be the bank. There were 3 tellers in this cubby space, but to cash Travellers' Cheques we had to go upstairs. When we got up there, we were told that they don't exchange Travellers' Cheques! So much for tipping! We went back to the lobby and met Mohammed and the driver to take the harrowing drive through the nutty streets of Cairo to the airport to catch the Egypt Air flight that was 45 minutes late leaving.
7: Our "greeter" at the airport in Luxor is Michael, who escorted us to our ship, which is not the one we expected. Because the tourism numbers are so low, the cruise lines are combining tours and we have been upgraded to the Movenpick Royal Lily. Michael assures us this is a good move. It is really nice and the beds are WAY better than the pit I had been sleeping in in Cairo. I swear some fat person had slept in the same spot in that bed for 50 years before I slept in it. I finally filled the pit with a pillow and slept balanced on the edge of the mattress that hadn't caved in. This bed is heaven in comparison. Our room is very modern but we can hear water running in the pipes 24/7. It is almost soothing if it didn't make me have to pee all the time.
8: We were introduced to our cruise guide, Amru, this afternoon and we went to the Karnak Temple and the Luxor Temple. After a short break for a quick dinner, we took the optional excursion with Michael back to the Karnak Temple for the Light & Sound show. It was interesting, but not what we had expected. It certainly gave us some further insight into the lives of the Pharaohs, but Jacy and I both grinned at each other when one of the tourists commented that it was the best show they had ever seen! It certainly made me wonder about the other shows. | KARNAK TEMPLE | The Karnak Temple consists of ruined temples, chapels, pylons, and other buildings, notably the Great Temple of Amun and a massive structure begun by Pharaoh Ramses II (1391–1351 BC). Sacred Lake is part of the site as well. One of the famous aspects of Karnak, is the Hypostyle Hall in the Precinct of Amun-Re, a hall with 134 massive columns arranged in 16 rows.
10: Luxor Temple is located on the east bank of the Nile and was founded in 1400 BCE. The temple was dedicated to Amun, Mut, & Chons. The chapels were built by Hatshepsut. The main part of the temple - the colonnade and the sun court were built by Amenhotep III, and Rameses II built the entrance pylon, and the two obelisks that linked the Hatshepsut buildings with the main temple. | LUXOR TEMPLE | We are both exhausted tonight, but we better get a good rest. They are waking us up at 5:30 am to go to the West Bank.
12: March 15 - Early start indeed! We were picked up at 6:30 and driven to the West Bank to see the two giant statue carved to represent the pharaoh Amenhotep 111. The drive was so much calmer than Cairo, even though people still drive all over the roads with little regard for speed limits or turn signals. | Colossi of Memnon - These two huge ruined statues stand around 17m high and once stood at the entrance gate of the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III, though very little of the temple behind them remains today. They were cut from two massive granite blocks, brought from quarries near Cairo, and were carved to represent the Pharaoh Amenhotep III of Dynasty XVIII. The legend behind their name is interesting. After an earthquake in 27BC, part of the northern colossus collapsed and from then on, each morning at sunrise, the statue produced a strange musical sound. Early Greek and Roman tourists came to hear the sound, and gave the statue the name of ‘Memnon’, a Trojan hero, the son of Eos and Titan, who sang to his mother each morning at dawn. In reality, it is thought that the effect of the sun heating up the stone produced the sound. In the third century AD, Septimus Severus attempted to repair the damaged northern statue and the mysterious ‘singing’ was never heard again! As a result of the legend, however, the whole of western Thebes became known as ‘Memnonia’.
13: Then we went on to Thebes and the Valley of the Kings. It is incredible that these Pharaohs and Kings built tombs hidden in the pyramid shaped mountains, not to be discovered for centuries, but unfortunate that when most of them were discovered, they were totally looted. Even though the treasures and in some/most cases the actual sarcophagi are gone, most of the hieroglyphics are totally untouched and well preserved in the cool, dry mountains. King Tut, though not the most powerful or influential Pharaoh, is the most well known because his tomb was built under another Pharaoh's, so was not found until the early 1900's and was filled with all his treasures and sarcophagi with his mummy intact. | From the 16th to 11th century BC, tombs were constructed for Pharaohs & powerful nobles of the New Kingdom. The valley stands on the west bank of the Nile, opposite Thebes (modern Luxor) and contains 63 tombs & chambers, ranging in size from a simple pit to a complex tomb with over 120 chambers. Almost all of the tombs seem to have been opened and robbed in antiquity, but they still give an idea of the opulence and power of the rulers of this time.
14: After we finished with the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, we went to the Temple of Hatshepsut which was built into the side of a mountain directly behind the spot in the Valley of the Kings that Hatshepsut had chosen for her own burial tomb. Even though she was a woman, Hatshepsut became a Pharaoh and chose her own burial site in the Valley of the Kings. It was such a modern looking and well-preserved temple compared to the ruins that we had seen so far. | Queen Hatshepsut was the first great woman in recorded history. She was the first wife & Queen of Thutmose II. On his death, she proclaimed herself Pharaoh, denying the king's son, her nephew, his inheritance. To support her cause, she claimed the God Amun-Ra spoke, saying "Welcome my sweet daughter, my favourite, the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Hatshepsut. Thou art the King, taking possession of the Two Lands." She dressed as a king, even wearing a false beard & the Egyptian people seem to have accepted this unprecedented behaviour. She remained in power for 22 years and during this time the economy flourished, she expanded trading relations and built magnificent temples as well as restoring many others. Eventually her nephew grew into a man and took his rightful place as Pharaoh. Hatshepsut's mummy indicated that she died of Diabetes and Bone Cancer which had spread throughout her body.
15: Then we went to the Valley of Queens and saw two more tombs with pristine hieroglyphics. Each one of these stops meant walking through a "strip-mall" of vendors shoving their items in your face and grabbing your arm to get us in their shops. I am finding that our guide does not help us with this at all. They seem to focus on me, possibly because of my purse? And more than once, Jacy has had to intercede. She just looks them in the eye to say, "NO!" They do not mean us harm; they are just desperate and I get that, but it tarnishes the wonderful experiences. | The Valley of the Queens is where many of the wives and family members, including Princes and Princesses, of famous Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt were buried. The Valley of the Queens is a necropolis which is defined as a large cemetery or burial place near the sites of the centers of ancient civilizations. The necropolis is located near the Ancient Egyptian city of Thebes (now modern-day Luxor). There are over 100 tombs and funerary wells which have been discovered in the Valley of the Queens. This area was also used as a burial place for the Ptolemaic and Greco-Roman period of Egyptian history. Ravaged by tomb robbers the most famous of all the tombs in the Valley of the Queens was that of Nefertari, the beautiful wife of Ramsses the Great. Nefertari died when she was 47 years old and her tomb is regarded as one of the most beautiful in Egypt.
16: All of this happened in the am and we set sail by 12 pm. It was such a calm and beautiful sail after the hectic time we have had. We relaxed on the deck and watched the world go by in the warm sunlight.
17: We sailed through the Esna locks, where the ship was swarmed by "Pirates", as one of the American women has nicknamed them. These water touts circled the boat trying to sell their caftans and carpets. It was nice to be able to stand on the upper deck and take photos without having to be hassled to pay for it. We have moored at Etna for the night. Wake up call for tomorrow? 6:30 am.
18: Cruising the Nile
20: Temple of Horus, Edfu | The myths generally portray Osiris as a wise lord, king, and bringer of civilization, happily married to his sister, Isis. Seth was envious of his brother, so he killed and dismembered Osiris. Isis reassembled Osiris' corpse and embalmed him. As the archetypal mummy, Osiris reigned over the afterworld as a king among deserving spirits of the dead. Osiris' son, Horus was conceived by Isis with Osiris' corpse. Horus naturally became the enemy of Seth, and the myths describe their conflicts. Some Egyptologists have reconstructed these as Seth poking out Horus's left eye, and Horus retaliating by castrating Seth.
21: March 16 - Today we went by horse and buggy to the Ptolemaic Temple of Horus, the Falcon God, where it is believed that Horus slay his uncle, Seth, who had killed his father & taken over the throne. Horus would have been killed as well, but his mother hid him in the reeds of the Nile. The hieroglyphics were the best preserved and the deepest that we have seen. These temples would have been magnificent in their day. No picture will ever capture the magnitude and majesty of these structures.
22: We took the same horse & buggy back through the streets of Edfu. Some of the horses were in pretty good shape, but most of them looked severely malnourished and one actually had open, bleeding sores. Jacy is also now becoming less enamoured with our guide who always wears sunglasses to hide the fact that he is rarely focused on us, but is actually looking around. And, once again, Amru walked ahead of us and left us to fend off the touts for ourselves. These vendors, though were kinder than in the past and did not put their hands on us.
24: March 16, continued - When we set sail today, a buffet lunch was set up on the open air deck. So, we ate, drank and watched the Nile go by as we sailed to Kom Ombo.
26: In Kom Ombo, we toured the dual temple, Greek and Roman, the House of Birth and Eyesight, learned about the Crocodile God and the Falcon God (Horus, the Elder). Definitely makes me want to buy a book outlining the legends and myths of the Gods and Pharaohs as I will never remember these stories. Unfortunately, it was in Kom Ombo that I took a tumble and damaged the lens on the Nikon. | KOM OMBO
27: The Temple of Kom Ombo is an unusual double temple meaning that there were courts, halls, sanctuaries and rooms duplicated for two sets of gods. The south half was dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek, god of fertility and creator of the world with Hathor and Khonsu. Meanwhile, the north part was dedicated to the falcon god Haroeris, also known as Horus the Elder.
28: On the way back to the ship, we finally gave into the vendors and bought Egyptian garb to wear to the Egyptian dinner being put on tonight on the ship. I actually wish we had taken more time and I had been more comfortable with haggling to check out these tourist stands and negotiate for some souvenirs. But, we were also very conscious of the amount of luggage space we had. Taking so many domestic flights meant that we were restricted to one checked piece of luggage and one carry-on each. The dinner was fabulous. We both commented that we wondered where all the seasonings had been for the American meals that had been prepared so blandly. Maybe they actually think that we eat that way all the time, but whether or not that is what they think, I wish they had been making Egyptian food all along the cruise. So, we have set sail again and made our way to Aswan.
30: March 17 - St. Patrick's Day in Aswan. We started at 8:30 today and were met in the foyer by the American women who were dressed in green glitter hats and boas. One of the women was handing out felt stickers of shamrocks for the occasion, especially to the Egyptian crew, who I am sure thought she was crazy! Our first trip today was to the Granite Quarry where supposedly all of the granite came from for the Temples and obelisks. There is one obelisk that was abandoned in the quarry because it cracked when they were trying to cut it out. | ASWAN BRIDGE
31: From there, we continued on to the High Dam. Unfortunately, neither of these attractions really thrilled Jacy and I.
32: Next we took a boat to an island where the Temple of Philae had been rebuilt after the dam flooded the Nile and the Island of Philae where the temple had previously been. As with the other temples, the legends and stories are fascinating. We just can't remember them. Some facts sink in, like the Gods and Goddesses are always pictured with suns over their heads and Kings/Queens are sho0wn with names in cartoushes, etc. | Temple of Philae
33: The Temple was dedicated to the goddess Isis, the wife of Osiris and mother of Horus. These three characters dominate ancient Egyptian culture and their story possesses all the drama of a Shakespearian tragedy. The god Osiris is murdered and dismembered by his brother Seth. Isis searches for the fragments, collects them together and with her magic powers brings Osiris back to life. They then conceive the god Horus. Osiris becomes god of the under world and judge of the dead - who must answer to him for their deeds on Earth. Meanwhile Isis gives birth to Horus and protects the young god. Later when Horus is grown he avenges his father by defeating Seth in combat.
34: After a short break and lunch, we got to sail on a felucca around Elephantine Island steered by two Nubian sailors. It was very relaxing and one of the Cairo couples picked up the tambourine that was on board and began a sing along. Unfortunately, Jacy and I couldn't "sing-along" as we couldn't understand the song. But it was fun anyway.
35: For dinner, were were surprised to see that the table linens were green, the candles were floating in green water, and the waiters were all wearing floor length green aprons. Very festive! The same Irish/American woman who was handing out the shamrocks gave the toast. It was a really nice way to end the cruise. After dinner, there was supposed to be a belly dancing show, but no one, not one of the 24 on the ship, showed up. So, packing, packing, and repacking... We are being picked up at 7:30 tomorrow morning for our flight to Abu Simbel.
36: March 18 - The flight this morning turned out to take longer sitting and waiting to board than to fly the 20 minutes to Abu Simbel. It was actually humourous to watch the stewardesses try to hand out a bottle of water to everyone once we were in the air and then collect the empty bottles before landing. It's hot today; 34C. We did not see Amru today; once we gave him his tip last night, he was gone. Not surprising, but disappointing anyway. | The Americans kept an eye on us & kept telling us things that we would need to know, as their guide came with them to Abu Simbel. We had yet another agent and driver who met us at the ship and took us to the airport. Then we had a different agent and driver for Abu Simbel, but this time we were joined by 14 others in our van and tour. Abu Simbel was probably the best sight yet and the guide was hilarious as he explained about Ramses II being so egotistical that he had all the statues built to look like himself and how he built Nefertari's temple first to make sure the builders were experienced enough to build his perfectly. Also, he explained about the pictures carved to represent Ramses II doing battle and grabbing the hair of a dozen enemies at once while he slew them, when the reality was that Ramses II, like most Generals, was nowhere near the front lines and that he had actually made a truce with the enemy country. | The twin temples were originally carved out of the mountainside during the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II in the 13th century BC, as a lasting monument to himself and his queen Nefertari, to commemorate his alleged victory at the Battle of Kadesh. All statues represent Ramesses II, seated on a throne & wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt.
37: As we were heading back to our van, I noticed that a woman who was being followed and hassled by a tout, had stopped as he continued to badger her and was pulling her arm to get her to come with him. She was getting quite upset, so, following Jacy's earlier lead, I jumped in between her and this vendor who took exception to my interference. Jacy joined me and we told the woman to just keep walking and not to look back. We both told him to "La Shukran!" and finally, "At Shee!" to which he replied, "How do you know 'at shee!'" We just kept walking & he continued to follow and call to the woman, but stopped at the edge of the bazaar when he saw that we were getting into vehicles. She thanked us profusely and said that she didn't know what she would have done, because her friends had all gone on ahead and she truly was isolated. Lesson learned; don't be afraid of being rude if you feel that people are treating you rudely. | The temple of Hathor and Nefertari, also known as the Small Temple, was built about one hundred meters northeast of the temple of Ramesses II and was dedicated to the goddess Hathor and Ramesses II's chief consort, Nefertari.
38: After leaving Abu Simbel, we flew back to Aswan and landed just long enough for us to change seats on the same plane and exchange passengers who were either staying in Aswan or had bypasses Abu Simbel and take off again. This was at 2:30 pm and we hadn't had anything to eat since 7:00 am. I had thought about taking some food from breakfast, but was concerned about the heat and the lack of saran wrap to keep the food good. So, I consciously decided that we could buy something to eat in Abu Simbel but there wasn't anything there except junk food so we passed on that. Once again, our American friends who were getting off at Aswan took pity and gave Jacy a couple of granola bars and a package of cookies that they had packed. Their tour guide, Tariq, had told them to pack bag lunches from the breakfast buffet. Oh well,... In Cairo, Mohamed met us once again and the driver drove us back through the Friday rush hour traffic (and I thought the traffic was bad before? As Grandma would have said, "eeee Gods!") back to the Pyramisa Hotel. This time we got a 2 bedroom - 2 bathroom suite! Jacy's room had 2 queen size beds and mine had a king size bed. What a change from the 1st room where I had to teeter on the edge of the mattress! We also have 2 tv's and both of them are on satellite instead of the previous room where the tv got 2 fuzzy stations. The mattress is hard as a rock, but after the last mattress here, I think I will sleep well. Why didn't we get this treatment the first time? | March 19 - 5:30 am - I wake up replaying comments and sights over the past 6 days & wondering if I should have been more nervous about the region of the world we are travelling in. I talked previously about the gathering of people just past the square last Saturday, but other things are now haunting my dreams. During our travels to Luxor last Monday, a couple had commented that their trip to Saqqara had been cancelled because it was unsafe. Jacy and I both looked at each other and I don't know what she was thinking but I was revelling in the fact that we had gotten to see it. I am now remembering Dahlia's warning of "Don't go with ANYONE!" Next, when we were being transported from the airport at Abu Simbel to the temple, we passed a "checkpoint" where there were hundreds of Libyan refugees fleeing Gaddafi's reign of terror. "They are waiting to be transported to the Sudan. We are not keeping them." was Moufassa's explanation. The number had easily doubled by the time we were going back to the airport 2 hours later. When we arrived back in Cairo, Mohammed asked if we had stopped in Edfu because apparently the cruise in the reverse direction (meaning they were supposed to stop at Edfu the day after us) said that the ship would not stop because "it was unsafe". We are very aware of the Libyan crisis now that the UN has passed the enforcement of a "no fly zone" and the violence in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain in particular and the fact that Egypt just overthrew their dictator 2 weeks before we came (meaning Egypt is a "lawless" country). This is the first time I have felt that I will be glad to be back on green grass (or white snow, if necessary) tomorrow!
39: 10:00 pm - We met with Dahlia this morning and discovered that not only is today the second day of their weekend, it is also a holiday so that the Egyptian people can vote on whether they want to go ahead with an election which must always be held in September, or if they want to go back to the government. So, needless to say, all 20 million people are out in the streets and the markets. We began our day at the citadel or Muhammed Ali Mosque which overlooks the city with an amazing panoramic view. On a clear day, you can see the pyramids but with 30C weather, the smog blanketed the city. Jacy could spot the top of the pyramid, but I couldn't see it. Dahlia gave us a comprehensive lesson on life in Egypt including women's roles and treatment, and children's duties to their families. She demonstrated the prayers and scolded some women for talking too loudly and disturbing her tour. | The Mosque of Muhammad Ali Pasha or the Alabaster Mosque is located in the Citadel of Cairo in Egypt and was commissioned by Muhammad Ali Pasha between 1830 and 1848 in memory of his oldest son,Tusun Pasha who died in 1816. | The use of slim minarets, cascading domes, spacious interiors, large chandeliers, walls decorated with Thuluth inscriptions and beautiful hanging globe lamps are all reflecting the mosques found in Istanbul. On the inside, the rooms reflect some French Rococo as well as Art Nouveau influences, with heavily ornamentation of lines of green, red and gold.
40: We then went to the Egyptian Museum where we got a very small dose of the thousands of treasures in the 3 floor museum. We saw all of the treasures found in Tutankhamen's tomb, as well as 2 of his sarcophagus'. I couldn't believe how these invaluable treasures are stored in seemingly modest glass and wood cabinets. It doesn't appear terribly secure except for the army guards standing at key spots with their rifles in their hands with a finger "resting" on the trigger! As we were leaving the museum, we asked Dahlia about the burned out building beside the museum. She delighted in telling us that it was the former government office building. She also pointed out Tahrir Square which turned out to not be the one that Jacy and I had visited last Saturday thinking it was Tahrir Square. This one was full of garbage and torn up brick work, as you would expect after watching the conflict. A lot of the center is now a mudpit which was created by the government who tore up the grass and flooded it so that the protesters would go home and go back to work. She also explained how the KFC at the square had opened their doors as an emergency medical clinic for the injured. Dahlia took us to a quaint Egyptian restaurant for a traditional luncheon. I can't pronounce most of the food but we started with wonderful spreads, flatbreads and falafels. Then came barbecued meats of lamb, veal and chicken. Finally, a rice pudding that was as smooth as silk. So much food!
41: The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities is located in Tahrir Square & contains many important pieces of ancient Egyptian history. It has the world’s largest collection of Pharaonic antiquities, and many treasures of King Tutankhamen. During the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, the museum was broken into, & two mummies were reportedly destroyed. Several artifacts were also damaged. On the ground floor are artifacts from the New Kingdom, the time period between 1550 and 1069 BC. These artifacts are generally larger than items created in earlier centuries. Those items include statues, tables, and coffins (sarcophagi). On the 1st floor there are artifacts from the final two dynasties of Ancient Egypt, including items from the tombs of the Pharaohs Thutmosis III, Thutmosis IV, Amenophis II, Hatshepsut, as well as many artifacts from the Valley of the Kings.
42: After lunch, we went to the Khan el Khalil Bazaar where we had fun walking through the market. I don't know if I am just getting more used to the people and how to say, "No", or if the vendors are just friendlier (and maybe not so desperate) but I had fun. I laughed at their pitches and the constant repetition of "No pressure here" and felt comfortable browsing and negotiating. Even sitting having a cup of chai by myself while Dahlia and Jacy went back into the market and having this big-eyed 7 or 8 yr old come up to me, desperately trying to get me to buy his bracelets amused me. However, by the time Jacy and I got back to the hotel, we both had splitting headaches that took hours to subside. But, we are packed and ready to go tomorrow - and just in time, too. We just heard on the news that the French and US have begun shooting missiles into Libya's military air strips to begin enforcing the no-fly zone. | Open air markets such as Khan El Khalili Bazaar and the other markets in Old Cairo are called a "souk" in Arabic. The tradition of buying and selling, haggling and bargaining among the crowds is more than a consumer activity in Egypt. It's a great way to socialize and meet new people.
43: What this trip has taught me to appreciate: * Not having to tip EVERYONE and never having the small change to do it. * 3 lane roads meaning 3 cars abreast, not 4 plus a motorcycle. * Helmets on motorcylists and not with a woman on the back holding a baby. * Crosswalks and stop lights. * Being understood and not having to repeat myself 4-5 different times trying to find some way to make myself understood. * Soft beds * White being white and not grey and sooty. * Walking down the street without being hassled to buy something. * Salads and veggies that were washed in clean water and safe to eat. * Drinking water that you don't have to pay for by the bottle. * Clean streets that are relatively litter free.