Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s lifetime.Mark Twain
On our last day at Cairo, we wanted to explore the city itself. The best way to travel around in Cairo is to use the cab – instead of booking with the hotel, just walk out and wave one down. They are quite cheap that way.
We first head to the famous Egyptian Museum – the famous home of Tutankhamun. The Egyptian Museum in Cairo contains the world’s most extensive collection of pharaonic antiquities; no visit to Egypt is complete without a trip through its galleries. It has 120,000 items, with a representative amount on display, the remainder in storeroom. The museum is located at Tahrir square – the birth place of the Egyptian revolution in 2011.
The Museum itself is huge but in absolute shambles. It’s quite dusty inside, with no correct pointers and descriptions; seems like the officials here were overwhelmed by the sheer amount of antiquities found in Egypt. Exhibits here include the treasures of Tutankhamun, wooden models of daily life, statuettes of divinities, and a rare group of Faiyum Portraits. On display on the second floor, are also many of the New Kingdom royal mummies.
The highlight of the museum was Tut’s room with all the treasures and the famous Golden Mask of King Tut – the death mask of the 18th-dynasty Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun. The mask is one of the most well-known works of art in the world. Soon after our visit, it emerged that Tut’s beard – had been broken by clumsy curators. Then it was said that bungling conservators had reattached it with the wrong glue. Seriously!!!
There are no pictures allowed inside the museum.
After taking in this vast museum, we head to one of the hidden gems of Cairo – Garbage City famous for Coptic Church / Cave Church. In this area known as “Garbage City,” seven beautiful cave churches unexpectedly rise against the backdrop of Mokattam hills. Located in southeast Cairo, these Coptic Christian churches were created by the Zabbaleen, a community of garbage collectors who make their living collecting and recycling 15,000 tons of garbage produced by Cairo’s 17.8 million residents.
A marginalized minority of Coptic Christians in a Muslim-majority country, the Zabbaleen were forcibly relocated to the outskirts of Cairo by the government in 1969. After creating a new home at Mokattam, they also carved the Monastery of Saint Simon into the entrance of a hill near the community. Getting to this piece of a gem is quite a challenge, traversing through winding ways with garbage littered everywhere and the very strong smell make it all the more difficult. Its very easy to get lost here so preferably take the taxi.
This was well worth the visit – quite serene and peaceful midst of all the garbage and chaos around it. We then head to Khan el Khalili Market. This is a large typical market with many unknown parts to get lost in. It covers a vast area in the part of the city called “Islamic Cairo”. Not only you can buy souvenirs as well as spices, handcrafts and fabrics are all available at a bargain price.
Also you can taste traditional Egyptian dishes like ‘foul’- a paste of beans with vegetables in a small loaf of Arabic bread which will cost you about 1 Egyptian pound. The same is for “Tammeya”: falafel (fava bean and onion fritters) in a sandwich with vegetables. For meat lovers, chicken and lamb shawerma and tawouk are served on the streets almost everywhere. Last but not least, try the koshary: a typical mix of rice, macaroni, lentils and spices.
On our way back to the hotel, we did peak at the Citadel of Cairo(Saladin Citadel of Cairo) and it was nice to see the stark contrast in society and the widening gap between the have and have not’s.
No trip to Cairo is complete without a Cruise and Dinner over the famous River Nile.We had booked this quite well in advance as they get quite full.We had a hotel pickup which was very convenient. This was a 5 start buffet Dinner with Egyptian cultural show and Belly dance. It lasted for approximately 3.5 hours and was well worth the money.
Our Egypt journey was one I’ll cherish – Read more – Click here
Few other fun moments of our Egyptian journey:
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