Unexpected Egypt travel blog


As is typical for us, we were a bit organizationally impaired and ended up packing for the trip on the day we were scheduled to fly out. We made it to the airport though, with enough time to sit about and drink a glass of champagne to toast the coming few weeks (and to congratulate ourselves on getting to the airport!)

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Not wanting to sound too much like the castle, but the flight over was great (although I slept most of the way and Paul may tell a very different story) and we flew into Cairo at about midday on Sunday. As many of you know, it has been a little bit hard to get excited about this trip, but that all changed with the view of the Pyramids of Giza from the plane as we landed. They are just as awe-inspiring "in the flesh". Cairo is a fantastic city, and we set out to explore it. We wandered around Giza, and checked out the locals before heading back to the hotel to sleep off our jet lag.

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The next morning we were off to see the pyramids (no mucking about!). The Pyramids of Giza are on a plateau rising out of a busy city suburb - it is surreal to see them towering over the skyscrapers nearby. They are truly breath-taking, and well worth the hype. We visited the three main pyramids and the sphinx. I like the Lonely Planet explanation of the Sphinx as being a little like seeing a film star in the flesh - a lot smaller than you expected! That said, he is truly amazing to see close up.

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As is our usual habit now, Paul and I managed to pick up gastro after being in the country for less than 24 hours and then needed to go home and have a bit of a kip and to stay closer to the bathroom (don't worry we took drugs and are completely better now). We didn't even eat street food this time (I promise).

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The next day, we spent a few hours exploring Coptic Cairo - the christian corner of the city and wandered around the cobbled streets and through several churches. Paul and I are increasingly amazed (and amused) by the different representations of Jesus and Mary in different corners of the world - the Christ in Cairo is very different to the long-haired tough Christ of Latin America and there is much less emphasis on Mary here!!! We then toured the Citadel a fortress initially built in 1176, and was home to Egypt's rulers for over 700 years - this is a stunning building in itself, but the views over Cairo are also out of this world. The Citadel also houses the Mosque of Mohammed Ali (the original obviously), which is a domineering structure on the top of the hill with towering minarets and domes. Inside however, it is a tranquil and beautiful place of worship and one of the most restful religious sites I have ever been to.

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We spent the afternoon in the Cairo Museum - I know I am adjective-paenic, but the museum is mind blowing. Room after room of antiquities - it looks like it hasn't changed in over 100 years, with dusty old cupboards and handwritten explanations. The volume is staggering and the shear age of some of the relics is truly humbling. I think I could have spent a year in that building alone. After the museum, we took the overnight train to Aswan, in Southern Egypt (just above the Sudanese border) and will spent the next few days exploring the area before cruising up the Nile.

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