I have been too slow in posting pictures and thoughts about our recent trip to Egypt. Our granddaughter Madeleine gets two weeks of spring break and we planned to spend part of that time with Allyson, Luke, Maddie and Isabelle. Ally called to let us know that they had decided to take a beach “holiday” to Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt and invited us along. Rick got busy finding flights and I got busy booking tours.
We left Tokyo in April 3 and flew to Cairo, arriving quite late that night. We were up early the next morning to meet our tour guide Colin and his driver Wael. Colin is Australian and Wael is Egyptian. He found Wael driving a taxi and hired him to be his driver and peronal assistant. We enjoyed the day we spent with them very much. Initially, I had just scheduled a trip to the Giza pyramids and Coptic Cairo (Christian). Colin convinced us that we needed to visit the City of the Dead and the Nilometer, as well. So off we went!
The pyramids at Giza are incredible. It is impossible to comprehend how these were built so long ago and without the technology we have today. Rick went inside one of the smaller ones, but the entry felt a bit too claustrophobic for me so I backed out. Here are some photos of the pyramids. It was quite foggy and hazy.
After walking around the pyramids, we went into the solar boat museum. This is a boat that the excavated from the area around the pyramids and then assembled. It is called a solar boat because it’s purpose was to take the Pharoah to the sun in the next life.
Next we saw the Sphinx, it is much smaller than I thought it would be from seeing it in photographs.
We left Giza and drove back into the heart of Cairo. We loved looking out the windows at the neighborhoods, shops and Egyptian people. It reminded us of Saudi Arabia in many ways. Lunch was funny. Although we would have loved a schwarma or kebab as it is called in some parts of the world, Colin was worried about us getting sick. We pulled into an Exxon and got lunch at the “On the Run” convenience store. our second stop was Coptic (or Christian Cairo0 We saw the site (alleged) of where May and Joseph with Jesus fled to when they left Jerusalem.
After Coptic Cairo we headed to the City of the Dead to see what Colin says is the best mosque in Cairo. The City of the Dead is a huge collection of cemeteries that stretch for miles. Five million people have come to live here because they cannot find suitable, affordable housing. These people are among Egypt’s poorest. The people who live here have made the tombs their homes. They have also set up businesses and shops. They are grateful for a place to live, but there are disadvantages to living here. There are problems with insects, rodents, rubbish and sewage. The residents are living there illegally and so they live with the uncertainty of whether the government will let them stay. The government does not like foreigners to the see the city. They think its existence reflects poorly on the country. Colin uses some diplomatic association that he has with the British Embassy to get in. Also, everywhere we went he had friends. He and Wael were constantly doing the magic handshake or offering what Egyptians call “baksheesh” (giving tips). It was because of this that we were relatively unbothered as we made out way around all the sites.
On our second day in Cairo we met Mustafa in the lobby and he was both Egyptoligist and driver. He took us to the Egyptian museum. When I lived in London I spent a lot of time in the museums. I often thought that the British should return the artifacts it had taken from other countries. Take the Rosetta Stone for example, I used to think that it belonged back in Egypt. When we entered the musuem the first thing our guide did was take us to a wall with a replica of the Rosetta Stone and told us how it said that the British should give the original back to Egypt. As I walked throughout the museum I began to understand why the British Museum is hanging on to it; and I have resigned myself to the fact that it is better off in England, for now. The Egyptian Museum was built in 1901 and by all appearances no improvements have been made since then. On the things that have descriptions they are in an ancient wooden frame and are typed (Yes!!! Typed as in 3X5 card on a typewriter typed!) It appears that many things were put in glass cases many, many years ago and have not been touched since. The exhibits that were closest to being up to modern museum standards were the King Tut exhibit and the Royal Mummy Rooms. Mustafa told us that a new grand museum is in the works and if that is the case and if it is state of the art then maybe they should have the Rosetta Stone and other items that were taken returned. After our visit to the museum we loaded up and headed to the airport for our 1 hour flight to Sharm el Sheikh and the “Beach Holiday.” Here are some photos of our fun in the sun, Ally’s birthday and our day trip to Mount Sinai.
We were able to see many interesting things we had studied about in the Bible and history units on Egypt in school. The best part by far was spending time with each other and Luke, Ally, Maddie and Izzie