Change Yourself…Change The World.


C-C-C-Cairo
July 21, 2010, 4:51 pm
Filed under: Egypt, Pictures Post

Hey guys!

It’s been 24 hours in Cairo so far, and I’ve been enjoying every minute of it. When you get to Cairo, you are immediately IN it: the city, the people, the heat- and so quite like Cairo, let’s jump right into the travel stories.

I got in at 4 PM yesterday, sweated through customs (a pre-cursor to the heat wave in Cairo, which tops 95 degrees), and was greeted by a pre-arranged taxi driver (through my Hotel- I had heard through the grapevine that getting out of the Cairo airport was madness, and not something I wanted to brave jet-lagged and re-orientating myself back into the backpacker lifestyle) to take me to Cecilia Hotel (more about this awesome hotel later). He greeted with the customary ‘Hello ma’am, WELCOME TO CAIRO! Yes, you look like such a good and nice girl, I know that you are a good girl, here in Egypt we have this and that,’ and a stream of chatter all the way to his taxi, where he apologized profusely for his ’85 volvo (at least it had a seatbelt) and promptly offered me juice, cigarettes, and every item he had available in his car.

Driving through Cairo, and being here for the past day, has given me an immeasurable feeling of how similar the city is to Delhi, India. Car drivers jostle each other in the road, disregarding the lines and honking and cursing; the heat is overwhelming and the entire city has a dusty air to it; men either whistle at you in the street, try to come up and start a conversation, or force you to buy their wares; even the lanes on the side of the street are painted the exact same colors! It’s really surreal. And I love every second of it. I feel so comfortable, and uncomfortable here, at the same time. A walking paradox.

My hostel I’m staying at, Hotel Cecilia, is really fantastic for the price ($7 a night)- it has free breakfast (which consists of bread, cheese, an egg, and Egyptian tea), wi-fi with great speed (huge plus), an awesome terrace on the sixth floor (and don’t worry, there’s an elevator in the building), and best of all, air-conditioning- a HUGE plus and really difficult to find in a budget hotel. Plus, the staff are really nice. Best of all, it’s right in the middle of downtown Cairo. I totally recommend this place for budget travelers.

Back to what I’ve been doing– I could continue to tell every little detail of what I’ve been up to, but I’m trying to keep this post to the bare minimum, SO. This morning I woke up bright and early (I’ve successfully skipped the jet lag by making sure I go to sleep in this time zone) and decided I would spend my day wandering around the city area, with no particular idea in mind of what I would see or do. And as this always seems to happen to me on days I don’t have any plans, I immediately stumbled into one of the largest tourist destinations in Cairo: The Egyptian Museum.

A few basic lessons about the Egyptian Museum: one, bring your student ID card for half the fee. Two, do not buy ANY food or water in the restaurant, it’s 3 times the price anywhere else (the same goes with the gifts, which you can easily find in Khan el-Khalili) Three, be prepared to spend a lot there (about 30 dollars, if you’re not a student) for the entire package- they don’t tell you that there’s another exhibit inside that costs 100 additional Egyptian Pounds (20 dollars) where the best stuff is- the mummy collection. I sadly, didn’t end up going inside there (I’m budget traveling and decided against it), but it was a small collection anyway. The entire rest of the museum was really fantastic. It is massive, and avid museum-goers could easily spend hours there. I spent about an hour and a half there, which is rare for me since I’m not big on museums. My favorite exhibit was the room of King Tut, where two out of three of his tombs are, including his famous headpiece (check out the pictures below).

Afterwards, I went to Pizza Hut for lunch. I am totally not ashamed to say that. Adjusting to traveling again is hard, particularly on the stomach. I’d rather play it safe the first day while still orienting to the time schedule and traveling, then throw too many crazy things in the mix at once. So why I’m including this random factoid in my little story is because I met two other travelers at Pizza Hut, Petra and Tara, who were both from Australia. They had been traveling all over Africa and were ending in Egypt. We chatted for awhile and made plans to go to Khan el-Khalili, which is Cairo’s most famous bazaar, home to all kinds of artifacts and notoriously famous for its spices.

Khan el-Khalili is definitely a ‘tourist trap’- I’d say it’s on a similar level of Paharganj, Delhi, or the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey- except WAY more spread out. We spent about two hours winding through all of the streets and getting completely lost, only to eventually find ourselves right back where we started, where we relaxed at a restaurant with mango juice, and I tried grilled pigeon. I’ll save that for the next post.

So there’s a rundown of Cairo so far. It’s been quite an adventure, and I’m excited to see where this week will take me!

In the meantime, check out the pictures below! Enjoy and thanks for listening.

Let’s get it started- Cairo.

Downtown Cairo

Cairo from my hostel balcony.

Cecilia Hostel is situated on the sixth floor of a building. This is the entrance to the elevator.

Hellooooo elevator.

Egyptian Museum in Cairo!

Inside the Egyptian Museum.

Ancient Hieroglyphics.

King Tut’s innermost tomb.

King Tut’s famous head piece.

Ahhhh I love you Egypt. Shisha everywhere.

Khan el-Khalili bazaar.

Cool.

Way too many amazing things to buy here. No wonder it’s a tourist trap. Fortunately, it’s VERY easy to bargain here.

We stumbled upon this area of the bazaar. Really beautiful.

This area reminds me of Northern Italy.

Hanging out in Khan el-Khalili bazaar.

This reminds me of the Star Wars movies. I tried to explain this to my Australian friends, who thought I was a weirdo.

My new Aussie friends and soon-to-be roommates, Tara and Petra.

Greetings from Egypt.

Cairo at sunset.

Until tomorrow!

Peace from the REAL Middle East!

Brittany


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