Egyptian Culture and History in Cairo

This blog post was guest written by our daughter, Lindsey. You can see more pictures from the trip on her Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/adventure_in_moving.

We arrived in Cairo, Egypt after a long day of travel (about 24 hours) and were glad to img_2065see my parents waiting with a taxi ready. We took an exciting and slightly scary ride to our AirBnB in downtown Cairo. Drivers in Egypt do not pay attention to lines on the road or use blinkers, they use horns instead. While this was surprising to us, my Mom and Dad said it was nothing compared to the chaos of India where they had just come from. We arrived at our building, which was old and rundown on the outside but a bright, elaborate, mini-museum on the inside.

img_2068The next day we walked just one block over to the Egyptian Museum. On the way, we encountered our first “helpful” local who seemed to be giving directions but really just wanted us to check out his family’s shop. It was funny how often that ended up happening…I think I fell for it every time! The Egyptian Museum is a grand building near Tahrir Square, where the 2011 Egyptian Revolution took place. This was also the first experience we had with other tourists wanting to take pictures with us…my Dad especially loves it. 😉 The museum holds over 160,000 pieces spanning 5,000 years of Egyptian history. Later, we found a near by tour company and booked our pyramid tour for the next day.

The Pyramids of Giza are truly an amazing sight! The fact that they are the last img_2061remaining of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World makes them that much more enchanting. We were pleasantly surprised by the lack of crowds and had a lot of time to walk around, take pictures and even get in a camel ride. I was reminded of our great caving adventure in New Zealand (New Zealand Family Reunion) when we got to go inside the tomb of Menkaure. It was awesome but I don’t do so well with small, underground spaces! The other two pyramids were tombs for Khafre (Menkaure’s Dad) and Khufu (Khafre’s Dad) and the Sphinx (that connects to Khafre’s pyramid complex. Our tour guide, Mostafa Zohary, did a great job of explaining everything and capturing some good shots. So good in fact, we asked him to make our reservation for a dinner cruise on the Nile River.

Our boat, the Andrea took us on a two hour night tour of the Nile. It included a img_2071delicious buffet and great views of the city. After dinner we were treated to a traditional belly dancing and whirling dervish show that was really cool. Somehow I always get chosen to join in…although I found out later I had been volunteered behind my back. 😉 Cairo, just like lots of big cities, is crowded and pretty grubby in the day but at night it feels like a whole different, magical place.

On Friday when we ventured outside to head to The Citadel we were struck by the lack of traffic and people and the extra presence of police. Turned out two things were going on. One, Friday is the Muslim Holy Day so most things are closed and people are not out and about (similar to Sunday’s in the Southern U.S.). And two, there had been a call on social media for people to protest against the government, so the police were out in force making sure nothing was happening. Luckily there were no incidences.

The Citadel is an old army base that is also home to Muhammad Ali’s mosque (no, not the boxer!). Muhammad Ali is often considered the founder of modern Egypt because he made dramatic changes to Egypt’s military, economy and culture when he ruled from 1769 to 1849. The complex also houses some small museums but the main attraction was the beautiful Mosque.

Lastly, we visited Cairo’s oldest bazaar, Khan Al Kahlili. We took off into the maze of img_2059streets and shops and quickly found ourselves trapped in the clothing district. It got so tiny and crowded at times we found ourselves looking for daylight to get back to the wide streets. After that, Ryan and my Dad found a comfy place to have some Egyptian coffee and sheesha (Egyptian Hookah) while my Mom and I ventured back for shopping. It was really fun to bargain with the store owners and get some cool Egyptian trinkets.

img_2070Cairo was quite the culture shock for my husband and I (not my parents of course if you’ve been following the blog…) but it was also enriching, educating and humbling. From Cairo we headed for a completely different type of vacation in Sharm El Sheikh on the Red Sea.

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4 thoughts on “Egyptian Culture and History in Cairo

  1. Hey Mike, Larry Cox. I now work with Harry in Ceres. He has been forwarding your progress. Pretty entertaining. Hope you are having fun….

  2. Loved the way the blog is written.
    Reminded me of a fiction thriller titled ‘The Sphinx’ I read as a kid.
    Lack of tourists could be due to the anti govt protests , but that makes sightseeing much relaxed and offers better bargains.

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