Κάιρο (Part II) Eight Muhammad Ali Specials in 3 days

March 23, 2009

I should have learned this lesson in like the 4th grade with keeping a journal, write it down right away or you’re going to forget. But I’m going to do my best!

So Friday afternoon we trekked with Nana (our tourguide) over to the Egyptian Museum.  It holds probably the most impressive collection of artifacts I’ve ever seen, but on the whole I was a little dissapointed with the museum.  If we hadn’t had Nana telling us what everything was and guiding us through the maze of rooms- I would have had no cluse what was going on.  It’s a museum that is in desperate need of a rennovation and some technology.  We joked that it’s probably been planned for the near future, which to the Egyptians could be anywhere from five to 200 years from now.

The coolest things we got to see were all the parts of Tutenkamen’s tomb.  I really have no idea if I’m spelling that right though so just deal with it.  I wish I could have taken my camerica into the museum because it’s hard to put words to express how impressive some of this stuff was.  I had JUST wrapped my mind around all of the old stuff in Greece.  After Vergina I was finally starting to comprehend the age of the area here in Macedonian, and now I go to Egypt and literally cannot comprehend how they did this stuff that many thousands of years ago.  The history of that city, the country and the culture is beyond anything my tiny little brain can absorb.

After the museum they took us back to Khan el-Kalili and we spent some time talking with Nana over coffee.  We braved the market and it’s abrasive salesmen long enough to buy another 82 scarves each (at less than 2 dollars for each, can you blame me? in the states the SAME EXACT THING would be at least 19.99).  We parted ways with our driver and Nana when they dropped us off at our new home (Hostel Brothers Cairo- find it on hostelworld.com- it was great, I’d definitely recommend it).  That evening we made getting shwarma and falafel our goals, which was made inifinitely easier by the AMAZING chain right around the corner from our place.  We stuffed our faces and joined what seemed like every other person in Cairo in walking around with an ice cream cone for the rest of the evening.

Saturday morning found the three of us with VERY sore legs eating our hot-dog-bun-free-breakfast at the hostel.  We met two girls flying solo through the city for the day and decided to show them our superior bargaining skills back at Khan el-Kalili (yes that is our third trip there- the girls went once more on Sunday morning haha- I couldn’t bring myself to do it.)  We had a great time wandering around and finally collapsed back at the main square for some lunch and sheesha (hookah/water pipe).  The other girls had to get back to catch a flight so the three of us stuck around a bit longer and then made our way over to the Citadel of Cairo. 

Being ignorant foreigners, we paid a bit too much for the cab and completely ran out of Egyptian pounds for the entry fee- but the trading money with sketchy men in shop stalls was worth it.  The citadel is on the Eastern side of the city (if my internal compass remembers correctly) and has an amazing view of the whole metropolis.  We could even see the pyramids through the smog in the distance.  We got a chance to go into the Mosque of Muhammad Ali (one of three I think in the citadel) and it was amazing.  Even though I’m a less-than-religious person (to put it mildly) I’ve always loved places of worship- and I’m pretty sure this was my favorite so far.  Giant ornate cathedrals like Notre Dame and the Duomo in Milan are always impressive with their vaulted ceilings and colorful stained glass windows- but I have never felt more spiritual or connected to a ‘divine’ presence than I did in this mosque.  Iit was a combination of the beautiful outdoor section with its amazing peeling paint texture, the sitting on the floor inside and the simplicity of the decor that made me feel so in awe and at peace.

We explored around the citadel for the rest of the afternoon, laughing at the macho displays outside of the Military Museum and the Police Museum.  It took us a bit longer to find a taxi back and once we finally did it was still another hour home because of all the lovely Cairo traffic.  We pit stopped at the hostel and then rushed to the Nile (only like an eight minute walk) to catch a Felucca ride out onto the water for the sunset.  We were the only foriegners on the boat (that was FULL of young people and loud music haha) and it was hilarious watching them dance and laugh (and stare at us).  I don’t think I spent quite enough time appreciating the fact that i was sailing on THE NILE only the most famous river perhaps in history.  Sigh.

That night we made it our mission to find the kosheri place from the first night agian- which turned out to be much easier than we expected.  We even found Muhammad Ali’s and, despite the 5 EGP massive bowl of kosheri only ten minutes before (that I had eaten in about five), I managed to fit three more glasses of juice into my stomach.  We rolled ourselves back to the hostel and were lazy until I got a call from Jessie to meet up with her in the circle down the street from our hostel.  Jeni and Deirdre decided to stay in so Jessie and I went to her favorite open air sheesha place and got to catch up on the last two months of our lives. 

I got home in time to get a few hours of sleep before the girls roused me for breakfast.  We made big moves and only had one of our two hot dog rolls for breakfast since we were planning a grand farewell to egyptian food for lunch before our flight.  The girls went to Khan el-Kalili and I went to sun myself outside of the Egyptian museum which was glorious.  We ate our weight in falafel and shwarma around the corner from our hostel and then bartered our way to the airport.

I was sad to leave, but excited to get back to Thess and clean(er) air.  You know how sometimes you just know things?  I know I’ll go back.  (and hopefully next time as not quite such an obvious tourist). 

Pictures to come this evening when I’m home!

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One Response to “Κάιρο (Part II) Eight Muhammad Ali Specials in 3 days”

  1. Emily said

    allison, i’m dissapointed with the lack of updates here. how am i supposed to live through you if you don’t tell me what you’re doing!?

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