Sunday, April 5, 2009

Highlights of Cairo

The last week of our Jerusalem Program was free for travel - so 3 girlfriends and I sprinted for Egypt.

We bought a bus ticket that took us from Tel Aviv to Cairo for about $90. Despite reading in about 4 places that it was impossible, we were able to buy our visas at the border for $15 when we crossed at the Taba border crossing. We went straight, all the way across the Sinai to Cairo. The total trip from Tel Aviv to Cairo took about 14 hours.

When we got to the city, we jumped in the cab and had the driver take us to a hostel that was recommended in Lonely Planet, Lialy Hostel. Despite the creepiness of this picture, the place was clean and the staff incredibly friendly and helpful. I would recommend it.After resting from our travel-marathon, we woke up early and headed to Giza to see the pyramids. (That was fabulous and those pictures will come later.)

The second day we met up with the uncle of one of our friends, who gave us a personal tour of Cairo. We of course requested to go shopping, so he took us to the Khan El Khalili Bazaar. The largest bazaar in - the world? Egypt? The largest something. And it. was. large.

Right in front of the bazaar is where a bomb exploded the week before we were there. I know, I know, you are worried. But I made it back just fine. This is a picture of the area - it amazes me how quickly the normal routine returns. People are resilient.

A picture of the bazaar.

I thought this was great - a man getting a shave in the middle of the street.

Cairo traffic is something to note - it rivals any I've seen in the world. It is completely ordered chaos. But it somehow seems to work - people weave in and out and honk here and there and somehow get to where they need to go. There is really no way to capture it in a photograph, but here is a cool picture I took from the inside of one of the cabs.

All in all, I was impressed with Cairo. I had heard so many negative things about it, I expected to utterly hate it. However, that wasn't the case at all. It is huge, yes. And people are aggressive, yes. But there is a great energy there, and so many places to explore. I would go back (this is something to note because I usually HATE large African cities).

For those traveling to the area: One 'low-light', however, was the Egyptian Museum. It was enormous, and had literally thousands and thousands of - I don't even know what to call them - things from tombs? I mean, every pyramid-y Egyptian-y thing you could imagine was in this museum. However, hardly anything is labeled in English, and it is very difficult to navigate - in essence, it is not user-friendly. If you are travelling there and don't have a lot of time, I would skip it - or if you do go, make sure to hire a guide who can tell some stories to explain what you are seeing. We didn't do that and ended up walking around aimlessly and found it both exhausting and frustrating that we didn't know what we were looking at.

1 comment:

Victor said...

The tombs remind me of women's attempt to figure out men. On another note, I've always wanted to go to Egypt. Sounds like fantastic travels.