Yes, folks, I’m finally getting around to it! Please note that Part Two is already posted BELOW this, so you can read right through, and pics are three posts back.
This is a few of the highlights, followed by a breakdown by days. Let me know if you want me to expand on anything.
- Hot Air Balloon Ride—Mom and I went on a hot air balloon ride over the West Bank of
for Christmas, which was fabulous. We got to fly over all of the cool monuments that we didn’t have the time or inclination to visit, and despite the smog, the views were great. Also, no people screaming at you to ride their camel at 2000 feet. Luxor
- Desert/Oases—We went out into the Western Desert twice—to Siwa Oasis near the Libyan border, which was cold but delightfully laid back and surrounded by beautiful sites, and to Bahariyya Oasis and the White Desert, which was… cold but delightfully laid back and surrounded by beautiful sites.
- Food—Oh. My. God. This might be partially because I was coming from
Madagascar, where the cuisine has the creativity and variety of, ahem, plain white rice, but the food in was fabulous. We had kusherie practically every day—a delightful comfort food mix of pasta, rice, lentils, garbanzo beans, dried onions, tomato sauce, and garlic sauce IN ONE BOWL. There were stands of fresh fruit juice on every block, mint tea at every turn, yummy desserts (including om aly, which is pastry shell, milk, and almonds under a crème brulee-ish crust). Even the random side dishes, like fried cauliflower in thyme sauce and beet salad, were delicious. Oh, and did I mention that this is all street food, and costs less than a dollar? Sigh… Egypt
Despite the political climate of the past month, and despite the religious bombing in
Now, I guess, for the hassle. I didn’t find Egyptian men nearly as unpleasant and aggressive as people told me they would be, though I’m sure this was helped by the fact that I was traveling with another woman (either my mother or another female traveler) most of the time. Plus, my tolerance of harassment has been skewed by living in
Day One: I got into
I eventually found my way to the Egyptian museum, that overcrowded and poorly labeled treasure-trove that contains with all things, provided they are old, carved, stone, and Egyptian. I reluctantly braved the absurd security measures and entrance price (the security measures seemed especially absurd a few weeks ago, when I read that rioters broke in and damaged some mummies). Then I took a deep breath and plunged into the crowds of (sorry) fat, rude, uncaring, and one udder short of a moo tourists. My god, however do people think they can enjoy a trip when their being whisked around by a Nazi tour guide, who charges them five times what they should pay and makes everyone else’s lives miserable by attempting poke their little FOLLOW ME flags in the eye of every independent and thoughtful tourist?
In the afternoon I had my first bowl of kusherie (instantly hooked), braved the insane traffic (no pedestrian crossings for the most part, you just run out in front of cars and hope for the best), and met up with a lovely Vietnamese-French woman who treated me to dinner after I tried to help her locate her lost baggage by translating in my shoddy French.
Day Two: I met another female traveler over hostel breakfast and since my Mom wasn’t supposed to come in until later that night, we decided to take the (fantastic, clean, and efficient) Cairo Metro to Coptic Cairo. We hit up the museum first, which has everything (really, EVERYTHING) you could ever want to know about Coptic religious art. Very nicely presented but paled in contrast to the
Several of the churches in the area were unfortunately under construction, but I did enjoy seeing the
On the way back to the hotel to meet up with my Mom, we stopped at
Day Three: With The Mother Unit finally accounted for despite the best efforts of the London snowstorms, we headed to Muslim Quarter for a day of bartering at the market (Ted, you taught me well) and eating (Egyptian pancakes—not always as good as they sound). Some of the market guys were annoying (Hey lady, looking is free), but wandering around the alleys filled with leather and spices and silver and fabrics was…delightful. I feel like I’ve used that word before, but there you go.
Day Four: This is the day you’ve been waiting for, THE PYRAMIDS, dum dum DUM. (That was dramatic music, by the way). We split a cab for the day with two other tourists and headed to The Big Boys Who Were Definitely Overcompensating, only to see—well, not much actually. The Pyramids, as happens oh so rarely, were fogged in. Seriously!?! We could just make out the sphinx through the mist, since we were kept farther away than usual because of construction. And we could see maybe a quarter of the way up the pyramids. The one thing we could see very clearly were the camel drivers, who popped up every ten feet HEYLADYYOUWANTCAMELGUESSHOWMUCHHISNAMEMICHAELJACKSONHELOVEYOU.…so we headed out to out next destination,
OK, quick and incomplete pyramids history here. Basically this dude Zoser decided about 5000 years ago to make a monument and tomb everyone would remember him for, so he piled layer of rocks on top of one another to make a 6-layer step Pyramid, also known as
If anyone reading this is an Egyptologist or just really well read, I apologize for the preceding paragraph, I don’t have my guidebook or Google so it’s just what I remember off the top of my head. But it does give you a little context to the next few sites, since we went to
But wait! Day’s not over yet! We suddenly realized that we still hadn’t really seen the Pyramids, we had a multi-entry day ticket, and that the site was still open for an hour. So after some arguing with our driver, we went back to the Pyramids for sunset and managed to actually see them and photograph them. Very cool, despite the crowds and camel dudes. And then, having lost our taxi because of the “late” hour, we took the metro back into the city (probably got back faster that way, anyway). That night, we took the train down to