One of seven wonders
Cairo Travel Blog› entry 11 of 23 › view all entries
Ed, Mariel and I came into Cairo by bus after the dramas of the Tombs of Beni Hasan and the dangers of Minya. I guess I had a sense of regret arriving here because in the short 14 days of my stay in Egypt I'd met some terrific people and made three good friends.
The bus was hot and dusty so I had secured a window seat where I was able to watch the landscape roll by as we traced the edge of the Nile.
Even though I have just said my stay was 14 short days, it seemed an age since we had been laying easy on the felucca, enjoying the cool breeze that carried our vessel North from Aswan to Luxor.
Here in the outskirts of the capital city I knew that I wouldn't be going anywhere near the water as it looked so clogged with rubbish and scum I was sure I could have walked across the vile mixture sitting on top. I hoped the city didn't draw it's water from anywhere near this part of the river, I couldn't even imagine showering in it let alone drinking the stuff!
As we wound our way through the roading system I saw the second crash I had seen since my arrival. A car had struck the rear of a donkey cart. Everyone looked uninjured but the cart had lost a wheel and the traffic was snarling up behind.
I was pleased we were able to skirt the scene rather than have to sit here in the rolling tin can, baking any more than was necessary.
I liked Cairo as a city. E&M had been here a couple of weeks earlier and were keen to get back to the Nafititi Hotel where the movie producer visited each day to gather extras for whatever collossus he was working on at that time. They hoped they could refil their purse before heading South through the rest of Africa.
When the man finally came he bore the bad news that there would be no more shooting as the movie was in production stage now. I felt a pang of regret that I would never realise my dream of becoming an Egyptian idol; a dream I had harboured for a whole 4 days!
We shared a room in the Nafititi Hotel. Not only with the each other but with some of the LARGEST cockroaches I had ever seen!
That first night we'd just settled into our respective beds and as I lay looking at the ceiling, my gaze caught sight of a bug inching it's way down the wall towards my face.
The first thing I wished to visit was the Giza area and it's pyramids. I took the bus out from the center and craned forward past the driver in an effort to spot the massive structures though the windscreen. I was thrilled when I finally caught glimps of them between the buildings of the city's edge.
Wandering about the pyramids I was approached by young men intent on having me hire their camels. I couldn't shake them at all and even as I set out across the desert away from the main cluster around Cheops great pyramid, the fellow followed asking every two minutes if I was ready to ride.
I had already ridden a camel in Aswan and after the heat of the Valley of the Kings, I found Cairo very easy going. I was not interested in this chap and his dromedary.
From out in the sand drifts I took a few snaps of the pyramids and the city. I was fascinated by the sharpness of the the division between desert and metropolis. As I started down the hill toward the Sphinx my "friend" finally accepted the fact I was not going to ride his camel. he delivered a vehement tirade of choice swear words in my direction and headed back across the dunes towards the pyramids.
The sphinx wasn't as spectacular as I had expected. Smaller than I had imagined, I think the lightshow each evening would add that bit of drama to the place. It was obvious that time was against her.
The next day E&M joined me for a tour of the Coptic area of Cairo. It just wasn't possible to see everything this vast and ancient city had to offer in just 3 days so we had to be choosy.
I found the woodwork of the Hanging Church beautiful. The whole place was spectacular and I was struck by the feeling again that modern construction had become too expensive so had lost much of the "art" that is common in historical architecture.
My family have always been woodworkers and I appreciated the beauty of the work very very much.
OUr last day was spent in the center of the city. We visited the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, did some shopping, and wandered about to just enjoy the bustle of the place.
Ed and Mariel were due to leave in mid-afternoon so I saw them off when they went. My own train wasn't due to go until the evening. It was an overnighter back to Luxor.
I wasn't able to sleep much on the train so when I arrived in Luxor I returned to the Sherif Hotel where I got a few hours sleep before I had to grab a taxi out to the airport for my return to London.
At the airport a uniformed official voiced to me his displeasure at my not registering my arrival in his country as I was required within the first three days. I wasn't too concerned and explained that i had received advice there was no longer a need. He didn't think that was a good excuse but what was he going to do, keep me there?
I boarded my plane and a few hours later exited a London train station, crossed the road, and booked a hostel bed for 25 English Pounds.
I thought it very odd that I had spent 14 days arguing over the cost of accomodation around 5 English Pounds yet now I didn't bat an eyelid.
Welcome to the western world!