Al Azbakīyah

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5 travelers at this place

  • Day35

    Day 34: Back to Cairo

    April 8, 2011 in Egypt ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Another long day of travelling today. We packed up our 4WDs and set off from the deserts north-east towards Cairo. Finally arrived mid-afternoon to find that downtown around Tahrir Square was jam-packed with an enormous protest. We had been travelling around not long after the first phase of the revolution had ended (President Mubarak had stepped down and fled the country, but the political turmoil and rise of extremists like the Muslim Brotherhood was yet to come).

    Since it was a Friday and regular Friday prayers had finished for the day, the people flooded onto the streets to air their grievances and utilise their new freedom of speech. We drove nearby and had a look, but decided not to join in! I contended myself with flying an Egyptian flag out of the window as we drove towards the hotel, which Mohamed assured me would be completely fine.

    As an aside, everywhere we went in Egypt was generally free of tourists. Due to the revolution most people had cancelled their tours, and this trip was actually the first one Intrepid had run since it had kicked off in January. But we never once felt threatened or unsafe - people's grievances were with the government, not with foreigners, and we were generally left alone. Though I remember one conversation with a tearful lady who showed me photos of her sons who had both been killed by government forces in the uprising. She pleaded with me to go home and tell my friends and family that Egypt was a safe place, and that everyone was welcome. Tourism is the majority of the Egyptian economy, and without the tourist dollar a lot of people go hungry.

    We didn't venture out far in the evening, only having dinner at a nearby felafel roll place, given that the protests and demonstrations in the Square were only 700-800 metres away (in the map above, follow Ramses Street southwest to the Museum and that's where the square is; the X marks our hotel). As it was our last night together, we all went to a nearby tea & shisha place where we drank tea, smoked shisha and played backgammon for a while. The group was pretty great and had no real conflicts thankfully!

    A bit of noise around midnight and the riot police moved in and dispersed the crowd with tear gas and rubber bullets. Also saw a pair of Apache attack helicopters buzzing around, noses pointed low and ready to go which was a bit of a thrill!
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    Trish Forrester

    Tourism is at least one way those in wealthier countries can inject cash into places that need aid, and it's completely independent of your government's policies!

  • Day23

    Day 22: Pyramids & Egyptian Museum

    March 27, 2011 in Egypt ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    Met the rest of the group over breakfast. There's 10 of us - two couples from Melbourne (Tim & Cara, Matt & Clare), a couple from Brisbane (Shane & Jodie), a single mum from Adelaide (Cheryl) and a pair of Canadian girls from Toronto (Jess & Jenn). Everyone is young and friendly and seem pretty chilled out which bodes well.

    First stop for the day was the Pyramids which literally just stick out of the city. There's not much I can say that hasn't already been said about them. They're huge, impressive, so iconic it's hard to believe they're really there, and surrounded by friendly people doing their utmost to rip you off. Being brought up with British manners, it's hard to not reply when someone calls out "hello my friend, where are you from?", but they only want to part you with your money. One kid even rode his camel into a photo and then demanded a tip for being in the photo!

    We wandered around for a couple of hours and went inside the Great Pyramid to the burial chamber which was incredible. Visited the boat museum (they found an enormous wooden boat buried next to the great pyramid in the 1950s) and the panoramic vantage point where we took some silly group shots.

    After that we went down the hill to the Sphinx which is beautiful but smaller than I expected. And again surrounded by street vendors and touts. Had lunch at a nearby local joint where we ate koshari - Egypt's national dish of noodles, rice, chickpeas and other stuff mixed in. Very delicious, but carb overload!

    In the afternoon we visited the Egyptian Museum. The collection is mammoth and way more than we could see in an afternoon. I wandered around with the Canadian girls, marvelling at the statues, sarcophagi and so on. And of course the entire wing dedicated to King Tut's burial chambers. Sadly we missed the Rosetta Stone!

    Back to the hotel where I killed time for an hour or so before a group meeting ahead of our overnight train to Aswan. We got upgraded to sleeper cabins which is awesome, though I had to share with Cheryl the single mum, but that was no big deal. Much better than sitting up in a seat for 14 hours!
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    Trish Forrester


    Trish Forrester

    Your head is exactly the right size 😉

    Trish Forrester

    An amazing place. Doesn't look too busy

  • Day22

    Day 21: Dubai to Cairo

    March 26, 2011 in Egypt ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    Said a tearful goodbye to Shandos as she left for the airport in the morning on her way back to Sydney, before settling in to a long day of time-killing. Originally I'd booked a flight to Cairo at 9am, but a few weeks before leaving Sydney Emirates had changed their schedule, pushing my flight back to 6pm Dubai time. So I killed time at the hotel, killed time at the airport. Almost bought a Man United shirt duty free, but they didn't have my size.

    Had the shittiest flight to Cairo - despite getting an exit row seat with lots of leg room I had no window and was wedged between the wall and a fat man, right next to the screaming baby section. Plane left an hour late, was bumpy the whole way and I dropped fish curry on myself during turbulence.

    At last the flight ended and I got through the airport OK, cleared customs and met the transfer man. The drive to the hotel was an experience - Cairo traffic is crazier than anywhere I've seen. No rules and nobody bothers doing anything except swerving, beeping, flashing their lights and cutting people off. Pedestrians do the same thing, just walking through the traffic.

    At the hotel I met the tour leader Mohamed who's a pretty young and funny guy. Since my flight was late I missed the group meeting and dinner, so meeting the group will have to wait for the morning. Tired after a long day of travel and expecting an early start I went to bed around 10 and slept through the constant car honking and calls to prayer.
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    Trish Forrester

    Amusing description of your flight - not at the time of course!


You might also know this place by the following names:

Al Azbakīyah, Al Azbakiyah, الازبكية