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    • Day 162


      August 30, 2022 in Egypt ⋅ ☀️ 91 °F

      Miles: 2.4 Steps: 5638 Flights: 13

      We went to downtown Cairo today to the Egyptian Museum. What a difference in areas - Everywhere that ISN’T downtown is littered with garbage, buildings falling down and just outright nasty. Then you cross into the downtown area and it’s clean and modern.

      The museum was neat - we saw two actual mummies which was a first.

      Spent the rest of our day at our hotel, working in the room looking at the pyramids out of window. So nice to have that view 24/7 since that’s what we came here for.

      Saw another amazing sunset and the light show. Egypt is in a “reconsider travel here” warning by the state department - but so far, really glad we took the risk and made the stop here!
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    • Day 6

      Eine Stadt im Wandel

      September 16, 2022 in Egypt ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

      23.00Uhr ging es los von unserem Hotel in Marsa Alam. Die ganze Nacht sind wir mit dem Bus gefahren in den frühen Morgenstunden erreichten wir Kairo. Zu unserem Glück wurde für uns ein eigener Bus mit eigenen Reiseleiter organisiert, sodass wir uns breit machen konnten.

      In Kairo angekommen erlebten wir sofort das wahre ägyptische Leben, außerhalb der großen Hotelanlagen am Roten Meer.

      Es wird viel gebaut und abgerissen. Alle Autos, Pferdekutschen, Busse, Motorräder und was noch so herumfährt/-läuft ist ein einziges Wirrwarr. Überall hupt es. Man fühlt sich angekommen im Orient.

      Morgens ging es für uns zuerst in das „Ägyptische Museum“ in welchem man bis zu 7000 Jahre ägyptische Geschichte bewundern kann. Unser Reiseleiter schickte uns nicht alleine durch, sondern gab uns viele Informationen zu den einzelnen Artefakten.

      Nach zwei Stunden Geschichte ging es zum Bazar von Kairo. Dort gab es einen ersten Kulturschock. Ein reges Treiben, viel Geschrei der Händler und wir mitten drin. Nach einer Runde durch die Gassen setzten wir uns in ein Straßenkaffee.

      Bei einer heißen Tasse Schwarztee ☕️, schauten wir eine ganze Weile den Leuten zu. Dann ging es zurück zum Bus, natürlich quer über die Straße durch den völlig chaotischen Verkehr.

      Nach dem Mittagessen, welches ich nur bedingt genießen konnte, ging es zuerst von der Parfümerie zu Papyrusmanufaktur. Die Verkäufer gaben sich dabei beste Mühe uns das Geld aus der Tasche zu ziehen.

      Danach ging es für eine kurze Mittagsruhe zurück ins Hotel.
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    • Day 4

      Khan al Khalili

      October 16, 2022 in Egypt ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

      Islamic City of Al Mosaaz and the Bazaars. Some might believe this place is a tourist trap, but as Lonely Planet mansplained to me, they have been selling things here since the 14th century, long before the arrival of the first tour bus!
      I have unwittingly labeled myself as an easy mark by wearing an Egyptian shirt I purchased 5 years ago on a trip to Luxor. All the local merchants who see my white, Egyptian cotton shirt know that I am the kind of guy who buys stuff from anyone who is persistent. This, coupled with my tendency to accidentally have money sticking out of my pocket confirms they will approach me. Again quoting Lonely Planet. “The merchants of Khan al Khalili are some of the greatest smooth talkers you will ever meet.” Everyone wants to get us inside their store. I have already bought some za’atar spice and have fended off everyone since then, but now Dianne is looking at a small tee shirt for a boy. (Spoiler Alert Janice, we bought Hendrix a tee shirt) A price is agreed upon and I cough up more cash. Of course not all of it is put away and some is still sticking out of my pocket. As we continue on our way, the sales pitches are more and more wearing. We decide with our guide Islam to stop for coffee at a 200 year old coffee shop, hoping to get some relief from the vendors. It just brings out a new crop of travelling sales people. A handicapped gentleman who had no legs and few teeth had my respect already and earned more as he loudly alerted me to the fact that my money would soon be leaving my pocket. It was just about on the floor as I had taken out my phone to google how much I should have paid for za’atar spice. Dianne gives me the “you’re doing this again” look as I tuck my bucks back in. It doesn’t stop the parade of vendors and beggars but at least I now have something to be thankful for. That helps. The most enterprising Pashmina salesman latches on to us. We have 4 pashminas at home, but eventually he finds one we must have as it is fireproof, certified Egyptian and a colour you can get nowhere else. We buy it with the money I have left and I feel a great relief. I have shot my wad. No more dough. Time to go back to the hotel.
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    • Day 27

      Back in Cairo

      October 18, 2022 in Egypt ⋅ 🌙 21 °C

      A good day, but no sights to report on…our brains can relax, and it is relative, but Cairo is much cooler than Upper Egypt (which is the south!)…in fact it is very pleasant tonight. We flew back from Luxor this morning, and by the time we got through the Cairo traffic from the airport we could check in to our rooms. We have a nice one with Nile view.

      So this afternoon I had a good session of downtime in the room after a little lunch. Amr had a swim and then relaxed too. Tonight we were all taken to an extremely nice restaurant - the farewell dinner. Beautiful food, at a table right by the river in the open air. Everyone disperses tomorrow except for our little group of 10. We are moving to a downtown hotel, Omnia will be back in her apartment, and we will stay there too after 3 nights in the hotel. Said a fond farewell to our wonderful guide Bassem and tomorrow after breakfast we are on our own - that is, our group, and the “tour” part will be over. Omnia and Amr have made some plans for the coming days, and we will have more exploring round Cairo, and meet with some of their friends.
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    • Day 28

      Cairo - moved to a different hotel

      October 19, 2022 in Egypt ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

      Fairly relaxing day. This morning our official tour part ended, and we moved to a hotel in the centre of the city to be easy to get to places. In the interval between checking out, and checking in we first visited a school friend of Amr’s - also called Amr Ibrahim! - who lives in a beautiful apartment just round the corner from the Marriot. The building is one of those lovely ones built in the 1930s and right facing the Nile. It was like walking into another era with furniture from his parents - almost a museum. We had tea there and pastries, and then moved on with the second Amr as well to the Gezira Club which is very exclusive now, but Amr (both) and Omnia have been members since high school, and we went in as visitors. We sat outside under the trees and had one of the beautiful lemon juices they make, and very happily filled in the time between hotels.

      Went back to the Marriot and had a bit of a wait - Egyptian time - for the mini bus to take us and our luggage. Not a huge distance, but much too far to walk with bags - even for us! - along the very uneven footpaths and risking life and limb crossing the roads! Now we are staying in the Steigenberger for 3 nights, and then moving to stay with Omnia in her flat. The others will stay on at the hotel. Omnia has organised some excursions - tomorrow we will visit the Islamic area of Cairo, and visit some mosques not on the tourist route, and on Saturday there is a visit to the Coptic area.

      Tonight everyone did their own thing. I think people have enjoyed the Egyptian experience, and all us oldies have managed the quite strenuous activities!! But it is good to have a break…

      We had dinner with another school friend of Amr’s - Magdi - and his wife and Omnia. Quite a posh dinner in a French restaurant in a boat on the Nile. Lovely evening. Not French food as in France, but I had a beautifully cooked fillet steak, perfect medium rare. Amr and I walked there from our new hotel (the restaurant was just near the old one!!) which entailed ducking across busy roads at peak hour….I used to find this an adventure, but think I am a bit over it now…just getting around anywhere in Cairo is a battle - either you sit in traffic and take hours to get a short distance, or walk into the busy roads…Peter and Louise started off with us just for a walk, but waved us goodbye when we plunged into second lot of cars…I can understand!!
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    • Day 29

      Another Cairo day

      October 20, 2022 in Egypt ⋅ 🌙 21 °C

      A little weary to start, but it turned into a magical day. Omnia had organised a minibus to transport us to and from the Islamic area, and a wonderful guide - a professor in Islamic medieval history and architecture. We left early - you have to pick the moment here, after the school traffic (school starts at 7am) and before the commuter traffic..Pinpoint timing, and our drive was relatively easy - i.e. not standstill gridlock. Met our guide, and she led us through such interesting buildings, with history and background that we would never have found or known. The mosques we were hoping to see were closed for renovation, but there are so many amazing buildings anyway, with beautiful Islamic decoration…a complex which was mausoleum, hospital, school…

      We stopped for a tea break at one point, and were each delivered a little pot of tea and a plate of fresh mint….just delicious! We finally ended with lunch in the same place where we ate on the tour’s Islamic market day (so we knew what we wanted to order from past experience!) and it is all amongst the bazaar shops and we did a little shopping after before getting the bus back to the hotel. Angela sadly was feeling a bit seedy and didn’t come (sad as she would have loved it)…most people have had a touch of the funny tummy, but Omnia and Amr are handing out pills, and most not too dramatic! I had a little way back, but it started in Italy, so can’t blame Egypt!! All totally fine now…

      We got back in the early afternoon and everyone did their own thing for the rest of the day. Omnia, Amr and I went to visit the wife and daughter of their cousin who we will be visiting in Kuala Lumpur next week. They are back in Cairo as the daughter is in university here in her final year. Had a wonderful home cooked meal with them and a very nice visit. We took an Uber there, and got a taxi back as it was easy to hail one…a hair raising ride - no seatbelts and we were actually speeding between intersection jams…as I said before, getting round in Cairo is a complicated and difficult business!!
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    • Day 30

      Yet another Cairo day

      October 21, 2022 in Egypt ⋅ 🌙 20 °C

      This morning after breakfast across the road at a café called La poire - which has THE best coffee (and even has flat white!!), even including Italy, so that is a real compliment….we all met in the lobby (actually not Sally and John) and Amr and I shepherded the herd across the road to the museum. It is just a stone’s throw from the hotel, but does entail crossing a busy road. It is Friday, which is like Sunday here, and there were many people visiting the museum, and many large groups. We felt smug to be individuals wandering round, and could dart to where there wasn’t a crowd. Arranged a meeting place and we all wandered and had a lovely time, filling in the gaps from the last visit when we went as part of the tour.

      Then we all met at 3 as Omnia invited everyone to her apartment for “high tea”, and some of her friends came too. It was lots of fun and a highly successful but the stressful part (for Amr) was getting people there and back. We are used to walking there in the past, but it is too far and difficult (with the road crossings and uneven potholed paths) for most of our friends, so amr organised 3 carloads of people….had to explain where (addresses are hard to explain here apparently, as the government changed street names which muddles Google - I think that was the problem, or some difficulty when there wasn’t an Arabic speaker in the car!). It is all an adventure, but stressful for Amr trying to make everything run smoothly.

      We all got there safe and sound, and it was lovely to see their apartment again, which we hadn’t stayed in since the early 90s. Omnia has done great renovations and it looks very good. Then we had the same procedure for getting home to the hotel…this time a complication as the first Uber with Evie, Robin, Sally and John went to the wrong Steigenberger hotel - or was on its way to it, way out near the pyramids!!! They realised something was amiss when they found themselves driving out of the city and fortunately it did get sorted out before going the whole way and they were delivered back to the city central one near Tahrir Square!! Phew…but Amr was stressed even more and once it was over we sat at the bar by the pool with Peter and Louise and had a bottle of wine. Now finally settling down and unwinding….
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    • Day 31

      Final Cairo day as a group

      October 22, 2022 in Egypt ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

      This morning Amr and I packed our bags as we are checking out of the hotel and moving to spend the last 3 Egyptian nights with Omnia. And we all had our final group excursion…a minibus came and collected us at 9 and first drove us to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation….it is new and just excellent. (I imagine that the new Egyptian museum when it finally opens will be just as excellent)…the highlight was the Royal mummies…a whole collection of about 20 mummies of kings and queens…amazing to actually see the preserved faces of Ramses II and Hatshepsut from about 3000 years ago….and many more…many great exhibits and beautifully presented. We spent a couple of hours there and met in the café which curiously was a Brioche Dorée - a chain in France - and had delicious pastries!

      Then our bus drove us on to the Coptic area, where there are many Coptic churches and also a synagogue, though this was closed for renovation…the churches are very historic, and associated with the flight of the holy family to Egypt when escaping from Herod…the whole place had a very different atmosphere from the rest of Cairo…another world!

      We returned in the bus to the hotel by about 2.30 and suddenly realised it was time for farewell…a weird feeling after being all together for 2 weeks and sharing this whole experience!! Anyway, we made our farewells, and will all meet again back in Oz before long. Sunday everyone does their own thing - some leave late that evening as they have a 1.30am flight, and Sally and John are off spending a few days in Malta…

      We collected our bags and got a taxi to the apartment, and very soon after left for the Gezira club to meet a group of Omnia’s friends. Lovely people, and it was fun, but am feeling in need of a lot of downtime!! 2 more full days in this chaotic city, and we leave in the early hours of Tuesday to get a morning flight to KL.
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    • Day 32

      A fairly relaxed Cairo day

      October 23, 2022 in Egypt ⋅ 🌙 20 °C

      Today was actually more relaxed. Amr and I left soon after 8 and walked to Granita, the restaurant right near the Marriott where we had dinner one night before the cruise, and today we met Amr’s friend Hesham and his American wife Carole. The last time we saw her was in New York decades ago. He lived and worked in the US for quite a while (his parents were diplomats too, so he had grown up in many countries like Amr)…and moved back to Egypt about 15 years ago but lives in one of the new settlements out of Cairo. He is funny and nice…says in the US they regard him as Egyptian, and in Egypt they regard him as American…anyway, we had a nice breakfast and chat with them, then walked over to the nearby Gezira club where Amr had a swim and I read my kindle and had one of the delicious lemon juices.

      Got back about 2 and had a leisurely afternoon. Omnia is getting the apartment ready to be left for a long spell again…covering furniture and putting ornaments etc out of dust’s way! She will be coming back to Oz, arriving a few days after us and staying for about 3 weeks - spending almost a week of that time in Melbourne. Amr tonight has gone to a reunion of his high school class. Apparently they meet up (the ones still in Cairo) fairly often - it isn’t a special annual event or anything, but he may see people he hasn’t seen for over 50 years!!

      No photos of today. I will add one with Hesham and Carole, but they are on Amr’s phone and I can’t get it yet. And I did manage to fiddle and delete and defuzz the photos from the high tea at Omnia’s the other night, if it’s worth looking back….will now add photos but they aren’t good…the ones of all 4 of us must have been on one of their phones…bad of Carole blinking, but all I have!! Breakfast was yum - I had a cheese and mushroom omelette (with a salad!) and yogurt and honey on the side and Amr had his favourite Egyptian dish of foul - beans with feta and harissa.
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    • Day 4

      Egyptian museum

      December 6, 2022 in Egypt ⋅ ⛅ 70 °F

      I had what I consider dinner for breakfast 😁. We spent the day at the museum learning about Egyptian history and art. When a new tomb is discovered it is opened and not entered for 2 weeks. Nobody shaves their face before going in b/c someone shaved once and the bacteria in the air from the tomb entered their skin where they had a cut on their face and killed them. Finished the day watching the sun set over the Nile river and the hauntingly beautiful city from the rooftop.Read more

    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Cairo Governorate, Cairo, القاهرة, Le Caire, Muḩāfaz̧at al Qāhirah

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