Posted by Julie Wiens Posted on 9:32 PM | 1 comment

Last day in Cairo

Last day in Cairo: Let’s see, what one other thing must we do while here? The world famous Egyptian Museum, of course! There were only three of us left from our original group, so we decided to walk there. Our walk took us across the Nile where we witnessed more impromptu picnickers and beautiful river views. It was still hazy during this early morning shot, but it cleared up later:

Interesting little side note: as we were walking toward the museum, we were stopped by a man claiming to have useful information. In fact, we got stopped all the time while walking, as the taxi drivers apparently assumed that foreigners didn’t really want to walk anywhere. Anyway, this “useful” guy asked us where we were going. When we told him “the Egyptian Museum”, he told us that it didn’t open until noon, then offered to drive us to some other site until it opened. We politely refused his insistent offer and continued on. When we arrived at the museum, we found that it is open every day, starting at 9:30 AM. The point of this story is that there were people all over Cairo trying to make a buck from tourists, often by way of misleading information and unwanted services.

Unfortunately, there are absolutely no cameras allowed in the Egyptian Museum, so you’ll have to settle for my written description. In a word: Wow! The whole museum is devoted to the ancient Egyptian civilizations, from 3000 BC to the Roman era. The pieces in the museum consist entirely of things taken from pyramids and temples around Egypt: royal mummies (still incredibly preserved), mummified animals (including two huge crocodiles), enormous imposing statues, hundreds (yes, hundreds) of sarcophagi, and of course the hordes of treasure from King Tutanhkamum’s tomb. There was just so much stuff in that museum, and very little of it was displayed in a formal way. Parts of the museum seemed more like a warehouse packed full of stuff. I couldn’t help but think of what all else was still lying under the desert. I mean, King Tut reigned for only 4 years and his tomb was just filled with golden jewelry and furniture. I wondered what might have been in the tombs of Pharaohs who had lived much longer. Perhaps those tombs will soon be discovered…

We were all quite impressed with the museum and agreed that we’d like to come back someday with a guide. We all also felt compelled to read up on our Egyptian history once we returned home.

After the museum, two of us meandered back to the hotel. (OK. Truth be told, we got kind of lost. But fortunately we encountered two very friendly boys who were eager to practice their English and give us directions. It was refreshing to encounter locals who weren’t trying to swindle us.). Anyway, after that little side track, we made our way back across the Nile around sunset. The lighting was just right for some last photos of the river sites:
The third person in our original party took off to brave the madness of the Khan al-Khalili market for some last minute shopping. I would have joined him, but I didn’t think I could handle the legendary crowds of merchants and shoppers there. When he finally returned from the market, he had quite a story to tell of the chaos of the market. I think I’m glad I didn’t join him. It would have been exhilarating to be sure, but I think my brain would have exploded from all the stimuli.

After our day at the museum, we finally said goodbye to Cairo and Egypt as we made our way to the airport. The airport is a cultural experience all by itself. As you might imagine, airport security is very tight in Cairo. I think we had to pass through at least 5 security barriers before getting on the plane. It was a bit unsettling for a relatively naïve traveler like me. After a 12 hour flight back to JFK airport, then to Boston, I stopped for one last picture of a teddy bear that my roommate in Cairo had forgotten in the room (he left Cairo a day earlier). The teddy bear was like a “Flat Stanley”. I had meant to take photos of teddy in Cairo, but it was just too chaotic, and I forgot to do it. I settled for a single photo at the baggage claim in the Boston airport.
All in all, Cairo was fantastic. Dirty. Exhausting. Intimidating. But fantastic just the same. I think I also learned a great deal at the workshop, which was the real reason for going. That being said, I breathed a huge sigh of relief and delight when I saw Julie arrive at the airport to bring me back home to clean air and peaceful surroundings.

1 comment:

  1. Like you I think I would have avoided the market. They are always interesting but the stimuli would have been too much. Great shots of the Nile. Tell Julie thanks for getting the template fixed... I can now post again. However, it isn't quite as it was. I can barely see the submit button at the bottom.
    You two amaze me... again thanks for sharing your trip. I can dream with a little more vivid imagery now:-) Tell the folks hi.