Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Egypt, Day 1: The Great Sphinx

What I didn’t realize as we were headed to the Sphinx was that the Nile River used to run right by the pyramids so anyone travelling to Egypt saw the impressive structures as they came up on their boat. The Nile started to deteriorate the Sphinx so it was diverted away.The Sphinx's nose was shot off by I-forget-who.

The Sphinx was actually buried up to its head and the sand was excavated so its body is quite preserved.Tiles were added many years ago to protect it, but, as our tour guide Shereen said, ”He obviously doesn’t like it because they’re falling off, and they’re replacing them.” Seeing the Sphinx was truly impressive.

This was some kind of photo shoot using the Sphinx in the background.
When The Daisy saw those pictures, she said,"Why is that woman dressed up like Cleopatra?"

We stopped for lunch at the Andrea
where we celebrated the birthday of a guy in our group. Look at that beautiful cake! The food was awesome – I really expected some different foods but most everything I had eaten before in Mediterranean restaurants. Here is one of the women making bread in the open oven. I ate more bread in Cairo than I think I do in a year.
After lunch, we went to the Cairo Museum where statues and other objects from the pharoahs' tombs are displayed. Now, this was really hard to fathom that what I was seeing were not reproductions but the actual deal and it was overwhelming, truthfully. The coolest part of the tour was seeing the mummified animal room. So I expected cats and dogs, but not crocodiles or cows or horses!
While we were in the museum, it rained. Afterwards, we went on a walking tour of Islamic Cairo, where we visited a mosque. Call to prayers happen city-wide five times a day.
Then came the Kaan el Kalilli bazaar, which is world famous. Our guide warned us to haggle and she went to sit at a coffee shop to wait for us. I hate shopping anyway and getting harassed by the Bedouin at the pyramids was NOTHING compared to the gauntlet of shopkeepers here. For the most part, once you told them no, they were polite but a couple followed us down the bazaar trying to get us to buy stuff. So after two tours of that, we sat at the coffee shop with our group where Shereen (that's her watching) let me try her hooka, a smoking blend of tobacco and something else. It was very light but I still felt a little green after taking a couple of puffs.Remember I mentioned the rain? It wreaked havoc on the traffic. It took us 3 hours to get back to the hotel because roads were flooded and most cars stalled out trying to get through. That was an aggravation.

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