In December Ryan and I were lucky enough to have an opportunity to take a trip to Egypt with some friends. Even better – the friends did all the planning, and we got to tag along!
Our first tourist destination was the Egyptian Museum – which was full of huge stone statues of pharaohs and sphinxes. The highlight of the museum though was clearly all of the finery that was found in King Tut’s tomb. It was amazing. There were four sarcophagi that fit inside each other, covered in gold leaf. The outermost one was easily 10 feet high and twice as long. And they had incredible coffins as well – they were person shaped and ornately designed – the inner most one was solid gold. The jewelry was incredible too – inlaid stone and gold. Just amazing.
The next item on the tourist track were the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx (which I can’t seem to find my pictures of). Amazingly, you can see the Pyramids from Cairo – there are skyscrapers and buidings, and then sand, and then pyramids. It was pretty surreal. Most of the developed area in Egypt is in a narrow strip along the nile, the rest is just desert.
The pyramids were unfathomably huge. I mean, you know they’re going to be big … and they’re still amazingly big.
We took our standard ‘look, I’m touching the top of the pyramid picture’, and then … we actually rode camels through the desert. We never would have done it if we had gone by ourselves – but the people we were travelling with had kids who couldn’t stop talking about riding the camels so we went along. And I was so glad that we did! It turns out that sometimes kids have really good ideas. We got to be big kids.
We took a ride on the Nile too – just because. ‘Cause you can’t go to Egypt without taking a ride on the Nile.
Our tour guide had to go to the Mosque for prayer in the afternoon, so he dropped us off to go shopping in the markets. It was quite a sight, just to walk through and see what there was. And we were heckled ceaselessly to buy stuff – which resulted in us not wanting to buy anything at all. But we had a great time walking through. It was pretty fascinating, because the market was right near the Mosque, they were broadcasting the prayers over speakers, and people set up prayer mats right in the street between the market stalls.
After a lot of convincing, we managed to get our tour guide to take us to a specific restaurant for Kusheri – a popular, every day, cheap Egyptian dish. Our tour guide said it would be hard on our stomachs, but we were convinced otherwise. I’m glad we won the argument, ’cause it was great. It’s basically pasta mixed with Rice (weird, I know) with lentils. And then you add tomato sauce, hot sauce, lemon juice and crispy onions yourself. (http://www.recipezaar.com/Kusherie-Egyptian-Rice-and-Lentils-134402) in case you’re interested.
In Cairo we didn’t really spend any time mingling with the locals, we were on the tourist track. But we did catch glimpses from the car …
The last stop near Cairo was the Step Pyramid – supposedly one of the oldest pyramids in the world.