50 shades of Cairo

Arriving in Cairo at sunrise was an interesting experience.

We choose a night flight which in hindsight was not a very good idea. The flight was only 3hrs and 15 mins and I didn’t slept at all. Jan on the other hand slept all the way… not the most exciting travel companion when it comes to flying.

Still half asleep we took our Uber and started our journey. The first sight of the city at dawn was an outstanding 50 shades of brown. The sandstorms and the dry weather transforms everything into one huge mix of yellow and brown. Tall unfinished buildings one after another is the main view until our hotel. We had a bit of rest and went for a walk along the Nile which was very close to where we were staying. Despite the Arabic traditions in our westerner minds, young couples where there with our same purpose, to watch the sunset and have a hug. We decided to stop as well and we had our very first African sunset, hugged in front of the Nile.

The morning after we had our initial experience of African bureaucracy. It was nothing compared to what was waiting for us in Alexandria. However I will save that story for another post!!!

We went to apply for our Sudanese visas, which was a success so we can’t complain. We had the chance to experience a new way of queueing, if there is a gap just go ahead. It was fun, we found nice and helpful people and we had the first confirmation that the power of a smile can’t be compared.

Nevertheless it was a long tiring day. We went back to our hotel at about 4pm as we had no strength to go out. In the end we decide to try the restaurant at the hotel and enjoy our first Shisha which was accompanied by live Egyptian music. This was another curious experience.

Our third day started with a nice breakfast. We then went to get ready to meet our guide for a private tour of Cairo.

Nevin was waiting for us outside the hotel with her driver in a black car. A big smile was her welcome and as we love smiling people, we felt her positive vibes immediately.

The first stop was the Old Egyptian Museum, the new one close to the Pyramids of Giza is still under construction but should be opening in the coming months, which could in fact mean years…

It was exactly how I was expecting it. Rooms with researchers working and studying the mummies. Linen covering precious statues from dust and glass covering the most fragile objects. It’s a place where you could literally breath the history. The ancient Egyptians are talking to you through their majestic works. We saw the Tutankhamun mask securely behind a glass enclosure, it’s the only room were pictures are not allowed in the whole museum. Eleven kilos of pure gold dated 1323 BC. The beauty is impossible to describe as well as the impressive matrioska of tombs to arrive at his sarcophagi.

Everything we saw around the museum was incredible and very well preserved even after thousands of years. It all looks as if it were carved yesterday. This is due to the dry and almost zero humidity in the country.

Our guide took us through the most significant parts of the history and the most magnificent masterpieces. It was incredible to relive the ancient history through her voice while looking at the original papyrus with our own eyes and not through a book.

After the museum we went to a papyrus workshop. It is amazing how thousands of years ago they could make such a strong paper from a plant which is also waterproof.

It was then time for a quick but delicious falafel take away before heading straight to the next destination: The Great Pyramids of Giza.

The energy of the archaeological site is incredible, as well as the way the pyramids were built. In our imagination and from our school books we all think that they were built by slaves. It is actually much more possible that they were built by common people during the flooding periods of the Nile who had left their lands and came to build these immense tombs.

We went inside one of the rooms and had an explore around the area of the Great Pyramid, we then went to see them from another point of view. Some fun pictures after a short camel ride and we were ready to admire the beauty of the Sphinx.

The Sphinx is the oldest known monumental sculpture in Egypt and is believed to have been built by ancient Egyptians during the reign of Khafre around 2550 BC.

The site was quite busy and you can’t get too close. There is a raised walkway that gives a great perspective to the vastness of this structure. A veil of magic and it gave an amazing sensation to be there.

The day was coming to an end so we headed back to the city, it was time for a shisha at sunset. A great way to relax and say good bye to this brown city.

The next day would be time to depart towards Alexandria.

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