Feb 082012

As I mentioned earlier, we’d hired a tour company here to maximize the one full day we had. I’m usually pretty opposed to organized tours, but in this case it sounded like a good idea to fit as much as possible into a one day transit. This turned out to be an excellent choice, especially when we saw how terrible the traffic was in the city. I’d highly recommend the company we used (Memphis Tours, linked in a previous post) to anyone wanting a similar experience.

Pick-up was at the hotel in the morning, and it was just down the road to the Pyramids and the Sphinx. Anyone who wants to visit Egypt, I highly recommend that you do it soon. The tourist hoards are terrified and staying away at the moment (well, maybe not this week due to the riots again) but this is definite time to go. Things are quiet, you have the place to yourself, and you can really enjoy things. On top of that, lots of the touts and salespeople have given up, and it’s possible to really enjoy things and have a completely un-harrassed experience. For all the negative experiences I’ve had people tell me about Cairo – we really enjoyed it! So – the pyramids and the sphinx:

From there, it was onto the Sphinx.  We ran into a few tourists/groups here, but it still was nothing.

After the sphinx and pyramids, it was on to Coptic Cairo to see some old churches, and the oldest part of the city.  Unfortunately, I didn’t really get any good pictures here, but it was fascinating to see a side of the city that’s rarely talked about.  We also visited the Jewish area, and the oldest synagogue in Cairo, which if I remember correctly has never actually been functioning – so sits as mostly a museum.  Still very interesting to see.

Lunch was included at a tourist trap buffet, complete with $4 diet cokes.  Sigh.  You’d leave people with a much better impression if you didn’t give them the idea you were trying to rip them off at every opportunity.  Oh well!

Last stop was the Egyptian Museum, and to get there required driving by Tahir Square.  Unfortunately, our guide advised that stopping was not possible and and unwise, so we had to be content snapping a few shots from the car.  Honestly, the camp in the Square bore a striking resemblance to the Occupy DC camp that was on K Street…until last week.  Lots of tents, flags, slogans, etc.  Unfortunately, in a moving car, all my pictures blurred and there’s nothing post-worthy.  However, I did get one good shot of a burnt-out government building:

From here the Egyptian Museum was fascinating, but after two hours we were exhausted as was our guide.  We were ready to be done for the day.  There’s only so much you can absorb in one day!  The drive of roughly 7-8 miles back to the hotel took nearly 3 hours in Cairo’s traffic  – pretty sure we could have walked it faster!  On that note, just one parting shot from the hotel balcony.  I wasn’t overall thrilled with the hotel, but the view was amazing!

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