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Posts tagged ‘Cairo’

about going home…

egyptcairo and 2 menCairo-Byehome...

trip: Cairo to London
how: Aegean Airlines
miles total:  8919
days: 2

As we board our flight to head back to London I am mentally and physically exhausted. The mood is a bit solemn as G and I reflect on our trip. It’s funny its all over with… The 6 weeks flew by and I can remember every moment of it. We often think about our first days during the trip, when we arrived in Istanbul. We had no idea what we were about to experience, but we were so open to whatever would happen. I think that because of this openness I was able to make the most out of this trip (as you do with anything you are open to). However, this trip was different. This trip changed me in a way that no other trip has done. I can’t pinpoint what it was that changed or what it was that caused the change. I can only say that experiencing the cultures of these countries had a lot to do with it. Experiencing what it was like to be a woman in these places was something I had never experienced in South America, North America or Europe. It was a whole different world. I never saw woman out in the daytime, when they went out some were completely covered and always walking behind their husband. The people were happy though. And as I became immersed into this world I found myself longing less and less for the world I had known and I had a craving to learn more, to know more. I suppose this is what traveling does (this or the opposite).

Places in the Middle East that were deprived of the things I thought were ‘normal’ in life, were the places that touched me the most. The example that pops in my head is Syria. The country is full of the kindest, warmest, most genuine and hospitable people I have ever met. Yet, they don’t even have half the luxuries we deem as important, luxurious, or even necessary.  One of those luxuries is the simple freedom of speech. Especially as a woman. It is a poor country too. The signs of poverty are all around you and the average income in Syria is about US$ 200 a month (if that).  But, again…the people are happy. And they will do anything in their power to make sure you are happy too… after all… you are in their spectacular country.

Well, the ‘western world’ hasn’t changed. London is still here with all its hustle and bustle (and rain). G and I will be here for 1 week before we move to our new home in Sevilla, España.

Bye for now… more reflections to follow.

Ma’a as-salaama  مع السلامة

about Cairo, Egypt…

jump at giza!Nile and Cairocairo me in giza!

trip: Luxor to Cairo
how: Bus, Upper Egypt Travel
miles total:  6738
days: 2

Arriving in Cairo was possibly the biggest contrast between two cities we had had on this trip. Actually the biggest contrast between two cities in the same country that I had ever seen. We went from Luxor, a city of 350,000 people, to Cairo, a city of a metropolitan population of over 17 million. It was massive, chaotic, industrial, western, but it still had that Middle East flare I had grown to love.

People call crossing the street in Cairo a ‘chicken run’, I call it suicide… a run for your life… death at your doorstep… you choose. There is no such thing as a pedestrian crossing… actually no rules whatsoever. Hah! I had been fooled into thinking Damascus and Amman were crazy, but nothing compared to Cairo.

We stayed at the Canadian Hostel for the last two nights of our trip. You can’t help but feel a little melancholic during the last few days of a trip like this. However, I tried not to dwell on this. We refreshed a bit at the hostel before heading out for the famous town of Giza…. to see a few pyramids.

We took the bus for locals, which was advised by the hostel not to take, and instead to take one of their tours… some things never change. If it’s one thing I can recommend to any travelers that will do this trip is to never do any tours, even if they say ‘we don’t recommend doing that’ it’s fine… really. If we can do it anyone can do it. It’s a cheaper and more local way to see the real city, at it’s best (and worst).

Walking up the hill to get our first glimpse of the Pyramids was something I can’t even describe. It’s like seeing the coliseum in Rome for the first time, or the Eiffel tower in Paris, or even the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro… but WAY cooler!! They are massive and just to give you a little history behind them… they are located in a city called Giza about 25 km from Cairo and were said to be constructed in and around the 23rd Century BC. All three pyramids stand at over 400 feet. I highly suggest reading more history about the pyramids as the construction is phenomenal and hard to comprehend the level of precision completed.

Oh and the scams! The pyramids are full of them. G was getting pretty frustrated at this point so much so that you end up being really rude to the guys that are hassling you and then they make you feel bad about it! Some even pretend to be officials and police so you have to be really careful.

We spent most of the day around the pyramids in 48-degree heat and humidity. Love it.  The Sphinx was super cool too! People told us that the best view is from the Pizza Hut just outside the grounds of the pyramids. We went there for lunch and indeed it is well worth it. You have a sweet view while munching on pizza and pondering the likes of King Tut and Cleopatra. What more could you want? Oh yes, air conditioned too! I wish we would have been able to go to Saqqara, but time was against us now.

That night we were exhausted and went to bed relatively early after a nice dinner out. After all, the next day consisted of the Egyptian museum, discovering Cairo, Khan El-Khalili, Cairo Tower and the Al-Azhar Mosque!

We did just that. Cairo was full of excitement round every corner and the best way to discover it, like any city, is to just walk! We ate at Falefal that night and dined in style with other local Egyptians, eating only the best ful, mashed potato sandwiches and Egypt’s national dish, Kushari. Kushari is a mix or rice, lentils, chickpeas, and macaroni in a spicy tomato sauce with caramelized onions on top!  Mmmm!

Tonight we will leave on the last bus to the airport. Where we will depart Cairo at 4:30 am, head to Athens and change flights for London…right back to where we started.

London may be the same, but I for sure am not.