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EGYPT

Me on a camel

I spent ten days In Egypt. And it is just like every other country in the world in that no matter how much time you spend there it is not enough. I spent the entire time in Cairo. Wish I could have gotten around the country a little more but my stay in Cairo was truly wonderful. One thing that is not spoken about much when it comes to travel is the scent of a place. Yup, if you travel you are probably aware of this because every place on the Earth has it's own distinct scent. It is traces of the culture, the food, the desert, the plant life and more. And this is what struck me the strongest when I got off the plane in Cairo - it smell beautiful. There is a certain desert and palm tree beauty to the smell of Egypt. Pretty much as simple as that. And, the Egyptians themselves are very scent oriented. You can buy all kinds of perfumes there. It is very big business. And, I spent a day in Khan al Khalili market and the smells of the market place stay with me. There were so many wonderful smells of the herbs and foods. Just delicious.

An Oasis in the Sahara

The Giza Plateau (Pyramids and Sphinx)

I made what I consider to be a mistake when it comes to visiting the pyramids. They are a place of great power on the Earth. And whenever I visit a place of power I like to ease into it. Pay a sort of homage in thought before I go. What this means is hitting the country then taking a day or two to just walk around. Absorb things in then visit the powerful place.

I didn't do this when it comes to the pyramids and the Sphinx although I had intended to! I hit Cairo in the evening and then the next morning I hired a tour guide. I had plans to just roam around Cairo a bit and maybe hit the market place. My guide told me that it was a big holiday in Egypt so it might be a good idea for me to go to the pyramids because it wouldn't be crowded. He was right. It wasn't crowded. But because of my jet lag I just couldn't appreciate everything. It was way too much to take in! Understandable right?

Well, I ended up returning to the Giza Plateau several days later for another full day on the plateau. And on that day, over my jet lag, I really got a real sense and feeling for the beauty and awe that is the Giza Plateau. I could just take my time and enjoy the pyramids and the sphinx.

So, some traveling advice for you

Pare your itinerary down. Do and see fewer things so you can appreciate them more deeply. Don't overload your itinerary just so you can "say" you been there and seen that! A depth of experience in one place is better than a hurried and shallow experience in three places.

The Cairo Museum

They don't allow cameras inside the museum so I couldn't take any pictures of the inside but the picture here is of the outside.

There are a couple of wonderful things about the Cairo Museum that I can tell you about. First off it is loaded with stuff. It's almost ridiculous and they literally have mummies stacked on top of mummies on shelves lining the walls! Picture the 6 tiered bunk beds in a submarine and you get an idea of what this was like. Instead of sailors on the bunks they were mummies. That really blew my mind!

The place, I believe, was built by the British in the last century. And it has a distinct "Indiana Jones" feeling to it. The building, the woodwork, the architecture, the lighting and more. It has that feel. But it is old and they are currrently building a new musuem for all the stuff. Maybe I will return when that new building is done.

And the stuff inside is just amazing. So much stuff, miniatures, weapons, mummies, Statues, stones, sarcophagii and more.

The Citadel

I am really passionate about Medieval Castles and Fortresses and they have a wonderful one right in Cairo. It is called "The Citadel" and it is well worth a trip although you don't need a full day to get a good feeling for it. Half a day is more than enough to experience it and walk the grounds.

It dates all the way back to the year 810 and it was first transformed into a fortress by Saladin between 1176 and 1183 as a defense against european crusaders.

The picture below shows one of the massive outer walls of the Citadel.

I have more stuff about the citadel on my medieval castle website. Including more pictures: The Citadel in Cairo

 

Khan al Khalili Market

This is a wonderful marketplace in Cairo. If I remember correctly it has been in continuous operation for the last 700 years. And it is a wonderful maze of shops, stores and more. Lot of fun stuff here and you need to be in the haggling state of mind because the vendors love to haggle. The first price is not the right price! I bought a nice hand made wooden box that holds business cards. I think it eventually cost me two dollars .

 

If you are traveling to Egypt

I generally like to freewheel my trips and I did this in Egypt. I wasn't part of any kind of a tour group. I was on my own, except when I hired a guide or taxi. And in Egypt this can be a bit tricky. The economy over there is pretty bad and there is a lot of poverty. So you will be approached by people all the time. They will be trying to sell you everything from water to trinkets, tours etc. You just have to accept it and keep walking. Don't make eye contact and don't acknowledge them. Otherwise you will spend a lot of time just trying to fend for yourself. This is particularly true in The Market places.

Small Tips and small amounts of money do however go a very long way! You will get a lot for your dollar. Just be sure to negotiate.

My big adventure -

I went on a quest to Egypt to find the Sword of Lightning. These videos chronicle my adventure.



 

Lonely Planet Egypt (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet Egypt is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Visit the ancient wonders of the Pyramids of Giza, cruise the Nile to a waterside temple, or see the glittering finds in the Egyptian Museum; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Egypt and begin your journey now!