Friday, March 16, 2018

Egypt, final thoughs, and links to curated photos.

I want to go back.

No, I mean I want to go back, right NOW. I truly enjoyed this trip. Everything worked, the things we saw were better than you could have imagined, the people were almost universally friendly and helpful. The food was usually good (when we were able to avoid the tourist places) and it was the right combination of relaxing and frantic. We could pretend we were on a big adventure while not really putting ourselves at risk. The guides were knowledgeable and very nice. The drivers were patient and competent. Except for two brief lapses (due to traffic) the guides and drivers always arrived early. No horror stories.

We usually don't use travel agencies for this type of trip, but here we used a group called Travel Choice Egypt. They did an excellent job, and were flexible enough to change our itinerary on the fly when we asked them to do so. I found their rates reasonable. As for Nancy Shawky if you call.

And I can't thank the local PGS Country Manager enough as well. Merv Malati went out of her way to help. She even had the grace to come to the hotel and meet us.

This is a trip we will never forget.

To read a my narrative of the trip, just keep clicking on the "older posts" below. Blogs always have time reversed. I could modify that, but it then gets confusing.

I curated some of our photos (I took hundreds) and put them in Google Albums. I have comments in all the "description" fields, so turn on information if you want to see that. Google also geotags photos, so you can see where they were taken.

No offence will be taken if you click through nary a one of them.

Cairo. Day One
Cairo. Day Two
Egypt. Day Three. Karnak and Luxor
Egypt. Day Four. Valley of the Kings. Temples and Tombs
Egypt. Day Five. Abydos and Dendera
Egypt. Day Six. Luxor to Aswan. Esna and Edfu en route
Egypt. Day Seven. Abu Simbel
Egypt. Day Eight. Aswan. Unfinsihed Obelisk, Philae Temple
Egypt. Day Nine. Aswan, a feluka ride
Cairo. Day Ten. Islamic Cairo, citadel, and coffee

Islamic Cairo and the Citadel.

Our last day in Cairo. We spent some time in Islamic Cairo and The Citadel. 

But we started with a view of the bravest man in Cairo:
 Yes, that is a fellow riding a bike. I can't believe it.

But then we wandered over to old Cairo. Called Islamic Cairo because of the number of mosques. Many decommissioned.

This one was NOT decommissioned. The Al-Azhar Mosque. I had to take off my shoes, and Doreen had to go into a different entrance.
 Nice minarets
 And plenty of them

 They didn't have any problem with me taking photos:

Even of the reliquary (though I don't think they are called that in Islam) where they have the head of Mohammad's grandson.

After that, we stopped in a very famous coffee shop, El Fishawy. It was opened in 1771, and it was a good place to stop.

 Gamel, our guide
 The coffee was Arab Style, or Turkish if you prefer. As black as night, as hot as the devil, as sweet as a kiss.

That is 3/4" or sediment in the bottom of the glass. You don't drink that part.

Stuffed crocodile on the wall.

The Hall of Mirrors.
 I think this says "El Fishawy"

 As we were leaving, we saw this guy wearing a fez, and it was wearing a tiny fez!!! This seems to be a theme on this trip.

A decommissioned mosque

It is like a labyrinth in the streets, but when you go inside, it is like a church

Including stained glass
 And outdoor spaces

This is a great story about Shajar al-Durr. While it says below that her husband was defending Egypt against the crusaders, that is not true. It was her defending Egypt. He was sick in bed. She then went on to rule Egypt (alone!) for a while until she was forced to marry. None of her supporters like that husband, so they killed him. Then she was forced to marry again, but that man had another wife, and the first wife was jealous, and had Shajar al_Durr beaten to death with slipper. Everyone was so sad they created a dessert and named it after her. Om-Ali (sometime Umm-Ali). It means the mother of Ali.

 That is her tomb
 and again
 More old mosques

 Doreen with a re-used column for scale

And some of the floors were like Italian Cathedral floors

The doors were amazing

 Great spaces

And ceilings. Remember that Islam prohibits the use of representational art, so you get a lot of detailed work like this:

The ceiling of a bath house!

Not all the rulers wanted re-used pillers.

This is a huge cistern. Like the one in Istanbul, or the one in Houston!

Old Cairo street scene. Puppets on the balconies!

Another old famous coffee shop,  the Cafe Lord. If you look closely, you can see Santa Clause on the wall.

 This is a tomb, right on the city wall. The  Discipline Tomb. The guy who is buried here said Cairo had no discipline and was leaving the city. He dies just as he got to the city gate. He never made it out, and he was buried here (inside the gate)

One of the city gates
 and from the outside
The Mohammad Ali Mosque

 It was big

 There is Mohammad Ali's tomb
 a close up
Here we are inside. You can see those guys praying in the background! Our guide took the photo.

Us with Mohammad Ali himself!

Another Fuul and Felafel place for lunch

That we ate with this view:

An old elevator. I wouldn't care to get into it, but it worked!

The Egyptian Museum one last time

Watching the sunset on the corniche.

A great day.
Goodnight, Cairo.