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A runner with an appetite for adventure!

Our last day in Egypt… November 14, 2010

Filed under: Cairo — Kelocity @ 10:00 pm
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Originally 11/5/10…

On our last day in Egypt, we woke up on the train and got our stuff together. I actually slept surprisingly well (it’s amazing what a little sleeping pill can do, right!) I was just starting to think “maybe I was scared of this train for nothing…” and then I saw a huge cockroach in our room. Needless to say, I spent the last hour standing in the hallway with my bag zipped up waiting to jump off as soon as humanly possible. Ew.

ANNNNYWAYS… we dropped our bags off at the Victoria Hotel and headed out by bus to explore a little more of Cairo.

By the way, we could see (and hear) roosters from our hotel window… See them up there on the right?
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The city is busy, congested and dirty, but also a little bit charming.
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We headed to the Citadel which is a Persian style mosque high on a hill.
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We know it has Persian influence because of the star and crescent on the top.
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Our tour guide took us inside the mosque and taught us the proper etiquette for entering. First, you must take off your shoes, and women must cover their shoulders and knees.
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The courtyard was really beautiful with nice marble floors.
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Then Sherif taught us how to wash your hands, feet and mouth before going inside. (We didn’t really have to do this, but it was neat to see how the locals would do it.)
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Inside it was really pretty. The floor is carpeted because they pray on the floor.
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What a cool experience to see how other cultures practice their religion.
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Inside the mosque was also the tomb of Mohammed Ali.
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From the outside of the Mosque, we got some really nice views of Cairo.
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Then we headed out towards the desert to see the Step Pyramid in Saqqara. It was built in 2700 BC. They didn’t know how to build the sides slanted like a triangle, but they had the structure down pretty good. They used stone to build six layers.
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Surrounding the walls was a row of cobras who were thought to protect it.
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All around us were tombs, little pyramids and other excavated sites.
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This was thought to be the first ‘room’ in ancient history. It had walls, columns and a roof.
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Then we had our last group lunch together. Per usual, I stuck with rice, fries, bread and a little veggies (cooked). You might laugh, but I was one of the few that didn’t get sick at all on this trip!
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After lunch, we went to the Khan Al-Khalili market (which is the largest market in Cairo). It has been around since 1382AD.
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It was a maze of vendors and souvenirs. Some of it was overwhelming, but it was a fun experience.
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On our way back to the hotel, we saw one of the busiest markets for the locals. This is just a typical Saturday for them. Can you imagine?
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Driving in Cairo is just crazy. There are no traffic lights, no lanes and no rules!
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After cleaning up at the Hotel, we headed out towards the Pyramids for the ‘Light and Sound’ show. Once the sun goes down, people gather in seats to see the pyramids light up at night.
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It started off pretty neat, it was awesome to see them light up against the starry sky.
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But things got a little weird when the Sphinx began to talk via laser lights… (just sayin’)
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Definitely a little hokey, but I’d still recommend it. It’s worth it to sit and gaze at the pyramids in the desert at night.

The next morning, we packed up our bags, said good bye to our new friends, and headed off to the airport.
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By the way, the Cairo airport is the most disorganized thing I’ve ever seen in my life. We went through security four times. It was insane. But at least they had free wifi! (go figure!)

We are SO glad we went on this trip. It was the adventure of a lifetime.

And with that, I leave you with this. It was a store that sells placards… why on earth would anyone need a sign that says ‘chicken’?
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Thanks for following us on our journey to relive our trip. I hope you enjoyed the stories and pictures.

 

Embarking on an Egyptian Adventure! November 11, 2010

Filed under: Cairo — Kelocity @ 7:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

Originally 10/30/2010…

Early Saturday morning, we took the metro to the airport in Dubai and headed to Cairo. We had a fabulous time in Dubai, but a new adventure was awaiting us!
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When we took off, we could see “The World” from the air. Those are the man-made islands that they are creating to look like different countries.
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We also had some great views of the ‘palm islands’. It is amazing how they built those.
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Emirates Airlines once again impressed us. Dubai to Cairo is less than four hours. Our flight path went directly through Saudi Arabia, just south of Iraq.
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Nervous? Nah…I napped the whole way. (Which of course means obligatory photos of me sleeping. haha)
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I woke up in time to get our first glimpse of the Pyramids from the sky.
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Then we started to get REALLY excited that we were actually going to Egypt!!

We were definitely a little nervous, but we had an airport transfer from Contiki. They picked us up and brought us directly to our hotel (Hotel Victoria). I heard bad things about this hotel, but it was fine and we slept really well.
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We were really lucky and have a friend of a friend who lives in Cairo, so she took us to have lunch at a restaurant called ‘Sequoia’, which is on the Nile. I played it safe and ordered a Pasta Dish. (In Egypt, I stuck to a ‘no veggies, no dairy, no meat’ rule to avoid getting sick).
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At 7pm, we got to meet our Contiki tour manager, Sherif, and the trip officially began!
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The next day, we woke up bright and early for our first day of sight seeing. It wouldn’t be Contiki without a bus!
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There is something so fun about being with 40 other world travelers who are equally as excited about seeing Egypt as we were. This is our third contiki tour, and we were anxious for it to begin!
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Sherif said to us: “Welcome to Egypt. You are going to see King Tut’s treasures and his golden mask, you will ride a camel around the pyramids and then go inside them, you will kiss the sphinx and walk on the Saraha desert—and that’s just today!”

Our first stop was the Egyptian Museum.
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This houses all of King Tut’s treasures, his tombs and the famous golden mask. We also saw the mummies of many pharaohs, including Ramses II. We couldn’t take any pictures inside the museum, but we had a fantastic guided tour.

The museum is really old (1902) and really hasn’t been updated since. It was kind of a shame to see such history and priceless artifacts being displayed on rotting wood pedestals with poor lighting. But they are working on building a new museum that is slated to open in 2011. They are financing this new museum by ‘putting King Tut to work’. The traveling exhibit of some artifacts from his tomb is currently on tour in the US, and the profits will pay for the museum’s new home in Giza.

Then we hopped on our tour bus and headed toward the pyramids. The Nile was glistening in the sun.
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Cairo has 22 million people, and most of them live in cramped, dirty apartments. A lot of them don’t have windows or roofs because they live tax-free until the building is completed…. so there is no incentive to ever finish building them. There was a staggering amount of trash everywhere (including the Nile).

Over one bridge, we looked over and saw a bunch of camels in a courtyard. Sherif told us they were going to be sacrificed… sad!
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Just beyond the bustling city of Cairo, the pyramids started to appear in the horizon.
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As we got closer and closer, they looked bigger and bigger.
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I just couldn’t believe that we standing at the base of the pyramids. They were really beautiful.
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Tomb robbers looking for treasures robbed them thousands of years ago. Here, you can see the original entrance, and one dug by thieves looking for the burial chambers.
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As we walked around the pyramids, we came to the herd of camels waiting to carry us on a journey back in time.
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Our entire contiki group went as one giant caravan into the desert.
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The camel totally photobombed this picture:
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Anyone who knows me knows how much I fear horses…. and camels are even SCARIER! But who could pass up an opportunity like this?
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Doesn’t this look photoshopped? It’s not, I promise! Irving took this!
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October was the PERFECT time to go to Egypt. It was 80 degrees out. They told us we saw the first clouds they had seen in months. IMG_1329

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The three smaller pyramids were the Queen’s Pyramids.
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My camel was NOT behaving. I think he was in love with the camel next to me.
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I was afraid to ride them at first, but by the end, we became good friends.
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Then it was time to have a little fun with the pyramids.
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Look mom, we’re at the pyramids!!
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We were SO lucky, we got to go INSIDE the second pyramid! (money can get you anything in Egypt!) We walked down the burial shaft into the room inside. There was nothing in there anymore, but it was SO cool to say we went in. It was SOO hot and humid in there though. We stayed just for a couple of minutes and hiked back out.

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The pyramids are the only surviving ‘seven wonders of the world’.

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Then we went to meet the Sphinx!
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Reese, the gnome, got to kiss him!

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But I got one too!

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If you’re keeping track, we didn’t eat lunch that day. haha If we stopped for lunch, we wouldn’t have time to fit everything in. So naturally, we had gummy bears when we got back on the bus. You gotta do what you gotta do, right?
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Then we headed to a resort nearby to relax by the pool and clean up for dinner.
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Sticking with my ‘no dairy, no meat, no veggies’ policy… the carb fest continued. (Believe me, by the end of the week, I was craving colorful veggies and fruits!)
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The outdoor restaurant was really nice.
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Next came the part of the trip I was dreading the most… the overnight train to Aswan. We rode ‘first class’, but by American standards, it was far from that.
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Each compartment fits two people…
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But with the beds down, we could barely move. It was fun though, and we actually slept pretty well.
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We both brought travel sheets with us (which were the envy of the group, we highly recommend them!)

Next stop: Aswan!

Don’t forget to enter the contest to win an Egyptian prize!

 

 
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