A Travellerspoint blog

Cairo, Egypt

What happened to Egypt?

sunny 85 °F

Being in Cairo is a little like being dropped in the middle of Time Square, only with the removal of all sidewalks and pedestrian rights laws, with the addition of everyone staring and shouting random phrases at you. It was a challenge to discern anyone honest from the touts, even the so called ‘tourist police’ were questionable. We are amazed with what the Egyptians have accomplished over the many centuries of civilizations here, we were sad to see how they now heavily rely on tourism without a clue how to treat tourists or any basic knowledge of hospitality and customer service.

Our friend Bernadette met us here to travel through Egypt and it’s a good thing since we might have lost our minds otherwise! Robin was also happy to have her to ride with in the “ladies only” metro cars since the first attempt riding in the ‘free for all’ train car didn’t go so well.

From our ‘penthouse’ balcony we had views of the Egyptian Museum, the charred firebombed remains of government offices for former president Marbarat, and protesters marching through the streets on the way to Tahir Square. The tension from the recent revolution was still in the air and growing bigger every day. Luckily, the protests we saw did not seem to affect us except to be a little daunting when we realized were sitting in a café watching the news of a fire at Tahir that was just a block away. The Egyptian museum was like visiting a museum of what museums were like 100 years ago :) it was dusty, cluttered, and the items that were actually notated were marked with faded post-it notes! There were no protective barriers to prevent people from touching, sitting, standing, or climbing on the ancient artifacts, and they make you cloak check your camera to a random guy outside with a folding picnic table. We brought Bern’s travel guide book and were glad to have a self guided tour with us but we would now recommend books.google.com because they have some amazing selections of portable pdf books you can carry on your phone.

We took a full day to tour around the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Step Pyramid at Saqqara, and the Bent and Red Pyramids of Darshur. We also stopped in the ancient capital of Egypt (Memphis) to say hello to a very large statue of Ramses II in a museum that housed more stalls selling tourist souvenirs then it housed ancient artifacts. For any perspective travelers, we would recommend against Memphis and stay longer at the great pyramids! (one note: you can go inside the Red Pyramid for free and it’s a way better experience than going into the overpriced, empty great pyramid)

Although all the other museums we looked for were closed down, we found a small safe haven from the heat and noise of the Cairo streets. It’s a cultural center called El Sawy Culturewheel that is on Zamalek island just under the 15th of May bridge. Even if you don’t make it for a show, there is artwork you can enjoy in air-conditioning and information on progressive campaigns like saving the Nile, harassment and noise pollution.

Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 11:18 Archived in Egypt

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