Sunday, August 31, 2008

Egypt:The Blog -- Day Fourteen

Another wonderous day -- meaning another Wonder of the World.

We started the day by heading to Giza and seeing the Pyramids and the Sphinx. While not exactly in Cairo, they are part of this city. Except for the spectacle of the edifices themselves, and the life around them (the stalls, camel drivers, etc.), there's really not much "there" there, especially not after Petra. Still, they are something that should be seen, and were.

Then it was the mandatory "guide takes you to factory (shopping)" part of the trip. Surprisingly, it wasn't rugs, but instead perfume and papyrus paintings. But like rug buying, they were part of the experience and worth the detour.

Next was on to the Egyptian Museum. As everyone says, it is amazing how much is crammed into it, hundreds and hundreds of artifacts, mummies, sarcofagi and the big one: the artifacts of King Tut's tomb, including the gold mask that wasn't in the touring exhibit. (No pictures allowed, unfortunately).

Finally, we took a sunset felucca ride along the Nile to watch the sun set.

Cairo is definitely a dirty, crowded city, but not at all like the insanity I expected. Traffic moves -- no traffic lights, but many police directing the mash of cars, buses, tuk-tuks, and donkey carts. People dart in and out of it but none of it seems hectic or crazed. And right now, from my hotel balcony, I can hear a woman singing "Killing Me Softly" at an outdoor restaurant mixing with the sound of a muezzin calling the Muslim faithful to prayer, which is a perfect summary of the diversity of this city.

Tomorrow Ramadan starts and I'm really looking forward to seeing the city after dark, when people who have not eaten or drank all day come out and eat, drink and party until the early morning hours.