Monday, January 18, 2010

October 30-31 Cairo (Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, Coptic Cairo and a Nile dinner cruise)

In the morning of the 30th, we visited the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities at Midan Tahrir where among the many thousands of treasures and interesting artifacts housed there is the famous exhibit of Tutankhamun. I was not able to take any photo inside the museum as cameras are not allowed inside. We were required to temporarily deposit them at the guardhouse or leave them in the bus. Bummer! We then went to Coptic Cairo, the center of Christianity in Egypt and visited some churches, among them St. Sergius which is presumed to be the locale where the Holy Family had lived during their flight to Egypt. Our day ended with a dinner cruise at the Nile River and early the following morning we headed to Cairo International Airport for our flight back home.

New Cairo

Nile River

If you are used to the skimpy dresses of western women, you'll feel sorry for the guys here..... everything is left to their imagination LOL.

Street scene

A couple waiting for their bus

Old Cairo

Note the mispelled words (click to enlarge the pic).....I see them even in the US of A.

Our local guide in Cairo (that's him in yellow shirt) said that for tourist guides to be accredited by the government, they need a degree in tourism or archeology. Unless he is stretching the truth, that's a pretty tough academic requirement for a guide.

The guy at the far right in gray jacket is our security escort. He's got a mean submachine gun hidden inside his jacket. All tourist groups in Egypt and Jordan are accompanied by a security officer and all the popular tourist spots are heavily guarded by uniform policemen. I wonder what they are protecting us from? Maybe they are protecting the populace from us, the camera shooting and souvenir hunting tourists LOL.

Cruise boat waiting to take a load

One of the belly dancers at our dinner cruise

There goes the pilgrim's halo LOL.

Farewell to the Land of the Pharoahs!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

October 28-29 Mt. Sinai, Suez Canal, Cairo (Memphis,Saqqara, the Great Pyramids and The Sphinx)

After crossing the Gulf of Aqaba, we continued on and checked in for the night at a hotel closest to Mt. Sinai (I think this is the only hotel in the area). The following morning, a few of the hardy members of our group got up very early to climb Mt. Sinai up to the site where Moses received the Ten Commandments and to see a spectacular sunrise. I was going to join them but a 12:30 am start-up time was way too early for me. I decided to just catch up on my sleep and watch the sunrise from the comfort of my hotel room. This turned out to be a wise decision on my part because the five who made it to the top of Mt. Sinai said it was too cold up there they had to rent blankets to keep warm while waiting for sunrise....and when the sun showed up, there was a heavy cloud cover! So much for missing a night's sleep and the long climb. When they came back (exhausted and disappointed), we all went to St. Catherine's Monastery and from there motored to Cairo passing through the desert and going underneath the Suez Canal via a tunnel. We then stayed in Cairo until it was time for us to fly home on the 31st.

On the morning of the 29th we traveled to Memphis and Saqqara. Memphis was the old capital of Egypt (2700-2180 bc) and Saqqara was an ancient burial site. In the afternoon, we visited the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx. I have seen the pyramids at Teotehuacan in Mexico but these are notches more impressive.

Our hotel near Mount Sinai

A desert waiting shed

Well of Moses

The guy in the pic was required to wear the "wrap-around" to enter the monastery of St. Catherine. No shorts are allowed there. I don't think he was happy about his lot LOL.

Bones of dead monks in the monastery

Lucky shot I took from our moving bus - the timing was perfecto!

Was this the manner they transported the huge blocks (this one is nothing compared to the sizes of the blocks at the base of the pyramids) in the ancient time to build the pyramid?

A section of one of the pyramids undergoing a repair job

My attention was caught by the two ladies fully covered in black. Note the size of the blocks at the base of the pyramid. I do not know how they cut, moved and fitted them together and neither do I know why those ladies endured in silence the "hardships" imposed by their culture and religious belief(?).

The Sphinx taken at an angle which shows it between the two famous pyramids

A closer view of the Sphinx. It was used for cannon target practice by Napoleon's army that is why the nose and other parts of its face are gone.

She is demonstrating how the papyrus is converted to paper but I was paying more attention to her look...her face is so serene and beautiful.