April 19, 2005 - Mediterranean Trip - Day 6
April 19, 2005 - Mediterranean Trip - Day 6
The morning of April 19 finds us sailing towards Alexandria, Egypt.
Once in the port, we notice a stark contrast to the archcitecture of Europe.
A make-shift market awaits us as we disembark, but we quickly move past to get on with our day.
The 90-minute drive to Cairo takes us through the city of Alexandria, the city border/gate (pictured), the outskirts, then desert, before finally hitting the Cairo 'burbs.
Just outside Alexandria, it is pointed out that there are numerous conical 'chimney-like' additions to houses and buildings. They have small holes all throughout their pointed roofs. They are to attract pigeons, which is apparently a staple for Egyptions. (Later, we'll comment on how the people-friendly pigeons of Venice are different from their paranoid bretheren of Egypt.)
Finally, we arrive at Giza. Jill, my mom, and Carey pose in front of the Great Pyramid of Kkhufu (Cheops).
OK, Jill and I have to do the same. (Actually, with everyone's pictures combined, I think I have over 100 pictures of people-in-front-of-pyramids.)
Mom gets politely accosted by a local.
Bill and Carey take their turn posing.
Up close on the middle pyramid - for Pharoh Khefre, around which mom and I walked. Those things are big!
Running camel! This guy really wasn't going anywhere important. He trotted for about 100 yards and started walking again. I don't think the driver really had any control.
An overlook provides a cool view of all three major pyramids (left to right - Khufu, Khefre, Menkure), plus a sad little one to the right of that, which is to one of Menkure's wives.
We all pose in front of the same overlook.
(I have pictures of everyone in our group in front of this, so if you want to see anyone in particular, just ask.)
Ah... the Sphinx (with a little bird on its head).
As you can see, we have the place all to ourselves.
For some reason, they don't like you to walk around the Sphinx. They don't think it is very photogenic. They let you, but suggest you stay in front for a better view.
After leaving Giza, we head for a short lunch-cruise on the Nile.
The architecture of Cairo is vastly different than anywhere else we went. Minarets are everywhere. The Greeks have their minarets, but they look different.
On the few miles of Nile we saw, there are very diferent areas.
There are the built-up, poorer areas.
...the middle class...(?)
Then the nicer areas with their modern office-buildings and hotels. The boat pictured was neat - probably another lunch-cruise.
Everywhere we went we had a 'tourist-police' escort (and a Uzi-carrying guard).
One of the locals, out for a sail...
The cruise had live entertainment, including a belly dancer.
(I'll let you guess which word I emphasized in my head as I typed that...)
The Egyptian flag waves with ever-present minarets and palm trees in the background.
The Mosque of Mohammad Ali in Cairo.
The architectural delights do not stop inside the walls.
However, as we head inside the Mosque itself, they decided Carey's shoulders were too sensual and might corrupt the minds of tourists inside, since no one is there for any other reason.
A little different from the chuches and basilicas of Europe, the large, carpeted interior is...
Not the frescos and murals of Rome, the ceiling here is one with metallic, shimmery colors.
The shell on the wall shows the devout which direction is Mecca, so they know which direction to bow.
the back-side of the "Alibaster Mosque" (same place, different name/nickname).
A view of smoggy Cairo from Mohhamad Ali's back-side. (uh... that sounded kinda odd.)
Basically next-door, another mosque.
Looking back at Mohammad Ali as we leave.
The 'tourist-police' made all busses wait and travel together. I guess that makes us easier to guard - or makes for an easier target.
Two weeks before we left, there was a suicide bombing in Cairo at a tourist attraction. Eleven days after we left Cairo (we were in Venice), there was a bombing at the Egyptian museum in Cairo and two ladies linked to the bomber shot at a tour bus (then turned the guns on each other). Oddly, I didn't feel unsafe when I was there. I guess I wasn't really thinking...
After stopping off at a papyrus factory, we headed back to Alexandria. On the way, we passed the same canals we passed on our way in. This shows how the city was generally less clean than anywhere else we went (or even the NYC port authority). I didn't get the shot, but there was a dead horse in the canal, which Jill saw on the way in town and pointed out to us on the way out.
This is just a few feet down the road, but you can see the proximity to the pyramids. They are right on the outskirts of town.
All things considered, I am very, very glad we went to Cairo, but I don't plan a return trip. I think that was the way to do that city. I'm sure there are things we missed (all of the Scheris say the Egyptiam museum is incredible if you don't go in the summer), but in-and-out as a cruise-stop seemed ideal.
Up next: the Turkish-influenced island-nation of Cyprus.