Egypt! continued… - Amy's Amazing Adventures
Amy's Amazing Adventures

Egypt! continued…

by on Feb.11, 2009, under Uncategorized

One of the reasons why this trip is so great is because we get to see things about other countries that most tourists don’t see! Our tours have been private tours, so it has just been Steve and I and our tour guide, Reham.

On Sunday morning we went to the Citadel.  The Citadel is a major tourist attraction. The citadel contains Al-Gawhara Palace, the National Military Museum and the Police Museum. It was built as a fortress and a royal city. Legend has it that Saladin (the Sultan) chose the site for its healthy air.  The story goes that he hung pieces of meat up all around Cairo.  Everywhere the meat spoilt within a day, with the exception of the Citadel area where it remained fresh for several days.

The fortress was built between 1176 – 1183 AD.


Mohamed Ali Mosque. This Mosque was built much later than the Fortress, between 1828 – 1848. We had to take off our shoes before going inside. The mosque is open to tourists every day except Fridays between 11am and 1 pm when it is still used as a Mosque.  When you take your shoes off, you have to either carry them with you, or leave them on the side of the room close to the wall with the soles of the shoes touching. You can’t let the soles of the shoes touch the floor. When you walk inside, there is an open area like a courtyard. The floors are marble. The marble floors act as air conditioning for the Mosque. It is surprisingly cold to walk on!


The ceiling of the Mosque


The ceilings and walls are so elaborate! There are 365 lamps hanging from the ceiling which once held candles, but they now use lightbulbs.


One of the two pulpits. A Mosque should only ever have 1 pulpit, which makes this Mosque unique. They built one pulpit, then realized it was too big, so they built the second one.


I love Palm trees! I may have mentioned that before :)


One of the highlights of the tour was Garbage City. Yes. It’s exactly what you might imagine it to be. Garbage City is where the garbage collectors live.  It is a slum settlement in the city of Cairo. The people living there are mainly Coptic Christians, or Egyptian Christians. They collect and find pieces of reusable garbage which they sell later on. Although there are streets, shops, and apartments like any other area, they sometimes have no running water, sewage or electricity.

The city’s garbage is brought here and used by the people to make a living. As we drove down the road, we saw large rooms stacked with garbage with men, women or children crouching and sorting the garbage into usable or sellable. Families specialize in the type of garbage they sort and sell. One room will have children sorting out plastic bottles, while the next will have women separating cans from the rest. Carts pulled by horse or donkey are often stacked 8 feet high with recyclable goods.

The people in Garbage city are not poor. They often make good money by recycling the cities garbage.

The Cave Cathedral or St Sama’ans Church, used by the Coptic Christians in Garbage City, is the largest church in the Middle East with seating for 20,000 people.


Everyone wanted us to take their picture! They would smile and wave and run along the side of the van like the by in the next picture. (Steve took this picture)



After Garbage City, we went to the Khan el-Khalili Market which dates back to 1382. It’s a big tourist attraction. It was originally a market filled with things like fruit, vegetables, meat; things that people would use in every day life. Now, it is mostly souvenirs for tourists. Steve and I bought a few things. You need to be able to haggle in order to pay a fair price for the things you buy. Fortunately, we had some experience with haggling in Mexico, so we were prepared.




Lunch time! It was so great to have Reham with us to show us some typical Egyptian food. The next picture shows the floor of the restaurant. They put sawdust on the floor in order to prevent people slipping on spilled food. It also makes clean up easier at the end of the day. The sawdust absorbs the spills, and they can just sweep it all up at once. Clever.


Our lunch! Koshari (pronounced ‘CO-sha-ree’) It was delicious! It is made of a base of rice, brown lentils, chickpeas, macaroni, and a topping of Egyptian garlic and vinegar and spicy tomato sauce (salsa) and caramelized onions. It tastes way better than it looks. Koshari is one of the most popular, inexpensive, and common dishes in Egypt, and many restaurants specialize in this one dish. It is very filling!


We had an exciting time on our tours! Intrepid is a a great tour company and we will definitely be using them again!

The next day, Monday, we spent resting and working. I work online, so I have been able to keep working as we travel. That afternoon, we went for a short walk and crossed the street! Big deal right? wrong! Crossing the street is an adventure roughly equivalent to sky diving… or… swimming with sharks!

There are no cross walks or traffic lights. You have to just step out in front of the cars. But don’t expect them to stop. When you walk in front of a car, you have to run to the next free space (in between moving lanes of traffic) until you see an opening and run across that lane to the next one! You have to do this through about 8 lanes of traffic. And I use the term ‘lane’ very loosely.

Tuesday morning, we were met by a different tour guide in the hotel lobby.  She took us to Fayoum. Fayoum is about an hour and a half away from Cairo. We drove though the desert most of the way.  On the way to Fayoum, we stopped at Meidum (pronounced ‘my-doom’)  This is the Meidom Pyramid. It is one of three pyramids constructed during the reign of Sneferu between 2613 BC and 2589 BC. It was constructed as a step pyramid, and then later changed into the first “true” smooth-sided pyramid when the steps were filled in, and an outer casing added.

The pyramid has partially collapsed. Mediaeval Arab writers described it as having 7 steps – although today only the top three steps remain, making it look like a tower. The hill on which the pyramid is built is not a natural landscape feature. It’s a small mountain of debris created when the lower part of the pyramid collapsed.


It is in the middle of the desert! Some of the guards never leave the site. They live there in buildings like this…



On the way to Fayoum there were people on the street selling things like tomatoes, fish, bread etc.


Driving past these little towns is like going back in time 4000 years! It looks as if nothing has changed. They wear the same clothes, use the same animals, live in the same kinds of houses. It’s unreal.


A house on the side of the road.



I love Egypt!

It’s now 6am, and Steve and I are finally going to have breakfast! We think there’s a conspiracy to keep us from eating anything but lunch here in Egypt.  Something always prevents us from having breakfast or supper. So, today, we’ve made breakfast a priority. We’re really looking forward to it!

5 comments for this entry:
  1. Shari Day

    Hi Amy and Steve, Great pictures, interesting commentary! More please! Hugs

  2. Lori-Anne

    Hey! It looks like you guys are having fun. Nice pictures :)Keep on posting!!

  3. Tere

    Hi Amy!
    It’s so great that you’re seeing real people and how they live, and your photos are so well shot and insightful. Seriously, they look like something from National Geographic. It’s so so amazing that you’re doing this :)

  4. Greg

    umm about the picture you describe as being 4000years in the past.. Silly girl they didn’t have Chevrolets back then :)


    Hai.. great pictures of egypt, bring back sweat memory when I was study at el-Azhar University. I like Kosharee very much, may I copy the picture for my blog please

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