Its quite difficult to write a post about Cairo, which is probably why it has taken me so long.
The problem is that for the most part cameras are off limits without a special permit or licence.
This is the part of Egypt where I would suggest you buy a stack of postcards. Not to send to anyone but to fill in the gaps in your photo album later.
I can only suggest you visit, Cairo, Giza and the rest of the Lower Nile are absolutely breathtaking.
One word of warning though. If you happen to be in Greece, Turkey, Cyprus or any of those places and are offered a "day trip" to Egypt, proceed with caution. There's nothing actually wrong with the trip, they are very well organised. But they are organised in such a way as to make you part with your cash as quickly as possible. You will be taken to Cairo Museum for about an hour.
It has been said that if you were allowed 1 minute to look at each artifact it would take over 9 months to see everything.
You'll then be ushered on to Auntie Betty's jewelery shop, Uncle Jim's papyrus shop and well you get the idea.
You'll see very little of Egypt on one of these tours and there is a lot to see...
We were there for one week and I would have been happier with a few months. This photo was taken from the Mosque of Muhammad Ali. While we were at the Mosque the Muezzin began calling and out of respect I didn't take any more than a few photographs facing away from the Mosque.
One thing I will say is that if you plan to visit any of the many mosques in Cairo, please cover up. It doesn't take a lot to show some respect and a pair of trousers and long sleeves aren't really going to do you any harm. One girl in our tour group was a bit put out by the fact that all the women entering the mosque were told that they would have to wear a heavy cloak except me. Bear in mind that this was the same girl who put her bloody shoes down on the ground beside the fountain so that she could get her camera ready. And the same girl who eventually had her camera confiscated because she couldn't switch off the flash. I swear there's always one.
Anyway, obviously the first thing you will want to see on arriving in Cairo are the pyramids.
Surprisingly enough you can't really see them from anywhere in Cairo. The city is so built up and more than a little polluted that you will have to get a bit closer to really appreciate them.
One other thing. People in general are a little jaded by the pyramids. You've seen them everywhere, TV, magazines, postcards and it does ruin it for you a little.
If you see them from a short distance, you get your typical holiday snap idea of what they look like.
Off in the desert, the middle of nowhere, these giants rise out of the sand.
Want to see them from the other side....
This was our hotel and yes that is a swimming pool and a golf course right at the foot of the Giza plateau. This view almost ruined it for me. I knew the hotel was close, but I never thought it was that close.
You will need to get right up close and personal to get a true idea of just how big these things really are.
Each stone was about five feet tall, although I think they are a bit smaller closer to the top.
There is a tour inside one of the pyramids, but as I've mentioned before we arrived in the middle of a heatwave and on this particular day the temperature reached 63C. The tour guides recommended to everyone that whilst the tour was still running nobody should take it. It is very cramped and claustrophobic inside the passageways and a few people had to be carried out while we were there.
Instead we headed over to see the Sphinx.
It was and probably still is undergoing a lot of restorative work.
Also on the Giza plateau is the Solar Boat Museum containing the oldest boat in history. The boat was used to transport Cheops body and then buried with him. Its in pretty good condition, don't you think?
We were also able to get to Memphis during our stay in Egypt. Memphis is now a city built over ruins. Of course, archaeologists would love nothing more than to flatten the city and start digging, but the people of Memphis are firmly standing their ground.
As it is today there are a few uncovered statues to be seen and a large alabaster sphinx.
There is also a Colossus of Ramses II in Memphis. It would stand over 14 meters high if it wasn't lying down, obviously.
Some of the other things we were able to visit, but unfortunately weren't able to or just wouldn't stop what we were doing to photograph...
The city of the dead is probably not what you imagine it to be. A huge graveyard now filled with life. In the 1960s due to a great housing shortage for lower income family and immigration from the country and outlying areas, the tombs and mausolea were transformed into homes. You'll see little children playing football and using headstones as goal posts. In fact many of the headstones have been used in the building process. Its a spectacular place to visit and spend some time and well worth the trip to Cairo on its own. Its a very strange experience to see so many living share space with the dead.
The Khan Al-Khalili Bazaar is an amazing place. Its actually a large group of separate bazaars which have grown and enveloped each other of the years. The poor husband couldn't get me to stand still love enough to take any photographs, but the colours and smells are breathtaking. Each bazaar sells vast quantities of a different item. Gold (sold by weight, silver and leather, carpets, copperware, spices, perfume, cloth and fabric, food, sheesha and street after street of belly dancers outfits. It can seem a little overwhelming and a bit scary when you first enter the bazaar. It covers a very large area and is extremely crowded in very cramped streets (no more than a few feet wide) but there is some method to the madness and its actually quite easy to find your way around once you've had a quick dash around the market. A word of warning, avoid the centre of the market, its the area where you will see a lot of tour buses parked and hawkers trying to sell "real essence of Chanel No:5" and some poor saps desperate to buy it. Also don't go into any shop with a hustler. They stand in the bazaar telling everyone they can get you local prices on everything. The store owners know them on sight and hike the prices to pay their compensation. Never pay more than a third of the first price you are given. Seriously, sellers actually look disappointed for a second if you don't haggle.
The Hanging Church dedicated to the Virgin Mary is the most beautiful in Egypt and well worth a visit. It is nicknamed the Hanging Church because it is built over the bastions of a roman gate. It is decorated inside with decorative cedar panels and a large marble pulpit supported by twelve columns. No matter what time of the day you visit the church is always filled with people but something about the place quietens the usual chatter and noise you will hear at other sights and you feel like you could very well be there alone.
I'm going to have to leave it at that because I'm very tempted to sell the car and book a couple of flights and that just wouldn't do at all.