Tuesday, 7 June 2022

I'm Off My Beaten Track in Cairo...

Cairo skyline
...today.  I've always had an interest in ancient Egyptian culture and history and it had been my ambition to visit the many ancient sites since I'd been about nine or ten.  Eventually, I did make it there for a month and, of course, I kept a journal...
Getting here has been… tiring, worrying and quite stressful.  I had become convinced that I would just never make it as nothing in relation to this planned holiday seemed to run smoothly.  The necessary injections took three months to organise because of difficulties getting the vaccines, the dates of travel were changed which left me with a problem for the care of my parents dog which took ten days to sort out and then, there was my trip on the back doorstep which has left me with a seriously bruised bum and back ache, a taxi for the station that didn't arrive and a traveller at Heathrowe who had a whole half a holds-worth of luggage to check in.  I mean, who really has that many clothes?  Well, she did, obviously!  Anyway I'm finally here, but I'm still very tired from all the travelling and the late arrival yesterday.
As I attempted to look in the mirror this morning I noticed that the portmanteaux under my eyes looked as though they were full of bricks.  Breakfast was terribly polite.  As a bunch of travellers, none of us really know each other, having met for the first time late yesterday when we were corralled by the travel company onto the bus waiting at the airport.  Still, breakfast was an opportunity to put my Fellow Travellers under scrutiny.
The Cairo musuem was todays must see - a short coach ride away and an opportunity to have a look at this sprawling city.  Cairo is an ancient place and it became the capital of the country in 970AD.  So, I guess that makes it a relatively recent change when you consider that there was a civilisation living here five thousand years ago!  As we drove through the city I became a bit disappointed.  I had expected something tidier and more in keeping with the aestheticism of ancient times.  What I actually saw were tumbling down buildings still being lived in, enormous concrete edifices rivalling the distant pyramids at Giza that were just visible in the haze.  Some roads that intersected with the major thoroughfare were little more than rubble tracks.  But there is clearly a program of substantial investment here as there are new buildings that were complete but complimented by a pile of builder's rubble that had never been cleared away.  Other buildings, yet to be completed, looked bereft of any care or attention with the statutory pile of builder's rubble yet to be finally added to.  The still existing old colonial buildings were dwarfed by modernism.  It was kind of sad to realise that a modern country such as this, with its foundations in such an unprecedented and advanced older civilisation should demonstrate such a lack of aesthetic realisation.
The museum was fascinating, both as a building per se and as a storehouse for wonderful things.  I wandered from room to room in absolute awe of the various treasures recovered from tombs and temples from all over the country.  There were complete sections of highly decorated plaster work along with beautiful alabaster ewers, jugs and statues carved from granite.  There were even ancient versions of snakes and ladders and a small toy that resembled the early hand held moving picture scopes.  On the first floor were the treasures from the tomb of Tut Ankh Amun.  This wasn't my first sight of the stunning death mask - I had seen it once before amidst the incredible security required for the exhibition at the British museum.  I remember pestering my parents until they finally gave in.  Second time around and I still marvelled at the splendour of Tut's funereal treasure in its rightful place.
View from MS Nefertari, moored at Ma'adi, Cairo
So, here I am, back on board the river cruiser MS Nefertari, sitting in a shady spot at the stern of the boat, watching the river.  
As Egypt is a 'No Alcohol' place I could only bring my duty free allowance with me.  In celebration of my arrival I have allowed myself one small glass of white wine.  It may not be quite as chilled as I would like, but it is most certainly savoured.  It also means that I can sit here, in quiet contemplation of my fellow travellers, marvel at the amazing day I've had and watch the setting sun gradually turn the water of the Nile to gold…

You can read more from my Egyptian Journal Here when I make a visit to the pyramids at Giza.


  1. Interesting. I'm looking forward to more in this series. We visited Egypt twice - in the early eighties and in January 2020. The differences were tremendous.

    1. Thanks, Miriam. I've only visited Egypt once. I thought, at the time, that I may never get another opportunity, so I organised my trip so that I could see everything I wanted to see in the time that I was there. Maybe I will revisit some time, I don't know.

  2. I have been to Egypt ten times! But, I still haven't managed to get to Aswan and on to see Abu Symbel. I liked the way you described Cairo my most favourite city on the planet as it really does have so much history and on every corner is another lot of rubbish mixed in with the Cairo dirt and grime. Having been to Cairo nine times I do like to think outside the box when visiting it these days. Like the last time I was there. Managed to find with the help of my taxi driver the place where the Virgin Mary washed baby Jesus which was an unbelievable experience and where I found out that my eyes were special. I like Egypt a lot and also the friends I have made 😊

    1. Hi, Sandra and thanks for visiting my blog. Interesting to hear your views, and, as you say, the layers of history in that city and the rest of the country are fascinating . There will be more from my travels whilst I was there.

  3. I will look forward to reading them