Old Cairo & Islamic Cairo

Friday May 20, 2011

For my second and last day in Cairo I decided to see the sights of Old Cairo and Islamic Cairo. I was planning to get a train to Alexandria around 2-3pm so had most of the morning to see the sights.

After four hours sleep (this was starting to catch up on me now) the Singaporean girl and I took the metro to Old Cairo. The cost was only €0.12 and it was in Old Cairo in no time. All we had with us was a terrible map that just gave the name of 2 sights in Old Cairo and no information on how to get to them. This led to a lot of walking back and forth and for some reason a lot of visits to cemeteries. It seemed we couldn’t get away from them!

One of the many cemeteries we ended up in, this one was Armenian
Greek Orthodox Church
Old Cairo

After a good bit of searching we eventually found one of the sights called the Hanging Church. Unfortunately it was closed so we hung out and relaxed in a nearby cafe with some tea and some awful shisha before returning. Once back at the Hanging Church there was a lot more activity now and it turns out there was a christening on. So we had a nice look around while taking some shots of the church and the christening.

Smoking Shisha
Egyptian Tea
Arabic Script
‘Hanging Church’ Priests
Egyptian Christening
Senior Priest

Afterwards we headed to The Citadel in Islamic Cairo. This building was pretty impressive but being Friday the interior was closed for Friday prayers. We got to see the inside of another nearby mosque though which was also impressive. And also got a great view out over the city while the call to prayer rang out from the hundreds of mosques around Cairo. Video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCLiic6gKfQ

Old Cairo Family
Merchants of Old Cairo
On the way to Islamic Cairo
The Citadel
Mosque Arches
Mosque Artwork
Citadel Mirrors
Islamic Cairo View
Islamic Cairo

Getting the taxi back to downtown the driver couldn’t get through Tahrir square due to it being closed off. This was done by the military because of the Friday demonstrations. I remember reading the travel advice before going and the one thing that had been repeated everywhere was “Avoid all demonstrations”, so much for that! It all seemed peaceful and the military seemed relaxed so we went over for a quick look. It was a protest asking for the release of activists who were imprisoned during Mubarak’s reign. It was interesting to be in the middle of it and see the passion of some of the demonstrators.

Tahrir Square Demonstrations

Before I left for Alexandria we got a quick lunch, unfortunately all we could find was a KFC (the shame!) After coming all the way to experience the culture and different foods of Egypt we were eating in a KFC! To balance out the shame I ordered an Egyptian type meal off the menu…

I picked my stuff up from the hostel and got a taxi to Ramses train station sticking the bike on the roof. From here with a bit of baksheesh exhanged I was able to use an empty booth and get on the train just before it left. I was starting to get the hang of this baksheesh thing! 2 hours later I arrived in Alexandria and tied the bike to the roof of another taxi. This guy tried to drop me off at the wrong hotel twice. When he did find the right spot he tried to drive off with my 50LE note without giving me the 35LE change. I had to block him closing the door and stand over him shouting for him to give it back. The taxi drivers over here really are the sneakiest of the lot and as much as I don’t like being too aggressive, a lot of the time you have no choice but to be.

Heading to the train station

After fending off a guy trying to convert me to Islam (as you do) I took one of the more interesting lifts I’ve been in ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nafAmAtw3n8 ) to the cheap hotel I was staying in. I had planned to put the bike together this evening but the total of 7 hours sleep in the last 3 days had truly caught up with me.

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