Cairo, Downtown!


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Africa » Egypt » Lower Egypt » Cairo
July 14th 2007
Published: July 14th 2007EDIT THIS ENTRY

Well I arrived back in Cairo, after a somewhat less comfortable reclined overnight journey, and then decided I would head into the heart of downtown Cairo for a hostel, after a short snooze I headed out to Saqqara, around forty minutes outside the city limits.
Saqqara is the huge cemetery of ancient Memphis, and was one of the royal burial grounds for moiré than 3500 years, and consists of eleven lesser known old kingdom pyramids. I spent half the day at Saqqara, other visitors were few and far between, as a result there on the edge of the desert I found a peaceful serenity rarely created at the other ancient sites. The main monument in this area is the step pyramid

Which is the earliest form of pyramid; it encases a descending passage from the north which leads to the burial chamber. Underground galleries surround the pyramid on all but the south sides, but all of this I will have to trust to lonely planet as it was closed for restoration, meaning I was unable to venture inside.

Later that afternoon I moved through an area known as Coptic Cairo, this area is the oldest part of Cairo, and predates what is now modern Cairo. It is believed that there was a settlement here as early as the 6th century BC. Later, the Romans built a fortress here which we know today as "Babylon". Some of these Roman walls still exist today.
After the spread of Christianity throughout Egypt, it became a Christian stronghold, with as many as twenty churches built within an area of just one square mile. Now only five remain, along with the earliest mosque ever built in Egypt. This was a really amazing place, which many suggest mirrors Jerusalem's old city, after wandering thought the afternoon I stopped at a traditional Egyptian café to sip Arabic coffee as thick as mud, and smoke Shissha from a Hooka, or double apple flavoured tobacco through an ancient water pipe. That evening I took it easy with a nice Australian couple all having Sharworma and beers in hand.

The Next morning I headed back to the Giza plateau, wanting to cast my eyes one more time, upon these magical testaments to ancient architecture and religion. After drifting through the compound for the best part of the day, I headed back to the great pyramid of Cheops, climbed the incredibly narrow shaft to the sepulcher and some how managed to sit alone in deathly silence for what seemed like hours! Contemplating all that is ancient Egyptian. This was incredibly special something I feel privileged to have experienced.

This time after having been in Egypt for a little while, I understood how things worked, so I slipped the guard a small bill, drew my camera and managed to capture the original entry shaft and the initial chamber before other tourists arrived, where the guard dove into a fairly convincing impression of an official doing his job with utmost efficiency yelling "no photo no photo" this was for the benefit of the new tourists, but unfortunately I was ushered back outside before I could make it to back to the burial chamber with my camera.

So after more Sharworma I headed back downtown to orgainse my gear as tomorrow I have a 6 hour bus ride to St Katherine at the foot of Mt Sinai.


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16th July 2007

11th one from Paul
Hey, Scoop Smith! Thanks for the pic inside the Great Pyramid, you did very well to get it. However, I am going to have to report you to the authorities as such clandestine activities are absolutely forbidden! As coincidence would have it, 60 Minutes did a piece on the Giza Pyramid last night so it was quite timely - I felt that I already had a greater knowledge than the rest of the population (well, the rest of the family anyway) because of your blog. As Toby says, (Hi Toby. Yes we had a great time at the movies but we didn't get to the japanese restaurant as MVD was at work for the early part of the evening) Rome is old and I was there for the first time in September which knocked me out, but you're experiencing the stuff that makes Rome look like 'Caroline Springs'! I guess the advice that Toby proferred is very sound, so keep it in mind eh? When d'you think you'll tire of Sharwormas? They sound delicious. The quiet time for reflection you experienced was very special and I guess, rare for where you were. Stay safe, oh Intrepid One. Paul.
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