EGYPT: the rest

I guess it’s about the time for me to finish my postings about Egypt 🙂

So, 3 weeks ago, in the great land of Egypt…
After Dahab we came to Basata back, still having almost half of our holidays ahead.
We chilled, slept, talked about everything, sang songs (Geta’s romanian songs, Tom’s “Squeedy fun!”, my russian solo), met sunrise and sunset, played voleball (we played me+geta against Shady and Tom – guys terribly lost 2-0!!!) all Basata community supported us in winning 🙂
Had another awesome dinner, watched moon in the mountains by the Red Sea…

Swam as much as we could, played, read, got tanned
Perfect combination of everything you need at vacations!

And the next days we said good bye to Basata, this most peaceful and relaxing place I’ve ever been to. It will always be in my memory, our days there…

And… Cairo was waiting for us! Surprisingly the mini-bus ride took much shorter the way back, we reached the city in 4 hours or so. Geta got fooled with pyramids by Tom, and then she “saw” them with Tom’s help 2 more times before we saw real pyramids 🙂

We got a really nice hostel, just in the Tahrir square, which is one of most central areas of Cairo, the view was really nice

We spent a day with Tom and his friend, going to Old Cairo, Muslim part, El Khalil (market)Coptic Cairo, Al Azhar park. It was quite a contrast between well-kept central part, with cafes and modern cars – and streets of Old Cairo, with hills of garlic, donkeys, quiet mosques and noisy markets. Life is everywhere in this city – but what a different life…

Coptic Cairo – we saw one of worlds’ oldest churches, and even the place where Maria and Jesus lived in the cave; holy place.

Coptic Cairo is actually as a different reality – you almost don’t see veils on women, and they even sold beer in the shop once!

Actually this is another flash-light of Egypt – you do see traditional society there; and a woman in black, with only eyes visible, is a normal part of a landscape here. I don’t actually know if majority of woman play a role more that a beautiful landscape does… may be not enough time for me to get to know everything.

We’ve been in the café El Fishawy, that was open 24 hr non-stop for 200 years;

we were in a quiet mosque closed on restoration, but where we got entrance for small baksheesh. That was one of most beautiful and peaceful places I’ve ever been to. Similar to Blue Mosque in Istanbul, this one left a feeling of lightness and peace; so much space and air.

I loved Al Azhar park; freshness of fountains and grass after a hot day, WONDERFUL view of the city, Egyptian concert, dinner on the lake, sunset, and evening breeze on the top of Cairo. When it gets dark, you can count green lights of mosques on the horizon; there are many of them, and their sounds make that feeling of Cairo that sounds in your mind a long time after you leave…

What else about the city?
It is big; noisy and alive; dusty and fast; it has Nile.
I remember, that many of best city places are on the Nile island, where embassies are; that best kebab place is on the edge of a good and a bit suburban part of Cairo; taxis are cheap – if you know where to take them and pretend very smart that you are not fooled by the driver.

I remember Cairo has BEST fresh juices I have ever tried in my life! Everything you want – mango juice, so sick that it doesn’t go through the stroke; orange, strawberry, melon, banana and everything else you can ask for.

I remember that many buildings, especially in well-kept parts of the city, are colonial European style, with extremely expensive hotels where mainly Saudi Arabians stay; and if you manage to be in those bubble, you’d think that Cairo is a very developed modern city.

American university has security level as the embassy has, and is the most popular institution in Egypt; Egyptian chain of coffee-shops is an oasis of the West in Cairo. It’s like Egyptian Starbacks; pretty popular by the way.

Oh, here goes another big story: PYRAMIDS.

Interesting fact that they are almost in the city, but you’d never guess that on a postcard view 🙂

Our experience with the pyramids started with a horse ride; I was very excited! (this is one of ways how you can get to the pyramids). My mistake probably was that in this wave if excitement I asked our guide to make our horses (there were 4 of us) ride faster. He did, and he didn’t stop… I think other caravans of tourists whom we passed on the way were surprised (and I bet jealous!) to see us, galloping, screaming, laughing – it was great. I wasn’t too bad, especially for the first-time rider 🙂

Pyramids… I can happily live now, I saw the last ancient wonder of the world. The are magnificent – I think this is the right word. They are huge from the distance, when you first glance at them; they are even bigger when you get closer.

Pyramids are wonderfully simple – and yet so complex that no one can conquer them for centuries. I felt them, and that was enough to carry on.

Yes-yes-yes! Thank you pyramids that you are there for me for many years that passed, and for many that are ahead. I hope one day we will know the mystery behind pyramids – and it should be another mystery to keep us coming back to something simple.
You just have to see them yourself, that’s it 🙂

And yes, the Sphinx is small 🙂

Egyptian museum – as our guys told, this is the best worst kept museum. It is indeed – collections are TREASURES, and really interesting, but no order in huge halls, all precious exponents are just piled one on another in dust, with type-writer tags in French (which means at least 20 year old). We didn’t have much time to spend in the museum, so run through main exhibitions. Tutankhamen golden mask (can’t believe I saw with my own eyes that famous image) is so well done, and so beautiful, it’s like perfect face. I liked it a lot (remembered one Russian rock song of Nautilus Pompilius group, about Tutankhamen when was looking at the mask 🙂
Nefertity head – we saw it as well, and it does look indeed as the most beautiful woman in the history. I wonder how gorgeous she was in her life when even a rough stone head is so nice-looking…

The evening of the last day in Egypt, in Cairo – we met sunset on the felucca on the Nile (by the way feluccas in Cairo were my first experience of sailing boats!), enjoying true relaxation and just esthetic pleasure – being there, in the city, on the river, with nice people, on the slowly moving towards something good boat …

We run through El Khalil, Cairo market, in attempts to fulfill the duty of presents for families and friends (well, and yes, get something for ourselves – I got nice jewelry 🙂

And the last of Cairo that night – was Muqattam place, on the hill above the city. You can drive there in the car, and just sit on the edge, on plastic chairs, with the best shisha and hot sahleb, listening to the music, mosques, people talking, wind and everything else night Cairo is made of… You just feel it. Truly romantic, and a very nice place – it was the perfect exclamation mark of our Cairo time!..

And then we went to the airport, stopping for some time in the traditional @Cairo last spot – Limousine café/eatery – it is under open air, totally not touristy (good for this place), with plastic chairs and they say best shisha in the city. When we walked in (foreigners, and 2 girls, which very rare there) – place magically were arranged to fit us all, people got white serving dresses, and bets glasses of juice for ladies 🙂 it was so nice, last flavor of hospitality (and apple shisha:) of Egypt…

It was a magical time for me – in Basata, in Dahab, in Cairo.
Many nice memories – to keep me warm in cold winter evenings, remembering Egypt 🙂
I’m happy I was there.

Thank you Tom, Shady, Geta, and all Egyptian land, for making that week my best vacations! 🙂