God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Coptic Cairo, Old Cairo, Casey and Horses

Our time in Cairo was much too short and I would love to go back someday and see more of it; although, with so much of the world unexplored, I suspect that won't happen. Anyway, we had just two days there, plus the first night. This wasn't very much time at all.

The second full day we headed back into the Islamic center of Cairo to the historical Khan el Kahlili souk (bazaar) which goes back to the 14th century. Originally it was a caravan rest stop along the trade route and established what is now Egypt as a major player in the trade business. Today it is a fascinating warren of shops and stalls selling all types of things--much of it aimed at the tourists; however, Egyptians still frequent and shop here. I would have liked more exploration time than we had except for the hawking that is endemic to Egypt.

We did take a rest break at the El Fishawy tea house sandwiched between shops and stalls. We had a good time just sipping mint tea and watching the activity around us.

Us with THE Ultimate Trip Planner Ahmed

From here we went to Old Coptic Cairo which has been a Jewish/Christian center since the time of Jesus. Under the oldest Coptic Church, which was having a service while we were there, it is said there is a cave used by the Holy Family when they fled Jerusalem to escape the massacre of boys by Herod.  We were not allowed to take pictures inside so the outside must do.

We also saw the old Jewish synagogue which is meticulously maintained. As with all synagogues we have visited in our travels, it was necessary to go through a security check in order to enter.

Later we drove into the countryside to the Step Pyramid at Saqqara. This was the first pyramid and, though the largest structure of its time, much smaller than the pyramids of Giza. Originally there was a wall surrounding with a large courtyard and entrance with huge niches for various statues and offerings. Today only a small part remains although archeological digs are exposing more. There is stabilizing work being done, making it difficult to recognize how awesome it would be to see it just rising up out of the desert.

 Once we walked through the entrance hall, Casey spotted horses and convinced us that the camel ride of the day before really wasn't enough. He wanted, really wanted to ride a horse. For a long time his dreams have been a city boy's dreams--to if not own a horse, to at least ride.  Of course, the little jaunt here, being led by the horse's owner, doesn't truly qualify as riding but for him it was fun.

As with so much of what we did in Egypt, there were few people there except for the Egyptians and their horses and camels. The reminders are constant as to the economic hardships those who are dependent on tourists are facing.

On our return to Cairo, we stopped at a little roadside restaurants for a good lunch. Clearly it is meant for tourists as at the stairs leading down, men were playing music--but it was fun. Women, as we saw throughout Egypt, were at the outside ovens making bread.

On a leisurely return to Cairo, it was nice to not be in traffic, we enjoyed the villages and small towns along the way--watching daily life go on around us. We were however, appalled by the dirt and filth along the roadway and the canal that ran along side the road. At one point, we really thought our eyes were deceiving us when we saw three dead horses lying in the water. Ahmed explained that the canal and roadside are cleaned twice a week. There is a current project which covers up the canal and makes very pretty and nice green parkways along the way. It had been finished as we got closer to Cairo and will be a big improvement once it is totally completed. But, one of our take away visuals along with all the wonders we saw is that Cairo is a dirty city inspite of its charms and intrique.

And..that is our brief but memorable time in Cairo--a place in the spotlight these days. We saw such a small glimpse of it that it seems we were hardly there. Maybe a return some day--as I said above.

I need to give kudos to the wonderful Ahmed Hamed Yousif who planned our entire trip, Egypt and Jordan. I can not sing his praises enough. We had several plane flights, a cruise, hotels, guides and other arrangements and all was perfection. Plus Ahmed was our personal guide in Cairo. I highly recommend him to any and all.

Next Up: Incredible Abu Simbel


Trekcapri said...

Hi Jane, wonderful post. I really enjoyed your photo video. I love the photos of all three of you on Camels. Cairo sounds like a very interesting city.What an incredible experience for Casey and for all of you.

Thanks so much for sharing your photos and incredible experiences.

menehune said...

DELICIOUS - everything about this. Sounds as if this trip will be one to top for your future travels! What an experience for Casey too. Hope he takes back great memories.

sandrac said...

Fantastic photos! And Casey looks so happy -- what an experience!

Jane said...

Thanks friends. Sandra, you caught on--he was very happy and truly enjoyed it. Menehune--love the word delicious--perfect. Kathy,I always enjoy your experience so it is nice to pay back some.