Egypt: Day 1 (23 Oct 2007)

Volume 10, Issue 121; 20 Nov 2007; last modified 08 Oct 2010

The Red Pyramid and Khan El-Khalili market.

When something good happens to us, you can be pretty confident that Deb’s had a hand in it. This trip to Egypt is no exception. That it happened at all, and that it went so smoothly, was all Deb.

I mention this because Deb arranged not only the tour we took, but also a private tour on our first day in Cairo. That's how we got to see the Red Pyramid. (After our last experience with checked bags and cruises, flying out a day early was a no brainer.)

Our morning began with a private tour to the Red Pyramid with a photo opportunity of the inaccessible Bent Pyramid.

Climbing down into the pyramid is a long, backwards walk down a steeply inclined shaft a few feet wide, a few feet high, and a couple of hundred feet long. At the bottom are three surprisingly large rooms. Hot, stuffy rooms. (If going into caverns is usually cool, why is going into a pyramid so stiflingly hot?)

For the first five or ten minutes, I was entirely alone. Even alone, I wouldn't suggest that it's an adventure for the claustrophobic.

It's a long, long climb back out, but at least it's forwards.

[The extent to which it was a joy and a privilige to explore a pyramid almost entirely alone, without touts, peddlers, or a sea of other tourists was not apparent until later in the trip. -ed]

Next up we saw some local crafts: rug making…

Papyrus…

And “essence” manufacture. Apparently, these are the flower and plant extracts from which perfume is made. The merchants all offer a free beverage, I highly recommend “Karkadai”, a red “tea” made by boiling hibiscus blossoms. It's served cold in the summer and warm in the winter.

Finally, we went to Khan El-Khalili market. It's been in continuously operation for more than six hundred years. Various guide books suggested that good deals could be had here, but our local guide was of the opinion that it was all junk.

After a brief rest in a cafe and a delicious glass of mango juice, we tried to explore the market.

I say “try” because the touts were so agressive that we didn't go far. Maybe we'd have lasted longer if it wasn't the end of a long day, or if we were looking for something in particular, but it wasn't an enjoyable place to stroll and that's all we had in mind.

Comments

Is the first picture supposed to fit its caption? I don't get it.

—Posted by John Cowan on 21 Nov 2007 @ 03:05 UTC #

Sorry, John, some explanation is probably in order. That's a photo of a "window" placed in the floor of the Hanging Church through which one can see that it's suspended above an open space.

If there's a vantage point from which to see the towers with the church suspended between them, I never saw it.

—Posted by Norman Walsh on 21 Nov 2007 @ 03:34 UTC #