16.05.2011 - 20.05.2011 30 °C
We weren't in Cairo for more than 15 minutes and I almost had my first mini heart attack. Wowza! The drive from the airport into downtown was organized chaos at its best. I'm still AMAZED that we did not get in a car accident, and even more amazed that not one car (or pedestrian) around us didn’t either. If you haven't been in it yourself I'm not sure I can explain the traffic and driving habits in Cairo but I'll try... how about 5 lanes of traffic jammed on a 3 lane highway, weaving in and out beeping their horns to let other cars know what moves are being made. I didn't see one signal light used ever - car manufacturers for Egypt should save their money and remove the signal lights all together. You tube it, google it - just check out traffic/driving in Cairo for yourself. I have to admit once my anxiety attack subsided I did actually begin to find it quite amusing. And it's amazing what you get used to because by the end of our time in the Middle East it really was no bother at all - just the way it is.
But really....it deserves a mention but no more talk about traffic. We've done SOO many exhillerating and fulfilling things during our 21 day Intrepid trip.
Egypt eats - must eat the Koshari! It's a bowl of pasta, lentil, chick pea, fried onion and tomato goodness! And the description does nothing for it...it's delicious!! And one must eat kebabs of course but next time I will remember to bring my own hot sauce.
The Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx. Amazing, touristy, dirty (plastic bottles and garbage everywhere) but of course it's a must see and it doesn't dissapoint. We did our first camel ride at the pyramids. It was fun! I even got a smooch on the cheek from my camel, it was too funny! We did not go inside the Pyramids because of lack of time and fellow Intrepid travellers said the Egypt museum would be a better use of our time. So off to the Egypt Museum in the afternoon. The amount of history in the museum is mind blowing. Also worth checking out the Mummy Rooms, creeepy but very cool to see.
St. Catherine's and Mount Sinai where Moses received the 10 commandments. We started our hike up Mt. Sinai at 3pm in order to arrive in time for sunset. There is a camel path that you can walk up but Ash and I opted for the steps of repentance. It was a great hike up and beautiful views all the way. Before visiting I didn't realize Egypt was so mountainous. After sunset we began our decent down the camel path in the dark. This made the up part look easy. Wow...with no lights to gage the end of the climb (or the camel patties!!) it really felt like we were never going to get there. But we finally made it (stinky shoes and all). I slept like a baby that night and was never so happy to see a single bed and a bug mattress before in my life. We also visited St. Catherine's Monestary - one of the oldest operating monasteries in the world. Again, the sheer history in this place just blew my mind. They have scriptures, paintings and artifacts that date back 4000 to 5000 years.
Off to Sawa Beach camp on the Red Sea! Time for 24 hours of R&R in open air beach huts right on the sea!!! We did our first ever scuba dive here and it was a colorful experience. We saw every fish you can imagine, hightlights including a stingray, octopus and a MASSIVE sea turtle! I was like a kid again…it was a “Finding Nemo” experience I’ll never forget!
It is so sad to see the desperation due to lack of tourism following the revolution. The revolution is viewed by most (about 80%) in Egypt as a great achievement but just a small victory with many more steps ahead. Notable is that during the revolution there were attacks on buildings very near the Egyptian Museum and it was the people of Egypt who banded together and protected the museum from any harm. It is said that political organizations ordered these kinds of attacks in an attempt to make it look like the protests were violent. I don't have an opinion or verification on the truth of these matters but I do know the Egyptian people are working hard toward change and what's NOT helping is the rest of the world avoiding travel because of the media attention from surrounding countries. Lumping all of the middle east into one bucket is just not the reality of the situation - the way I see it is that of all times to visit, this is one of the most amazing, rewarding, informative and historical times to go see for yourself what Egypt is all about.