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06 January 2010

i'm worth 14 camels!

it's time to share the fantastic holidays we had in egypt this christmas. i'm not new to the land of paharons. first time was back in 2003, when we stayed in marsa alam and visited karnak, luxor and even took an excursion to sudan from there.

this time we stayed in the sinai peninsula, in sharm el sheik, and visited cairo. it's definitly not enough, i want to go again, to do the cruise on the nile and go back to cairo museum. the short 3 hours we spent in there were not enough to admire all that large amount of art. i was feeling so confused that i think i suffered of the sthendal syndrome. i hope to be more consciuos next time!

i loved every single thing of cairo, even the dirt. it's the dirt of poverty, typical of the second biggest city of the world. as a matter of fact, it's populated beyond every possible imagination, its people are extremely kind and poor and willing to earn more. they tease you even in the toilets, where they try to sell you loo paper. it's a bit stressing but oh well, what else can they do? the country relies on petrol, suez canal fees and tourism, they have to survive someway and we westerners are gold for them. what is some of their pounds compared to the crazy and nosense shopping we sometimes do over here? nothing, really.

first thing we visited was cairo citadel, a magnificent fortress built between 1176 and 1183 under the aegis of salah ad-din - an abbasid ruler. it is said that the healthy air that surrounded the citadel was the main reasons why the ruler chose it as the site for his bastion. it was later fortified to protect the city from the crusaders.

this citadel is sometimes referred to as 'mohamed Ali citadel', since it contains the mosque of mohamed ali. this ottoman mosque was built in memory of his oldest son between 1828 and 1848.

cairo was once known as the city of a thousand minarets, and looking over the city from the citadel, it is obvious that there are at least that many still.

hundreds of mosques line the twisting, medieval streets, packed in with the newer apartments and even high-rises. on one street you are likely to see a small brick house, a stone mosque, a late 17th century warehouse, a victorian home, a modern shopfront, and a huge hotel. it's overwhemling sometimes.

cairo traffic is legendary -or infamous. drivers pay little attention to road signs or signals, even a traffic cop in the middle of an intersection attempting to direct traffic is often igrnoed; camels and donkey carts drive along with cars, five or six cars will drive abreast down a two lane road.

the smog is terrible. even on a relatively clear day, the city is shrouded in a brownish haze. it slowly cleared by the time we arrived at the pyramids, so that we could admire them in all their splendour.  i thought that the pyramids were out in the desert, but found that they are actually so close to cairo that i can't figure out how they got all those fabulous shots you see in calendars and postcards.

the major sites on giza are the three huge pyramids: the great pyramid (pyramid of cheops), the pyramid of chephren, and the smallest of the three, the pyramid of menkaure.

queens pyramids dot the plateau, as well as mastaba tombs, and, of course, the great sphinx, with the attached funerary temple of chephren nearby.with the body of a lion and the head of a king or god, the sphinx symbolizes strength and wisdom. it lines up with the pyramid of khafre at the foot of its causeway. as one rounds the corner to the front, the alignment of the two structures becomes more apparent.

while in giza, i couldn't resist and did a toursit thing: payed 5 euros to be photographed on a camel, wearing a scraft and pretending to look like a beduin. the view of the 3 pyramids behind me was priceless!

it was while contracting for the price of this photo that al was offered 14 camels for his wife. last time we were visiting a camels market in sudan i was worth 10, so i take it as a positive offer, it means i've improved my looks! LOL i wonder how many al would be offered if i were blonde?

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