Let there be peace... (Cairo, Egypt)

With the recent political turmoil in Egypt and with Cairo being turned into a semi battlefield with thugs and protestors clashing, the only thing that the World can pray for that country now is Peace. I have travelled across the World extensively and Egypt was perhaps one of the nicest of all countries that I have visited in my lifetime. So, this is a prayer to God Almighty to restore peace in that “otherwise” peaceful nation. The country is full of historic treasures, nice, polite and friendly people, great food and the majestic river Nile… let peace be restored and let everything and everyone be safe.
Turn the pages of the ‘1001 Nights’ and the image of Cairo clouding the mind would be of a city of thousand minarets. In actual life Cairo is much more than minarets; it is an amazing city bustling with life and activities, noisy fuming vehicles, loud film posters all around the city, great museums, great food, the pyramids and the ever beautiful blue River Nile.

                                                                                                                         The Nile, at Cairo


A big chunk of Cairo’s sightseeing is occupied by the famous Egyptian museum and the pyramids of Giza; where the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx is located; the sole survivors from the ancient Greek listed Seven Wonders of the World.

Pyramids of Giza

The museum at Tahrir Square


The Egyptian Museum sits absolutely at the heart of the city at Midan Tahrir. Since all photography has been banned inside all museums and tombs of Egypt, stores have been set up nearby selling picture post cards and mementos. Apart from the great treasures of King Tut that dominates the second floor of the entire museum, the recent addition to the museum during 2006 has been the ‘royal mummy room.’
Tut-Ankh-Amon, Egypt’s cursed child king died at a very young age and it is said that the king’s mother gave every possible thing in the grave of her child which she thought may come in use in the afterlife. You have to see it to believe it; tonnes of gold…masks, jewelry, furniture, thrones…absolutely mind blowing.
The royal mummy room has a separate entrance fee. Containing a number of royal mummies, the room is absolutely fascinating with a rather scary feel. The mummies are all of the famous royals, laid underneath temperature controlled glass covers and placed chronologically according to dynasties. Finger nails, teeth, skull all were visible with the arms crossed neatly over the chest. Mummies of Seti, Ramesis II are all preserved in this room and a visit is perhaps worth a million dollars!! In general the museum houses more than 100,000 exhibits from almost every period of ancient Egyptian history including almost entire set of artifacts from the tomb of Tut-ankh-amon. There is also a wonderful library that specialises in old Egyptian civilization.


The mask of King Tut

The Royal Mummy Room


The Hanging Church of Coptic Cairo and the al azhar mosque of Islamic Cairo were also beautiful, sadly not that publicised. Being the heartland of Egypt’s Christian community, the church inside the tightly walled enclave was a place of tranquility. The hanging church or ‘Al-Muallaqa’ meaning ‘the suspended’ is dedicated to Virgin Mary and is so called because it is built on top of the water gate of the Roman Babylon.   
Cairo offers an incredible selection of shopping and leisure activities. Shopping ranges from the famous Khan- al- Khalili bazaar largely unchanged since the 14th century to modern air-conditioned centers displaying the latest fashions. Khan al-Khalili, once known as the Turkish bazaar during the Ottoman period, is now usually called the 'Khan'. Varieties of items are sold here, particularly spices, perfumes, brass and copperware, leatherwork, glass, ceramics and aromatic and fruit flavoured tobacco for the ‘sheesha’ (smoking pipe).

Khan Al Khalil Bazar


For food, the choice is widely spread. From koftas, fu’ul, Tamiyaas to shish kebabs, all are available everywhere. Like any metro, this city is also strewn with restaurants and eateries besides the traditional and up-market ones in the top end hotels. Roadside vendors elaborately sell Kushary which is a hot favourite snack item among the locals as well as foreigners.
The River Nile is undoubtedly the most beautiful attraction of modern Cairo, the voluminous river is still  and does not seem to be moving; perhaps it tries to balance the fast moving life of Cairo. Nile cruise with or without dinner featuring Egyptian ‘belly dancing’ is popular among visitors who like to experience the traditional nightlife of the city.
For us, apart from all attractions the city had to offer, drifting on the Blue Nile on the feluccas and watching the sun sink behind the Cairo skyline was one of the activity we loved during our visit. 

Shawarma

Cairo & Nile at night