The Blue Mosque in Istanbul is still the most beautiful mosque in my eyes but ones we visited are still spectacular and quite beautiful. The Khan Al Khalili bazaar was a little disappointing for me. Probably because I had been to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul which might be the gold-standard of souks. But for my sister this was her first souk (market/bazaar) and she was like a little kid in a candy store.

The citadel



In many countries around the world hotels require that you put your plastic room key in a card holder on the wall which activates the electricity in the room. This is a method of saving money and electricity avoiding leaving the lights on when you aren't in the room. This isn't very handy if you only have one card key and one person wants to leave the room while the other person is resting, reading, or whatever. What we discovered is that you do NOT need to use the room key. You can actually use any card of about the same size and shape. Our library card now helps us keep the lights on all around the world. In this case I am using it in our hotel room in Giza across the street from the Great Pyramids.

The bazaar was fun and filled with all sorts of exotic items and we would hear the occasional tout, “It doesn’t cost to look ... but I want to smell your money” … and then the bartering was on. Shopping in the bazaar is almost like a game. The object is to get the seller to come down 50% from his opening price.

The Mosque of Mohammed Ali inside the walls of the Citadel

Mosque of ar-Rifai

Mosuqe Sultan Hassan

Step Pyramid of Djoser

Once the capital of ancient Egypt now Memphis is rather ho-hum. It was very underwhelming. However, the nearby Step Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara was really worth seeing and if you are already in the area you might as well see both.

Step Pyramid is older than those at Giza and the prototype for the Great Prymids.



Saqqara - The Step Pyramid of Djoser


Coptic Cairo

For me the real highlights in the Cairo area were Coptic Cairo (the ancient Christian area in Cairo) and the Giza pyramids. Unfortunately photography was not allowed inside the Ben Ezra Synagogue or Saint Sergius Church.

Saint Sergius Church is believed to have been built on the spot where Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus, lived at the end of their journey into Egypt. They are thought to have lived here (at that time it was just a cave) while Joseph worked at the fortress.


Saint Virgin Mary's Coptic Orthodox Church also known as the Hanging Church is one of the oldest churches in Egypt and dates to the 3rd century A.D.

the Hanging Church

Ben Ezra Synagogue - The photograph of the alter is a public domain photograph. I did not shoot this.

Ben Ezra Synagogue is believed to be located on the site of where baby Moses was found hidden in the reeds. The Nile River has since changed course and is now located more than a mile away.

The Great Pyramids and the Sphinx are icons known by virtually everyone around the world and they didn’t disappoint. The pyramids are so huge that even standing next to them it is still hard to get them into perspective.

Note the Nile River in this old photograph and then this current photograph.
The Nile is now more than a mile away.

The Boat Museum displays a boat discovered buried beside the pyramids that was found in over 1,200 pieces possibly for the pharaoh to use in the after-life. 4,000+ year old ropes found with boat parts look very much like brand new rope sold in today's hardware stores. The entire boat is assembled using modern day rope.


4,000+ year old rope
Looking back on Cairo, the wonderful sights and history met all my expectations (which were high). The food was wonderful. Especially the fresh salad veggies that had flavor that is absent in our grocery store veggies back home. They went great with humus or tahini and fresh baked pita bread.

But don’t leave Egypt without trying a Shawarma. Remember the McDonald’s I saw in the airport? Well the Shawarma is sort of an Egyptian version of fast food but with healthier ingredients for about a dollar and its delicious. Now that’s a Happy Meal!

A few of the touts flaunting their wears or wanting a few dollars to pose with a camel were a little obnoxious at times but you find obnoxious people in every country. Nearly all of the Egyptian people are very warm, friendly, and enjoyable to be around. But the very best was Abby, our guide and Egyptologist in Cairo. She obviously loves her job and she is a real hoot to be around. Every day she would enlighten us with information about the historical sights we had come to see. While driving between sights we would share stories about each other’s families and get to know each other. By the time we left she was a good friend and not just a guide. I hope our paths cross again some day. Anyone who has taken the time to read this blog and is considering a trip to Egypt do yourself a favor; if you live in the United States first contact Joyce Carta to help plan your trip and second contact Abeer(Abby)Elsaied to make sure she is available. You will be happy you did.


Egypt, Jordan, and Paris 2009
Egypt Home | Cairo Area | Abu Simbel & Aswan | Luxor | Northwest Jordan | Wadi Rum | Petra | Paris

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Revised April 13, 2009