RTW Trip Cairo, Egypt Day 49: It’s not just about the Pyramids…so much to see in Cairo!
The Egyptian Museum is an absolute must when coming to Cairo. Before entering, you have to check any camera/video equipment, so if you feel uncomfortable leaving it, you might want to store it elsewhere.
You could spend hours here, looking at ancient jewelry, sculptures, tombs, and mummies. It was really the only place in Cairo where we saw a lot of other foreign tourists. Sadly, we could not take any photos in the museum, so I don’t have any documentation of King Tut‘s famous mask, which is much more spectacular in person than on pages in a book. I had to go and take a look at it twice before leaving the museum.
The mummy rooms (there are two!) are accessible at an additional cost. While costly, you do get to see a total of about 10-15 mummies. Some mummies are of children and pharoahs, some with hair, fingernails, and faces still in tact.
In the afternoon, we caught a taxi to Khan el Khalili, the Islamic Bazaar area in Cairo. If you are looking for an old world feel, this is it. Old gates, old mosques, antique dealers, food hawkers of all kind, locals carrying food on their heads, and goats roaming about. I thought this would be the perfect place to buy something I didn’t need… a silver metal box of King Tut. I saw a bunch of cheap boxes with tiny plastic mummies inside, and finally purchased one that wasn’t quite what I wanted but was close enough. I am sure I paid way more than I should have, but the shopkeeper ran all over the place to find what I wanted.
A visit to this area should not be complete without a visit to Bab Zuweila, the only remaining southern gate of the medieval city of Al-Qahira. You can almost climb to the top of the two minarets, offering excellent views of the crumbling buildings below.
Eating kushari twice in one day is probably too much for anyone, so we opted for a fast food type place and ordered a kefta meal and a meal consisting of 80% beans. Cheap, safe, delicious, with friendly staff.
In the Lonely Planet, we read about a Sufi Tanoura dance, similar to Turkey’s whirling dervishes. In the guide book, it says that entrance is free, but it was in fact 30 LE each. We were pleasantly surprised with the performance, and would have been happy paying double that.
The show was located in an intimate building with high ceilings. You definitely want to make sure you arrive early to get good seats. We had arrived about an hour before and had excellent seats. There are several musicians, one being a particularly clever and jovial finger symbol player. Who knew symbols could be so entertaining!
The real stars were the numerous dancers that twirled endlessly in colorful, multilayer circle skirt/like costumes. The most amazing twirler, was a dedicated man in his late sixties, dizzying himself for at least 20 minutes straight. I am a traveler with the tendancy for ralphing on windy bus rides and bumpy boats, so the thought of continually twirling at numerous speeds for the length of a sitcom episode seemed daunting. I imagined the sensation of twirling that long would be like riding the Cup and Saucer ride at Disneyland. I would say this activity is more skill than fun.
We ended the evening randomly running into our Aussie friend on the street. Earlier, we had purchased a few beers, so we invited him up to our hostel common room for some evening drinks. Wake up! Hostel’s views of the city is well worth the stay!
Wake Up! Hostel laundry 170 LE
Egyptian Museum 150 LE
Mummy room 200 LE
Abou Tarek kushari 14 LE
Water 4 LE
Taxi to Khan el Khalili 10 LE
Bab Zuweila 30 LE
King Tut mummy case 35 LE
Tea 20 LE
Sufi dance Al Tannoura Egyptian Heritage Dance Troupe at Wikala of Al-Ghouri 60 LE
Taxi 13 LE
Bean meal and kefta meal at El Tabei El Domyati 51 LE
6 bananas for 10 LE
Water 3.5 LE
Hair clippers 120 LE
Total cost: 890.5 LE / 2 = $62.27 per person
What I learned: Don’t buy souvenirs unless you absolutely have to have it. Not only are you wasting money, but you are wasting weight and space in your pack.
Actual date of travel: Oct. 22, 2014