The National Egyptian Museum
The National Museum was amazing. At least its contents were. The museum itself is in a very aged building with broken windows, disgusting washroom facilities, and a thick layer of grime on everything except, mysteriously, the artifacts. It's located next to Tahrir Square which means you should probably check the news to make sure things are calm before going. Thankfully, as Ashley has already explained, the protests were non-violent during the time that we were there.
Some of this old junk just gets left outside.
I wish I could show you the stuff inside.
Entry was 60£ Egyptian (about $10 CAD) to get in the door, and another 100£ Egyptian ($17 CAD) to see the mummy rooms. No cameras are allowed, so I have no inside photos to show you. As they say, you'll have to use your imagination.
Walking inside feels a little bit like you are the first person to arrive at a big garage sale. The place is crammed full. That's not to say it's a small building, because it's a huge two story building - there's just that much stuff. Imagine row upon row upon row of statues, sarcophagi, inscribed tablets, mummified animals, boats, stone doorways, colossi, chariots, and on, and on, and on. Everything ancient Egyptian you've ever wanted to see is there, in bulk quantities. To see it all at a cursory glance would take days, and I don't think that's an exaggeration. We spent about 6 hours there and didn't come close to seeing it all.
For me, the highlights were the golden mask, sarcophagi, chairs, chariots, beds, and jewellery from Tutankhamen (King Tut's) tomb; and the mummy exhibits. Some of the mummies were partially unwrapped allowing us to see their faces. And they weren't just no-name mummies either. Many of them were movers and shakers, meaning that we were able to put a few faces to the names of the pharaohs who constructed tombs and temples that we visited in other parts of Egypt. That was pretty cool.
On the flip side, most of the artifacts were just displayed with little or no information. It would have been nice to learn a bit about the wars, beliefs, and daily life of the ancient Egyptians while I was looking at the artifacts. But alas, I should have done my research ahead of time.
Despite being both an Ancient and Modern Wonder of the World, they made Ashley cry. We've already talked about that a bit
here, so even though that's my strongest memory of the pyramids, I'm not going to re-hash it. Otherwise, there's not much to say. They look big and impressive, and they are very old. If you ever go, I urge you to wait until you get inside the gate (where prices are cheaper), then barter with a tout and rent either a horse or a camel for the duration of your visit. It will make life so much more bearable than being stubborn and saying no 1,000 times like we did. Because of the touts, I didn't get anything more from my visit than I could have gotten from looking at photos online. I don't think you could pay me to go again. Which is a shame. I normally love old ruined stuff.
A classic shot.
Taken from the other direction. The sphinx has a wonderful view of Cairo.
As much as I hated the horse touts at the time, the animals are photogenic.
A different perspective.
Arguably our favourite day in Cairo was spent walking around. Away from the hustlers near Tahrir Square and Giza, it was quite peaceful. Like in Alexandria
, our street map sucked, but we made do. It was probably to our advantage as we unintentionally skirted around the edge of Old Islamic Cairo missing the bazaar. It was sometime later that we met others who had gone. They described the horror of the bazaar to us, and we realized how fortunate we were to have passed it by.
Food market at night
Another food market
The result of a high import tax on vehicles and a life in the desert.
What we did in Cairo is pretty close to what everyone does in Cairo. See the national museum, see the pyramids, walk around town a bit.