The first thing we notice about Cairo is the traffic. Horrendous, through Canadian eyes! The volume of vehicles is mind boggling, the drivers squeeze through holes, make room for others and get to where they are going. Lots of beeping provides a musical accompaniment.
The second thing we notice is the people. 12 million in Cairo proper and 21 million in the greater Cairo area, so there are people everywhere. Our first impression of the people is that they are polite, ready with a smile when we attempt to say thank you in Egyptian (shukran). Our guide tells us Cairo is very safe and I believe her. We walk in the evening to get supper and I do not feel nervous.
Today we visit the Egyptian Museum (I have never seen so many tourists in a museum before) and the Museum of Civilization, with our guide Jasmine. It was quite nice having a guide as she knew which of the thousands of exhibits were important. A couple of points of interest…..
Papyrus is the flower of north Egypt and lotus are the flower of the south. These two flowers are used together in many statues and murals to symbolize the unity, or joining, of the north (lower) and south (upper) Egypt.
The Rosetta Stone has three languages inscribed on it – Egyptian Hieroglyphics, Egyptian Demotic Script and Ancient Greek. It was realized that the same inscription was in all three languages so the researchers were able to decode the hieroglyphics using the Ancient Greek. Cool! Oh, the actual Rosetta Stone is in England, the one here is a copy.
Tutankhamen’s tomb was found intact in 1922 and the Egyptian government managed to keep all the artifacts from the tomb. The collection is astounding. We learned what went into the tomb with the king and how he was mummified.
After spending hours in the Egyptian Museum, we stop at the Museum of Civilization, a new museum that houses the collection of mummies. The building is well designed and airy, and air conditioned!
Off to a restaurant for lunch (and it is 3:00) to have Egypt’s national dish, koshari. It is a mixture of rice, lentils and pasta which is then mixed with tomato sauce, garlic vinegar, chick peas and crispy fried onions. Delicious and very filling.
I am now laying on my bed in the hotel resting my feet and legs. We had an extremely busy and long day, as we also visited the Coptic Area of Cairo and the Khan Al Khalili market.