Cairo…the largest metropolitan area in Africa, one of the world’s most populous city.
The start of my around the world trip…I left Jerusalem, planning to reach Cairo (over almost 1000 km away) in one day. Most groups traveling from Jerusalem or Tel Aviv take the bus down to Eilat, the Israeli city on the Red Sea, and spend the night, crossing into Egypt the next day. I wanted to do it all in one day. I left Jerusalem at 7 AM, arrived in Eilat around 11:30. I then crossed the border into Taba and waited for a shared taxi to run. I finally made it across the Suez Canal and into Africa, arriving in Cairo around 10 PM.
I met a bunch of awesome solo travelers. Once the four of us arrived in Cairo, we were in the fishbowl – people were very curious to see four people showing up in shorts and in large backpacks in the middle of a street where cars, people, and animals compete for space. We took the Metro, the only subway in Africa, to downtown, where we grabbed some kushari (picture below).
Cairo is a big and dirty city, but it has a very European feel. The buildings near downtown where I am staying, and the ones all along the Nile, could be found in Madrid or Brussels. Known as the City of a Thousand Minerets, the skyscrapers of Cairo are intermixed with crescent moon adorning the tops of mosques.
My first day in the city I visited the amazing Egyptian Museum. The pictures show it better (cameras weren’t allowed in, so I had to sneak some with my phone – apologizing in advance for their grainy quality). Seeing the mummies – especially of Ramses II – was so awesome. Then I explored some of the neighborhoods and sights of the city. I went and saw the Foreign Ministry and the Arab League, but quickly learned that the Egyptians do not like you taking pictures of anything remotely political (I was yelled at for just stopping in front of the Arab League HQ to look through the fence). Post offices, subways, trains, some major overpasses, and some bridges are off-limits, I was told. I’m not sure of the reasoning behind this – recon? Two words: Google Maps.
Last night I went with two other solo travelers I met at the hostel to a Sufi dancing show. It was really cool – the Whirling Dervishes sang and spun while men in the background beat on drums.
Anyway, pictures are really the most important part…