Cairo ( 3 days)

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A trip to Egypt can’t be considered without a visit to Cairo. Cairo is at least 18 million inhabitants, it is a traffic that that mixes cars with carts, an enormous city, museums concealing genuine fortunes, and obviously the Pyramids of Giza which are located a couple of kilometers from the city.

In 2007 we visited Egypt, in Cairo we stayed only 3 days, time to visit the must-see sites. 3 days have been enough, the city can indeed become very quickly suffocating (pollution, traffic …) and is not really the dream vacation destination (especially at this moment dare I say) But it presents so many jewels that are worth to be seeing.

For our stay in Cairo, we had a hotel on the top floor of a building on the terraces, a good location and not expensive, there were many other nationalities,  I think we had a fairly interesting rate at 30 euros a night. For us the most important thing was to have a very good location and spend our daily time to visit the sites. Obviously, I will not advise you to go to Cairo in times of political instability, but I can only advise you to do one’s in your life when the opportunity arises and when a livable situation Will be reinstated.

Let us now move on to serious matters. When we arrived, we took a taxi to get to the hotel, the fare was acceptable for this trip but for the rest of your stay I would advise you to negotiate the fare before going into the taxi especially if the meter does not work, and this is the case in most of them.

Mosque Mohammed Ali

The next morning, direction towards the Mosque of Mohammed Ali. On our way to the mosque, we go by taxi near one of the city’s cemeteries and our driver tells us that many cemeteries in Cairo are inhabited. Their inhabitants actually live in the tombs, not having enough money to find another dwelling. This discovery made me rather uncomfortable. 2 million people live in Cairo cemeteries, so cemeteries are genuine (hidden) cities and are organized as such … Fascinating and frightening. As for the mosque, it is simply wonderful.

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The mosque is built on the model of Ottoman mosques in Istanbul. Its square base measures 41 meters; It has a central dome, 21 meters in diameter and 52 meters high, resting on four large arches, themselves supported by four imposing pillars. The dome is flanked by four semi-domes. At the corners are four other small domes. A semi-dome also covers the mihrâb, located on the eastern side of the mosque. The walls and pillars are clad in alabaster to a height of 11.30 meters, and have a colored ornamentation on the top. The domes and semi-domes are decorated with paintings and relief drawings.The mosque is lit by magnificent crystal chandeliers with beautiful clusters of glass lamps. At the western corners of the mosque are two elegant cylindrical minarets of the Turkish type. Each one is 82 meters.

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The mosque is built on the model of Ottoman mosques in Istanbul. Its square base measures 41 meters; It has a focal vault, 21 meters in distance across and 52 meters high, laying on four huge curves, themselves bolstered by four forcing columns. The vault is flanked by four semi-arches. At the corners are four other little arches. A semi-arch additionally covers the mihrâb, situated on the eastern side of the mosque. The dividers and columns are clad in alabaster to a tallness of 11.30 meters, and have a shaded ornamentation on the top. The arches and semi-vaults are enriched with works of art and and relief drawings.

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The Cairo Museum

The program of our afternoon is already well found: visit the Cairo Museum, famous for being the refuge of the funerary mask of Tutankhamen (of which you have all seen photos in the history books). We had the chance to visit the Museum of Cairo before its looting carried out during the revolution in January 2011. The museum is so huge and is full of so many pieces that you will probably not notice the difference during your visit but statuettes , Sculptures, figures of pharaonic deities and jewels were stolen.

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Obviously, prohibition of taking pictures inside so you will not be able to see the pieces. Be aware that the Cairo Museum is truly extraordinary and that a half day is not too much to visit. We were able to see, in addition to his funeral mask (once you have managed to make a place among the 40 people around, you can see that it is SUPER BEAUTY!), A reconstruction of the funerary chamber of Tutankhamun, Sarcophagus, here you are, jewels, mummies … The Museum gathers thousands of pieces retracing the history of Egyptian civilization. You have to see it to believe it…

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Visit city center and khan al khalil

On the second day we had a day to visit the city and its surroundings and then Khan el-Khalil which is a great popular souk selling the products of the local handicraft to which was added the sale of stamped baubles made in China.

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In the Khan and Khalil souks of the city, the goldsmith, silk and textile merchants and the intoxicating perfumes of spices and aromas of Egypt awaken a warm and enchanting atmosphere to lead to another universe. In the narrow streets of Old Cairo, synagogues as well as churches testify to the enthronement of the Coptic religion in the city, and also its extent. And to not miss anything of this city, it is absolutely necessary to go on the western periphery and to admire the three inescapable pyramids of Giza, which are the last to have withstood the wear of time among the seven wonders of the world, mainly pyramid of Cheops which measures 138 m in height. It is also possible to see the great Sphinx which is also on the plateau of Giza.

Visit the Pyramids

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All Giza Pyramids

Last day in Cairo. We close this trip with the ULTIMATE tour, the SUPREME tour: the Gyzeh plateau with its Pyramids and the Sphinx.

As much as to warn you immediately, the visit will not be as magical as you think. Which said tourist attractions said offered additional activities. This is the case on the site of the pyramids with the camel rides. Except that the Egyptian method is almost harassment since you will be asked every 5 minutes if you want to ride a camel.

The price is exorbitant, we were even scammed, we paid 3 times the normal price of access plus the ride with the camels because one of the taxi drivers who seemed nice to us offered one of his acquaintances to make the Visit on the back of camels without going through the main entrance that will be filled with people in the morning, an Egyptian friend whom I met later confirmed to me that I got myself, it is obvious that the police who Is found on the premises being also corrupt lets do, they make signs with the voice to say that the recipe will be shared. One can even say that there is a real MAFIA of camels at this place of Cairo. And then those who come to offer you their cold drinks also with disproportionate prices, It is so unbearable that sometimes you lose patience with these people.

In short, try to disregard all this and your visit will be more pleasant.

After a long and wide visit to the plateau, it is time to visit the Great Pyramid of Cheops. Completely excited !

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It makes a terrible heat inside the pyramid (yes, even hotter than outside and its 35 degrees). To get to the burial chamber of Cheops, we must climb wooden ramps on which are beaten sticks to prevent our feet from slipping. The slope is very steep and the ceiling is very low, so that we are obliged to carry out the rise completely vaulted and that it is impossible to lift the head at the risk of taking the granite ceiling right in the skull. Obviously, my legendary clumsiness could not do without a little test. And it’s really bad!

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Here is the initial steep climb up to Khufu’s tomb inside The Great Pyramid at Cheops

We climb for about 10 minutes until we reach the funeral chamber. And there, big surprise, it is as if you had put a box all black in the heart of the pyramid. Do not expect to see treasures and hieroglyphics everywhere, there are none. We are in a room with a neon at the bottom (which is enough to see the size of the room and illuminate the walls), the walls are black and the room is empty, except that there remains a stone support Was to serve as a sarcophagus, also empty.

(Obviously, no photos, anyway it would be impossible to take because there is practically no light but you can see what it looks like on Wikipedia)

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We stayed just 5 minutes, and went downstairs. We decide not to visit the pyramid of Khafre as we had planned. The visit of the interior of the Great Pyramid completely changed us …

We return to the plateau of Giza, we continue our tour with a tour near the legendary Sphinx. It is the largest monolithic monolithic sculpture in the world. There are several different theories as to its origin: construction by the pharaoh Cheops or the pharaoh Khafre. Egyptologists can not determine exactly what portrait it is. The Sphinx is huge and beautiful.

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(Again, try to disregard the souvenir stands and Egyptians who harass you to buy something to enjoy!

Our stay in Cairo ends on this splendid visit. I still do not realize that I saw the pyramids and the Sphinx with my own eyes, I realized even less that I had returned to the pyramid of Cheops (although the experience did not particularly please me, I am still pleased with the ‘have done). The plateau of Giza is incredible, you spend your time photographing everything and anything to burn this visit forever.