Citadel, Old Cario, and back to the Pryimads

Trip Start Apr 13, 2008
Trip End May 02, 2008

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

29 April
It was only 2 days to go until we are back on the plane and off home. Today we had planned to go to the Citadel and Old Cairo.  We took a hotel taxi we and the first stop was at the Citadel.  On the wall next to the Mosque of Mohammed Ali there was a great view of the city.  In the distance you could see the pyramids, Giza and Saqqara (Step and Red).  There were even better views in the roped off area which we assessed for a small fee.  We then went to enter the mosque and we were all nervous about what to do but pressed on.  Janine and Mikayla had brought head scarves to cover their heads.  No one else appeared to need them so they did not cover their heads and they only draped the scarves across their shoulders.  The design of the mosque was based on the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, which I had been to.  It is massive inside and Mikayla thought it was as big as a Warehouse store.  I explained to her that it was about 5 times higher.  The floor was covered by large old carpets.  It was a peaceful place and we sat for a while soaking up the atmosphere.
Then onto the Police and Military Museums which were of a poor standard and not worth the effort.  In the Military Museum a lot of the interesting looking stuff was closed off.  It was then a brief trip to Old Cairo and a short walk to the Hanging Church.  It was beautiful building with some old Icon paintings.  It was in amazing condition for a wooden building that was over a thousand years old.  On the way back to the hotel we stopped to see when the next tour at the Pharaonic Village was as Alex wanted to visit again.  It was in 15 minutes so I brought tickets for Alex and I.  Janine and Mikayla took the taxi back to the hotel.  The tour was for all the English speaking people there - just the two of us.  It was a nice way to end the holiday.  The village first provided an insight into what we would see in Egypt, now provided a refection of all the things we had seen.  Alex wanted his photo taken dressed as a pharaoh so we played dress up.
Back at the hotel we decided to have dinner at the restaurant down the road, so we headed down there collecting our Tourist Police guide to cross the road.  At the restaurant we sat outside in a courtyard.  This was separated from the road by a large garden and fence.  It was warm sitting outside however as the evening wore on we started to get cold.  Hard to believe we were cold in a place where we had suffered so much from the heat.  The food was a good price and an enjoyable meal.  The funny thing that kept the kids laughing was the cats fornicating in the courtyard and the waiter trying to chase them away.  After the meal I again tried the Sheesha, again apple.  It was stronger than the one at the hotel.  On the way back to the hotel, after crossing the road Janine asked if I had tipped the Tourist Police.  I had but she had not seen it so I must be getting better at it.

30 April
Our last day in Egypt and what better way to finish the holiday than to go back to the pyramids, the first place we visited.  We want straight to the lookout for a camel ride.  It was easier riding the camel for the second time.  The kids and I were a lot more relaxed and enjoyed the ride.  I even crossed my leg across the camel's neck.  We went out to a spot were you can see all 9 pyramids and the camel driver took some great photos.  It was an amazing view.  Back at the lookout we got bitten by the camel driver by not nailing down the price for the service.  Back at the second pyramid the kids and I went back inside.  Janine stayed outside and was hassled by the hawkers and traders. It was worse for her and they were more pushy when I was not there.

After a stop at the Sphinx it was back to the pool for swimming and relaxation.  We had a late lunch and skipped dinner.  Then a final drink and Sheesha on the roof top, over looking the pyramids, before being picked up at 9:30 to catch the plane home.  After a long roundabout drive through Cairo we arrived at the Airport.  We were escorted through check-in, customs, and immigration before being put through to the gate.   The airport reminded me of 1960's Soviet Union and you half expect to see the KGB to come around the corner at any second.  With the change of daylight saving, we had a extra hours wait.

After a long flight we arrived in Seoul for a couple of hours stopover before boarding for Auckland.  It was a long trip:
01 May - 1:10am boarded in Cairo
01 May - 4:30pm arrive in Seoul
01 May - 7:20pm boarded for Auckland
02 May - 9:30am arrive in Auckland
(local time)
We were all tired and it was not a trouble free trip through customs as they confiscated the sand and the Seesha pipe we had brought back.  On the taxi ride home Alex commented that "it was good to be home and that things looked the same, but different".  We had succeeded in opening their eyes to a world bigger than New Zealand.
It was a great holiday.

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