An Unexpected Day
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We ate breakfast out by the pool so I decided to jump in for a little bit. You would think that since this was the middle east that a dip in the pool would be nice in the morning. It was freezing. The water was absolutely ice cold since the sun hadn't had a chance to heat it up for the day and we must have had another cold night. With the pyramids in the background I stayed in as long as possible, which wasn't too long at all.
Our original plan was to take an overnight train tonight to Luxor, but due to the whole revolution thing, the train stopped running for a little bit and we just thought it would be easier and safer and more reliable to fly to Luxor, so we booked another night in Giza and are flying out tomorrow
We decided to go into town for the day and hired a taxi to take us into the city. He gave us a pretty good rate, about half the price as the first guys we talked to. On the ride there we figured out why. The whole time he was trying to get us to hire him for the day. We knew we were going to need a few rides, but kept refusing figuring we'd get a taxi from place to place. The driver just kept lowering and lowering his price until eventually as we were about to get out of the cab he thew out 80 pounds for the day. Taking out what we already owed him, it was less than $10 for the rest of the day. It would have cost us twice as much on our own and we liked him, he was an old egyptian guy that has been driving cabs for over 40 years and spoke good English, so we took him up on it.
Our first stop was a place called The Citadel, which is pretty much a castle up on a high plateau in the middle of town. In the center was a huge mosque for Mohammed Ali, who I guess was an important king or something here, and not just a boxer. I'll be honest, we were a little nervous to go in the mosque
There was a great view of the city from the citadel since it was far up hanging over a cliff. Having never been to the Middle East before, it was different. It is pretty much exactly what you'd expect Cairo to look like. I don't know how to explain it, I guess I'll just put up a picture.
There was a museum of Egyptian military history there that we spent some time walking though. It was kind of interesting to see how long Egypt has been either controlled by or influenced by the West, mostly England. We got a bag of chips and an Egyptian family walked by. A little girl was looking at Jacki so she asked her if she wanted a chip. She gladly came over and took one.
I guess this is a good spot to talk about what we think about the Egyptian people so far. We don't really have a lot of experience with Muslim people except for a few friends back home, and there is obviously a lot of stigma related to how they react to Americans
After the Citadel we headed to the big market in town called Khan El Khalilli. Traffic was kind of bad so we walked a little way to the market and stopped at a small falafel joint for a bite to eat. There were only a few small tables but we got one in the corner. Soon after we sat down, a family of 4 came in, and since there weren't any tables left they sat with us. The father was dressed in a suit, and with him was his wife and two kids. He spoke pretty decent English and kept saying how happy he was to meet us and that we will eat with his family. They brought over bread and sandwiches and bean dips and we talked the entire time
The market was absolute madness. It was nothing like a tourist market as we expected, there were people everywhere and everyone kept warning us of pick-pockets. Afterwards, Jacki noticed that my back pocket was turned inside out, probably just a coincidence from the morning, but who knows. I had everything locked tight in secret pockets so they didn't have any chance. We bought a few nicknacks at the market and a few egyptian sweets. Also Jacki bought a small box for cheap, but when we got back at night we noticed that the inside smelled like death (and I mean bad), so it'll be left behind.
On the ride home the taxi driver bumped a car in front of him, the guy got out of his car but just waved it off, even though I know it broke the headlight on our car. If I haven't mentioned what Cairo streets are like yet, they are bizarre. There aren't any lanes, stop signs, or traffic lights, which we've gotten used to, but also you have to avoid the animals. I have never seen so many animals in such a large city before. There are 20 million people that live in Cairo but still there are donkeys pulling carts, people riding camels, we've even seen a couple people herding sheep and goats down the road. Where all these animals go at night, I don't even want to know.
All in all it was a very unexpected, foreign, surprising, great day.