Train from Cairo to Aswan

After a long day of sightseeing we rushed to the train station where we wait for a train that shows up whenever it decides to show up for our overnight to Aswan.

This is my first overnight train ride after many years. I have a private cabin as one of the perks of paying for the single supplement. My cabin during this route isn’t too terrible and I take a Benadryl at the beginning of the ride. People on my tour complained about the ride but I found it to be very peaceful and restful. I didn’t quite enjoy the bathroom or breakfast and dinner for that matter but things could have been worse. But the ride back to Cairo on the other hand was terrible (talk about that later).

It is on the train that I suspect I got my Egypt belly bug because a day after this is when I start to have really bad cramping and you know what. When I arrive in a country that has bacteria that is incompatible with my body is I early on tend to start brushing my teeth with the local water. The theory here is that it’s going to eventually get you in some form or another why not get it at the beginning and get it over with. However this time I think it backfired a bit because Egypt bacteria is a worthy opponent. When I was in India it didn’t take me too long to recover but my body really did not like Egypt bacteria.… Or it could’ve been just run-of-the-mill food poisoning. Luckily my worst day and night happened to coincide with a comfortable hotel night and a felucca ride that required very little physical activity and a very strong dose of Imodium A.D.

The dinner

Egyptian Museum

Cairo has undertaken in multi year project to build a new Egyptian museum. The new museum will be very large and contain everything at the current Egyptian museum plus more. I have heard that items have been transitioning to the new Egyptian museum. In fact some stuff has already moved which led me to have anxiety about whether or not the king Tut’s exhibit was still on display. I tried to research before hand came up empty handed with any details of what actually exists in the old museum. I am pleasantly surprised to find the king Tut exhibit is still at the old Museum so I can see it in all it’s glory (more on that later).

Time is limited so we do a quick tour of some important items downstairs. One could spend days here but we were lucky we at least had a tour guide to point out some hot things.

I purposely changed the lighting in his photo so you would notice the “i stole someone’s soul and will steal more” eyes in the statue.

I love me some scarabs

King Tutankhamen

I will not go into all the details on King Tutankhamen but basically he ascended to the throne very young and ended up dying super early. In fact he died so early that he did not have a proper tomb ready for him. His rushed burial led to an inconspicuous tomb site which probably led to it being so intact after all those years. Some looting had occurred but everything was still untouched in the sealed back chamber. This find in the 1920’s remains the most important find of this type.

Contains the important organs

One of the box in a boxes

Box to hold the box

More boxes. Like Russian nesting dolls.

The most spectacular part of the exhibit were the jewels on display. The detail on all the different pieces were amazing. There were no photos inside but I am sure photos can be found online.

Before I left I tried to explore some more. I didn’t get very far. This museum is definitely worth a return – or return when the new museum finally opens.

“You have a knife in your bag”

When visiting the Egyptian museum you get checked through security twice: once when you enter and once when you leave. I imagine the X-ray at the exit is to make sure you have not stolen anything. After spending a couple hours with my tour guide in the museum, we are given some free time to wander around. After spending extra time at the exhibits that peeked my interest I headed to the exit to meet with the tour guide and wait for the others. I put my bag on the X-ray belt and walked through the exit. Security singles me out and asks me about the knife in my bag. What knife in my bag? I know I have a wine bottle opener in my backpack in the hotel but there isn’t anything closely resembling a knife in my day pack. When I say to him there is no chance he points to the X-ray screen with my bag and very clearly an outline of the knife. I am confused. I tell him I have no idea what that is. There are some slight smiles and then they say they’ll run the bag through again. The second time it comes up clean. More smiles from the security guards and I am on my way. I am very confused. One must assume that they have this knife trick they play on gullible looking tourists to make their job more interesting. That was weird end to my visit but the important thing is that there is no knife in my bag.

Giza Pyramids and Sphinx

Finally it is time to start seeing the goods. Today is the busy sightseeing day but first it is the Giza Pyramids and the Sphinx.

We start early with a drive where we go by the new Egyptian Museum (soon to be open?) and we can see the pyramids off in the distance.

New Egyptian Museum

After looking at the pyramids at a couple different angles it is time to climb on in.

The crowds inside were not as bad as I had been led to believe. It could be because there was some men outside limiting the amount of people who could enter at one time. One guy acted as a sort of guide for us by telling us when to go where and then he rushed us out. After we left it seems like he wasn’t there in an official capacity and we probably could have just ignored him. He was looking for tips at the end. I guess it did help keep it less crowded inside but I didn’t like my experience rushed.

Just a plain black room inside. Not very exciting but I did the thing (went inside).
Camels hanging out.

Also we had the option of visiting the tomb of Seshem Nefer Theti.

Soon we get into the car for another vantage point to see the sphinx.

The sphinx is under repair and the don’t let us get too close.

After our stop at the sphinx our guide took us to a location where we had a demonstration on how to make papyrus. Finished products were for sale of course but I did not purchase any.

Some glow in the dark!!!

Finally we broke up the day with lunch. Our guide asked us where we wanted to eat and we assumed he would take us somewhere to get something locals eat. He suggested Mc Donalds and we all thought he was joking. Turns out he was serious. He stopped at McDonalds for lunch in the interest of time. Oh well, it happens some times.

I’m in Egypt

I have finally arrived in Eqypt. I arrive the night before the tour starts to make sure I am well rested for the start. I arrange an airport pickup and there is one other girl on my flight from the tour company as well. Initially I thought she is on my tour but come to find out that she is on the “youngsters” tour. They travel side by side with us most of the trip but are in separate hotels mostly and have their own guide. They are a lively bunch that I would have been happy to join 20 years ago. However now I like my travel drama free and early bedtimes.

When I arrive at the hotel I am less than thrilled. We have signed up for a classic tour and this hotel is definitely budget hotel standards. Rooms are basic as are the amenities. Internet is terrible and I have to fight with housekeeping to get a roll of toilet paper. Most of our Egypt hotels are kind of like this but maybe not quite as bad (with the exception of one really good one in Aswan – lovely but poor internet).

I request single occupancy because I like my alone downtime. The girls I could have been paired with turn out to be quite cool but I am still grateful for my private time.

My private room in Cairo

The next afternoon we have a trip meeting and then go off to visit the Khan el-Khalili Bazaar.

I am not shopping but it is fun to get lost in the old Bazaar. I eventually find my way back to my group leader using the green lighted mosque as my beacon.

It is an early night because we have a long day of sightseeing tomorrow. Time for bed.