After a fairytale wedding, comes a fairytale honeymoon and our destination of choice: Egypt! My thirst for adventure meant that the Pyramids have been on the “bucket list” and so, what better time to hop over to Egypt? 10 days of steeping ourselves in Egyptian history and a cruise down the majestic river Nile. Life is good.
So, we land past midnight (thanks to the really terrible connections from Nairobi, despite Egypt being a hop, skip and jump away) and I am handed a beautiful bunch of flowers and a card saying “happy wedding” by our guide Moustafa, who also gets us all checked into our beautiful hotel – the Sheraton on the banks of the River Nile with no less than a river view. First impressions of Cairo: smoggy, polluted and full of traffic. But from our balcony on the 12th floor of the Sheraton – it looks anything but hectic, and the Nile has a deceptively clean, blue colour!
Day 1 in Cairo and we head straight to the pink building better known as the Egyptian Museum to get our dose of mummies, tombs and of course, pay our respects to the boy king Tutankhamen. Lonely Planet says don’t hope to see everything in a day, and boy are they right. If you are a history buff, then you need at least two full days.
Not being major history buffs, M and I skimmed through most of the tourist and collection filled museum but spent some time viewing the mummies in the air conditioned Royal Mummy Room (you have to pay a separate admission fee but is well worth it). Seti 1 is so well preserved, he looks like he is asleep and about to wake up at any minute!
And after the Royal Mummy Room comes the piece de resistance – the Tutankhamun Galleries. These rooms are full of trinkets that once belonged to the boy king. We were overwhelmed with all the gold – his statues, the ‘lion chair’, his bed, alabaster jars and wardrobe, and his four shrines that fit into each other, also lined with gold. King Tut’s (as he is fondly referred to by the Egyptians) jewels and funerary mask are kept in a secure room, which can get pretty crowded, however it is worth the wait and the hustle and bustle to get up close and see the ornate mask, every bit as breathtaking as all those postcard pictures of the boy king. Sadly the museum does not allow photographs to be taken anywhere within it so we have no mementos except those etched in our memories!
After a hectic day of trudging through the museum, we headed back to the Sheraton to enjoy some freshly brewed hibiscus tea on the porch, while watching the crazy drivers weave in and out of traffic.
In the evening, we went to catch our first glimpse of what brings every traveller to Cairo – the Great Pyramids. We chose to watch the laser light and sound show, leaving the actual visit to the plateau for when we got back from our cruise. The show is mediocre at best – some green and red laser beams are directed onto the pyramids (which are deceptively small being some distance away) with a sleepy voice reciting the history of how these structures came to be.
Post light and sound show: Moustafa decided to introduce us to “kushary”, an Egyptian dish of rice, lentils, potatoes, pasta, crisps all tossed together and dressed with some fermented chilli tomato sauce – and by tossed I mean the chef literally scoops out each component from a huge bucket and tosses everything together into a steel bowl in less than a minute. This is then dressed with the fermented chilli sauce from a bottle on your table, and for a dish that is just bits and bobs of stuff tossed together, the kushary tasted pretty good! Almost comparable to a very spicy bhel.
Finished off with some creamy cold rice pudding called Roz bi Laban, a sweet end to a pretty good first day!