Day 3: The Best of Free Cairo
Day 4: Mummies and the Nile
Day 5: The Colourful Friday Cairo
Monday, December 5, 2011
Fortunately, we managed to catch a glimpse of all of it right on the first day of our Egyptian Journey.
|East Bank: Mosque Nasir Qalawun|
|West Bank: The Ancient Giza|
|In Between: Happening Cairo|
The Poor 'Q', ق
While hailing the taxi in the morning for the Cairo Citadel, I noticed that Egyptians does not bother pronouncing 'q' and rather keep it silent, at-least for Qal'aa قلعہ and Qahwa قہوہ which are pronounced Al'aa and Ahwa respectively!
|The Cairo Citadel|
Inside, most notable of the structures are Al-Nasr Mosque, مسجد الناصر محمّد بن قلاوون
, (b. 1318 AD) and the newer Muhammad Ali Mosque, مسجد محمّد علی, (b. 19th century). The architectural contrast of the twin mosques was especially worth noting.
|Inside the Mosque Nasir Qalawun|
|منبر و محراب|
|Small Beacons of Light!|
|Mosque Muhammad Ali Pasha|
|Inside of the High Dome|
|The Ablution Area|
Muhammad Ali Mosque is visible from far outside the Citadel and looks majestic in the evening with the aesthetic illumination.
|Resembling the Blue Mosque of Istanbul|
Meeting Pakistani travelers, and that too non-expatriates, was a pleasant surprise indeed as the closest we found during our previous travels were always the Indians.
|See Below for Description|
Entrance Ticket: EGP 50; Student: EGP 25; and Arab: EGP 2!
In short, that was full of life, energy, and the carbon monoxide coming out of guzzling vehicles! Halfway through, we stopped at a roadside café, an integral part of the Egyptian life, to sip a cup of Ahwa قہوہ to absorb the feel of the town.
|The Egyptian Addiction|
|Isn't it Like Karachi!?|
Built around 876 AD, the Mosque of Ahmed Ibn Tulun is one of the oldest mosques, if not the oldest, in the world surviving its original form and is still the largest in Cairo! Raised for around two floors above the ground, the archaic mosque is still an impressive structure with a characteristic outer wall.
It is remarkable how the giant structure not only survived the vagaries of the weather but also the conflicting interests of the succeeding Muslim rulers!
|The Outside Wall|
|Time Tested Structure|
|The Divine Message|
|Inside of the Dome|
|The 'Recent' Ablution Facility|
Right outside the mosque, we saw some rather worldly sights; runoff polls for the second round had been in the full swing. The process looked smooth and relatively tension free if compared to what happens in Pakistan during such crazy days!
|The Polling Station|
After the 30 years dictatorial rule, the whole nation is now looking excited to start a new era through the power of the ballet. All the youngsters - we got an opportunity to talk to - looked determined to throw the tyranny out of their land, and their waters, forever!
This is the new generation; youthful and plentiful!
On ground, there are more than 30 political parties which claim to have an idea how to steer the country through.
In the evening we again switched back to the history and its lessons!
|Sphinx Knows it All|
So after having a freshening-up break, we joined Nasreen et all again for the Sounds and Lights Show.
The engulfing darkness of the African desert was only helping the incident laser beams to lit up those giant structures as per the requirement of the narrated story. Three descending pyramids lined up behind the huge Sphinx made that a perfect venue for the live theater!
All in all, it was an extensive show, if not spectacular, an experience good enough to take one into the trans!
|Wonder of the World|
|High Above the Ground|
Transport: The arena is an hour drive from the downtown and we paid EGP 75 for the whole trip.
Before going back to our room we had Kushari, کشری, a local favorite, from the corner shop!
The tested is to look for a white cab only and insist for the metered fare. That usually worked for us. However, when streets were crowded and the distance was short, we found it difficult to negotiate to the cab driver to use the meter. In this case, EGP 5 خمسہ, was good enough for 10 minutes ride. For the airport we paid EGP 35.
Knowing numbers and places in Arabic also helped us a lot.
Why Taxis are so Cheap in Cairo: Even when a barrel of crude oil is above USD 100 in the international markets, Egyptians only pay a couple of local pounds for a liter of Petrol! Lucky you!
What We Spent Today
EGP 25 Taxi to and from Citadel (10+15)
EGP 75 Citadel Entrance (50+25)
EGP 150 S&L Entrance (75+75)
EGP 75 S&L Car Hire
EGP 50 Food etc
1 USD = 6 EGP
1 EGP = 15 PKR