On my way home from Ethiopia I had a 24hr layover in Cairo. Considering the recent spats of unrest that Egypt has had, tourism is WAY down. However, this means that places are not crowded, and there are many well qualified guides who normally are running group tours, that are available to hire for the day for about the same price.
I had a fantastic day with a guide who had a truly mind-blowing knowledge of what seemed like the entirety of Egyptian history. Considering they have thousands of years of recorded history, that’s pretty impressive
I landed at about 7, having left Addis Ababa about 4.00 – and hit the ground running. First stop, the Great Pyramids of Giza.
Also I was pretty fortunate on the weather, it was only 32° and full-on sun the day I was there, the forecast was for much warmer the rest of the week.
The Egyptian Museum is an absolute wonder. Considering that the country has one of the richest and best documented histories from ancient times, they have a lot to show. Apparently the 60,000 items shown are only a fraction of what they possess.
The most well known of course, is the complete collection of the treasure found in the burial chamber of King Tutankhamun – and the most famous piece within that is the iconic 11kg solid gold death mask.
Right next door to the museum was a huge torched building. My guide told me that during Mubarak’s reign the building was officially known as the “Bureau for Advancement of Women’s Rights” or some such thing. He said though, in reality it held an incredible amount of documentation on activities of Mubarak and his gang, and since they didn’t want incriminating papers getting out, he commanded the army to torch the place during the uprising. Being right next to one of the most valuable collections of antiquities in the world, apparently the ‘rebels’ and ordinary citizens fought off the fire to ensure that the priceless and irreplaceable pieces contained inside were not lost.
It was quite the whirlwind tour, but I was getting very anxious to get home to my family, so I said farewell to the hot desert of Egypt, and went back to my hotel to catch an early morning flight to Geneva the next day.