A Day in Cairo

18 June 2017


It's barely 5am, I hear my mom banging on our hotel room door, and guess what? My alarm didn't go off. We had to be in reception for 5:30am to be picked up to go to the airport and make our plane from Sharm-el-Sheikh to Cairo. I throw on some clothes and limited make up, shove my hair up, and run out the door. The day was already off to a terrible start, I feel like a sweaty mess and it's only 5am. We head to reception and the transfers are late - I would have had to time to shower and make myself feel human after all!

On the bus to the airport the guide was so friendly and helpful, telling us all about what our day would consist of and what we needed to do once at the airport. And that's when I realised, yes, that's right, the guide was not coming with us. Although we were in a big group this was not particularly reassuring. I'd never got on a plane and not been travelling to or from the UK so this was a little... new.

Once on the plane it was great, we got free snacks and bottles of water. The flight to was so quick, taking only around 40 minutes. Once we landed I wasn't reassured that the day was planned out very well. The airport was dirty and small, everybody seemed lost (probably because we all were). Thankfully, we soon found the Thomson tour guides! We were all packed onto air con coaches - THANK GOD - and off we went.

Driving through the streets of Cairo was far from pleasant. The city itself is dirty and run down. It's quite upsetting seeing the horrible blocks of flats - if that's what you can call them - that people have to live on. The dirty streets are lined with rubbish and air looked almost foggy. I kept thinking about Egypt's rich ancient heritage and thinking how different life could have been here.


1st Stop - The Pyramids and Sphinx

I was SO excited to finally be on our way to the Pyramids; this was the only reason I came to Cairo. I'd heard a lot of bad things about the Pyramids; that they're next to a McDonald's, they're right in the city centre, they're boring, and somebody will try to trade you for a camel. So once we'd gone through security I was pleasantly surprised. No fast food in sight, the city skyline looked quite pleasant from where we were, and nobody tried to trade my for a camel (slightly offended by this, but in my unshowered state I don't blame them).

We first stopped by The Great Pyramid of Giza. It was magnificent. Each block was around the same height as me and to think that these were built thousands and thousands of years ago is incredible. We only had around 15-20 minutes here; at the time I thought this wasn't long but after 5 minutes I was ready to go back to the air con! The heat was unbearable as the morning sun was reflecting off the desert sand and our camera soon overheated. We headed round to the next pyramid which you are actually able to go inside - we didn't though because my mum's claustrophobic, and I can't imagine it being particularly pleasant inside anyway.

Next, we headed to The Sphinx. And what do I see? Only KFC! Still no McDonald's in site though. Personally, this didn't bother me, it's not like they were selling chicken directly next to it. And how many tourist attractions do you see where there aren't places like this nearby? We're in a city centre so what do you expect? If you ever want to see the pyramids but are put off by this - don't be. The Sphinx was a lot bigger than expected as I'd heard that they were very small, but I couldn't help be slightly disappointed that half its face had fallen off...


2nd and 3rd Stop - Papyrus Shop and Egyptian Museum 

Honestly, after I'd seen the pyramids I was ready to go home. It was all I'd really come to see and I was hot, sweaty, and just wanted a shower. The papyrus shop was quite interesting, it took me back to primary school when we'd learnt about the Ancient Egyptians. We had a tutorial on how it's made and then time to shop! After this we were back on the coach heading to the museum.

Living in England I'd visited quite a few museums in London; The British Museum, Natural History Museum, The National Gallery. I was expecting The Egyptian Museum to be just like these, but it wasn't. In any way, shape, or form. Really 'museum' is probably not the right word for it. It's more like an attic or a room where you store a lot of stuff that you don't want to throw away but don't really have a proper place for. There was stuff EVERYWHERE. It was like being in an old antique shop when you're stumbling over things that are strewn anywhere and everywhere. There were even old Mummy's with feet poking out, that if you REALLY wanted, you could probably touch.

Oddly, there was a no photography policy in here. Maybe they don't want outsiders to know how scattered it all is as it may put people off visiting. The only room where items were actually stored behind glass cabinets - and there was even air con in there - was the room of Tutankhamun. It was painted black which was quite eery and seems an odd choice of colour.

Even though the museum was an unorganised mess I'm so glad we visited. It's home to so many interesting ancient artifacts and it was definitely an experience!


Final Stops - Dinner on the Nile and The Citadel

FINALLY it was time to head for dinner. I'd not really eaten anything all day and I was starving. The boat on the Nile was more like a palace, it was very grand inside especially in comparison to anywhere else we'd been during the day. There was a buffet style meal so you can go and choose what you want. It was very peaceful and I felt almost privileged to be able to sit on the longest river in the world eating dinner.

After our much needed food we headed to The Citadel. However, we were not allowed to go inside. Because it was Ramadan when we visited a lot of people were getting ready to break their fast and would be entering the Citadel. There was only an hour or so before our flight we all agreed that it was fine to view it from outside. It wasn't a particularly grand building from the outside as it looked very concrete.


CLAUDIA'S TOP TIPS:

1. Dress for the weather. Before we went we were advised to dress respectfully, especially as we planned to visit the Citadel. However, I would not recommend this in the 50 degree heat. I wore jeans and white shirt which was just unbearable. Everybody else was in shorts and flowy dresses and nobody batted an eyelid!

2. Take water, sun cream, hand sanitizer, etc. Before we left we were told that as we were flying to Cairo we wouldn't be able to take sun cream, hand sanitizer etc because it was a liquid. This was a lie. Everybody else was able to take these and our trip definitely would have been better if we had too!

3. Do not let anybody hand you anything, take your photo, or let you sit on a camel. They will rip you off, steal from you, and basically take whatever they can! Try to keep you hands down and if they approach you say "no, thank you" and carry on walking.






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