Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Citadel

The Saladin Citadel is a big fort built on the Muqattam hill in the center of Cairo. It is a beautiful area, well maintained and definitely worth a visit.It contains a number of mosques and museums.

It is also called the Muhammad Ali Citadel because it contains the Mosque of Mohamed Ali (or Muhammad Ali Pasha) which was built between 1828 and 1848. This mosque was built in the same style as the Blue Mosque of Istanbul.

One can get a beautiful view of Cairo from the summit and on clear days can even see the Pyramids of Giza. Here's our guide giving us a history lesson....


We got an "official portrait" taken with Appa dressed up as Muhammad Ali Pasha, Amma as Cleopatra and the rest of us as Bedouins!

Al Kalili Bazaar

Shopping in Cairo at the Al Kalili Bazaar is a must! Besides the interesting stuff they have there, it's a lot of fun bargaining with the shopkeepers - they expect you to do so. It's funny how the "starting price" for anything is double of what it's really are priced at. Even little kids, aged 7 and 8 years old, try to sell you trinkets, and have mastered the language of "sales" - be it English or any other. They are able to identify where the tourist is from and we often heard the chant, "Indian? Ah! Amitabh Bachan!!" The Bazaar is a big one, with lots of lanes and twists and turns. One can take a break at the numerous coffee shops or sit near the beautiful mosques for a while and watch the world go by. (While I have tried my best to mostly use the photos I have taken, sometimes I have used pictures from the rest of the family.)

The Nile River

It was fun to walk along the Nile while in Cairo. There are a lot of bridges across the Nile, and each and every one of them is pretty crowded - especially during peak hour traffic. On our first trip into Cairo, we took the hotel shuttle and sometimes cabs and went across. On our way back (we had to spend another night in Cairo) it was fun walking across the bridges, late at night. The Nile, while quite ordinary looking during the day time, is beautiful at night.
The Cairo Tower is visible in the background

There are a lot of cruise boats for tourists along the Nile

 The child in her has emerged here as Jyothsna climbed up for a photo!

There are a lot of smaller boats as well. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cotton clothes

So we've all heard about the famous Egyptian cotton. There were a lot of stores at the market, but I couldn't take too many photos there since it was very crowded.

We went to a Government run shop where they sold cotton clothes. The prices were quite high (almost the same as buying clothes in the USA.) A shirt with hieroglyphic designs for men cost around $34.00 (US money) and T-shirts for children were all above $10.00 (Sigh! I guess China is the least expensive place for EVERYTHING.)


Once again, I have to tell you how honest people were in Cairo. We bought a lot of clothes (T-shirts, etc.) at an Egyptian Cotton Shop in Giza. Two days later, when we were packing up, we realized that we did not have one of the more expensive shirts we had bought. I called the store and spoke to the salesperson - he asked me which shirt and which hotel we were staying in and promptly sent the shirt over - no questions asked! 


 A lot of the clothes we saw elsewhere reminded me of the "kurtis" from India. Over all they have very colorful clothes..... if only we could see the ladies wearing them..... they dress up very well but cover everything with the black robes and scarves.

Here's a picture of a young one all dressed up!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Horses and Camels

Everybody in Cairo works with everybody else for a "cut" - we hired a cab to go to the Pyramids and he took us to a place where we had to negotiate for a couple of horse-carriages, some guides and camel rides. Obviously, the cab driver got his share from the man who was renting out his horses to us. (It was only after reaching the Pyramids that we realized that we could have come all the way by cab! No regrets though, since it was fun going in the horse carriage....)
Oh, the poor donkey!
The camel ride was a bit bumpy - okay to try, but I don't think I would have enjoyed riding through the whole desert this way.

After the Pyramid and Sphinx tour, we went back to where our cab was. Before we could sit in it, the horse owner insisted we step inside his office to wash up and have some tea. There he showed us the most beautiful perfume bottle collection I've seen! He actually owned a perfume business and wanted us to buy some from him. He presented us with some cute little bottles as well.

The Pyramids and The Sphinx

The Great Pyramids of Giza are one of the original Seven Wonders of the World. One can see the structures in the horizon as you approach Giza, which is to the west of Cairo. The Pyramids are quite imposing and the way we got close to it, by horse carriage, was even better than if we had taken a cab all the way.

Approaching the Pyramids

A close-up view

 See how big the rocks are?!

We went to see the Great Sphinx of Giza, which is a statue of a reclining lion with a human head. The angle from which you can see the Sphinx with the Pyramid in the background is very nice.

What a beautiful day it was - bright, with a blue sky!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Fruits, Vegetables and Food

It was a delight to see so many fresh fruits and vegetables everywhere..... not just in the market place!

A lot of fruits were like what we get in India, including guavas, tangerines and bananas. It was surprising to see big, juicy strawberries too.... I sure didn't expect that there!

Look at the size of this cauliflower! Most of the cauliflowers were this big.
This was a place which sold coffee powder.

This kind of bread could be found all over the city. People would balance it on their heads and transport it to various places sitting on their bicycles!

The Oasis Hotel

We stayed in a lovely place called "The Oasis Hotel" in Cairo. http://www.oasis.com.eg/ It was in Giza, so it was away from all the city (Cairo) noise. The people were very friendly, honest and helpful. The breakfast buffet, which was included in the room rate, was quite delicious. (More about the food later.)


The gardens were beautifully manicured - can you imagine this in the middle of a desert?

The flowers added a splash of color.

Everybody who worked there seemed very cheerful. I happened to lose a gold chain and pendant there and was quite despondent. Imagine my surprise, when, two days later, it appeared in the "lost and found!" Such honesty! The hotel chef had found it on the floor in the lobby and had turned it in! I thanked him and gave him a small reward - but more than anything, I was amazed......

Thursday, February 4, 2010


There were all kinds of trinkets for sale at the tourist areas. One U.S. $ = 5.5 Egyptian Pounds, so it was pretty tempting to get some of the items which cannot be found elsewhere.

Doesn't she look pretty?  
Typical Egyptian stuff.


How's this for next Halloween?