Sunday, June 13, 2010

Day 13: Mosque, shopping, Churches, Museums, Hard Rock Cafe and Bazaar!

Our last full day of touring today. Our flight leaves at 1 am Friday morning to head back to the states. Our first stop is the Muhammad Ali Mosque in Cairo. It's a gorgeous building with a number of domes.
I LOVE the columns in this courtyard.
We had to wear head coverings and no shoes in the mosque.
The inside was pretty as well, and far less gaudy than some of the Greek Orthodox churches we've seen on the trip.
Next up, shopping at the essential oil "perfume factory". We sampled some of their wares and couldn't leave without a small purchase. 
Next up, churches commemorating the location where Joseph brought Mary and Jesus after receiving the dream to feel from King Herod.
Dan and I LOVED this church of ornately carved wood. It was undergoing renovation and was magnificent! There were two churches at this location: The Hanging Church and the Church of the Holy Family. We also saw a Jewish Synagogue (no pictures, please) and the Coptic Museum... which was FASCINATING but we had to run through due to our limited time.

Time, speaking of time... things in Egypt run on a different clock. We were spoiled in Israel with wonderful food (that wouldn't make us sick), a tour guide who kept us within the alloted time slots to make sure we hit all of our destinations and a schedule with a consistent lunch hour.
A little funny: this is Lisa. She is an absolute HOOT!!! Hilarious, funny, smart... you just have to love this girl! We weren't supposed to have bottled water in the Hard Rock Cafe, so Lisa, creative soul that she is, created a water bottle Burqa to hide it from the waiter. A little cultural humor we enjoyed...
Granted, many of us by this time are dealing with stomach problems and food is that last thing on our mind, however waiting until nearly 4 pm for lunch is a bit outrageous! We were FAMISHED and after a vote earlier in the morning, opted to hit the Hard Rock Cafe, Cairo. They offered buffet. Much to Dan's disappointment, burger and fries were extra.. so he subsisted on rice, chicken and baklava... I thought it was tasty, but this isn't a stretch from my normal dietary choices at home. Dan was ready for some true home style American cookin'.

After lunch, we stopped by the Cairo Museum. It was HUGE with so many amazing Egyptian artifacts. We were surprised to see that not all of the artifacts were labeled... which was disappointing since we weren't sure what all we were looking at. Our guide led us through the museum to discuss about 15 pieces of art (of the 2 million housed there!). A few of us naughty tourists would start with our guide and then wander away to see what else was in the museum. Unfortunately, they closed the museum early that night and were were kicked out FAR too soon. :(
Next up: A shopping trip at the bazaar... it was crazy! Throngs of people shopping and shop keepers peddling their wares requesting us to stop and look. "Stop here, we have what you need!" "But, I don't know what I need." "That's okay, I have it!"
It was a crazy and FUN experience. Another place I could have stopped and taken oodles of pictures of people.

Our last stop of the night was to an outdoor cafe where we ordered soda's and shared our finds. We have a competition going on that I will share more about later.
Just as we were about to leave this beautiful family sat down, including this little girl who must have been 5-ish... She was precious! I went out on a limb and asked her mother (via the universal language of hand gestures) if I could take her picture. The grandmother and mother were delighted! So I snapped a shot, taking a bit of time to ensure I'd only need to take one. Sadly, it's a bit off focus, but her adorableness shines through anyway. I walked off all smiles exuding my thanks to the family. They were gracious and seemed to enjoy my obvious delight with their daughter!

We skipped the planned dinner to hit the hotel and then off to the airport for our flight home.

I've got one or two more posts to do for our trip: Food and Cairo the city... Thanks for hanging with me!