|Up about 8:30 and go to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. Full breakfast, eggs, chicken sausage, maybe 20 different kinds of breads and pastries, all of which were delicious. Ate too many...
Then to the front desk and ask about getting a ride through the town. A taxi showed up and said six hours for 350 EL, or $70. Seemed reasonable. Imrahib was his name. First he took us to the old Christian area of the city – dropping us at the entrance to the area we walked by four heavily armed “Tourist” police – whether they were for he tourists or watching them was hard to say.
Walking down a small street we were greeted by a shop owner who invited us in to his shop and would sell his wares “today only” at the factory price because he just had a daughter and it would bring him luck. What a wonderful thing that we just happened to be there the day his daughter was born! Anyway, we told him we might stop back later. He was quite persistent.
Moving on, we stopped in at the Church of St. George – with a relief of him slaying the dragon. Beautiful church. A bit further on we came upon an old Coptic church with extremely ornate art work. Even further on the buildings were closed due to repairs. We watched men cutting blocks of limestone into smaller blocks, then these being hand carved into intricate patterns that would replace worn stone on the church.
On the way back the shop keeper was out again. Even more persistent. We stayed for a bit and bought one small piece – he seemed disgusted...
Next to the Citadel of El Saladin, a fortress, mosque, and museum built over a 1200 year period. Still an operating mosque, but much of it now a museum – Police, crimes solved, old prison cells, police weapons. Beautiful panoramic view of the city – very hazy – wonderful mosques – one very old with columns representing it seemed every type of column found in the Mediterranean. Another aglow with hanging lanterns and chandeliers. Both had beautiful and ornate domes. We ended up in the military museum, with it's opening display of the actions of the Egyptian army in the 1973 war wit Israel. Then displays about what the military had done through th ages.
Finally, after an ice cream, back to the taxi.
The driver knew a man who had a horse farm so we went there through the over crowded streets and looked at the 300 plus horses kept there. Alice took a ride on an Arabian but she said he was slow and unresponsive.
We both had some energy left so we asked the driver to take us to a bazaar. Turns out he took up to a tourist rip off shop tat made the earlier shop look like your friendly corner grocer... Hard sell. We got a piece of jewelry for a reasonable price, then were directed to a papyrus shop where a lady explained how it was made, then the hard sell again. “Today only I will give it to you as a gift for only $40...” We left.
Having at this point realized we were getting scammed I did some quick calculations in my head about our fare and, sure enough, he “accidentally” added 100 EL to it. When I pointed this out he mumbled he was sorry... Learned a little about being a tourist in a country where the second largest industry, behind the Suez canal, is tourism...
Back at the hotel We took a brief rest, then went to the lobby to meet the rest of the people on the tour – the official beginning. Our tour guide is Said (Say – id), or, Happy! There are eight other people, a husband, wife, 17 year old son and 11 year old daughter from Michigan, and another family, husband, wife, 12 year old girl and 13 year old boy from Canada. All seemed friendly enough. The three girls studiously avoided each. John, Jay, Jordan and Melissa were one family, and Steve.... plus three others were the other family.
After the initial meeting we all braves the streets of Cairo and walked about a mile, braving the traffic (most cars don't want to hit you!) and crossing the Nile, through a crowded market/shop area to a restaurant called Falfala. Very Egyptian. Alice had spaghetti and I had stuffed pigeon. It was tasty, but very little meat. Said did not eat with us – he said his normal dinner time is 11:00 PM.
All the kids rebelled about walking back, so Said got three cabs “at Egyptian prices” and we wove our way, horns tooting, people walking in front of the cab, cars just stopping in the middle of the street and people getting out, back to the hotel.
Back at the hotel we did a little packing, then to bed.