Sept 4: Cairo Day 2
Sarah had her first day of school today, so I took a lazy morning walk through Zamalek, which is an island in the middle of the Nile, then navigated the metro to Tahrir Square, the site of the protests that were fundamental to the revolution. It's totally different now--no indication that anything happened, except for the shoulder to shoulder police that stand guard 24/7 in a circle. Upon closer inspection, none of them are older than 16. I guess that's what happens when your president steps down and you clean house.
It's really interesting talking with Sarah about the revolution, because she was living in Cairo at the time. Some of her stories are just incredible--how her and her friends all slept in the living room together, with stones propped up against the door so they'd hear if someone tried to get in; what it was like when Mubarak cut the internet and phones; really fascinating stuff. I'm really happy she convinced me to come visit--Cairo is a great city--more modern than I thought it would be--and it's totally safe now. There were some protests while I was there at the trial of Mubarak (apparently the police had to restrain lawyers from the defense and prosecution from physically fighting in the courtroom), but they were localized to the court, which was far from where Sarah lives.
She actually is just moving apartments, and we visited the new one, which is in a word, BALLIN'. It's basically a sprawling 3 bedroom penthouse in Zamalek, with balconies overlooking the Nile, and she has it all to herself, for the price of a 500 square foot studio in Toronto. I'm so jealous.
I found lunch at KFC although it was definitely not what I ordered (I really need to remember not to order anything spicy in Egypt) and made my way over to the Egyptian museum. Not sure what their endgame was, but I had various people come up to me and tell me "the museum is closed for prayer right now! Opens at 1:30!" Next person, same thing, except their time was 3:30. Suspicious...especially because it was open the entire time.
A British guy came up to me at the entrance and offered to split the cost of a tour guide, so I used my (now expert) haggling skills and got an hour for 40 pounds (about 8 bucks, so 4 each). Little did we know how big the museum is--we ended up on a speed walking tour of the museum. I felt like I had joined a mall-walking club. Should've brought my tracksuit.
Saw King Tut's relics--that guy had EVERYTHING in his tomb! (Seriously, who needs 4 chariots? In case one breaks down? Seems a little excessive to me, sounds like he could've used a financial advisor)
Sprung for the extra ticket to the mummy exhibit (Student card half price, whattup!) which was really interesting. Having seen the burning ghats at Varanasi, it wasn't as grotesque as I think some people found it. What I found incredible is the perfect detail that has been preserved after all these years--the mummies still have their eyelashes! They really do look like they're just sleeping. There was also an animal mummy exhibit which was cool--they took their pets with them when they were put in the tomb.
After the tour, Sarah and I took a sunset felucca ride on the Nile. A felucca is an Egyptian sailboat, although I suspect they've done some upgrades of the years, as it was not the reed raft with papyrus sail that I was envisioning. Nevertheless, it was the perfect time to do it--gorgeous views, a nice breeze, and the air was just cooling off from the heat of the day. I thought it was great!
We headed to an Arabian restaurant for dinner that would have included pigeon and camel meat but they were out. For shame! My culinary adventures would have to be put on hold. I settled for stuffed intestines instead.