Rogues and traffic jams

Rogues and traffic jams
Giza, Egypt

Giza, Egypt


I got at at 6am to catch the sunrise over the Pyramids. The Concierge got the security guard to take me onto the roof after the obligatory backhander. The view was good but as with anything to do with the Pyramids there always seems to be some modern structure in the way. I knew the town of Giza encroached right up to the pyramids but I had so idea of just how close. There is a KFC less than 200 meters from the Sphinx. I then decided to go off-piste and ended up walking into the grounds of a small power station and was very politely turned away. Then I met up with a pure Cairo rascal in the form of Mohamed the,charming,diabetic,taxi tout. Inevitably, I became his best friend and I warmed to his thieving ways as we picked our way up the back stairs of some apartment block to gaze down on the Sphinx and Pyramids. He managed to conjure up mint tea from nowhere so there I was on the roof of some building sipping sweet mint tea at about 7.15am. We met his mate the camel owner who robbed me blind for the attached photograph. Mohamed had suggested I tip the tea man $20 for a small glass of tea. Unsurprisingly I didn’t agree. The camel man was muttering about $500 for a ride but I hope he was joking. I paid him $5 for some shots of him and his angry, smelly beast.

I picked up Elly and then off to the Museum of Antiquity. I had used TripAdvisor to find guides and this worked pretty well but do get the final price in writing. Cairo in comparison to Luxor is rip-off central. I’ve met some pretty cash obsessed folks in Marrakesh and Delhi but Cairo takes the medal for sheer breathtaking avarice.

The central question for me is should you visit Cairo and my answer would be no. The Museum and the pyramids are worth seeing but the pain of getting across Cairo, the pollution, the downright ordinariness of the city makes me say avoid it. It really is a dump.

The museum has some fantastic early carved figures but the rest is poorly displayed and the ‘highlight’, Tutankhamen is rather like the Pyramids. You feel you’ve already seen them before.

We had lunch in wonderfully bizarre restaurant called Felfela which is so over the top it’s worth a visit even if you don’t eat there. But you should. Went to the Coptic Museum to see the Nag Hammadi Codices. Stunning if you are a Catholic conspiracy fan.

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