24 November 2010
WELCOME TO EGYPT!
Sorry that it took this long for me to post about Egypt. This week/the coming weeks are going to be hell on wheels, and Tuesday was my panic day. Enough with the excuses. Egypt!
Egypt was probably one of the coolest places that I've ever been. Ever. It's just a shame that we couldn't have stayed longer than the 6 days that we were there, although I talked to Hilla about it, and I don't think it would have been quite as fun had we stayed any longer. This was primarily because are hosts were the coolest people ever, and since it was a holiday, neither of them had work or school so they were able to spend the entire time with us driving us around and taking us to do cool things. Had we stayed for any longer, they would've had to go back to their normal lives and we would've been left to fend for ourselves while they were gone. Moral of the story: we stayed the perfect amount of time.
So our hosts: We stayed with two guys named Mark and Eddie who are both friends of one of my friends, Kate, who had studied abroad through EAP at the American University in Cairo a couple of years ago. After buying our plane tickets I had contacted her asking if she knew of anyone who could show us around, and she put me in contact with these two guys. Best...idea...ever. They were both incredibly awesome and spent the entire week showing us around Cairo, and some other parts of Egypt (as will be detailed later) and planning what kind of foods we were going to eat while we were there. It was also great because Eddie was Egyptian, so he not only spoke the language and would get us out of getting scammed and ripped off, but he also drove like an Egyptian, knew all of the places to go, and how to get, there, and we also go to stay at his parent's house in Giza. Mark, was American but had come back to AUC after studying abroad there to get his masters in journalism. Both of them were really cool.
As previously mentioned, we ended up staying at Eddie's parents' house in Giza, which was right outside of the Pyramids. Apparently you used to be able to see the Pyramids from the roof of the house, but a couple of months ago someone had started building an apartment building right in front of the view, so you couldn't see them anymore, but it didn't matter because we would drive down the street and be able to see them again. Anyways, the house was awesome, as it was part of an apartment complex sort of thing that his grandparents had built that had 3 floors occupied by family members and a bottom floor that housed their four golden retrievers. We got an entire wing of the apartment to ourselves, which consisted of a huge living room with TV, office, bedroom, kitchen, and two bathrooms, all hidden behind this crazy secret bookcase door so that you couldn't see that part of the house upon entering the apartment. It was nice because it meant that we could pretty much be as loud as we wanted and it didn't really matter that much, so we'd stay up until 2am and listen to music, drink wine, and watch movies.
Upon our arrival into Cairo, which was bizarre in and of itself because its completely surrounded by sand which looks really bizarre when flying over it, we were met outside of baggage by Eddie and Mark holding signs that said "We are Mark and Eddie!" and "You are Sarah Giffin and company!" We were then immediately taken into Cairo to go drink beer on a faluca that we rented for an hour. It was pretty much a long looking sailboat that the driver/steerer guy would sail back and forth across the Nile while we just sat there on little couch/benches and drink beer.
That, is a faluca (felluca?). Awesome? Indeed.
So the awesomeness of the faluca only started out what awesomeness was to come, which I will number below, and then go into more detail for the really important things. Anyways, here are the super cool things that we did:
1) Road on a faluca.
2) Ate a traditional Egyptian breakfast of foul (pronounced fool) at a restaurant so close to the pyramids that we were across the street from them and could see them as we ate.
3) Went to the Pyramids in Giza. Oh...my...god...
4) Went to the national archaeology museum which was so full of stuff that an entire floor was dedicated to sarcophagi and the stelai on the bottom floor were basically hiding behind support pillars.
5) Went to a bar frequented by the American ex-pat community where I experienced my first pull-tab soda can. I screamed when I opened it because it took me by surprise.
6) Ate koshary, a dish of tiny macaroni noodles, lentils, fried onions, tomato sauce, garbonzo beans, and a super spicy chili sauce. Cilantro might have also been involved.
7) Slept on the beach at the Red Sea. Also swam in the Red Sea. Also got eaten alive by sand fleas.
8) Ate at a legit American diner in Maadi called Lucilles that was voted by Time Magazine as having the best hamburger in the world. I got a bbq bacon burger. The bbq sauce was homemade and the bacon was beef bacon, which was an acceptable substitute. They also made pancakes with maple syrup *gasp*, chicken fried steak, Waffle-House style waffles, and raspberry iced-tea. There were also free refills.
9) Ate at a fancy Egyptian restaurant where I was stuffed full of things like rabbit, hummus, chicken, foul, and where i also ate an entire pigeon stuffed with rice.
10) Went to the Coptic quarter of Cairo and saw the Coptic Church of Saint George.
11) Went to the Nileometer which used to measure the height of the water on the Nile. I then sat and stared at the Nile in amazement for a long while.
12) Walked on a bridge built by Eiffel and was then followed around by a bunch of small children saying "WELCOME TO CAIRO"
13) Went to Cairo's version of the Grand Bazaar and drank tea at a coffee shop that hadn't closed for the night in over 200 years.
14) Went to Alexandria for a day and got to sea the ocean...and a fort!
15) Ate at a restaurant called "This is Sheren, the Fish Restaurant That Everyone's Been Talking About" in Alexandria. At least, I think it was called Sheren, I don't really remember. Anyways, we ate a 1/2 kilo of shrimp, 1/4 kilo of calamari, 4 fried fish, 2 large grilled fish, a salad, 3 orders of tahini sauce, bread, and 3 Cokes and payed about $5 each.
16) Drank what could only be described as mooshed up mango in a cup, and downed a big ol' glass of sugar cane juice.
17) Ate donuts for the first time in months from a place called House of Donuts which was associated with the American Embassy in Cairo. Apparently the Americans really needed their donuts.
18) Ate at an awesome pizza joint where we had Mexican pizza, pizza with salmon on it, and lemon meringue pie and cherry cheesecake. We called it better than sex cake.
19) Got to see large groups of lambies bunched in the side of, and in the middle of the main roads, waiting to be bought to be sacrificed/slaughtered for the holiday. We then had the joy of driving down the street with a whole lot of blood in it. Also weird: cars with bloody handprints all over them. Eddie said that they act as blessings. I thought it was a little weird/morbid.
20) Ate at an awesome Thai restaurant that was in conjunction with the Thai embassy and which imported all of its stuff from Bangkok.
I just realized that most of my trip involved me eating things.
I don't know if I can really describe in detail everything that happened on this trip. I think that I would need an entire novel to write it all down. Luckily I figured out how to directly link my photo albums to my blog, so they can be looked at easily. Hurrah!
I think that's all that can really be said about Egypt. I can't really put a lot of it into words. The trip was amazing. We did a lot of stuff that we couldn't otherwise have done without our awesome tour guides. I need to find a way to get back.