17th July – 24th July, Cairo
Our final destination on the way to London…we touched down in Cairo on Saturday ready for a bit of exploring and a lot of chilling Cairo; 105 days of travel has taken it’s toll and Wilson and I are feeling a bit buggered! We checked into Hotel De Jimmy et Priya – Jimmy, a friend from NZ, lives in Cairo with his fiance Priya, they’ve got a great apartment in Zamalek (a nice district where all the embassies are) and they’d invited us to stay with them – perfect!
What trip to Egypt is complete without visiting the pyramids…? Jono and I arranged with a driver to pick us up and take us out to the Giza site. After paying for a horse drawn cart to be hauled around the pyramids we were on the way. First impressions were IMPRESSIVE, certainly bigger than I had imagined and the age of the structures were very overwhelming. We learnt later that all the pyramids used to be covered in marble stone (under the sand stone blocks) but most of this marble was taken my local Muslims to build mosques. A real travesty as the pyramids would have been even more impressive if they still held the marble shell – you can see the remains of the marble on the second pyramid at the top.
After the pyramids we made a stop at Coptic Cairo, this is an area of Cairo that was a stronghold of Christianity – in the middle of a strong Islamic city. I had a number of different churches and I saw my first synagogue there – in Cairo of all places! Nothing to interesting to report from here, but it was a pretty cool spot to walk around, admire the religious buildings and come to terms with that fact that you were in Cairo and not in some English town!
As a small way of repaying Jimmy and Priya back for their hospitality, and to give us a cooking fix, Jono and I decided to cook dinner for our perfect hosts. It had been nearly 4 months since we’d laid hands on a frying pan – and both of us being well into our cooking – we were both keen to get stuck in! Although we went for a good classic dish, that we thought was rather NZ’ish, to give Priya a bit more of the motherland…Fish and Chips….however Priya soon pointed out that they were rather British too – fair point! So after an hour in the kitchen we produced freshly beer battered fish, home cut chips served up with a Greek salad. Jimmy and Priya supplied the wine and we all had a great meal!
The rest of our days in Cairo were filled with a few excursions, once to the local markets where we walked the narrow streets checking out everything and anything that the people of Cairo would sell us – they had pretty much everything covered and were hard salesmen! Jono almost got fleeced by a watch seller, purchasing a watch only for it to fall apart 10 second later, Wilson was having none of that so got up and chased the guy and got his money back – much to the guys disappointment who said that he could just fix it! After the heat and bustle of the market, we headed to Sequoia, a bar/restaurant that is perched at the tip of Zamalek island where the Nile (which splits in to around Zamalek) re-joins and flows downstream. Quite an upmarket spot but well worth the coin spent – we obviously sat there in the sun drinking local brews and chatting about the trip to date…
Our final night we went out onto the Nile on a sail boat on a Feluca, it was a nice warm night so perfect for being on the boat. We packed a bit of Jimmys stash – Mac’s Gold and a hip flask of single malt and set sail. We cruised around for a couple of hours chatting about times in NZ, our trips and everything else in between. It was a memorable way to finish the trip!!
Massive thanks to Jimmy and Priya for their awesome hospitality – will be able to repay the favour at some stage soon hopefully! We flew out of Cairo in the afternoon – after being upgraded to business class which we thought was a good symbol of the luck we’d experienced on the trip – we celebrated with a glass of champagne on the plane and toasted to a great and successful time in London!