We arrived at our hotel, King Tut Hotel, in the center of Cairo, very near by the now famous Tahrir Square, where the 2011 revolution began. For us, it was a good opportunity to be close to the Egyptian museum above all, That’s why we stayed 5 days in Cairo, to have the time to enjoy the atmosphere over there, visit the Islamic traditional area, as well as the pyramides.
The city center and the Islamic area
The discovery of Egypt begins by Cairo. Huge metropolis, growing every year, it is the biggest city of Africa and the biggest city of the Arabic world. Very quickly we feel we are grasped by this maze of streets and souks, when the life never stops and the basic rules of the road don’t exist ! We also realized we didn’t see any other western tourist in Cairo, except in the National archaeological museum. Indeed, the large majority of them don’t go to Cairo, often seen as unsafe and prefer to head quickly to the Nil valley or to the holiday resorts of Charm El Cheikh near the red sea. It is true that for individual travellers, walking around the city and particularly in the islamic area doesn’t seem to be extremely safe and many choose to travel with an organisation in a country where terrorism is always possible.
A big importance of the religion in this city
Visiting Cairo by night, as enthusiastic and full of life as it is in daytime is surprising as well. Everyone is outside! Mosque are reasoning the verse of the koran all the time, people pray in the streets and many are selling every kind of goods, fruits, vegetables…In this very Muslim world, it is not easy to eat “Western-way” and it is also a good opportunity to taste Egyptian food! Anyway we stayed in very busy places, not to lose ourselves in this gigantic buzzing city, Eleonore wearing as well a chador for more discretion.
The Egyptian National Archaelogical Museum
One of the highlight of every visit in Cairo is the Egyptian Museum of course, when it is possible to see many vestige from the brilliant antic civilisation, as an introduction for the rest of our stay in Egypt. Indeed the museum is really old-fashioned and we can’t take any picture, but it is also bringing some emotions as we could imagine ourselves in the 1930s’ movies of “The Mummy” with Boris Karloff 🙂 And finally the main event, seeing the Tutankhamon mask is absolutely not to be missed of course. People travel the world to see this star, even if you will most likely view it from far away, as Mona Lisa in Louvre, Paris.
A vintage museum, full of charm
After that, we are heading to the biggest mosque of Cairo, Al-Azhar Mosque. Very big but actually quite poor inside, not very beautiful, much less than wonderful ones in Istanbul like Hagia Sofia or the Blue Mosque for people who know. But it was important to visit it according to us as well, a way to realize how important islam is for Egyptian today. We can easily understand why Muslim brotherhood is so important and influential in this very poor and overpopulated country.
The maze of small streets in Cairo
To conclude, Cairo is a mix of strong emotions and feelings in the biggest Arabic city in the world. The disorientation and the culture shock is guaranteed for whoever is travelling solo in this incredibly buzzing metropolis.
Where did we sleep?
- King Tut Hostel: A small hostel near the city center, 10 mns aay from Tahrir Square, 20 mns from the islamic area of Khan El Kalili. Therefore it was quite noisy and not very clean either, but if you want to be right next to the Cairo turmoil and nightlife, you are in the right place. But we would not recommend it for the cleanlness and the noise. For information, the building next to us took fire while we were sleeping!