2015 Egypt Trip: Day 6 – Cairo, Mosques, Khan el-Khalili, Nile Cruise

 

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Mosque of Ibn Tulun

 

If only I could summarize Cairo in three phrases then they would be: dysfunctional trash bin resulting in litter strewn streets, very functioning horns, and culture of baksheesh. And all of them, fortunately with the rich history backgrounds that spanning more than five thousands years from the Ancient Egypt to Islamic era and minority Coptic community to today’s modern Cairo.

We spent the whole day exploring Cairo. Afwan, our guide, took us not only to those tourists usual sites but also the backside of Cairo not usually in the tour agent itinerary. He showed us areas full of student dormitories from Indonesia and Malaysia in Nasr City, visited student-run businesses such as restaurants serving the students, to Al Azhar campuses, or to mausoleum of Imam Shafi’i. He insisted us to aboard public boat ride on the last night in Cairo, which we’re grateful we accepted later.

Started at 8.30 in the morning we hit the road for the Mosque of Amr bin Al-Aas, the first mosque ever built in Egypt. Within walking distances to it is Coptic Cairo areas with as many churches in one single area as could be in Cairo.

We’re trapped in typical Cairo traffic trying to get to Asfour Crystal (hey check your purchase!) on the north Cairo before recharging ourselves with simple West Sumatra cuisines in Nasr City.

Then, tuck into a slum area of the City of the Dead, where 500,000 people depend their daily life to the eery city, for a mausoleum of Imam Shafi’i before going to the beautiful mosque of Ibn Tulun. The latter has inspired I.M. Pei to build Qatar’s Museum of Islamic Art based on cubism architectures in the mosque.

Khan el-Khalili was the next stop, the perfect place to practice your haggling skills! We’re fortunate we had Afwan as he is fluent in Arabic and with his sense of humor he always managed to get big discounts. Prices for souvenirs here are cheaper by Qatar standard.

While in here, we visited El Fishawy coffee shop, tempted by a good review in Lonely Planet. With a glass of coffee as cheap as 4 QAR and shisha for 10QAR this two-century old coffee shop is a treat after that shopping marathon in the bazaar or if you fancy people watching. Prepare your refusal words though as no single minute passed without roaming vendors!

We closed our Cairo chapter by taking a cheap public boat ride (70 EGP for 3 adults 2 children?); a 20-min ride on the river Nile, accompanied by blaring Arabic music, tacky dances by the youth and with glittering views of building alongside the river.

Goodbye Cairo!

 

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Corridor in Mosque of Ibn Tulun
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A yard in Ibn Tulun which leads to Geyer Anderson Museum
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Amr ibn Al Aas Mosque – the first mosque ever built in Egypt

 

 

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Main entrance to the Mosque of Amr ibn Al-Aas

 

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Inner courtyard of the Mosque of Amr ibn Al Aas

 

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Closer look of inner courtyard
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Interior view of the mosque

 

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Sits on top of the dome is a famous metal boat, like a weathervane, which is supposed to hold grain for birds
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Mosque of Imam al-Shafi’i
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Imam al-Shafi’i was the founder of one of the four rites of Sunni
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Wooden dome over his tomb
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An area part of the City of the Dead; once we returned from the mausoleum of Imam al-Shafi’i
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Al-Hussein Mosque
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Al-Hussein Mosque

 

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On Cairo road
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A strange-shaped mosque in Cairo
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Citadel and its nearby mosques

 

 

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Al Azhar Street
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6 October Road in Cairo
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People flocked a juice store near Al Azhar University
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A lane full of bookshops at the back side of Al Azhar University
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El Nasr Road
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Unknown Soldier Memorial. Also the place for Anwar Sadat’s tomb.
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Opposite Unknown Soldier Memorial is a VIP tribune for watching the annual parade
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One rare peaceful road in Nasr City
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Taxi plies a road in Nasr City
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El Tahrir Street
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Churches in Coptic Cairo
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Heavy traffic in downtown Cairo
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The Indonesian Embassy in Cairo
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Asfour Crystal – the world’s largest crystal manufacturer
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Car shares a road with a horsecarriage
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One of the entrances to Khan el-Khalili. Seen here near Mosque of Hussein
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Egyptian bread vendor
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Hunting for souvenirs and accessories at Khan el-Khalili
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A row of shops just at the entrance of Khan el-Khalili
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One of the best coffee. El Fishawy Coffee Shop at Khan el-Khalili
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Two centuries of history coupled with cheap coffee!
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Not a single minute without bothered by roaming vendors
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At El-Fishawy Coffee Shop
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Sipping a cup of coffee after strolling the bazaar is really good for stamina recovery 🙂
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El Fishawy Coffee Shop
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A busy lane in Khan el-Khalili. Seen here next to El Fishawy
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Public boat ride, with blaring music and tacky dances
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Boats occupied one riverside of the Nile competing for customers
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Side-by-side with Cairenese
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Saying goodbye to Cairo with a simple public boat ride on the Nile

 

 

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Goodbye Cairo!

 

 

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