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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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2015 Egypt Trip: Day 4 – Tahrir, Cairo – Luxor, Karnak Show

 

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Karnak’s Sound and Light Show is our highlight for Day 4

Today is our fourth day in Egypt. Our plan is to fly out of Cairo to Luxor, a city frequently characterized as the world’s greatest open air museum .

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We had until 10am in the morning before we checked out from Novotel. Not long before we’re ready for a short walk across Tahrir Bridge. It was Saturday, traffic was expectedly low and quiet, and the weather was so pleasant. We leisurely walked on the bridge that spanning around 360m over the river Nile, down to Tahrir Square, and then back to the hotel. A good 30-min walking exercise before good breakfast at Novotel.

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The flight to Luxor is only one hour. Egypt Air offers multiple flights daily (starts from 500 QAR return) including ones early in the morning from Cairo and late evening from Luxor; making Luxor as a quick weekend escape.

We stopped-by briefly at Wisma Nusantara Cairo for storing our luggages – we would stay here for two days upon our return from Luxor. This hostel is currently managed by the Indonesian students in Al Azhar University. From its guestbook it can be easily noticed that it’s a favorite among Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei visitors and it’s received positive feedbacks. Apart from the hostel, Wisma Nusantara hosts a rentable hall, offices for the Islamic activities as well as accommodations for its management. It may worth your consideration when you are planning to visit Cairo, so you can contribute to its sustainability. Its close location to Ganena Mall, KFC and QNB ATM and a short drive from the airport is also an added plus.

Wisma Nusantara

8th Wahran, Rabea El Adawea – Nasr City

Telp: (20) 2 -22609228
Hp. +201114410422
WhatsApp : +201151046377
Email : Wismanusantaracairo@gmail.com

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Luxor is  a laid back small city, at the opposite contrast to chaotic Cairo. Its population (currently about half a million) is heavily dependent upon tourism. However, large numbers of people also work in agriculture such as sugar cane (clearly visible during the balloon ride and from a short ride from the airport to the city center).

Twenty minute van ride from the airport saw us Nefertiti Hotel , a small budget hotel where its affordable price doesn’t correlate with its strategic location and very excellent staff services; winning accolades from TripAdvisor. Tucked away in the entrance to Luxor Market, Nefertiti also offered an excellent restaurant and incomparable rooftop seating area, overlooking Avenues of the Sphinxes, the Nile and the Theban Hills on the West Bank.

Via the hotel (who also manages Aladin Tours),  we’ve booked one-and-half-day tour in Luxor; starting from Karnak Sound and Light Show at 7pm, and then balloon ride and the West Bank in the morning and Karnak Temple in the afternoon.

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The sun has just set on the horizon with the Nile and the Theban Hills as backdrops; providing one of the unforgettable memories of sunset watching ever. Still enough time before we would be picked up for the Show in Karnak Temple, we chose to have early dinner in the rooftop; tasting what Egyptian Authentic Bedouin cuisines like. Camel meat dish, Egyptian style omelette, mixed grill, and umm ali were probably representable

The Show, in English, starts at 7pm. Karnak Temple is located about 3km north of Luxor city center. In the past, and we can see it today, Luxor Temple and Karnak Temple are connected by the Avenue of the Sphinxes. Some 1,350 sphinx statues are thought once to have flanked the path. Unfortunately this path is not well maintained the way I see it.

The show, which last for about one and half an hour, tells the history of Thebes and of the Pharaohs who built, extended the temple. Images of the Pharaoh were projected on the temple wall, accompanied by narration of the history of Luxor and the temple. Looking at the massive, grand temple in the dark, illuminated by the light of full moon above us seemed to throw us centuries or thousands years ago. The magical feeling of walking side-by-side to the floodlit 134 gigantic columns inside the Hypostyle Hall  was indescribable.

Upon passing through the fallen obelisk (one of the three remaining obelisks in Egypt), visitors were escorted to seating areas by the Sacred Lake for the final history-telling show. That made up our fourth day!

Related Posts:

Day 1 – Arrival and Museum

Day 2 – Pyramids

Day 3 – Citadel, Al Azhar, Nile and Cairo Tower

TAHRIR BRIDGE

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Walking down and up Tahrir Bridge in the weekend morning was enjoyable

 

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Tahrir Bridge is popular for strolling.

 

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On Tahrir Bridge with Novotel and Cairo Tower

 

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At the eastern end of Tahrir Bridge
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On Tahrir Bridge that spanning 360m over the river Nile

 

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On Tahrir Square with Egyptian Museum as a background
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The view you’ll see when crossing Tahrir Bridge

 

WISMA NUSANTARA

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Neighborhood around Wisma Nusantara at Nasr City
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A simple yet clean room at Wisma Nusantara
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Wisma Nusantara is well-equipped; making it value-for-money accommodation

 

 

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In front of Wisma Nusantara Cairo. On my left is our guide

 

LUXOR 

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Terminal 3 of Cairo International Airport

 

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Luxor International Airport – Domestic Arrival

 

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Luxor!
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Mabad Al Karnak Street, Luxor, with The Abu el-Haggag mosque inside of the Luxor Temple
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A room in Hotel Nefertiti, Luxor
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View to Luxor Temple from the rooftop seating area of Hotel Nefertiti
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When we opened our room we were entertained with this colorful architectural windows
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Close-up view of Luxor Temple

 

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From the rooftop of Hotel Nefertiti you can see the river Nile and the mountains of Valley of the Kings
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Caleches or horse carriage in Luxor
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Our favorite spot! Seating area overlooking the Luxor Temple and the Nile
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Enjoy the breeze while waiting for our lunch to be served
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Authentic Bedouin menu is available . Fancy for camel-meat soup?

 

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Camel meat dish, Bedouin menu, served with cous cous and stewed vegetables
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Umm Ali, a national dish of Egypt, is a raisin cake soaked in milk and served hot.
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Egyptian-style omellete
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Mixed grill served with vermicelli rice and stewed vegetables
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Seating area at night
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Seating area, the Nile, and The Theban Hills
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Sunset in Luxor, when mosque and church are lighted-up
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Ah, this is one of the best sunsets we’ve ever watched

 

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Luxor Temple at night, with Avenue of the Sphinxes

 

KARNAK SOUND & LIGHT SHOW

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Karnak Temple is beautiful at night with its carefully located lightings
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Image of the Pharaoh is projected to the temple during the Light and Sound Show
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Closeoup view of image projection during Karnak Sound and Light Show
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Tried to throw yourself thousands years ago
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Few of the columns in the hypostyle hall of Karnak Temple
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Hieroglyphs carved neatly on the walls of Karnak Temple
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The Sacred Lake

 

Dubai #7

Went to Dubai 20-22 May 2014 for a business trip. Some pictures from this short flight and trip.

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Mall of the Emirates
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Metrolink now connects Burj Khalifa Metro Station to Dubai Mall
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First Class Dreamliner Qatar Airways
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Dreamliner
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Wifi is availble in Dreamliner though not activated in this short flight to Dubai
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Snack served in flight to Dubai