Given how close we are this year to Egypt, we thought it would be a great opportunity to experience Cairo. With direct flights from Tel Aviv, we were able to squeeze everything we wanted to do into one weekend.
While it was a wonderful experience, Danielle and I were both taken aback by the conditions in Cairo. The city felt extremely chaotic, poverty is rampant, the infrastructure is crumbling, and many of the locals we encountered expressed grave feelings of uncertainty.
Egypt’s tourism industry has suffered severely since the 2011 revolution. We saw very few Westerners. While many of the most popular tourists sites were bustling with people, most of them were traditional Muslims wearing very traditional Muslim clothing.
Allie: At night it looked really nice with all the lights but during the day it didn’t look as nice. There was trash everywhere. It’s not as nice as Israel. We went to a very, very nice mosque. We had to take our shoes off to go inside.
Michael: We went to the mosque. We had to take our shoes off. The mosque was huge.
Jacob: It was really interesting to see people that looked very different than what we are used to. When we went to the mosque, I noticed how many different rules they have. Inside it was really nice. There was a really fancy chair for the person who leads the service and the lights were really interesting.
Michael: When we went to the top of the view, we could see pyramids in the distance.
Jacob: It was interesting to see so much of Cairo at once.
Allie: It was a very, very nice view
View of the Nile River from our hotel balcony:
Michael: The Nile River still has crocodiles and in the night all of the boats light up.
Allie: The Nile looked nice. At night it looked really nice with the boats lit up. There is a dinner cruise that goes on the Nile but it’s too late for us. We saw the shore of the Nile where it could have been the spot where Moses was put into a basket and sent down the river.
Jacob: The Nile river is really nice. It is lit up at night and is a great downtown area.
Michael: When we were at the pyramids we could climb the pyramids and we had to climb to get inside. It was a very low ceiling inside so everybody had to duck.
Jacob: It was a really cool view of the huge, massive structure. When we got to the entrance to go inside the pyramid, the guard said you can’t bring phones in. It was really cool how you had to duck down because the roof height kept changing. It was interesting to see how big the stones were.
Allie: I thought the pyramids were going to be only a little taller than me. I was very surprised when I saw them because they are so big! The mummies were buried inside the pyramids. We got to go inside the pyramids. It was cool to be inside the pyramid. We had to bend down most of the time because was the ceiling was so low.
Michael: In the desert we rode camels. It felt very bumpy. We took lots of pictures.
Jacob: We went on camel rides around the pyramids. The guide took photos of us.
Allie: When I first went onto the camel it was a little shaky and it felt like I was going to fall off. Once we started moving I felt more secure. We rode up a hill and took pictures. Then we rode the camels back down.
Jacob: We saw the Sphinx. It has a lions body and a human head. It was there to guard the pyramids. It was really interesting to see.
Allie: The Sphinx lost its beard. It has the head of a Pharaoh and the body of a lion.
Michael: When we went to the papyrus factory, the person showed us how to make it. You had to cut a bush up and you had to roll the bush until it was very, very flat. And then they would leave it in water for six days. If you leave it in more days then it becomes darker.
Jacob: The guy showed us how to make papyrus. It was really cool. You start off by cutting the green skin off the stem and then you weave it together. The papyrus is considered holy in many ways. For example, the plant is triangular in shape which stands for eternity in Egypt. The Egyptians painted pictures on the papyrus paper which lasted thousands of years. It’s extremely strong and durable. It’s even water proof. Making it is a long process that takes about a month.
Allie: I thought the papyrus factory was very cool because the paper takes a long time to make. But after it was made, it was really good paper because it wouldn’t get destroyed if it goes in water and it lasts for thousands of years.
The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities (The Egypt Museum):
Michael: Next we went to the museum and we saw Pharaoh’s mask. We also saw lots of mummies. They looked like dead bodies. They were all kings. We got pyramids for souvenirs.
Jacob: I really liked the Egypt Museum. It was really cool seeing the mask that King Tut wore. It was also interesting to see the boxes that his body was placed in and the jars that contained all of his organs.
Allie: I realy enjoyed it because we got to see the mummies. They are real human beings that are 4,000 years old. There were a bunch of them. We got to see other things like boxes that all fit inside of each other. Each one got smaller and smaller. The smallest one is where the mummy went.
Jacob: It was really cool how old the mummies looked. They were very well preserved and looked very good for being 4,000 years old.
It was a fascinating trip and we’re very happy we went. But we were also very happy to leave.
Our journey from Egypt to Israel was a bit faster and easier than it was for our ancestors. The sixty minute flight, during which they served coffee and croissants, sure beats a forty year walk, eating matza and manna. But the historical significance of leading our own children of Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land was not lost on us.