Saturday, March 12, 2016

Curse of the Nile

Downtown Cairo
8 Feb 2016

We would be heading to Downtown Cairo today, checking in at Paris Hotel today, located within walking distance to the Egyptian museum. We walked a bit from our guesthouse to the main road and hailed a white taxi from there. We agreed on EGP 60 to downtown Cairo (about 30 mins journey, we estimated EGP50 for the taxi fare). It was a bit tricky to find the Paris Hotel, so we had to ask around. It's actually located on the 3rd floor of the 19th century French neoclassical buildings along Talaat Harb street, named after a leading Egyptian economist and founder of Banque Misr. The building is reminiscent of Friendship Place in Rome. The lift wasn't working, so we had to climb up the stairs. Our room cost USD 35 / night, including tax and breakfast.

Paris Hotel

Since our room was not yet ready, we went to the Egyptian museum first before checking in. Actually it was ready, but the owner didn't let us use the room until check in time at 1pm, but he did let us keep our bags in the room. The museum was just a 10 minute walking distance from our hotel, but it was challenging to cross the road as the traffic light was not working and it was a main road with 3 lanes each way near Tahrir Square! We followed how the locals did it, and finally managed to cross the road.

Egyptian museum facade

We had to scan our bags before entering. The entrance ticket cost EGP80 per person and EGP 40 for camera. The museum has now allowed visitors to take photos of the artifacts without flash. To view the mummies, it would cost another EGP100. We opted for the general entrance only. The galleries are divided by the period  - Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom, New Kingdom and Late Period; Graeco Roman, Meroitic Nubian and Ptolemaic period. Exhibits include mummy coffins; statues of Pharaohs, Horus (falcon headed) and Seth (jackal-headed), hieroglyph carvings or paintings; jewelleries; Pharaohs' beds, chairs, chambers and shrines, amongst others. It could take hours to cover all the exhibits in the museum. We spent about almost 3 hours at the museum before our stomachs started growling.

chamber from tomb of Tutankhamun, storing treasures and belongings

mummies coffins


Bed of Tutankhamun supported by 2 cows with elongated bodies with sun disks between their horns

statue of Horus (falcon-headed) and Seth (jackal-headed) crowning King Ramses III

We went back to the direction of our hotel and found an Egyptian fast food chain- Kazaz nearby and had lunch of roast chicken with rice. We then checked into our hotel and refreshed ourselves before venturing out again to catch the Nile cruise.

our room

It was a walking distance to the famous Nile river. We walked along the Nile Corniche on the East side of the Nile ( Tahrir Square side), but couldn't find any felluca Nile cruise rides. We read that the felluca cruise would cost around EGP 60 - 80 / hour. We decided to try our luck on the opposite side, crossing the Kasr Al Nile bridge. On the West side, we had to pay EGP 5/ person to enter the promenade, it was somehow controlled by a local gang. We were approached by a man at the entrance to take the Nile cruise (which we were looking for). He quoted EGP 40/ person for a 45 minute ride on the boat with other passengers or EGP 100/person for a private cruise. We agreed to the public ride. We waited and waited (with loud music blaring) until finally the boat took off, moving for a mere 300m or so, turned back and that was it! The 45 minutes was more on waiting on the boat. We have been conned real bad this time, I argued with the man and demanded at least to pay back half of the money paid as it was totally not worth it. Of course he refused, we walked back to the hotel feeling dejected. I vowed not to fall into this deception ever again! It was a Nile curse, rather than cruise! 

traffic jam at Tahrir Square
fellucas - none was operating

the Nile river
Kasr Al Nile bridge
the more expensive Blue Nile cruise with dinner

our supposedly cruise boat

the con man



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