During the day, we had visited the Egyptian Museum. It’s big. Really big. The building itself is pretty plain, and filled to bursting with ancient artifacts. The English labeling is pretty scarce, so make sure you have a good guidebook.In order to get into the museum, it is first necessary to get through a couple of lineups. One to buy tickets, one to go through security, and the last one to actually get into the museum. Security is fierce. You have to check any cameras and camcorders, no exceptions. Everything gets x-ray’ed. Leap of faith – leaving our expensive camera equipment with a security guard who gets paid peanuts (turned out it was ok).
We were lucky enough to be in the first batch of people in. We immediately asked the first guard "Tutankhamen?" He pointed the way. We ran, kept asking every guard we saw "Tutankhamen?", and finally made it. We were the FIRST ONES IN! The entry guard high-fived us for our efforts, and proclaimed us the winner. He was also excited to find out we’re Canadian, and proclaimed his love for Celine Dion! Not only that, but we had about 10 minutes *alone* with Mr. Tut, able to inspect the beautiful gold mask from every angle. Finally the crowds started trickling in and we moved on to other parts of the museum.
Once the museum filled up, the crowds became unbearable. Everyone is with a large tour group, and the tour group leads will fight tooth and nail to get the best position for their group around the display cases. We got yelled at to move several times, which we ignored and just shot nasty glances back. The tour group leaders were unbelievably rude, and it really tainted our experience.Next up, we visited Coptic Cairo (an easy trip on Cairo’s fabulous subway), the old Christian section of Cairo. We wandered through a few churches, a synagogue, and were marvelously not hassled by anyone. The churches weren’t that spectacular, but it wasn’t that crowded, and was certainly a pleasant break from the crowds of the Museum. Our next stop was the City of the Dead. We took a taxi out to the Mausoleum and Mosque of Qaytbay. The taxi driver offered to stay to drive us back, but we didn’t want to even think about how much that would cost, so we said no. We were the only tourists around and I have to say we felt a little uncomfortable. A guardian showed us around a little bit, but it wasn’t anything that was worth the trip.
We found our way back to the main street (8 lane road) leading back to town, but we had to cross it in order to get a cab going the right way. It was a scary moment, but we made it across. Our whoops of celebratory laughter and high-fives were met with congratulations from an Egyptian fellow who’d watched our progress. We finally grabbed a cab and wandered around the Khan-al-Khalili.
We had dinner at the Restaurant Felfela, right across from our hotel (as we did the following night). It’s a wonderful restaurant with beautiful decorations, great ambience, and great service. Highly recommended – just watch for any meat surprises in the vegetarian dishes.