Next we headed to Rafai Mosque, and the Madrasa of Sultan Hassan. To be honest, we were really not impressed by these mosques after what we’d seen in Turkey and Morocco. They all charge expensive admission, there’s no one actually worshipping in them, they’re not well kept up… We should have just stopped after Ibn Tulun and gone back to shopping.We walked to the Citadel from the mosques. Despite being RIGHT NEXT TO EACH OTHER it takes about 1.5 hours to walk there because you have to walk all the way round the far side. They do this so they can funnel everyone through the same entry gate and charge admission. The admission gate itself is flanked by bank machines, and tight security. If you have anything that’s not allowed, they’ll store it for you, for a good price for you my friend. We visited The Muhammad Ali Mosque, which is a bad copy of Istanbul’s Blue Mosque.
We cabbed it back to the Khan-al-Khalili, and did some last minute souvenir shopping. We bought a huge hanging chandelier, and some other souvenirs.
We spent the next few hours trying to figure out how to protect the lamp for its long ride home. We asked someone on the street, and what happened next unfortunately summed up our experience with Egyptians. He kindly said his friend has a box and he would bring us to it. The fact that he spoke English fluently should have warned us he was not on the up and up. He brought us to his friend’s closed alabaster shop, and said he would go get the box, and to wait there. Meanwhile his friend started the hard sell on his crappy China-made souvenirs. During the course of the conversation, it was made obvious to us that he intended to *sell* us this crappy box, for $20 US. Once we pieced together this was yet another scam, we got out of there as fast as we could.
We finally got a box from a grocery store for about a dollar. While in the store, we had an interesting conversation with an Egyptian who was just visiting, on a break from his studies in London. He asked us if we had enjoyed our stay in Egypt. Not wanting to offend anyone, we of course lied. He seemed genuinely surprised that we supposedly had a good time.