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Monday, April 10, 2006

TRAVELBLOG: CAIRO -- I love this city... Love it!!

I have fallen in love with Egypt. Granted it was largely due to the Pyramids, but the city itself has plenty to offer as well.
(So much again for retail rehab). Anyway before anything else, I have to keep this post short because tomorrow at 2am, we are flying off to Luxor!!

Today we went around the city, going to the Coptic Church (church for Egyptian Christians). This is where the famous hanging church is located. Hanging-- because literally, the church was constructed on top of an old watchtower edifice. We didn't realize it was hanging (off the ground) until we saw these little glass squares on the floor (where we saw that we were indeed above ground!)

Again, the details of the church are amazing.
The ceiling resembles that of an inverted boat.

This is a basilica style church, with two sides, but with two altars!

We passed by this little souk before hopping onto the other church. This second church housed the crypt where the Holy family (Mary and Jesus) hid--
they were underground hiding in the crypt of this church for a month-- to steer clear of King Herod's wrath. (taking photos were strictly prohibited but I smuggled in my camera hehe).

Oh yet another souvenir shop!! :) Sis inlaw and I bought some cartouches for our kids. There were all these woodwork-with-inlaid pearl boxes (which resemble our country's own Maranao woodworks). Very nice things but *sigh*, so expensive!!! There was this really pretty gold bracelet with lapiz lazuli stones... the price was insanely disagreeable at US$4000!! Of course I didn't buy it (where, pray tell, can I get that amount to pay for that necklace?!)

Post coptic church, we proceeded to the Moslem side-- to a huge mosque built by Mohammed Ali. This place, is called the Citadel (a castle!).
The mosque was beautiful from afar, and we knew it was not going to disappoint. True enough, it didn't-- it was impressive!!

Ok this was a bit uncomfy for an ignoramus like me-- we were all asked to take off our shoes upon entry to the mosque, and since I was wearing a tshirt that was a bit well, short, I was asked to wear a robe! It turned out to be pretty cool (I channeled Farah Diva, wife to the Shah of Iran hehee.. she was all glam. I looked like a lady selling fish in the market. But so what, I felt cool!). The interior of the mosque was huge, and there were more than 3 domes inside, making it excellent for acoustics.
The tomb of Mohammed Ali is also located inside the mosque. The other thing that makes this mosque special-- the VIEW!! Lookit! The whole of Cairo can be seen (including the pyramids)!!

Next on the agenda-- touring the Mosque built by Sultan Hasan. This place used to be a school for children who were to be taught Islam. The children actually lived inside the mosque too. There were dormitories for them. Four large sections of the mosque were dedicated as sects in which the teachers would teach 4 different groups of children (these sects acted as classrooms). It was nice, but not as interesting as this other mosque we were about to go to. So we crossed the Mosque of Hasan, to Sultan Rifai's. I took a look to my right, and this was what I saw.

Sultan Rifai's mosque on the other hand, houses the tombs of all the royal family members-- it houses the tomb of King Farouk (last king of Egypt), as well as the Shah of Iran (who married the sister of King Farouk-- this was the first wife). I will post photos of their ornate tombs sometime soon. What was striking to me, was the architecture of the mosque on the exterior.

Behind these doors, housed the royal tombs. The doors were so ornate,
decorated with both inlaid mother of pearl and ivory!!

Lunch time! Finally. We were all so famished. We arrived at FelFela.
Nice place, pretty quaint! I ordered the Kofta- Kebab combo (all meat! This place is definitely South Beach dieters' heaven!). I also ordered these stuffed vine leaves with some kind of rice (called Dolma-- which is also famous in Turkey). The food was sooo good. Another Egyptian dish we all ordered was the Felfela-- made of beans (if I'm correct), and deep fried. This was the man who was responsible for the yummy felfela :)
Ooh and guess who has been here before??? US President Jimmy Carter! Check out the menu, it's autographed!

Full from lunch, we headed off to our trip to the Khan el Khalili Bazaar. On the way, we passed by the market where LOOK, garlic!!
Lots and lots of it!! When we were nearing the bazaar, we got held up in traffic. Uh oh. It is Prophet Mohammed's birthday today-- and there was a huge street celebration, blocking our way to the bazaar and making it literally impassable.

We had to chuck the bazaar off our itinerary ( I know! How sad!! I was soooo looking forward to it too!). Instead, we ended up in a MODERN MALL!!! The City Stars Mall of Egypt (circa 2003),
beside the new hotel Intercontinental. *WOOHOO!!* Retail heaven of Cairo, watch out for the bag hag!!!

Retail withdrawal? Blah. There were tons of stores here-- Puma, Mango, Esprit, Virgin Megastore, Timberland, Addidas, ugh, anything that will remind you of the West-- right here, in one roof :D
Ok, I bypassed all the usual stores in search of THE designer store, THE bag store. But all I found were local fashion stores with bags and clothes which probably came from China. Here is a cute shop though, called Cute! (hehe what a name)

Sigh, I was slightly disappointed. But I realized also I wasn't really here to shop for stuff that I can get in the Philippines. So I skipped the usual fare altogether
and just moved onto the tourist trap stores :D (they have half a floor, dedicated to selling Egyptian souvenirs, which included more jewelry-- silver!). I will post more about the purchases soon. Anyway I also found a store that was sooo much like Firma. They have all these handmade jewelry made by an Egyptian designer. I was sooo drawn to the shop that I didn't notice the time. Can you imagine we had only an HOUR to shop here?!


We had to head back home already afterward. But I was on this windowshopping high, so I moved on to our hotel's shopping arcade called the Galleria. And found the ONLY designer boutique-- Givenchy! Hmm.. I didn't really bother going into the store anymore. I realized I had to head back to the room and finish blogging, then pack, then go right to sleep.

So now, I will stop here. Tomorrow is Luxor. Onto a new hotel. But I bet you I'll be too pooped out to blog! But again, watch the space :)

Night night!!


Blogger BLuE said...

hello there! nice pictures from your trip, i'm jealous but looking at your blog it's like watching discovery channel and getting a free trip as well,thanks. also wanna thank u bloggin' bout the monogram speedy, finally got my own "pandora's bag",too bad can't afford d perfo.anywho, enjoy d rest of your trip and safe flight home.it's me may

3:28 AM  

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