unOrthodox – Coptic Cairo

29th February 2008

What a day this has been. I’ve been up since about 3am, due to jet lag and left the hotel at 7am to go for a walk. I walked all the way down to the Nile… that’s about 2km from here. I was quite pleased to say I didn’t get lost. Its Friday here, which is a holiday, so downtown is virtually deserted! I’ve been approached by a few people, but all in all, I’ve had virtually no hassles.

I came back to the hotel for breakfast at around 10:30am and then headed off for Coptic/Old Cairo, I know I said I was going to take a cab, but the taxi drivers couldn’t seem to understand where I wanted to go. So, I decided to try the metro, something I feared worse than the cabs! Turns out you can get anywhere for 1 EGP. I rode 4 stops to Mir Girgis and got off in the heart of Coptic Cairo. The first place I visited was the church of St George which was right in front of me when I came out of the station, it was very beautiful, and it seemed there were a lot of Greeks hanging around. I think they make a pilgrimage to this church. The church also had small catacombs under it, with ancient Icons in it. The doors were tiny, ancient Copts must have been very short.

I then visited the catacombs of the family of Santa Barbara, which turned out to house a load of souvenir shops. It was still nice though and as Friday is a holy day, I could hear the prayers of the masses which heightened the atmosphere. I then proceeded to the hanging church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It was also wonderful and full of beautiful Coptic icons.

For lunch I went to this nice little café and was joined by a special friend, a small grey cat who I threw pieces of chicken to. He was very cute and sat with me while I ate. After lunch I went in the Coptic Museum, which was quite interesting, the gardens are called the Babylon of Egypt. You can also see the Roman towers built by Diocletian in this area, which are quite a sight.

I was very tired and had sore feet, so I went back to the café for a tea, before heading back to the station. On the way back to the hotel, I ran into one of the guys I had seen earlier, he invited me for tea, but I was very hesitant, he said he was already having tea with and English lady and a Canadian lady, so I thought, what the hell. Karen and Ingrid were very nice. Ishmali, told me he could get me a driver for the Giza Pyramids, Saqqara and Dahshur for 150EGP, so this is now what I’m doing tomorrow. He owns a hotel, which I went back to and drank a lot of tea and smoked the sheesha, which I loved, must do that heaps more times! I sat and drank with him, and his friends and it was nice to have made a couple of new friends. I’m off to bed now, as my driver picks me up at 4:30am tomorrow for sun rise over the pyramids, I get to ride a camel as well…. so hopefully some great pictures!

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