Sunday, May 9, 2010
Back to Cairo
After admiring the church we were off to wonder through the narrow streets to find the Ben Ezra Synagogue where baby Moses was supposedly found floating in the reeds. Interestingly, we had to pass through security to get into the synagogue, although we don't think the metal detector was plugged in! It has 2 floors, the lower one for men and the upper for women, all decorated with a geometric design and floral patterns. Out back was Moses’ well - that picture, taken through a gate, was as close as we could get.
Staying with the religious theme, we left Coptic Cairo and headed to Islamic Cairo to visit the Al-Azhar Mosque. To save some time we opted for a couple taxis, which is always an adventure! After our driver woke up his son who was snoozing in the passenger seat, we hopped in and had a fairly uneventful 2 taxi race to the mosque.
The mosque is very beautiful and is considered one of the more exquisite in Egypt. After entrusting the mosque guard with our shoes we headed into the expansive main courtyard... it's an amazing square of glistening white marble surrounded by dozens of ancient white columns. A little unsure of proper mosque etiquette, we just stood and admired the square. The serenity of it was evident - some local guys were there for prayer and some were just having a nap on the carpeted areas in the shade! Looking up we were rewarded with a close up view of the 5 minarets we had been admiring from other parts of Cairo. The mosque is also home to the second oldest university in the world, specializing in Islamic studies.
Next up was the nearby Khan El-Khalili bazaar to do some shopping. It was a busy stretch of shops and we quickly found that they did not barter with you as much as other countries. We would get chased down in Istanbul if we walked away...but here, they let you walk away! Even though we had less bartering power, we ended up getting a silver pyramid charm for Steph's bracelet and picking up a brass Aladdin lamp - 3 wishes, please!
As I just mentioned we had tickets to the Pyramids Sound and Light show. I know, I know, the lights shows are supposed to be notoriously cheesy, but we only had seen the pyramids for a couple hours and wanted one last chance to enjoy them without all of the hustle and bustle that was so overwhelming during that first day. No - for the last time, I don’t want to ride your camel!
Anyway, the show was unbelievably cheesy but seeing the pyramids all lit up at night made up for it in a big way. The show was intended to take you through the history of the pyramids while lighting them up in different colors. During the show the voices said some interesting things such as a child’s voice saying, “I have learned my lesson because you beat me” or comparing the pyramids to Westminster Abbey or saying "the greatest architectural feat in history - the straight line" - what? It all gave us a good laugh as we admired the pyramids and sphinx. They did have some good parts as well including the green lights that projected the path inside the pyramid to the tomb.
All in all, it was worth it just to see the pyramids again. What an amazing site they are!
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