Pyramids, Feluccas and Cats

It’s been almost two weeks since I arrived here in Cairo and everything is insanely unreal. More than that, every day is jam packed busy. The people, scenery and weather is amazing and I have no clue where to start.

Sightseeing

So far I’ve visited Old Cairo, Islamic Cairo and the Pyramids. Visiting Old Cairo meant going to Coptic churches, a synagogue and a mosque. Unfortunately, as everything here runs on Egyptian time (meaning everyone is running half an hour late at best, usually around an hour late), we were unable to visit the mosque  as it was evening prayers. We then instead ate dinner on a boat in the Nile.

Mosaic in the Hanging Church in Old Cairo was built on the foundation of an old Roman fort

“Mosaic in the Hanging Church in Old Cairo was built on the foundation of an old Roman fort”

Islamic Cairo includes al-Hakim Mosque, El Moez Street and Al-Azhar University. Al-Hakim Mosque is perhaps the most peaceful place I have ever been, with a huge courtyard, a fountain for ablutions, and an ornate mihrab. After spending time in silent contemplation, shoes off and heads covered, we ventured on to El Moez Street. Known for inspiring Naguib Mahfouz’s The Cairo Trilogy, the street is filled with vendors of cloth, hookahs and silver.

"al-Hakim Mosque"

“al-Hakim Mosque”

"The Complex of Sultan al-Mansur on El Moez Street"

“The Complex of Sultan al-Mansur on El Moez Street”

This past Friday, we visited the pyramids and sphinx. Nothing can really describe finally seeing the pyramids in person, and nothing can capture the immensity of such a historical wonder. Oddly enough, the Sphinx was smaller and less impressive than photos make it appear, but none the less fascinating.

"Me in front of all three pyramids"

“Me in front of all three pyramids”

School and Social Outings

School here is great! The American University at Cairo has about 5,000 students and it is so beautiful! The weekend is Friday and Saturday, so I have seven hours of Arabic classes a day from Sunday to Thursday. Besides school and homework, I spend a lot of time playing pick-up Ultimate Frisbee and swimming. In addition, I’ve gone out to explore Cairo at night with my new international and Egyptian friends. This often means get-togethers on feluccas (small barge-like boats), a birthday party on a yacht, cafes on top of hotels and exploring the area around the university. Cairo is incredibly large and intricate, but taxis are the easiest way to get around.

Upcoming

I’ve so far had an incredible two weeks in Cairo and I suspect it will only get better from here. Upcoming are trips to Luxor and Aswan, Ain Sokhna, Alexandria, Fayoum and possibly Dahab!