Cairo – The city of culture

Can we still call ourselves travellers? If you’re anything like me, you must be dying inside! From the itchy feet of not being able to travel. 

We were really hopeful of travelling from May onwards, but here we are, still on the UK side of the pond. Staycation it is! (or may just concede to travelling and quarantining on return!)

For now, let’s daydream of our time in Cairo (Egypt). There’s a few ways to visit Cairo, of which, I’ve done it two ways:

1. I’ve visited Cairo as a day trip from Sharm el Sheikh. Your tour will take you either via road or flight. Having visited sharm el sheikh when we were young, we opted for the cheap road route! It was a loooonnnggg journey, so wouldn’t recommend this if you have young children. But for a group of young adults at the time, the road trip was amazing! The tour will take you to key sites, visiting the museum where Tutankhamun is buried, then on to the Giza pyramids, one of the seven wonders of the world. 

2. Cairo is a great stopover location, so I visited Cairo again with my husband when enroute back from Lagos. Just 3 nights was the perfect time. As I’d visited Cairo before, my main aim was for hubby to see the pyramids, so we stayed in Giza rather than the city centre. However, it’s all close by, so you can get to do everything you need. 

As always, here’s a whistle stop itinerary:

1. See the Giza pyramids, a UNESCO world heritage site. There are 9 pyramids in total (the 3 main large ones are tombs). Treasures found in the pyramids have now been moved into museums. 

Did you know, it took 30 years to build just 1 pyramid! Another fun fact – Napoleon came to try and find the treasures but found nothing, other than the Sphinx (as they’d already been moved already) – so in true Napoleon style, he took the nose of the Sphinx!

Whilst at the pyramids, you can choose to have a camel ride which takes you right up to the pyramids (which I opted to do on our second visit there). At the end of your ride, the tour guide will take you to see their Soukh, which was quite interesting, on the many ways to use their scents and what the different names and smells meant:

Lotus flower is a symbol of love, and is used in many hotels to absorb bad smells (such as smoking areas)

Queen nefititi (nefi to mean “pretty”; titi – meaning “more than others”). It’s said that the Queen made her own scent from 20 different flowers. 

King Ramses II – he used over 100 flowers to make his scent as he had 100 wives!

Secret of the desert – this had 7 different flowers and was unisex. When sprayed, it smelt different on men & women – that’s the secret! We tried it, and it did actually smell different on hubby & I!

All of these essences, when added to alcohol, is then what makes your French perfume. Fascinating right! 

2. See the Sphinx by the pyramids, which was there to guard the tombs. You will indeed see the nose gone!

3. Take a day-trip to the city. A private taxi to take you round is relatively cheap so I’d opt for this, and the drivers are knowledgeable to give enough information to learn the history. 

4. Whilst on your day trip, visit the golden city where Egyptian cotton is made. Then on to the Coptic area, old Town, which encompasses 9 churches (Christian / Orthodox). Behind these churches you’ll find Ben Ezra Synagogue, which is where Moses was put in a basket and left on the River Nile (unfortunately this area is now under construction so no longer water). As a Christian, this really drew my attention and I felt humbled to be there. I can assure you, you’ll really immerse yourself in the history with this city. 

5. Drive on to Citadel square, where you’ll find the Citadel, which was Mohammed Ali mosque (if you’ve been to Istanbul, you’ll notice a resemblance to the blue mosque). 

6. For the rich, consider staying in the “Garden city“, which is the expensive area, having luxury brands such kempinski, four seasons

As you can see, I was fascinated by this city, and so very pleased I did it a second time to learn more (especially being at the spot where Moses was left). It’s on my wish list to do the Christian tour (Bethlehem, Jersulem, Israel), but it might be a while till I tick that off my bucket list given the current climate. 

I hope Cairo gets on travel list if it wasn’t already. 

For now, we’ll say goodbye and I really hope you’ll spy me in another country next month!! (Follow @justAsktina_travels to find out!)

Tina Benson
T&T Consultancy

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