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The Egyptian Museum, The Citadel, St. George's Church, and the getting lost in the Train Station
Submitted by bugsly on Sunday, February 19, 2006 - 05:27 Car | Core | Egypt | Foreign Language and Music Study | Train | Walk

Today we visited The Egyptian Museum and saw thousands of artifacts from the Old, Middle and New Kingdoms of ancient Egypt. The most interesting exhibit we saw was the jewels of Tutankhamen. It was amazing to see the full gold death mask and nesting doll-like sarcophigi. The sarcophagi fit into a set of enormous nesting doll-like golden chambers protected by four goddesses. We also saw the Canopic Jars that hold his heart, lungs, liver and stomach. It was amazing seeing intact artifacts from this long ago. I thought it was funny to see the preserved remains of the King’s underwear.

We then moved on to The Mummy Room to find people that were about 3000 years old. They still had their hair, eyelashes, teeth and toenails. It’s hard to tell the Kings from the Queens unless you look at the names because they have lost all facial expressions. One mummy even had a snapped off toe!

About two hours later, we met my Dad’s friends, Wael, Rana and their darling daughter. We met them at The Abu El Seed Restaurant in Maadi, a part of Cairo. We sat at big, round table with a lowered center section. Wael ordered a wonderful selection of Egyptian appetizers. It was delicious! We then had the main course and I had a thick chicken and orzo soup that was yummy. The whole center of the table was filled with delicious foods for dinner. After that, Wael ordered yummy desserts which I sampled. It was interesting to learn more about Egyptian culture from Ranna. Since we sat next to each other, I had a good chance to speak with her. It was a great evening!

Next Day –

This morning we met with Hamada and our drivers and headed for The Citadel which is the name of a huge fortress housing palaces, containing a very large and the beautifully ornate Mosque of Mohammad Ali. We removed our shoes before the open outdoor court, and stepped inside onto the shiny tiles of the flooring. We ventured inside the mosque and were stunned by the greatness and simplicity of the beautiful space. We sat on the floor with Hamada and he explained the basics of how a mosque is used by worshippers including how to sit properly, kneel, which direction to face when praying, and how to prepare for prayers. He explained the different parts of the building, the writings on the walls and ceilings. Before we left the Citadel, we got to see the amazing view from the top of the walls. The city of Cairo stretched out all around us as far as you could see.

Next, we stopped in the Coptic area of Cairo, where we saw the Hanging Church which is in the place where the Holy Family were safely sheltered for four years after Jesus was born. The icons inside the church were richly decorated with dark colors and gold leaf. They were beautiful. After the Hanging Church we headed down the road to the Church of Saint George. It is a round church that as we walked inside we could smell the incense of the service from earlier that morning. In the middle of the ceiling at the highest point, there was a gorgeous icon painted in the same rich colors and gold leaf. It was amazing to see the impact of Christianity on Egypt.

We left the Coptic area and headed back to our hotel to get ready to leave on the train for Luxor. We said our goodbyes to Hamada and were off to catch the sleeping train at the Ramses Square train station in Cairo. We arrived at the train station in plenty of time to make our train (Number 82 at 8:30pm). About one half hour before departure, we met a nice man and his son on the train platform. My mom mentioned that we were going to stay at the Sheraton in Luxor if they wanted to meet up to explore together. My Dad then realized that the train across the platform was ours and inconveniently leaving in about two minutes! So we dashed off, losing Mom in the process for nearly 10 minutes. Soon after we tracked each other down, jumped on the train and thought we would be leaving right then. Fifteen minutes later: We were still sitting in the station. Finally the train departed, the cabin steward made up our sleeper beds and we slept through the bumpy track and station lights as we traveled south, along the Nile, through the night to Luxor.

Bugsly


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