Cairo, Eilat, Ein Gedi, Jerusalem

I will write about everything since the last time I wrote (which was the first day in Cairo, a Thursday last week).



We visited the Museum of Egyptain History (it's not called that, but that is what it is). It was interresting. We also visited the Coptic erea of Cairo and went to the Hanging Chruch (it's called that because there is nothing underneath it).


We drove to Isreal with a bus. First our driver broke down and a passenger drove. Next we switched into another bus. This bus broke down. We switched back into the bus with our sick driver. Next we switched to another bus, and that one got us all the way there. We went to Eilat and swam in the Red Sea.


We stayed in The Shelter Hostel, they have a Bible Study every day. A few Jews, but mostly tourists attend. They have a minister from America.


We got our rental car and drove to Ein Gedi. We stopped in Timna Park where we saw a reconstruction of the Tabernacle. There where also lots of natural formations like arches and pillars. It was very fun to climb those things.


We started with a swim in the Dead Sea. You float no matter what you do, the feeling is funny. Next we went to the Ein Gedi Park. We had a nice walk and lots of swims (because it is really hot here). There are 4 springs in the park, the David Spring was very long with about 6 swimming places. After walking through a dessert in 40 degrees, it's nice to swim.


We went to the park early and stayed there the whole day. We walked a lot more than the previous day. We went up the cliffs to the source of the David spring and passed 2 other springs on the way and swam. In the afternoon we drove to Jerusalem.


We went into the old city and walked around it. There are many small streets and shops line the roads. We also went to the Garden Tomb, which is an old tomb in a garden, a place like the one Jesus would have been buried in.


We walled around half of the old city wall built by Suleman about 500 years ago to stop another Crusade. I went to the Great Synagogue with my mum to look around, it was a large place. The way they worship is interresting, with a lot of movement like standing, bowing, and turning around.


We walked around the second half of the wall. We were planning to go to the beach close to Tel Aviv, but the carpark was closed beause it is Shabbat (Jewish Sabbath).

The Coptic area

After leaving the museum, we were immediately accosted by people offering us a taxi. We needed a five person one and we knew the price, so not everyone was interested, but one was. He was a Coptic Christian himself he said. It least his tax looked like it:

I think the taxi driver took a bit of a detour, so we saw two famous mosques on our way. He offered to take us to them, but we told him we had no interest in seeing one from the inside.

I think this is the most famous one, called The Citadel or so:

Here the Coptic area:

Inside the Coptic church. The impression I got was that it was basically Romish, praying to saints, body parts of saints on display, etc.

We were a bit up on another church there, when the call to prayer started. This was a Friday of course, and the Ramadan, but at least 5, and I think more, times a day you here incessant blaring through loudspeakers across the whole city, calling the faithful to pray. They do that everywhere actually, in their shop, they have a specially reserved area in restaurants, religion and culture here mix like nothing else in the world. But anyway, hopefully this gives some indication how it sounds:

Clearly we have only God to thank we were not born a muslim or having to live in muslim areas. His providence has been exceedingly mercyful.

Our taxi-driver wanted to wait, for only a small fee so he brought us back. Here a photo that shows a little bit how crazy driving here is:

Or with four people on a motor bike:

The Egyptian museum

Friday September 4 was our second and last day in Cairo. Here a shot of our room. Basic, but enough. And helpful people here at the Brothers Hostel. But, as with anything here in Egypt, every piece of help has a price. But the accommodation was the cheapest we could find:

Here the elevator, really something from the 1930s:

In the morning, well about 11am..., we went to the Egyptian museum:

The museum was just absolutely chock-full of statues, sarcophagi, and stelae. The museum covers Egypt from before the 1st dynasty, till the last, up to the graeco-roman period.


And the most important artefact for me, the famous Merneptah Stele, or Israel stele. I'm not sure I photographed the right side, as my knowledge of hieroglyphics is wanting, but this is the right stele:

This stele was found by Flinders Petrie, and was the first reference outside the Bible about Israel. The discovery made headlines in the English newspapers of that time. Sir Flinders Petrie is supposed to have remarked after the find:

"Won't the reverends be pleased?"

Made it to the pyramids, but barely

As the following story contains a few unpleasant details, those of tender disposition should just look at the pictures...

On Wednesdaynight 21:20 we arrived in Cairo. It was hot, probably above 30℃ still. We are staying at the hostel brothers in the centre of Cairo. Because we stayed for 3 nights, they picked us up at the airport. The driving style here beats anything in this world, and yes, we've been in Paris, Rome, New York and Mexico City. There's nothing like it here. Everyone just drives where they please. There are lane markers, sometimes, but they're not used. So 4 lanes get turned in 5 or 6 lanes, just depending on how much gap the driver thinks he sees. There's also a fair amount of smog, but not like Mexico City. About 11:00 we arrived at the hotel. The kids were very tired, so they went straight to bed. Dad and mum went to an ATM on the corner. On the way back Dad bought an ice-cream.

The next morning Dad wasn't feeling to well. Some cramps. For breakfast he got some coffee, and a little bread, but then felt that things were not going down well. But he managed to reach his room and the toilet in his room in time. It also appeared he had a severe form of diarrhoea, the worst kind, pure water... Was it the ice cream? Or something else? Auke had been sick on Monday, Ida on Tuesday, so perhaps it was just Dad's turn.

But I felt a lot better after having disposed of the invading elements. And just not sick enough to stay in his room for a day, so we decided to stick with our plans to visit the pyramids. The hostel had arranged a cab and a guide. We passed the Nile, where the cab stopped so we could take a picture.

And then we saw the pyramids from the motorway, already an impressive sight. By the way, roads here are used by anything, from cars to camels, to asses.

The cab brought us to a place where we could hire camels and horses to go the pyramids. Glad we did that, and didn't walk. The heat was very impressive.

After some haggling we were able to secure two camels and two horses for a total of 1280 Egyptian pounds (339 NZD). That's not cheap, like a lot of things here are not cheap. You constantly get the feeling you pay the tourist price. So there we went, Ida and AnneRoos on a camel, Auke on a camel, and I and Dieuwe each on a horse. At the checkpoint we had to get off:

After a ride through the desert, we were there, it wasn't that steep, I think our guide just held the camera at the wrong angle.

We got off the camels once more. It's very interesting to see how the camels kneel. And you have to lean back, because when it does that, it is steep!

And yes, wel all found the pyramids:

I was still feeling quite well, I was afraid I would have to go the toilet in the middle of the desert, but no. The only thing was the heat, it is indeed very very hot.

The pyramids are very close to Cairo, just a few hundred metres of its edge actually.

The most left pyramid clearly shows there are some smaller pyramids next to it. It's not really for whom they are, but they are commonly called the queen pyrammids.

The head dresses Auke and Dieuwe bought, made them look really good on this occassion:

Not us, but this is what we would have looked like:

After we had arrived at the Great Pyramid and looked around a bit, the cramps returned. I had to seek some place behind a rock, and empty my stomach for the second time. You would think my dear wife would supply comfort and soothing words, but she got away as far as possible and started to take pictures. If you click on the picture, you get a bigger version and you can just make out Auke and Dieuwe at the bottom.

Luckily that was the last time, in the afternoon I already felt better, had my first real meal in the evening, and was in perfect health the next day. No idea what this had been.

And then on to the Sphynx:

It was built to protect the pyarmids, not that it helped, robbers got inside them all.

Yes, these kids got close:

And then it was time to back. Here Auke getting off the camel, after the camel really goes dow onto its knees:

That were the pyramids. The next stop was papyrus making.


De vlucht naar Cairo ging heel voorspoedig. We werden opgewacht door de Hostel Brothers met een bordje: Brothers-Berend. ALs je een min van 2 nachten bij hun bleef, dan haalden ze je gratis van het vliegveld. Echt een service. De ene Arabier nam ons mee naar buiten waar zijn auto stond. Ondertussen zijn 'broer' gebeld, die er toen met zijn auto aankwam. Buiten was het warm.....en je voelde je meteen in een andere wereld. Zand, zand, oude auto's met een stoffige laag. Maar gelukkig hadden de broers goede auto's (volgens mij zelfs nog zonder deuken). Er zijn geen stoplichten en op 2-baans wegen maken ze er rustig 4-baans van, wat met veel toeteren best lukt. We Het was ook extra druk savonds om 9.30, dat kwam door de Ramadan. We merken nu dat het midden in de Ramadan is, zodat het overdag heel rustig is en iedereen tot leven komt na zonsondergang.

Het hostel lag midden in Cairo en we waren erg blij met onze 2 arabische helpers. Ze waren zeer behulpzaam en loodsten ons zelfs in het liftje naar de 4e verdieping waar we zouden overnachten. Voor Euro 7 per nacht, inclusief ontbijt en vliegveld pick-up! De kamers zijn ook heel simpel, maar de bedden goed en schoon. Na lekker geslapen te hebben (met airco aan! - het is hier echt 30 graden dag en nacht) werd ons om half 9 ontbijt geserveerd. Ieder kreeg 2 lange broodrollen met de keuze uit kaas en jam, koffie,thee, sap. Genoeg voor een goede bodem. De 'broers' vroegen wat we wilden gaan doen. We kwamen hier om de piramides te zien, dus dat werd ook door hen snel geregeld. Om 9 uur kwam er een busje voor 5 personen voorgereden. Een van de 'broers' ging mee als gids. Zo werden we rondgereden, we reden langs de oevers van de Nijl. Er was heel veel te zien onderweg: de Nijl, ezelskarren, vrouwen met voedsel op hun hoofd die gewoon rustig de snelweg oversteken. Na ongeveer 20 min. zagen we de gigantische piramides al aan de horizon. Zeer indrukwekkend, die staan daar dus al viereneenhalf duizend jaar. We werden naar een kamelenboer gereden en daar kon het onderhandelen beginnen.....Eerst kregen we allemaal binnen drinken: Alsjeblieft, geniet van onze Egyptische gastvrijheid. Dus wij blikje cola, 7-up, thee gedronken. Toen konden we dus kiezen wat we wilden. Een korte rit op kamelen of paarden, een medium of een lange. Uiteindelijk werd de Egyptenaar weggestuurd en kwam onze gids overleggen. Hij adviseerde om voor de prijs van de korte een lange te regelen. De Egyptenaar kwam weer terug en vertelde dat we hem onthoofden en dat hij het voor zo'n lage prijs nooit kon doen. Volgens ons viel dat wel mee. Dus uiteindelijk alles geregeld en begonnen we aan onze kamelentocht. Anne Roos en ik gingen samen op een kameel, Auke ging alleen en Berend en Dieuwe namen het paard, halverwege zouden we wisselen. Het zat wel erg hoog op zo'n kameel en je moet je goed vasthouden! Maar het was zeker de moeite waard om eens te voelen hoe zo'n 'schip van de woestijn' aanvoelt. Niet te geloven dat mensen hier dagen mee op reis kunnen! Ons eerste uur voerde ons door de woestijn met uitzicht op de piramides. We hadden 2 gidsen bij ons en ons eerste doel was een heuvel waar we een goed overzicht over de grote en kleinere piramides en de Sfinx hadden.

Onze gids had een goed gevoel voor foto's maken, hij heeft dus die foto's gemaakt waar we op een heuvel staan en allerlei rare handbewegingen moeten verrichten om de piramide aan te wijzen of vast te pakken. Na weer op de kameel gestegen te zijn gingen we richting de middelste piramde om die aan te raken.

Voor vandaag stop ik, misschien gaat morgen het verhaal verder. Maar het is gewoon te veel om alles in detail op te schrijven. Na de piramedes naar een papyrus fabriek geweest: demonstratie over papyrus maken en beschilderen (heel mooi schilderij gekocht met onze namen in hieroglyfen geschilderd). Nog rondgelopen langs de Nijl, Egyptische falafel gegeten.

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