Well, to begin. today is not a good day to enjoy much of anything. My body is in agony from doing the pyramids yesterday. Partly, it is a sign of the deterioration of my physical being, and part it was really hard going up tons of stairs and then down long tunnels hunched over practically in half. In any case, pretty much every footstep hurt, and every step up or down stairs agony. So this was not the ideal day to go to the Egyptian Museum which has a lot of stairs!
My original plan had been to go to Islamic Cairo in part because — no steps! But setting out at around 9am on a Friday morning (their “Sunday”), well it was like a post-apocolyptic city, for all there were people around. An empty Cairo is much more frightening than a full one. So I decided to reverse routes and head to the museum.
Before I even began, you have to go through 2 x-ray walk-throughs, and then they search your bags for cameras. I would not have brought my camera at all (since you have to have them hold it) but since my original intent had been somewhere else, I had it in my bag. Fortunately, their idea of a bag search is not that extensive, and I got through without a problem. I did see one guy taking a photograph and he didn’t get caught, but I shudder to think what would have happened if he was. They had a lot of guards with a lot of guns there. Big guns.
The museum is a complete assault against the senses. There are tons of stuff everywhere, and very little of it organized in a well-labeled way. I’m sure it makes sense to some PhDs somewhere, but for the rest of us its just a mass of similar-type figurines here there, a bunch of funerary statues there.
Only three of the rooms there are air conditioned, which interestingly were also the rooms that had the best labeling. I spent a lot of time in these rooms. It was probably in the low 90s in the rest of the museum and high 70s in these rooms. Unfortunately, one guy decided to sit in one of the rooms and just chant out islamic prayers for hours on end (so far as I could tell), which was really really annoying. The Tutenkahmen section was really cool, though, and I enjoyed that a lot.
THe stuff there is really neat, but it really is so much it just is hard to take in.
Very few of the cases have labels at all, it’s just a HUGE mosh of stuff that you need a guide to tell you anything about. But even the guides rush through, pointing out only a few things here and there. Interestingly, there were guides for just about every language under the sun, but I think I only heard one English-speaking guide the entire time I was there. Lots of French and Japanese guides, and a number of Scandanavian speaking guides. And the people, so freaking many of them! At times you couldn’t even push your way through a hallway.
The museum is, if nothing else, a bastian of western dress. Most people who travel to Egypt, I have to assume, have been advised against wearing shorts, mini-mini skirts, tank tops, and bathing suit tops. If so, everyone at the museum ignored that advice.
I walked back from the museum (it should be a 15 minute walk) but got a little lost. I compensated by stopping in a McDonalds and getting a soft-ice cream sundae.
OK, I seriously need to go and pass out now. Unfortunately they have prayer stuff on loudspeakers on all the streets for the next 2 hours, but I’m not sure even that will keep me up!
Tomorrow I leave for Abu Simbel and Aswan…
Tags: Africa, Cairo, Egypt, Museum, Travel