Crossroads senior web editor Judy Koutsky arrived in Cairo Jan.
29 to begin a two-week adventure in Egypt, sponsored by Wild Women
Adventures. Armed with a laptop and digital camera, she is
sending on-site reports and photographs back to Crossroads' New
Jersey headquarters on a daily basis (or whenever she can get an
Internet connection). Agents who have questions or advice for Judy
during her trip can send email to [email protected]
CAIRO, Egypt -- Today we flew back to Cairo. I think I've flown
more in these past two weeks than I've flown in a year; this
morning's was the seventh flight of the trip. Although the flights
are all relatively quick (about an hour apiece), the packing,
unpacking and waiting at the airport is catching up to me. I'm
trying to cover as much of Egypt as I can, to get an overview of
the country, but it might not be a bad idea to have clients keep
the number of destinations reasonable, so they don't burn out.
This morning was spent visiting Old Cairo and Islamic Cairo. The
first stop was the Citadel, an imposing, medieval fortress
comprising three mosques and an assortment of museums. The Citadel and the minarets of
Mohammad Ali's mosque tower high above the Cairo skyline and are
breathtaking to view from a distance. Mohammad Ali's mosque, with
its beautifully decorated walls and ceiling, is the most popular
We could hear the Call to Prayer as we took off our shoes to
enter the mosque. The Call to Prayer, signaling Muslims to pray,
can be heard five times a day at mosques throughout Egypt. It's a
beautiful chant, and I've come to appreciate being woken by the
sound in the morning. Should clients turn up at the Mohammad Ali
mosque inappropriately dressed (knees and shoulders must be
covered), the mosque custodians will give them a flowing green robe
to wear over their clothes. However, in this part of town, it's
best to dress on the conservative side during one's stay.
We proceeded to the Ben Ezra Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in
Cairo, and a Christian Coptic church. It's interesting how this
part of town is laid out: There are little alleyways branching off
the main road in both directions, enabling Muslims, Jews and Christians to find their respective houses of
worship. Considering that up to 90% of the country is Muslim, it's
quite amazing to see such a variety of religions practiced in a
On almost every corner there is a cafe where men smoke
shisha pipes (water pipes) and socialize with friends.
This is a great place to meet and talk with locals while sampling
the numerous varieties of teas and coffees offered.
The afternoon was spent at the Egyptian Museum, which contains some
of the world's most extraordinary antiquities. It's recommended
that tourists visit the museum twice: once at the beginning of
their trip, to familiarize themselves with Egypt's ancient history,
and once at the end, to appreciate all that they've seen.
More than 100,000 relics and antiquities from every period of
ancient Egyptian history can be found here. Highlights include the
Mummy Room, New Kingdom tombs and, of course, the famous artifacts
from King Tutankhamon's tomb. I'd been looking forward to seeing
these artifacts since visiting Tutankhamon's tomb in the Valley of the Kings.
This collection of over 1,700 objects found in the small tomb is
simply astonishing. Included in the display are the pure-gold
coffin in which Tutankhamon was buried (the actual mummy still lies
in his tomb in Luxor) and the funeral mask that is inlaid with
Most of the second floor of the museum showcases the boy-king's
The Citadel is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but the museums
close at 4:30 p.m. Admission is 20 pounds (about $7).
The Egyptian Museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission is 20 pounds (about $7). Permission to use cameras
(without flash) costs an additional 10 pounds (about $3); otherwise
cameras must be left at the entrance. Use of a video camera costs
about 100 pounds (about $33). While visitors are free to roam the
museum on their own, official guides will take clients around for
about 40 pounds (about $13) per hour.
Wild Women Adventures: 107 N. Main Street,
Sebastopol, CA 95472. Phone: (800) 992-1322. Web: www.wildwomenadv.com. Email: [email protected]