Thursday, May 13, 2010

Egypt – Antiquities Museum

11 hour overnight flight makes Josh and Mary's bodies very confused, but at least the pickup from the hotel worked correctly and was without incident (1 for 3 on the trip).

Cairo is a dirtier city than we're used to after China, but thinking back on India it doesn't seem that bad. There isn't dirt, plastic, and cow poop all over. And let's face it, when you live near a desert, you're going to get sand everywhere.

The hotel staff suggested a couple of possible itineraries for our stay in Cairo. One involved taking the overnight train to/from Luxor, which we had considered. Luxor is actually Thebes, and one of the historic capitals of Egypt. It's also home to the Valley of the Kings, and the enormous temple complex of Karnak, which maybe is supposed to rival Angkor Wat in size. Mary wasn't feeling too well, and we didn't feel too keen on spending consecutive nights on sleeping on trains after spending the night on the plane. We were sure that we wanted to visit the Egyptian Antiquities Museum, and thought we might spend one of our precious three days in Egypt resting, so we wanted to make sure we hit both the (great) Pyramids and the Museum.

From Cairo

The Museum belongs to the warehouse style of museuming, which is rather unfortunate. There's an awful lot to see, and not a lot of text explaining anything. This is one of the few times on this trip I really wish I had a tour guide (there were some touting outside of course, but I don't trust them as a rule). The official guides who really seemed to know what they were talking about were only available to large tour groups. The first floor housed an impressive collection of stelae, sarcophogi, and statues. There was also a Rosetta stone (wikipedia claims that this is a replica sent by the British Museum in lieu of the real thing). It didn't really look that much like the Rosetta stone we saw in the British Museum. Alas, I cannot show you pictures of these things, as cameras were prohibited.

The second floor contains the highlights. Tutenkamen and Mummies. We actually passed on the mummies, as it was another $20 per person, and neither of us were that interested; we've seen mummies, there were lots of them at the British Museum. Tutankamen was amazing though. You've maybe seen it somewhere in the US when it was on tour (Mary was around 8 when she saw it in Portland), surrounded by hundreds of people, all pushing their way to the front. We got minutes of alone time with the mask. It was awesome. The mask, jewelry, and sarcophagus, and various outer layers (there were 4 or 5 gold boxes around the sarcophagus) are spectacular. There were fewer than 20 people in the room with us at any time.

After our face time with King Tut, Josh explored the minor offerings of the second floor while Mary sat around wondering why lack of sleep was making her feel so awful. As became clear a couple hours later, Mary had her first bad case of traveler's diarrhea (and vomiting, basically the works), which is probably why she was feeling so lousy. Over the counter antibiotics in Egypt came to the rescue. Glad we weren't on that overnight train to Luxor!

1 comment:

  1. i took the train to luxor as an overnight trip and as a day trip. the day trip was much preferrable to me. it took all day but it was like going through a countries living room, very interesting views. i think of egypt as a linear country, i.e., most of the prople in egypt live along the nile, and the train takes you through the middle of it.