Friday, January 14, 2011

Coptic Cairo and the Desert Road

Just a few things to load get moving!

Today was our first chance to see if we could “check out” as well as we “checked in” a few nights ago.  Luggage was loaded up on one of our three buses, and a fourth bus held all the instruments – at least the driver of that bus didn’t have to make a “pit stop” on the way to Alexandria, eh?

View of Pyramids from near our hotel
We departed our stay at the very pleasant Oasis Hotel and headed into Old Cairo – the heart of the old city, also known as “Coptic Cairo.”  

This is truly the heart of Christian Cairo and Egypt’s indigenous Christian community.   It’s a wonderful (and very secured) area that is replete with very old buildings, small walkways, amazing sights and sounds, and many, many churches.  

Among the many things we saw during our visit here were the Coptic Museum, a treasure trove of artifacts from the earliest Christian churches; monastic frescoes featuring the life of Christ, wonderful textiles representing the earliest in church vestments and hangings and more.  One of the more interesting features of this museum is the woodwork – the ceilings are elaborately carved, and one could not help but be in awe of the handwork that took shape during these times.

We visited the “Hanging Church” which is famous for its icons and relics as well as for the fact that it literally “hangs” over the Water Gate of Roman Babylon.  The church itself is like an upside down ark – based on “Noah’s Ark” with a wooden, barrel-vaulted ceiling.   Beautiful woodwork here as well as an amazing history of use.     There was something very special about hearing a children’s choir practicing in this church……………

Final stop was the Ben Ezra Synagogue, the oldest Synagogue in the world, and just a stones’ throw from the Christian and Muslim churches.   Ben Ezra is supposedly built on the site where the Prophet Jeremiah gathered the Jews in the 6th century after Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Jerusalem temple.    This Synagogue is supposedly on the site where Moses’ mother placed him in a reed basket and sent him down the Nile.
All in all, a fascinating visit – a walk through history – and an experience that just might change some lives!  NOTE:  No pictures were allowed during our time in Old, you won't see any on this blog!

Lunch at a heretofore unnamed restaurant (we never know the names of these places!), followed our visit, and this time our chicken was FAB U  LOUS!   Seems to me that everyone agreed that this was our best meal yet!

Outside the restaurant, the Pita bread is made....mmmm good!

Mom will be so proud of my new Egyptian earrings!

Even the Friends are happy!  

Ole is having a FABULOUS time!

Our drive to  Alexandria was a quick one – the first time I’ve actually seen people sleeping in the bus!   Perhaps the heavy eyelids had something to do with the topography being somewhat similar to South Dakota………..flat, brown, and wind-blown!   Three hours alter we arrived at our loding, the Sofitel Hotel in Aleandria.   It’s still pouring rain, but we are on the banks of the Mediterranean, so maybe that’s what it does here! Following lunch, we loaded up for a three hour drive to Alexandria.

Ole thought someone might buy him too............

Our driver, Sam, enjoys Ole on his bus!

A final note before I sign off tonight.   We checked our weather
sites on line this morning and one said, CAIRO:  70 degrees and
blowing sand.   The other said, "ALEXANDRIA:  50 degrees and Sandstorm."   Hmmm, lovely we thought.

Lucky us - we found thunderstorms in Cairo, and even more rain as we drove to Alexandria.   It's a cool, damp night here, but we're in a wonderful hotel overlooking the Mediterranean Sea so....who cares?
You can't SHOVEL rain!!!!!

Below are a couple of views from one of our rooms.

Good night!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Augie Band! This is Gillian Heirigs and I graduated in 2009 and went on the China trip in 2006. I am now working in Parkston, SD as an elementary music teacher and my students are following along with your adventures. Today was the first day I showed them the blog and they are very interested about all of your adventures! Keep up the good work, have lots of fun and make many memories that will truly last a lifetime. We are anxious to hear of your next adventure!

    Much love from the cold grasslands of middle SD.