Unkown Soldier Memorial
Heliopolis is a wealthy neighborhood and where many of the Egyptian Military Memorials and headquarters are located and one of the prominent things to do in Heliopolis is the Unknown Soldier Tomb at the Main El Nasr Road. the pyramid shaped memorial was erected by the late beloved egyptian president Anwar Sadat in 1974 to honor all the egyptian soldiers who fell during the October War of 1973 (known as the Yom Kippur War of 1973 in Israel). Anwar Sadat was also buried here in 1981 after being assasinated by an egpytian soldier.
the monument is open to the public from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm everyday and lies a short drive away from the city stars mall.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Historical Travel
Intercontinental Hotel in City Stars Center
Having lots of time while shopping in City Stars Center, we decided to visit the Ritzy Intercontinental Hotel Heliopolis, which is part of the City Stars Complex (they have a more budget friendly holiday Inn Hotel and a luxe Staybridge Suites hotel in the complex too) and is connected by a passageway in the basement to the hotel. the lobby of the hotel is opulent and is done in Egyptian Pharaonic Style and the hotel has 790 rooms divided into standard, deluxe and suites. it has several restaurants that serve world class food and it was a pity that we had a lack of time to eat in one. They also have a casino which is only available for Non Muslim Guests.Related to:
- Luxury Travel
- Spa and Resort
- Food and Dining
City Stars Center: Largest Mall of Egypt
This will be my things to do tips for City Stars Center
City Stars Centre is a large Mixed Use Commercial and Shopping and Residential Complex in the Heart of Nasr City in Heliopolis District of Cairo. The City Stars Centre is the anchor of the complex and is the largest shopping mall in all of egypt, occupying more than 151,000 square meters in retail space and more than 650 stalls, two large food courts, several restaurants, a Large Spinney's Supermarket and coffee shops and hotels like the Intercontinental Hotel and Holiday Inn. It is patterned after the shopping complexes of Dubai and South East Asia. You can spend a day going around the mall and shop and eat, and hang around the Intercontinental Hotel Nearby.
Mon - Wed: 10:00 am - 12:00 am
Thu - Fri: 10:00 am - 1:00 am
Sat - Sun: 10:00 am - 12:00 amRelated to:
- Business Travel
- Food and Dining
- Luxury Travel
Oils and Perfumes and Essences Testing
as most tours around Cairo and Giza leads to stops at the Fragrance and Oils and Essences shops, many of these shops have private testing and teaching 101 on how the various oils and essences are mixed to produce the wonderful aromatic fragrances that egypt is known for since the ancient times. many of these essences are imported but are extracted and mixed at the factories around egypt and these demonstrations show how to mix the pure oils with alcohol to make colognes, eau de toilette and aftershaves. they also let you smell and put into your hands the various fragrances they make (both local and their copy of the famous fragrances of Calvin Klein, YSL, Hermes, Guy Laroche, Lacoste, DKNY and more). after these aromatic demonstrations, you will now be tempted to buy!Related to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Arts and Culture
- Luxury Travel
once you are into one of the many papryus shops in Cairo and Giza, they would do a demonstration on how papryus is processed into the parchment which is then used for painting, diaries, stationaries and even wallets. papyrus making demonstrations lasts for 5 minutes (see my video here on the actual demonstration). first, the outer fibers are peeled away and the core of the stalk and sliced into very thin strips that are as broad as possible. Then the papyrus strips are next soaked in water to remove the sugar content. after that, they are removed from the water and dried. the dried papryus strips are cut to the desired length.Next, the papyrus strips are pounded and the excess water drained away, after which they are placed side by side, overlapping slightly. A second set of papyrus strips are placed at right angles to the first, again overlapping slightly. They are then polished with cloths to dry and then you can now write into the papryus parchments.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Arts and Culture
In the Coptic Cairo there is also a cemetery that contains a very small and nice curch, at the beginning we thought it was the virgin Mary church cause of the many rapresentations of the virgin. In the cemetery which is worth a short visit the graves are all decorated with angels, saints, crosses, it is said to be one of the orettiest cemeteries in all Egypt.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Religious Travel
El Nasir Mosque
At the opposite side of the Mohamed Ali mosque there is the smaller El Nasir mosque which I enjoyed more as it was poorer I mean not as much decorated as the other one.
This one was built between 1318 and 1335 by Mohamed El Nasir. The minarets have domes with brightly colored decorations in Persian style.Related to:
- Religious Travel
The Cairo Tower is a free-standing concrete tower located in Cairo, Egypt. At 187 m (614 ft), it has been the tallest structure in Egypt and North Africa for 50 years. It was the tallest structure in Africa for 10 years, until 1971 when it was surpassed by Hillbrow Tower in South Africa.
it stands in the Zamalek district on Gezira Island in the River Nile, close to Downtown Cairo.
There's a plenty of restaurants up there with an amazing view but you pay for the view not the food!!!
20 pounds for Egyptian - 70 pounds for non Egyptian
Day 9 - Return to Bahareya
We packed up camp for the last time and were all set to leave when my prophecy from the previous day became an unfortunate reality. The battery on the Land Cruiser was dead and we needed a jump start. Luckily the whole of Bahareya seemed to be driving past our camp at this stage, so we simply flagged down a passing friend of Mohammed and we were soon on our way. We drove fairly quickly and uneventfully back to El Bawity.
The final leg of our desert trip was an hour long camel ride on some particularly reluctant and not very well kept camels with makeshift uncomfortable wooden saddles and no blankets. Uncomfortable both physically and emotionally for me, as the camels appeared to be very unhappy. Not the experience I wanted from my first camel ride, and not one I would repeat unless I could be sure the camels were better kept.
The afternoon and evening were spent at the hotel, eating, lazing in the sun, spending some time reading and cuddling the sleepy cats. A group of French tourists had checked into the hotel since we'd been in the desert, so dinner was a bit more lively. We chatted to Amy about eveything from horror movies to religion, then she offered to take us across the road to a Bedouin party which we could hear going on. We were interested to experience this, as it was a local party, not generally open to tourists. When we arrived, it was clear that the Bedouin women were not invited to this particular gathering. Amy defiantly strode in announcing to us that she was a Muslim woman, not a Bedouin woman and didn't stand for such disrespectful behaviour towards the women in the village. Germaine Greer has nothing on this woman! The format of the party was that men of all ages from the village (and us) arrived, left their shoes at the door, and sat on the ground around the edge of what appeared to be a dance floor, drinking Bedouin tea from low ornately carved wooden tables and smoking. A live band came on with some slightly more upbeat than the traditionally Bedouin music, and as the rhythm started to take hold, individual men stood up to express themselves through dance. Other men applauding any particularly impressive dance moves. To our western eyes, a culture where real men do not dance, this looked strange, but they were having a great time. The favourite move appeared to be 'dancing with the stick'. There was a long staff being passed around to anyone who felt the need to dance with a pseudo partner, and they would lean on the stick for support (both physical and moral) Rob was offered to dance, but he only dances when he is really, really drunk, and as Bedouin tea was all that was on offer, he politely declined. It was a very interesting experience though, and one I feel honoured to have been a part of. Out of respect I didn't take any pictures, which I regret a little, but I have my memories.
Day 8 - The White Desert
We left the Black Desert behind and drove on into the White Desert in search of more desert tourist spots. Mainly, we saw some rocks in the desert. All very impressive but rocks, still and not very memorable. We stopped for lunch at the kind of oasis you see in old black and white movies. A few densely growing palm trees growing out of one tiny green island in the middle of the barren landscape. I didn't actually think such places existed for real and had always imagined them to be an exaggeration of the film industry, but I was delighted to discover a real life one! We bathed our hot feet in the cool lower spring, and drank from the upper spring. Camels relaxed around the island. It was like a huge desert cliche, which made me smile. We wandered about the area and made the macabre discovery of some human remains, but no-one seemed to now or care what they were or why they were there.
Next stop was the White Desert National Park. The pale sand gave way to white reflective stones resembling ice shining in the sun. It was a curiously confusing sight. The white stone became more dense until it covered the entire area, and huge rock formations resembling animals rose up out of the apparently icy landscape. We camped that night on the edge of the National Park, as it was. Amy left her music playing in the Land Cruiser, Mohammed hooked up a light to the battery. I voiced my concern that we might not want to do that, but I was told it was fine. After dinner, a cacophony of screeching came out of the pitch dark. It was desert foxes in search of food and some foxy loving! Three of them stumbled into our camp with two of them becoming shamelessly engaged in noisy coitus causing Amy to avert her eyes in embarrassment. Even Rob was a little uncomfortable. The spare fox found the food remains and we realised that our camp had been earmarked as a foxes playground. No-one got much sleep.
Day 7 - The Black Desert
We set off from the hotel after breakfast at about 10.30am. We checked out of the hotel so we didn't have to pay for an unoccupied room, although we would be coming back after the trek. We left some of our luggage in their store room as we wanted to keep some of our stuff clean and dust free. Amy and our two Bedouin guide, or driver, as Amy pointedly referred to him. We started off with a trip to the Museum of the Golden Mummies in El Bawity. This wasn't a museum as we had expected it, but more an old warehouse on a building site with cracked display cases covered with dust displaying mummies probably just as old as the ones we had seen in Luxor, but not treated with quite the same reverence. The 'museum' had to be opened up as we arrived.
Next on the list were the Tombs of the Nobles, which were again opened up for us on our arrival, and seemed to be guarded by 'some random guy'. We noticed that Amy described the stories behind the paintings in the tombs by tapping on them with her Dior sunglasses. In Luxor, even breathing near the artwork is frowned upon! Next stop was Alexander the Great's temple. There's really nothing left of it except a series of small walls at ground level. Finally, we started off for the desert itself!
This trek changed my generalisation of what Bedouin are like. Our driver. Mohammed, was perhaps in his twenties, dressed in Dolce and Gabbana shirt and Armani Jeans and boys will be boys, even in the desert. He didn't speak any English and our Arabic extended to only a few words, but his glee at accelerating up and down the sand dunes as Amy squealed and held on for dear life was comedy to transcend all language barriers. We weren't sure what we had expected from the trek...perhaps a lot more walking rather than driving, but as a taste of the desert it was a good start. This way we got to see everything in the time we had available.
We camped just as sunset was approaching pitching our tents in a rugged moonscape, surrounded by hills which Rob couldn't wait to explore. As night fell (very swiftly) Mohammed cooked up a spectacular BBQ chicken which smelled amazing and tasted every bit as good. We looked up at the trillions of stars and the Milky Way twisting away from us and we felt so free and happy. Whilst the day had been really hot, the temperature fell quickly once the sun disappeared, and we turned in earlier than planned to huddle in the sleeping bags which had been provided by the company. We had brought along liners of our own. By 2am the temperature was so cold that we were wearing most of our clothes, including hats to be able to sleep. A restless night, but by 7am the temperature was starting to rise again, so we were happy to get up.
Day 6 - Luxor-Cairo-Bahareya-El Bawity
Arriving on the 6.55am plane from Luxor into Cairo we were slightly delayed as I suspect my bag arrived on a later plane than I did. Our guide, Amy, was quite worried by the delay, but we eventually found her at the arrivals gate over an hour later than we had agreed. Luckily she waited though. We took the opportunity to withdraw some cash, as we were heading about 3 hours outside of Cairo and didn't know when we would next have access to an ATM.
Once in the jeep, Amy turned out to be a sharp lady. Witty, friendly, knowledgable and really easy to talk to. She explained that she would be our guide on the desert trek, and challenged us to find something wrong with that. She told us that people are often surprised to find a young woman as their desert guide, expecting some gnarled old Bedouin perhaps? We were more than happy to have Amy as our guide though. Perhaps the reason for some people's trepidation is not that they don't believe she can do the job in hand, but that she isn't really the type to seem to want to. She was clearly a city girl, far more at home in Cairo than in the remote Oasis. Her distaste showed through on more than one occasion, but we found it amusing. Halfway through the journey we stopped at a desert road service station which was much like any other service station, selling snacks, drinks, cigarettes and providing toilet facilities. However, the facilities were of the squat variety, so I crossed my legs. Apparently there is another service station with even worse toilets. I thanked my stars that I wasn't desperate! The journey passed relatively easily chatting, sleeping, reading and watching the scenery.
We arrived at the hotel Qasr El Bawity right on schedule, checked in and had a look around. The resort really was a delightful place. As the sun started to sink slowly away we felt relaxed and happy and were encouraged to make ourself at home. Amy acted as our host, so it was like holidaying with a friend. The hotel also had the benefit of a trio of cats who loved nothing more than to cuddle up to anyone who showed them interest. There is nothing that makes me feel more at home than affectionate cats on a trip. I almost didn't want to leave to go on the desert trek the following day. Almost.
Approaching to the pyramides
We were all excited in the bus when first time pyramids appeared in between the houses. The distance was over one kilometer but close enough to see its huge proportions. The several storeys buildings look alike toys comparing to pyramids. Something what was built almost five thousand years ago still standing there as a prove of a human ingenuity.
La Bourse du Caire (1907)
Designed by the renowned French architect Raoul Brandon, this Beaux-Arts-style building was completed in 1907 as the original Cairo Stock Exchange. (Among the architect's numerous works is the impressive Hôtel des Postes in Chartres, France). La Bourse du Caire (Cairo Stock Exchange) was created in 1903, nearly two decades after la Bourse d'Alexandrie, which had been established since 1888. In the 1920's, the Cairo and Alexandria stock exchanges merged together to create the fifth largest stock market in the world. It remained one of world's largest until the end of the 1940s, when Egypt was still considered a wealthy nation. After the fusion of the two stock markets, the exchange moved to a new Art Nouveau edifice (designed by George Parcq) on Cherifein Street in Cairo where it still exists today. Unfortunately, post-revolutionary economic policy decisions have proven disastrous for the country's economy, and its stock market's importance declined significantly after the 1950s. The old exchange building is now occupied by the National Bank for Development.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Cathedral of the Annunciation
The Catholic Armenian Cathedral of the Annunciation is located near the Talaat Harb Street. We just stumbled upon this church when we were looking for a clothing shop near the area. We enetered the very quiet church, in fact, we were the only people there except for the priest and two guys taking photos. There are a lot of lying statues of saints encased in glass on the lower part of each walls.
Entry is free.Related to:
- Historical Travel
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