149

Oct 26, 2002

There are some very popular outdoor cafes on the main street in Tunis, Avenue Habib Bourguiba.  I’ve been hanging our here on a regular basis, mostly to relax and do some people watching, and sometimes for something to eat or drink.  It’s an interesting culture, and you can learn a lot by just sitting quietly and observing.

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148

Oct 18, 2002

I kind of like Tunis.  It’s sort of Africa meets the Mediterranean and the Middle East.  It’s very cosmopolitan.  It’s also very French.  The main street, where all the sidewalk cafes are located, is called Avenue Habib Bourguiba, but its nickname is the “Champs Elysees of Tunis.”

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147

Oct 12, 2002

I’m now in Tunis.  Tangier was great, but I wanted to compare it with another North African city.  So on Monday I left Tangier for Tunis.

Every city is different, but there is one thing that’s similar between these two cities: the medina.  And this is where I headed as soon as I checked into my hotel.

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086

Aug 18, 2001

I’ve been having breakfast every morning at the Nile Hilton because they make fantastic omelettes.  I’ve gotten to know the man behind the table as he whips up these delicious eggs.  His name is Thisseas and he’s originally from Cyprus.  He has been telling me about his country, maybe partly because he misses it.  But his stories made me want to visit a country I had never been interested in visiting in the past.

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085

Aug 9, 2001

I’m not sure why I’m so enamoured with Luxor.  I guess it’s because there is so much history here; the weather is pleasant; the Nile River is fascinating with all its activities; the Mercure is by no means luxurious (‘luxor’ious?), but is still quite comfortable; there’s pretty good food to be found at the hotel and elsewhere around the town; and the people seem to be helpful and accommodating.

But it’s getting to be time to move on.

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084

Aug 4, 2001

The Mercure is a pleasant hotel, and it’s centrally located.  It’s near the Nile and its feluccas (boats), and not far from Karnak, the train station, the market, and Luxor Temple.

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083

Jul 26, 2001

I like Luxor: it’s an interesting place.  I thought I’d just pop down here for a couple of days to see Karnak, and then go back to Cairo, but I’ve changed my mind: I want to spend more time here before returning.

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082

Jul 21, 2001

Travelling around a country by train can be a lot of fun, and I’m finding comparisons interesting as my experiences increase in number.  Ola had told me I really really needed to go down to Luxor.  I talked to the concierge at the Nile Hilton and found out that there is an overnight train every night from Ramses Station, the main train station in Cairo.

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081

Jul 12, 2001

The Nile Hilton in Cairo doesn’t compare with the Burj in Dubai, but it’s still a comfortable hotel.  It’s conveniently located close to the museum and Tahrir Square.  It also sits right along the Nile River, so it’s easy to leave the hotel, and, crossing the street while dodging completely insane drivers and their toy cars, walk along the corniche.

But the pyramids were beckoning!  I took a cab early on Monday morning out to Giza.  The pyramids are easy to get to: they sit right on the outskirts of Cairo.

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080

Jul 6, 2001

I’ve been firmly ensconced in comfort back at the Burj in Dubai for a few days after my exhausting visits to Bahrain, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, and Turkey.  What a lark!

I’m debating on what I want to do next.  Return to Bangkok?  Or figure out if there are any more places I want to see in this part of the world before I leave?

I voted for B. And that is why I’m now in Egypt!

And staying at the Nile Hilton in Cairo.

I arrived here on the ever-fantastic Emirates Airlines on Monday evening after spending the weekend in Dubai.  I chose the Nile Hilton because it had been recommended by friends, and it’s very close to the Egyptian Museum.  One of the first things I did after settling in at the Hilton was to check out this extraordinary museum.  I did this yesterday, on Tuesday, my first full day in Cairo.

It’s technically called the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities.  Although the building is old and showing its age, and is not a great space in my opinion, what it has in terms of contents far outweighs the actual building.

The items on the ground floor are conveniently arranged in chronological order, going in a clockwise direction from the main entrance.  Here I saw the statues of Akhenaten, Rameses II, Meritamun II, Pepy I, Khafra, Kai, and Djoser.  There was also a bust of Thutmose III among tons of other stuff.  Those were just some of the highlights on the ground floor.

The upper floor is arranged thematically.  King Tutankhumun’s rooms are on this floor, as well as the royal mummies and the jewellery rooms.  King Tutankhumun’s golden mask and his golden throne are two of the most popular things to see on this floor.  But there were other interesting things here, including another golden mask (Psusennes I), the mummy of Hatshepsut, and the coffin of Yuya.

There is so much to see in this museum, that I think you could probably spend days there.  But there are other things I want to see in Cairo, so I limited my visit to the museum to just one day.

When I was finished there I treated myself to a massage at the Hilton.  They have quite a nice spa and fitness center.  After this I ordered a nice meal of Egyptian food from room service and rested in my room.  The massage and excellent meal helped me to recuperate from my flight and from the long day of tramping around the museum and trying to absorb everything I was seeing.