Diana Lawrenson

— Writer —

Diana Lawrenson Pages to Places Blog

Welcome to my blog that takes you from pages to places. Come and discover some quirky, little-known, or loose-but-relevant links from books to places around the world. You might even like to add a book suggestion of your own to the topic.

30 September 2016 | Cairo, Egypt

CAIRO, THE UNEXPECTED.

River Nile, CairoCairo wasn’t the least what I’d expected. But then, it has always been a place of discovery, whether in the desert or amongst the dense mass of buildings.

The city teems with traffic and pedestrians. Cars parked kerbside, bumper to bumper beneath a dust-coated canopy of trees, are dinted back and front thanks to their drivers’ extrication manoeuvres. From our hotel we looked down on myriad flat-topped houses where roofs appeared to serve as general storage areas or as outdoor sleeping places on hot nights.

The Nile, far wider than I’d imagined, is traversed by bridges and navigated by feluccas, ferries and tour boats. Its route has changed since ancient times, demonstrated by a well said to mark the spot Moses was found as a baby – now hundreds of metres from the river’s current course.

We watched ‘papyrus’ being made – from banana skins rather than papyrus. We wandered through the lanes Felucca on Nile, Cairoof the great bazaar, the Khan al-Khalili, crammed with vendors eager to sell clay pots, embroidered Egyptian cotton, leather goods or gold. And we visited the Cairo Museum, home not only to mummified pharaohs but also to boomerangs recovered from their tombs – weapons I thought had been made and used solely by Australian Aborigines.

At Giza, a metropolis in its own right some five kilometres from Cairo, housing is now within full view of the great pyramids and the Sphinx. And while it was moving to see the pyramids alongside the excavated and reconstructed Pharaoh’s boat in the Khufu Museum, I discovered the Sphinx has a huge and weathered leonine body when photographs so often make it appear a great bust. Perhaps I should have known. But plenty remains unknown around Giza and Cairo, waiting to be discovered by tourists, archaeologists and readers.

A FEW BOOKS CONNECTED WITH CAIRO

  • Palace Walk by Naquib Mahfouz (Egyptian Nobel Laureate)
  • Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
  • The Cairo Jim series by Geoffrey McSkimming (children)
  1. As enjoyable as always Diana. Amazing about the boomerangs!

    1. Thanks, Corinne. I did a double-take when I saw one framed on the wall by a mummy.

  2. I love Egypt and you describe it exactly as I saw it over twenty years ago. I thought it strange to see the pyramids so close to housing. I rode on a camel and went inside the smallest pyramid thinking I might have a spiritual experience but I didn’t! I feel I have a connection to this lovely country. Thanks so much for writing about Egypt and taking me back in time.

    1. I’d love to know what it was like inside the pyramid, Elise, as I didn’t go in. Next time we meet…

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