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    CLAIREINPARIS   50,502
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Cairo visit – Part 3


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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Hello dear Sparkfriends,

This blog covers Wednesday, with the visit in the afternoon of some amazing old Muslim and Christian (Coptic) buildings in Cairo.
When I arrived at our office on the morning, there was a special gift waiting for me... Well, two special gifts really: some cantaloupe (very tasty!) and Egyptian pastries. Oh la la!!!



You can find similar pastries throughout the Middle East and North Africa, but these were especially awesome. (No, don’t worry, I didn’t eat them all, I tried to practice mindful eating... but hum, I did enjoy a few more than what my ‘hunger’ was telling me!!!) emoticon



With two of my colleagues, we then left to visit a nearby French private school we work with, attending a kindergarten show (that was sooo cute!) with little girls singing in Arabic and in French...



I was asked to say a few words in French to older students. When I watched the video my colleague Mumtaz took of this, I couldn’t believe how much my hands move when I talk!!!



Then it was time for some touristic fun! My colleague Lois, who is American but has been living in Egypt for 20 years, first took me to the Mosque of Ibn Tulun, the oldest in Cairo in its original form (it was consecrated in 884).



If you are a James Bond fan, you might recognize it: parts of the film ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ were filmed here! I know some of you like to have more information about the places you see in my blogs. Here you can read a little more about this famous mosque:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mo
sque_of_Ibn _Tulun


Lois and I walked up the minaret...



to look at the view on the mosque itself...



on life in the streets...



on the buildings nearby...



I am badly afraid of heights (although I cannot say I get scared, but I start shaking like crazy), so I decided to stop about half way, as I wasn’t sure I would be fine going down. Still, the view was great!



You can see several mosques in the background. The big one up the hill in the middle was commissioned by Muhammad Ali Pasha between 1830 and 1848. It is one of the most famous buildings in Cairo and appears on the 20 Egyptian Pounds notes.



But back to the Mosque of Ibn Tulun, with a quick visit in pictures...















Then it was time to drive to old Coptic Cairo! Unfortunately, many of the places to visit close at 4pm, and we were too late. But what we saw of old Coptic Cairo was beautiful! Old houses...







Saint Barbara Church...





The famous Saint Virgin Mary's Church (known as 'the Hanging Church') was striking. Here is Lois outside the gates...



It is called the Hanging Church because it is built on two towers of the Ancient 'Babylon' (built by Babylonians, i.e. Iraqis, who had taken refuge there). The church as we see it today was built around... 690!



Above the door, there is a verse of Matthew’s Gospel in Arabic (Coptic Christianity is very Bible-based, there are verses of the Bible everywhere!):
“Ask, [and it shall be given you]; seek, [and you shall find]; knock, [and it shall be opened to you].”



Here is Lois outside the door up the stairs:



These young girls were fun, they wanted a picture with us, so Lois said it was ok if we could also take a picture of them! :)



That’s all for Coptic Cairo...

Several of you have asked some questions about schools in Egypt in the comments on my previous blog. Lois kindly went through your questions and sent me the following explanation:
“Schooling in Egypt is free, with just a small price (but which is steep for many) to get notebooks and school supplies and uniforms. The schools are generally overcrowded, the teachers are underpaid, not trained well, and often not respected…
“Also, one reason it's so hard to read and write is because the Classical Arabic Language that is read and written is extremely different from the colloquial every-day spoken Arabic that people use to communicate. And the grammar is very difficult as well. This is why it is so important (and successful) to make learning to read and write Arabic into something more than just learning the grammar, but into a fun time, with discussion and interaction and games, and to study something meaningful and interesting as well.”

Thank you so much Lois! (Lois just joined Sparkpeople by the way... if you want to visit her page and say hello, you can find her at LOISEGYPT!)

A few flowers from Cairo to end (the first ones are bougainvilleas)...





Thank you so much for reading this very long blog! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did this beautiful day! As soon as I receive the pictures my colleague Mumtaz took of me at the Pyramids, I'll post my last blog about Cairo!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post:
SHANNONY84 5/12/2013 1:16AM

    Your blogs are amazing and I adore the pictures!

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EFFRAYECHILDE 5/8/2013 11:52AM

    emoticon

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IMJUSTFLUFFY 5/1/2013 10:24AM

    Awesome!

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IDICEM 5/1/2013 9:42AM

  Thank you for posting this blog, Claire. The pictures are beautiful. Your blog reminds me of the history of the old cities and that life is so very different in other parts of the world. Isn't it amazing how people connect everywhere you go? Great blog!
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SHANNONY84 5/1/2013 7:06AM

    Wonderful pictures! May God guide you on your trip!

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SHIRAZSOLLY 5/1/2013 12:38AM

    Thank you for taking and uploading all the lovely pictures of the architectural details. I know you spent a lot of time doing this!

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AMARILYNH 4/30/2013 3:45PM

    Your blogs are moving Egypt higher up on my Bucket List!!

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NANINOTTAWA 4/29/2013 7:54PM

    emoticon That blog was highly enjoyable Claire. Thank you for taking the time to write it and include all the explanations. I wish for a moment my brother could take a look and see what you wrote and and see the pictures of your experience. Wonderful, merci! Nan emoticon

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NASFKAB 4/27/2013 9:47AM

  very interesting thanks

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GOANNA2 4/27/2013 7:04AM

    Thanks for the photos and travel log. You are an amazing
storyteller. It brought back so many memories for me.
I spent 10 days there in '77.I went to Karnak and I enjoyed the
'Sound and Light' show there better than Giza.
Love and blessings.
Anna emoticon emoticon

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CHERIRIDDELL 4/27/2013 1:49AM

    Remarkable Claire Thank you!

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SARAWALKS 4/25/2013 9:23AM

    Great to see more of this mosque and of the Coptic churches and the people AND of course the flowers! Thanks for the information about the educational system in Egypt. DUH, of course it's in Arabic. How difficult it must be to learn this language - I am in awe of those who learn in order to teach it!
Looking forward to seeing the pyramids! Glad you are back safely! emoticon

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MARITIMER3 4/23/2013 2:41PM

    Claire, you have such an eye for photography! I absolutely love the picture of the street vendor... all greys and browns except for the bright red tomatoes. Great shot!

Isn't it wonderful when you are visiting a new place and a friend who lives there shows you around? So much better than being a tourist on a guided tour. When I was young I was very interested in archeology and read a number of books about excavations in the Valley of the Kings (I think that's the name). I'd love to go to Egypt some day.

The tray of sweets looks delicious. We love baklava and an almond cookie that we've had in Greece. I would have had a very hard time resisting eating them all.

Hugs, Gail



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KAREN91 4/22/2013 8:48PM

    I love seeing your beautiful pix and great blogs. Thanks so much for sharing your travels with us. emoticon

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FITMAY 4/22/2013 7:35PM

    I loved the pictures of the Coptic windows and the on of the red flowers... I lear so much from your blogs Claire! I love them...
(((HUGS))) to you! and thanks to Lois for taking on the questions...
Love ya'
May

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CAPECODLIGHT 4/22/2013 5:56PM

    Wonderful pictures and stories. My favorites were the kindergarten girls and the close-up picture in the Coptic neighborhood of the stonework - marvelous texture and shadings of color. Good photographic eye, Claire!
Glad you are back safe and sound.

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GINIEMIE 4/22/2013 5:48PM

    Long and fantastic. I'll show Erik the Mosque, because he is a James Bond fan. The pastry and melons look fantastic. So do the flowers. Thank Lois for the background information.
I doubt that I'll ever travel there so I appreciate the pictures and the lesson.
Ginie
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NEWTINK 4/22/2013 2:23PM

    emoticon emoticon

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LINDAKAY228 4/22/2013 11:35AM

    Awesome! I loved traveling around some of the sites with you on this blog. Thanks so much for sharing it. I'll probably never get there but so enjoyed what you have shown us.

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IAMAGEMLOVER 4/22/2013 11:26AM

    Love the pictures. I am so happy that you enjoyed yourself.

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JENNAAW 4/22/2013 8:06AM

    Your photos were stunning. And I appreciated the comment you made about how you "dealt" with those delectable pastries.

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BEWELL48 4/22/2013 6:47AM

    Such a treat to go on a virtual tour with you in Egypt. The culture and scenes are different from where I live so am so enthralled by your postings! What a fantastic opportunity for you to experience all this and have it your job! I am jealous! Thank you for sharing all this with us, your spark friends!

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TRUCKERWIFE2 4/22/2013 2:27AM

    I had a wonderful time reading and looking at your blog. Thank you and Lois for sharing such an interesting country!

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CORNERKICK 4/22/2013 2:23AM

  Great blog & pics...thanks for sharing

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BLUEJEAN99 4/22/2013 1:57AM

    emoticon emoticon

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MARYJEANSL 4/22/2013 12:20AM

  Thank you! It was all so very interesting. And great pics, too!

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LIVELYGIRL2 4/21/2013 11:56PM

  Thank you for sharing your trip with us, fascinating!

I saw Turkey . I think it may have some similar places emoticon emoticon .

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MISSBOOBOOKITTY 4/21/2013 11:32PM

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JAMER123 4/21/2013 11:19PM

    Thanks so much for a very interesting blog and beautiful pictures!! We certainly don't have such historical buildings like these. Wonderful artistic sites!!
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ROCKYCPA 4/21/2013 10:24PM

    Beautiful pics - thanks for sharing!

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CICELY360 4/21/2013 10:06PM

  Beautiful blog and photos

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HEARTS116 4/21/2013 9:24PM

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GOOSIEMOON 4/21/2013 8:24PM

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DIANNEMT 4/21/2013 8:05PM

    How wonderful! Just -- stay safe!

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LADYVOLSFAN1954 4/21/2013 6:27PM

    Thanks for sharing your Cairo visit with us! The photos were amazing as well as the "mini history lessons". So beautiful.

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PENOWOK 4/21/2013 5:27PM

    Awesome!! I was a little surprised to see Lois in jeans. I am happy to see that isn't a problem there. What amazing history!! The buildings and architecture are fabulous!

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SANDYLH1 4/21/2013 5:16PM

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ALIDOSHA 4/21/2013 5:14PM

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JUDYAMK 4/21/2013 4:20PM

    Oh dear Claire, thank you so much for the photos & History & for the site I can go on to explore more. I welcomed your friend Lois to sparks. It was a long day at work so coming home to relax & read your blog was refreshing. Take care
Judy

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FAVORITEAUNT84 4/21/2013 4:08PM

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MOMMY445 4/21/2013 3:25PM

    thanks for sharing such a wonderful blog,Claire! have a fabulous day!

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JIBBIE49 4/21/2013 2:47PM

    Wouldn't think Cairo would be a safe place to visit right now.

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MILLIE5522 4/21/2013 2:38PM

    What an incredible blog! I learn so much from you! emoticon

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LISA_FRAME 4/21/2013 2:30PM

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SHOAPIE 4/21/2013 12:48PM

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ROBB1N 4/21/2013 12:13PM

    Sounds like a great trip!

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NEWCHINELO 4/21/2013 12:03PM

    Historical city but very lovely scenarios!

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GRIZ1GIRL 4/21/2013 11:47AM

    Wow....

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