Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mosques, Minarets, and Min Statues

Today’s adventure started around 10am when we left for the Ibin Tulun mosque. It’s the oldest in Egypt and is the only mosque with an outdoor staircase up the minaret. It took our taxi driver a while to find the place, but once he did, the place was gorgeous!

Gorgeous architecture in the mosque.

You could see the Mohammed Ali mosque at the Citadel (the highest point in Cairo) from the Ibin Tulun mosque. Remember that one, Dan?

The minaret with outer spiral staircase. Yep, we went up top.
View from the top of the minaret. You could see quite a ways.
After walking about the mosque for about an hour, we grabbed another taxi and headed out to Ma’adi, which is basically a really nice suburb on the other side of downtown from Zamalek. While Zamalek is full of European embassies and residences, Ma’adi holds more of the American things. We even passed by “Little America”, which had a Hardee’s, KFC, Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, Little Caesar’s, Starbuck’s, and Burger King basically all in one strip mall. It hurt a little bit knowing that the best we can export to a foreign country is fast food, bad coffee, and pizza. We had lunch at Lucille’s, an American-style diner (NOT in Little America) where I was able to get a grilled chicken burger! And fresh, bottomless iced tea!

After lunch we did some shopping in Ma’adi. The main reason we went down was to find some supplies for drawing, which we did. But we also found a little hole-in-the-wall shop with a very nice old man who sold alabaster for cheap. I really wished I had a justifiable reason to come home with more trinkets, because the stuff was gorgeous and very inexpensive. Since I didn’t think my husband would be too thrilled if I came home with yet another candle holder or pretty thing that takes up horizontal space in our tiny apartment, I stuck to a beautiful black and white mortar and pestle. It’s prefect herb size, incredibly heavy, and only cost 45 LE ($7.50). For that price, I couldn’t NOT get it. I’d show you a picture but it’s all wrapped up. Lindsey got a few Min statues as gifts and the guy told us the whole story (we think) while wrapping them up for us.

After shopping, we headed back to Zamalek. Just as we got out of the cab and were heading across the street, we heard someone yell Lindsey’s name. We turned and it was one of our old professors, Hratch! He was in Zamalek signing papers with the SCA for the Abydos project he’s doing with Kat and Greg and just happened to be coming down the same street we were on. He took us to the Marriot (where Dan and I stayed on our honeymoon!) and bought us fresh strawberry juice while we chatted. It was great to see him and catch up! He’s currently teaching in Copenhagen, so I hardly ever see him.

It’s now heading near dinner time, but we’re all pretty full, so we may just do Subway. Last night we watched The Princess Bride over some chocolate cake, so maybe tonight we’ll watch something else and eat the cupcakes we bought in Ma’adi so that Lindsey could use the bathroom. (Seriously, at some point we need to do a cupcake taste-test from all the different places and rank them. They’ve sprung up quickly, apparently, and are all over the place!).