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jwg

Checking in on our travels

A quick summary - more to come with too many pictures eventually - perhaps not until after we get back.

We arrived in Rome on Sunday and were there for four days. We did a lot of walking. The biggest day was Monday when we started off from the hotel at 9:30 for a visit to the inside of the Colosseum (we'd been to the old Roman ruins and the outside of the Colosseum on Sunday) and then walked to the Vatican seeing lots of things on the way such as the Pantheon. The Vatican Museum is the most amazing place - I've never seen so much art in one museum. We walked through room after room filled with art from floor to ceiling - quite literally - gaping, oohing and ahing and eventually reached the Sistine Chapel. We did not even go to the whole museum. Then we went to St. Peter's and climbed the tower to great views and then down to the inside. We got back to our hotel at about 7 with only about 1/2 hour sitting down to lunch. Our hotel (Albergo Cesári) was quite centrally located and near the Trevi fountain which always had crowds.

We've been to Italy a few times but never to Rome. It was even better and more overwhelming than I had expected. I've never seen so many fountains, statues, columns, obelisks, sculptures, in one place. Lots of narrow streets - some with no cars (true for our hotel) and lots of people on the streets.

Yesterday we arrived in Cairo and after meeting up with several early arrivals for our trip we went into town - not Tahrir Square - to a huge souk and wandered around resisting all purchases offered by the many very polite vendors. Jewelry, musical instruments, fancy metal work of every kind. And several mosques as well. Also hookah cafes. We went to the touristy section (not many tourists of course) and then to the section where the locals buy stuff - mostly clothes but there was fabric, fancy bedspreads, wads of egyptian cotton -- and lots of scrawny cats wandering about. We must have been welcomed to Egypt several hundred times.

Today we went to the Bent Pyramid - called that because the angle of the wall changes partway up - and the Red Pyramid which we went into - climbing steps, and then descending down a narrow low-ceiling passage with metal step-like things and bannisters on both sides. Then we climbed up some wooden stairs to several more rooms. We went to another nearby Pyramid but with lots of negotiation between our guide and the officials there with many telephone calls by both our guide and the head official we still couldn't go - it was "officially" closed. But we have a lot more to go to for the next almost two weeks. Our hotel for tonight and tomorrow is almost right next to the Great Pyramid which we will visit towards the end of our trip.

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By the way, we may be crazy, but we're not insane. We didn't walk to and from the Vatican; we took the Metro. But we were indeed on our feet for nine and a half hours, except for a short break for lunch.

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