Scotsabroad's Weblog

January 15, 2008

Fair trade Muhammad

Filed under: Cairo,Holidays,visits — scotsabroad @ 7:57 pm

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We recently visited the Citadel. I am ashamed to say that I failed to go there on my last stay in the city. The mosque of Muhammad Ali dominates the skyline of Cairo. Tourists were allowed in but this first picture was taken from inside another mosque, next to the big one, which is Mamluk instead of Ottoman (Turkish) and was altogether a much more cool and attractive place. 

History does not seem to paint Muhammad as someone who valued his national treasures if the story of the clock tower above is to be believed.  In the mosque courtyard you can see this clock tower – a gift from the French King, Louis Phillippe, to Muhammad Ali in 1846. I think it must have arrived after13 years free supply of cognac  – as  it was in exchange for the obelisk of Ramesses II taken from the front of Luxor Temple! It was planted in the Place de la Concorde in Paris in 1833. Nice one Louis. The clock has never worked since the day it arrived. Bit like swapping Eilean Donan Castle for a dodgy Timex.

Thanks ‘Cairo –  The Family Guide’ by Lesley Lababidi for the story.

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What a wonderful start to the year. It was very much Ian and Linda’s visit that made it so. We packed in quite a bit and the boys were delighted to see their grandparents for a fortnight. Apart from the new year celebrations and Shona’s birthday (brightened by Laura’s four day flying visit) we managed: a trip to Al Azhar Park, a walk in Wadi Degla, the Citadel and the Khan al-Khalili market, the pyramids at Dahshur and Giza, the Egyptian museum and a quick sail on a felucca. We also drove to Nasr City to  eat kushari at Tom and Basel. We were also all delighted to hear that Sharon and Craig got engaged on new years day. We spent the last weekend in Alexandria having travelled by train from Cairo. We stayed in the Cecil Hotel and visited the sights. Coincidently, the bar from which Mr Mills drank that ice cold beer, having driven an ambulance across the sand and a few minefields, is now upstairs at the Cecil but is not celebrated. As a huge fan of the final scene I felt obliged to …

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 The photographs are of the library in Alexandria and the big mosque off the corniche. Thanks Ian and Linda for your visit. You are both family treasures and certainly not for swapping. I  would love to take the credit for these photographs but they are courtesy of Linda Fraser (or the mother-in-law).

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