From Cairo, we planned to travel south to Luxor. Unlike other regions of Africa in which we had traveled, an overstuffed minibus was not the only way to reach our destination – we had options: road, air, river, rail.1 After months and months of grueling overland travel, we quickly (and happily) rejected taking any sort of bus. Flying and cruising were both expensive options and therefore also out, leaving us with the train – which conveniently happens to be our preferred method of travel for medium-length distances.
We were looking forward to riding the train. The 671 kilometers (419 miles) route between Cairo and Luxor loosely runs along the Nile and would afford us the benefits of overland travel (watching the scenery change gradually from place to place) with a much greater level of comfort than a hot, cramped bus/minibus.
On our last full day in Cairo, we visited an old part of the city known as Coptic Cairo for its predominantly Christian orthodox population and proliferation of churches. Coptic Cairo is conveniently accessible by metro, so we rode the subway there to give our feet a break.
We started with the Hanging Church, one of the oldest churches in Egypt. The church is so-called because it was built over the gatehouse of a Roman fortress with its nave suspended over a passage.
One of the obvious highlights of any visit to Cairo is a trip to the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, commonly known as the Egyptian Museum. With an almost incomprehensible number of priceless antiquities, including the famous Tutankhamun gold and the mummy of Ramses II, you can easily while away an entire day or two there.