Following in the Footsteps of The Cairo Codex: 72 Hours in Cairo–Day 2

linda lambertThis is the second of a three-day post in which Linda Lambert, author of The Cairo Codex, guides us in the footsteps of Dr. Justine Jenner.

When an earthquake nearly buries anthropologist Justine Jenner in an ancient crypt, she finds what appears to be an ancient codex which, if real, could radically threaten the world’s great religions.

The Cairo Codex is a riveting novel of two women, two millennia apart, set in the exotic cultures of ancient and present-day Egypt. Dr. Justine Jenner has come to Cairo to forge her own path from the legacies of her parents, an Egyptian beauty and an American archaeologist. After an earthquake nearly buries her alive in an underground crypt, she discovers an ancient codex, written by a woman whose secrets threaten the foundations of both Christian and Muslim beliefs. As political instability rocks the region and the Muslim Brotherhood threatens to steal the Egyptian Revolution, Justine is thrust into a world where even those she trusts may betray her in order to control the codex’s revelations.

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Chop, chop, everyone!  Time to get out of bed and take in the sights and sounds of Cairo. Don’t forget to wear some comfy shoes and grab a bag to store some great souvenirs.  We don’t have much time so let’s get going on our journey.  Here’s Linda!

Tahrir-SquareDay 2: On your second morning in Cairo, walk to Tahrir Square, the center of revolutionary foment (ignoring any “helpful” persons along the way, especially if they claim to be a doctor).  Take the underground to the Mars Girgius Station in Old Cairo, stroll past the Roman fortress and into the Hanging Church suspended over the fort and dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Wind through the narrow pathways to Saint Sergius Church, the actual home of the Holy Family in 2 BCE where Justine discovered The Cairo 2271106524_e34ec5e109_zCodex during a major earthquake. Don’t worry, earthquakes are infrequent in Egypt. Walk to the front and through the nave of 4th century St. Sergius, into the backroom to the left, and take the stairs down into the crypt where the Virgin Mary’s diary tumbled from the wall. Warning: it could be still flooded with ground water from the earthquake. The docent will explain.

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Take the underground back to Tahrir Square and walk east into the heart of Cairo’s fashionable shopping area (carrying a map at all times during your trip), stopping to eat lunch at one of the sidewalk shawarma (towers of sizzling beef spinning on a metal stake over a fire) shops along the south side of Talaat Harb Street. As you approach Midan Talaat Harb Square and the looming statue of the founder of the National Bank, you’ll find Mr. Harb in his towering tarboosh. Groppi’s blue mosaic façade can be spied on the left corner. This historic bakery and teashop was once a gathering place for writers, adventurers, self-appointed celebrities and pashas. It is the setting for two crucial scenes in The Cairo Codex and is a great place for a relaxing cup of tea and a couple of desirable dainty chocolate frosted cookies before returning to the hotel. You may not be able to resist buying a pair of flamboyant shoes at one of the many shops along the way. Return by way of The American University of Cairo.

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sphinx-front-wa-2001It is now early evening of your second full day in Cairo. Employ your personal driver from the hotel to take you to the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx. Ask him to wait as you explore on foot (leaving a clean blouse or shirt and alternative shoes in the car).  Change clothes and shoes, modestly, and ask the driver to take you to the elegant Mena House Oberoi, nearby, for Darjeeling tea in the lounge overlooking the pyramids and dinner in the exotic Moghul Room. This “Palace of the Pyramids” was built for Sheikh Isma’il Pasha as his hunting lodge. Winston Churchhill, Agatha Christie, Queen Mary, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were frequent visitors. You may dismiss your driver as you enter the hotel since the staff will arrange for transport back to the Shepheard (he can take your dusty shoes and clothes back to the hotel to be left in your room).

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I don’t know about you, but I’m having a fabulous time in Cairo.  Do we have to go back home??  Come back tomorrow for Day 3.

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Filed under books, contemporary fiction, fiction, guest post, historical fiction, history, mystery, writers in their own words

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