Tuesday, February 16, 2016

See the Pyramids along the Nile


Last night we were treated to an Egyptian Dinner Cruise. Not the romantic dining experience I had
envisioned, however.  Entertaining, nonetheless. The food was barely palatable and the music was very hokey and loud but it was a beautiful evening and the views were good. The belly dancer was so-so. The highlight of the evening was the Tenoura (a traditional Egyptian practice) dancer. He was amazing - unlike anything we have ever seen. Definitely worth the price of admission!  Got back into the room by 10pm - very long day for us - lights out!

Had to meet Ash at 8am - got up a bit late and scurried to get to breakfast. Very chaotic. Istanbul has spoiled us and now we have to get used to Egyptian ways. Everything we have seen of Egypt so far has been very poor, very crowded (except the tourist spots), very dusty, and extremely dirty. It is like the people have given up somehow. What once upon a time, used to be green farmland is now brown concrete and unfinished apartments everywhere. Apparently, if you don't paint the outside of your house, you do not have to pay taxes. Not sure I understand that one. A very stark contrast to Istanbul, which was spotless.

We got what we could to eat and met up with Ash. First stop the Pyramids of Giza  and the Sphinx - one of the Seven Wonders of the World. We did the camel ride down to see the 9 pyramids (there are three very small ones that you can barely make out). Also took a lot of silly tourist shots.:
The Pyramids of Giza consist of the Great Pyramid of Giza (also known as the Pyramid of Cheops or Khufu and constructed c. 2560–2540 BC), the somewhat smaller Pyramid of Khafre (or Chephren) a few hundred meters to the south-west, and the relatively modest-sized Pyramid of Menkaure (or Mykerinos) a few hundred meters further south-west. The Great Sphinx lies on the east side of the complex. Current consensus among Egyptologists is that the head of the Great Sphinx is that of Khafre. Along with these major monuments are a number of smaller satellite edifices, known as "queens" pyramids, causeways and valley pyramids.

After the pyramids, it was lunch time at our local falafal place. Next stop was a papyrus shop. One thing we made very clear to Ash yesterday, was that we did not like to shop. This is the main reason that we don't do the big bus tour - way too much shopping goes on. So instead of doing the carpet shop, the perfume shop, etc. we opted to go to just one - papyrus. This is a government run
establishment. We were presented with a demonstration of how the paper is made from the papyrus cane plant. We did buy a small scene of a honeymoon couple with fishes - perfect! A glass of tea was offered and we sat and relaxed for a bit. Before leaving Ash explained that they cannot harvest this plant anymore - so these are the last remains of original papyrus. In other words, hold on to it, it could be worth a lot more one day - who knew?!

A small note: Geoff told me that Ash said he has never spent so much time at the pyramids before -- this is because everyone else spends their time shopping. He really enjoyed being able to explore with us and share his knowledge.

On the road, I mentioned that we passed several carpet making schools. Ash explained that when Princess Diana visited Cairo, she found that the girls on the farms made the best carpets. Upon returning to England, she immediately donated money to the Egyptian government to set up these carpet making schools for children. Many of the schools are in what used to be the old farm houses.

From here we went to Memphis to the Mit Rahina Museum to see the statue of Ramses II:
The ruins of ancient Memphis have yielded a large number of sculptures representing Pharaoh Rameses II.
Within the museum in Memphis is a giant statue of the pharaoh carved of monumental limestone, about 10 metres in length. It was discovered in 1820 near the southern gate of the temple of Ptah by Italian archaeologist Giovanni Caviglia. Because the base and feet of the sculpture are broken off from the rest of the body, it is currently displayed lying on its back. Some of the colours are still partially preserved, but the beauty of this statue lies in its flawless detail of the complex and subtle forms of human anatomy. The pharaoh wears the white crown of Upper Egypt, Hedjet.
It was on to Saqqara:
Also spelled Sakkara or Saccara in English /səˈkɑːrə/, is a vast, ancient burial ground
in Egypt, serving as the necropolis for the Ancient Egyptian capital, Memphis. Saqqara features numerous pyramids, including the world famous Step pyramid of Djoser, sometimes referred to as the Step Tomb due to its rectangular base, as well as a number of mastabas (Arabic word meaning 'bench'). Located some 30 km (19 mi) south of modern-day Cairo, Saqqara covers an area of around 7 by 1.5 km (4.35 by 0.93 mi).
At Saqqara, the oldest complete stone building complex known in history was built: Djoser's step pyramid, built during the Third Dynasty. Another 16 Egyptian kings built pyramids at Saqqara, which are now in various states of preservation or dilapidation. High officials added private funeral monuments to this necropolis during the entire pharaotnic period. It remained an important complex for non-royal burials and cult ceremonies for more than 3,000 years, well into Ptolemaic and Roman times.
North of the area known as Saqqara lies Abusir; south lies Dahshur. The area running from Giza to Dahshur has been used as a necropolis by the inhabitants of Memphis at different times, and it has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCOin 1979.
This concluded our sight-seeing day. Heading home, we got stuck in a major traffic jam. Total chaos. Finally, made our way out and we were back in the room by 4:30. Rested for a bit and out again by 7. Tonight we finally had our first decent meal in Egypt. After specifying that we not want any more tourist buffets, Ash took us to a very nice restaurant for a fish dinner. Excellent! With a view of the pyramids - although it was dark, we did manage to see them.

When we returned from dinner, Mr. Sito himself was waiting at the hotel for us. He is the owner of the tour company we are using. He wanted to meet us in person and apologize again for the mix-up at the airport. He is a real sweetie. We took a group picture of the whole Sito group and us. This has definitely been day to remember.

One more full day here, Tomorrow we go into Cairo and do some museums and bazaars. For now, one last look at our pyramid view, Not as majestic as the mosques in Turkey at night, but still awesome to look at.

Next time... A Day in Cairo



  1. Well, I finally caught up. One of these days (when my energy level is higher) I need to travel with you. Wow you see & do a lot! No more running into things and you will have the perfect time during the rest of your journey, while we have a lovely time following along. Love & happy trails xoxox

  2. Love the camels and the dances look like spinning tops. The great sphinx looks in tough shape. Pyramids look like fun and a little spooky...might run into the Mummy.


  3. These pictures are TRULY AWESOME!!! Cool to see you on camels.