Ahhhh Cairo. Is there any other city that can make you feel so lucky to be in? What a unique mixture of past and present. If you’ve read my posts, you know I love the feeling of stepping back in time. And how amazing is it to step so far back in time with the hustle and bustle of the city whizzing by you? I certainly felt like this trip was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I would never forget.
No other city in the world can boast having one of the seven wonders of the ancient world in its backyard. The Great Pyramid of Giza or the Pyramid of Khufu is the only remaining wonder of the ancient world, it was also the oldest of them by almost 2,000 years. The other six wonders were The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, The Temple of Artemus at Ephesus, Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, Colossus of Rhodes and the Lighthouse of Alexandria; most of them were destroyed by earthquakes.
We were able to go inside the pyramid, into the king and queens chambers, and also laid in the sarcophagus. There is an additional fee to go inside, another fee for the camera and another for the video camera. You get the idea, everything comes with a price. They feed on knowing we are crazy about documenting everything. Anyways, many people on the tour felt a lot of energy in this room and were overwhelmed afterwards. I didn’t feel anything, but that’s OK, I still enjoyed myself.
There are different theories on how the pyramids were built, but there is no mystery about the accuracy and precision of them. The base is only 0.6 inch difference from one corner to the other and the average difference between the length of the four sides is only 2 1/4 inches.
I went on the trip to Egypt as a group tour with psychic Sylvia Browne. With this tour, we received a couple of perks that others probably wouldn’t get. We listened to an informative lecture from Zahi Hawass while gathered around the paws of the Sphinx. Then we could buy his book and have him autograph it, which I did. I don’t believe most tourists can get that close to the Sphinx. We toured a carpet factory, visited a perfume store and smelled samples, and then had a nice lunch on a river boat while floating on the Nile.
We went on camel rides, which I was terrified of. They are a lot higher off the ground than a horse, and they tip forwards to get up, since they are kneeling on their front legs. I thought I was going to fly off of it, but it was still a good experience. The photographer didn’t care about the end result and snapped the picture when I had this horrified look on my face.
The Step Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara was built in the 27th century BC. The complex of Saqqara is massive and you can see the tour group in the above picture, how they are dwarfed by the pyramid.
Another fabulous stop was the Museum of Cairo where we could see all of the treasures removed from the pyramids. There is an extensive collection with over 120,000 items, including King Tutankhamun’s tomb and gold mask, mummies and even mummified cats.
We visited the Mosque of Muhammad Ali which was has an amazing interior. The ceiling is just magnificent. We also visited the Citadel of Salah El Din.
My favorite part of the trip was the pyramids. Climbing on them is not allowed, and there are men with machine guns near every corner, so I wouldn’t push that issue unless it’s on your bucket list to get arrested in a foreign country.
The down side is that it’s the biggest tourist trap in the city, you are bombarded by kids trying to sell you stuff. They are persistent, so a good tip is to learn how to say a few things in Arabic and be as determined as they are. “No thank you” or just simply no repeated over and over again. The two places I’ve been with street vendors that don’t let up are Cairo at the pyramids and Cabo San Lucas near the beach. At Cabo they have the vendors and the timeshare pitches. We were there on a timeshare, so we didn’t need another one. Everyone seems to think that because we are Americans we are rich and can afford everything they want to sell us.
The last day of our trip was pretty open and a group was going to the new Hard Rock Cafe that was opening. Not authentic, but it sounded fun. My roommate said she wanted to go too, then she flaked out after the group left. She wanted to order Pizza Hut. Seriously, for the third time in a week? Sure, it was convenient and nice to sit on the outside patio overlooking the Nile, but on the final day of the trip? Was she terrified to go outside since it was Friday and their day of prayer? They recommended not going to the market, but surely we could get out of the hotel a little bit. So I went out on my own. I know, not my brightest move, but there are a lot of solo female travelers out there. If they could do entire trips, why couldn’t I do just one day?
I went to the hotel across the river and got some cash at their ATM, then on my way back on the bridge, a man approached me. He said he wanted to practice on his English. I was sure I was going to end up chopped up in pieces in a meat locker, but we wandered around a little bit and he took me to a great store that sold perfume bottles and papyrus drawings. Yep, total set up, he probably got a big kick back. The store owner closed the door when we got there, panic? No, he was keeping the air conditioning contained, which was nice. He offered me a can of pop and we sat and chatted for a while. He was extremely friendly and it was nice to just sit and visit. Unlike in America where everyone is so rushed. So I bought some perfume bottles, one shaped like a camel. Then I got some papyrus drawings. The man that brought me here was going to go pray, so after this stop, we parted ways and I made it safely back to my hotel. He did ask me to go to the pyramids that night with him since they were going to light them up. Sounded great, but I didn’t want to miss my flight, so I passed.
Cairo is amazing and worth a trip to see all it has to offer, however, my trip to Cairo was the May before September 11, 2001. It is an old trip to be writing about now, but some trips stick with you. Would I feel safe enough to go now? Probably not. What are your thoughts?