Egypt is certainly a country of many faces. The Red Sea was beautiful, Sharm el Sheikh was glitzy and an all inclusive haven, and Cairo was a massive dirty city. However, the one thing they all had in common was people. We were very impressed though at the commitment to preserving the historical, archaeologic, and tourist gold mine that is ancient Egypt despite the obvious need for space.
It was a bit overwhelming as we first arrived at the Cairo airport and the non-stop assault of people wanting your business. Fortunately we found our driver and started the drive to our hotel. To say we were nervous when we pulled up outside would be an understatement. The goat track of a road leading to it accompanied by the trash and dirt were not reassuring. However, once went up to the 4th floor where the hotel is located our concerns were dispelled.
The view from the balcony in Pyramids Planet Hotel was rather impressive. The rooms were clean and the staff very helpful. Admittedly the roadway below provided a non-stop audible reminder of where you were.
We chose to brave the road noise and enjoy our breakfast on the balcony with the pyramids in the distance. The food was good and the setting was…well, Egyptian.
With around 38 million people living in the area of Cairo/Giza housing is a challenge. The Egyptians we spoke with informed us that it was normal for the outsides and top floors to be unfinished. One reason was as the family grew it was more realistic to add another floor then try and find free land. Also, the building owner avoided taxes on the building while it was under construction and not completed.
Our busy day in Cairo and Giza started with a trip to the Great Pyramids. As our driver, Islam, dropped our Egyptologist and us off the first thing I noticed, other than the pyramids, was the camels. The locals never missed a chance to earn some money. Camel rides and cart rides were overly abundant. We did not take part in that though as before we even got out of the car we watched as a pony collapsed while running down a rocky path tossing the 3 tourists and driver out of the cart and over the top of the sprawling pony. That and the smacking of the camels to get them to kneel for people to climb onto them put me off (admittedly I have no idea how or what is the humane treatment of camels, but I found what I saw as unacceptable to me). End of my rant.
The nice thing about the area around the pyramids and the Sphinx is it is massive. So despite the number of people we did not feel rushed or crowded. You can wander about and soak it all in.
Even though Cairo ranks as one of my least favourite cities in the world, the pyramids absolutely deserve every accolade they have ever received. As I walked toward them they literally took my breath away. Nothing I have seen does justice to the sheer presence of them.
Our guide slipped the attendant a small tip/bribe and got us into the closest section to the sphinx. It was spectacular. The size coupled with the detail of the statue are truly epic. Then you remind yourself these were constructed 1000 years before the wise men supposedly headed to Bethlehem.
Did I mention there was no lack of entrepreneurs hanging around. They are relentless salesmen who simply do not hear ‘no thank you’.
The Pyramid of Menkaure is the smallest of the three Great Pyramids but is epic none the less. Walking around them is a humbling yet quite uplifting experience I found.
In the afternoon we headed over to the old Egyptian Museum. There is a new museum but the opening date has been set back so many times it has become a bit of a joke amongst the tour guides. The old one is still very impressive though. Just incredible the condition of the relics.
The gold covered coffins on display are impressive. What you have to keep in mind is the tombs have been being robbed and hijacked by thieves and foreigners for thousands of years and there is still tonnes still intact today. It left me wondering how much must have been there initially.
The condition of the mummified remains are simply incredible.
Worth it. Like this: Like Loading...
Amazing!! What comes to mind immediately for me is how the people who constructed these massive pyramids and statues, could of never understood or anticipated that their hard work to construct them would in 1000+ years still be standing strong as a wonder of the world and a tourist industry that despite the potential has Egyptians living in poverty. Great blog Peter xx