Inside the Great Pyramid!

Giza Travel Blog

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Hello All,
Today was a big one everybody! This morning I took off at about 8am headed for the pyramids. I was armed with a hand drawn map from the concierge, and the security of being able to see my destination from wherever I was. Parking and entry was surprisingly easy. I paid a few egyptian pounds for the parking, and the about $6.50 for admission, and headed in.

The whole site is an egyptian national park, and there are at least three large pyramids, many smaller ones, and the sphinx located on the grounds. The area was filled with every variety of salesman and hawker, and the pressure was pretty endless. I try to be as considerate as possible when dealing with the high pressure pitch, but you can only hear "Where are you from?" so many times. I respond as often as possible with "No thank you.", but that response comes off as pretty rude when answering the aforementioned question. I guess that's why they approach you that way. It's pretty effective.

The Great Pyramid was directly in front of me on my walk from the parking lot, and the enormity and power of these ancient structures was overwhelming. There was a small opening in the front of the pyramid about 20 feet above ground level, and I assumed that this was the entrance to the inner chambers of the pyramid. After approaching the door and finding out there was an additional fee, I came back to find that cameras will not allowed inside the pyramid. Bummer, but I'll always have my memories.

The interior was amazing! The passageways were straight out of old movies. It was musty smelling. There was no room to stand up, and it was very steep in places. The Grand Gallery is 49 metres long and takes you upwards towards the King's Chamber, which includes a huge granite sarcophagus. The King's Chamber is 5.25m x 10.5m x 6m, and is roof is made up of stones the weigh somewhere around 80 tons. I was still pretty early in the morning, so the crowds were light. While I was in the chamber there were only a few other people inside, and they were quiet.

I spent about 15 minutes in the King's Chamber, some of them lying in the sarcophagus with my eyes closed and breathing deeply. Here I was 6,000 miles from home, inside this 4,750 year old piece of history, alone with my thoughts, just listening to the air going in and out of my lungs.

I spent time visiting each of the pyramids on the site, and checking out the sphinx as well. I was very thankful that my camera had mysteriously started working this morning, so that I can get some good photos. The drive back to the hotel was surprisingly easy. I checked out of the Hilton, and loaded up the car. After one wrong turn, I found my way to the Egyptian Museum in downtown Cairo. Parking was again, surprisingly available and cheap. I have a feeling that the enormous majority of tourists do Egypt on a package tour basis, bussing from place to place. This makes the seemingly crazy option of driving somewhat easier. Well, I do like to be different.

The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities is a huge collection of ancient artifacts. There are two fabulous feature attractions at the museum. The first are the many discoveries from the tomb of King Tutankhamun. The royal tomb was unusual because unlike almost all others, it was found mostly intact. Most amazing is the Gold Mask, which rests over the bandages that wrap around the King’s face. The mask is 24 pounds of solid gold, and is believed to represent what the King’s face really looked like. The features of the mask the eyes, nose, lips and chin are all represented in a youthful way, representative of the King death at 18.

The other highlight of the museum is the Royal Mummy Room. Another additional fee grants you admission to see the 27 mummies from pharaonic times. Some of the mummies were completely wrapped from head to toe, others revealed the heads, arms, or hands of the long dead figures. I had never before even contemplated the thought of looking at a 3,500 year old face, or hair, or fingernails. It was truly a mind blower, and it is amazing that such a thing exists in this world.

I left at about 3pm, and the drive out of town was pretty easy. I knew that the five or six hour drive would have me arriving back in Sharm after dark, but I needed to keep my schedule to see all of these once in a lifetime things. I was a bit worried about the fact that I no longer had police protection from checkpoints on my drive back. There were about six or seven places along the way where all cars are required to stop and present their vehicle registration and drivers license. Only one even asked if I had an international drivers license, and when I said no they didn't seem to care too much about it. Whew.

Upon returning to Sharm with the rental car, and no hotel booked was a bit difficult. I wanted to get a cheaper hotel in the middle of the tourist area, so I could avoid all of the taxi rides and extra expenses. I found a nice place that also had it's own beach on Na'ama Bay, and free wireless internet! I grabbed food from the great selection in the area, and hit the sack.

Later, Phil
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photo by: Wildswan22