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Pyramid time!

Giza Travel Blog

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The Pyramid of Khafra.
At last the time had come! We were now five days in Egypt without having seen the pyramids! That was about to change today. We arrived in Cairo in the morning, coming from Luxor, and sped to our hotel to drop our bags. Then we hailed the first taxi we could find to bring us to Giza.

Giza was a town adjacent to Cairo, and nowadays the slums of Cairo have completely swallowed the town, effectively closing in on the pyramids year by year, and now the world famous wonders have to be protected against the rapidly spreading city. While speeding over the highway towards Giza, I saw the endless slums passing by.
A tout happily posing for me.
Really, there was no end to them. At this sight I was struck by the poverty.

The highway over the slums ended, and while we rode through the neighborhoods of Giza, the pyramids were already visible. Their triangular shape was reaching out from far away, mightily over the modern buildings. And when we reached the site, it struck me how close the outskirts of Cairo are to the pyramids. All the pictures I knew of the pyramids are taken with a view of the desert, never showing the lesser magical sight of the slums behind the pyramids. I have tried to make a picture the other way around, showing the city from the pyramids.

Now, on to the last of the seven wonders of the world!

They are big. They really are! They are like mountains, and it is hard to imagine that they were made by humans, so many thousands of years ago.
The Sphinx carrying the pyramid on its back.
If you would have lived in that age, and would have seen the pyramids in all their glory, smooth, shining in the sun, it must have been more incredible still. It was simply amazing to walk around at that spot. It's something you really have to see once in your life.

Now, don't think you can walk around there quietly! There are people coming to you every few seconds, trying to sell stuff of asking if you would like to ride a camel. These sellers here are a bit inhuman. They will drive you crazy, and so will the thousands and thousands of tourists, coming from hundreds and hundreds of busses. I think the egyptians find it hard to handle so many tourists and don't really understand what to offer them. I will explain.

There are no fences, but a few officers that run around with red heads, whistling and trying to pull people from the pyramids.
Guards on camels!
It is forbidden to climb them, for there used to be a death toll every year, yet there is only a little cord separating the stones from a hundred thousand tourists! It is a funny thing to see that handful of officers running around in a frenzy. Also, there are no adequate roads around the pyramids. You almost have to jump from rock to rock, so weelchairs forget it. Lastly, there is no convenient restaurant, of cafe, of visitors' centre, or anything like that close by. After an hour I was walking around hungry and thirsty, and the only thing I could do was to buy a tiny bag of chips from an old lady.

But it is worth it.

What else? Oh, yeah, the Sphinx. Well, the sphinx is not that big, if you compare it to the pyramids. But then, you mustn't. You must compare it to statues. And then the Sphinx is big.
The Al-Azhar mosque.
It is still the largest monolith statue in the world, and has been for the last 5000 years. Big enough to be a home to many birds, inhabiting its head. I guess the sphinx must be cleaned regularly.

That about sums it up. I had no desire to ride a camel (I would do so later, in Tunisia, though I did not know I would) and had no desire to enter a pyramid. It was freaking hot outside, and it would be far worse inside. Not to mention cramped and humid. We headed back to Cairo.

Later that day we went a second time to Khan el Khalili and visited the Al-Ahzar mosque. A beautiful mosque, heavily decorated and with two remarkable minarets. I think it is the most beautiful mosque I have visited in Egypt and I would like to return to it one day. By now the sky had turned orange because of the pollution and some mist, which produced an awkward atmosphere in the mosque.

To close the day (it was a very busy day, as you can read), we headed for the Al-Azhar park. A green lung in Cairo, built on top of a dumpster. It is a pleasant park to walk around and has great views over the city and the citadel. There is also a rather expensive restaurant. While I was sitting there, the prayer came floating over the roofs of the city and once again I realized in what a different country I was, far from home.
sylviandavid says:
Ahhhhhh what an ending....
Posted on: Oct 26, 2010
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The Pyramid of Khafra.
The Pyramid of Khafra.
A tout happily posing for me.
A tout happily posing for me.
The Sphinx carrying the pyramid on…
The Sphinx carrying the pyramid o…
Guards on camels!
Guards on camels!
The Al-Azhar mosque.
The Al-Azhar mosque.
The Sphinx posing in front of the …
The Sphinx posing in front of the…
A minor pyramid. Often forgotten.
A minor pyramid. Often forgotten.
Thats me! Oh, and there is a pyram…
Thats me! Oh, and there is a pyra…
The Pyramid of Khufu.
The Pyramid of Khufu.
Forbidden to climb the pyramids!
Forbidden to climb the pyramids!
The Pyramid of Khafra.
The Pyramid of Khafra.
The Pyramid of Khufu.
The Pyramid of Khufu.
The outskirts of Cairo, closing in…
The outskirts of Cairo, closing i…
In Khan el Khalili.
In Khan el Khalili.
The Al-Azhar mosque. You see the a…
The Al-Azhar mosque. You see the …
View over Cairo from Al-Azhar park.
View over Cairo from Al-Azhar park.
Al-Azhar park.
Al-Azhar park.
Giza
photo by: Wildswan22