Cairo Travel Blog› entry 2 of 9 › view all entries
After a long and glorious slumber, we awoke Saturday morning with one mission in mind; to expeditiously go where all tourists to Egypt have gone before: The Pyramids and Sphinx at Giza. This is the postcard, the postage stamp on the post card, this is the reason for the Gizan. You can read all kinds of books or listen to all kinds of guides prattle on about who built them, how they built them, why they built them, but you have to see them for yourself. In truth, most of the 'tours' we saw, were just getting their brains overfilled with hard to pronounce names from Dynasties unfathomably long ago. Ignore all that. You can read about them when you go home.
If I could make one recommendation however impossible it is to visit your first pyramid with a friend or acquaintance who has already been inside. The first plunge (and it is a plunge) into the darkened tunnel can be a bit intimidating. The shaft is narrow, the footing is merely adequate and the air is staler than the grandiose stories of the Sphinx Paperweight Hawkers. Dress in layers as it will be much hotter inside than it was outside the pyramid. The second pyramid is the only one with more than a stone sepulchre in it; and that addition is merely the graphittied names of the two gentlemen who found the burial chamber.
There's not much to say about the Sphinx. You'll see many sphinxes during your time in Egypt, however this will be the biggest. They make a big deal about the nose being missing, but if you spend anytime in the museums of Egypt you'll see that the nose holds up the least well out of any Ancient Sculpture; moreso even than the arms or legs. Should you return to Giza for the Sound and Light show, the Sphinx will 'narrate' the story for you, as you sit in chairs quite close to it.
There's plenty of tourist hasslers to show you just where to stand if you want a photo 'kissing' the Sphinx or 'touching' its head; or just to offer you 'horsey-camel rides' back up the rather steep hill to the parking area. There are also tiny huts around the Pyramids that actually contain surviving hieroglyphics, as with anything in Egypt, viewing these comes with an unofficial price. Just look for a man in a gallabeya standing around these stand-alone stone buildings and he will unlock them for you. Depending on how respectful he is of his culture, or how much he needs the money, you may or may not be allowed to photograph them. IF he does let you photograph them, for the sake of the many who will visit Egypt after you, try not to use your flash; it slowly saps at the materials used to make the hieroglyphs.
Once you've had your fill of the sphinx and the pyramids, it's time to immerse yourself in Egypt. You've already seen what you came to see, so from Giza on out, it's Felucca rides on the Nile, exploring the lesser known pyramids and ruins, belly dancers, museums, and much much more.