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The Pyramids

Cairo Travel Blog

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The elevator

It was a rough start to the morning. I had set my alarm for 8:00am so we could eat breakfast and meet our driver for the pyramids at 8:30am. Unfortunately, neither of us heard the alarm. I woke up naturally, looked at my clock, and saw that it was exactly 8:29am. I jumped out of bed, yelled at Craig, threw some clothes on, and went to the lobby. To my surprise, breakfast was waiting for us as well as our guide, not rushed whatsoever. What a relief. We had time to get dressed, eat, and head out by 9:00am.

Mohammad was our driver today. We began the drive heading towards the Great pyramids of Giza, just outside of Cairo.

Streets of Giza
Even as we were driving down a six lane highway (six is an estimate, no one uses the lanes here, they just drive wherever they want) people were crossing. As we got closer and closer to Giza, it seemed to get poorer and poorer. Giza was what I had expected Cairo to look like, but the infrastructure of Cairo seemed no different than a European city. The streets of Giza were filled with trash, rundown stores, horses, llamas, and camels.

As we got closer and closer, we were able to faintly see the pyramids getting closer and closer. I had chills going through me as this was a site I had always wanted to see since learning about them when I was younger. We parked in a small square lined with tourist shops and various animals. Mohammad led us into a shop to negotiate a price for a tour of the pyramids.
On the horse
It was your typical Arabic business transaction. We entered a small room and were immediately offered free drinks. Then it was time to negotiate. We could take a small, medium, or large tour on either camels or horses. In the end, with the help of Mohammad, we were able to take the large tour on horses for the price of the medium tour. Off we went.

I�m not a big fan of riding animals but it added to the experience. We trotted along the road towards the pyramids with our guide. The entrance to the pyramids is heavily guarded by special �Tourist Police� and we had to show our tickets and have our guide lead us in. I never thought I�d be riding a horse through the Sahara Desert on this trip, but here I was. Luckily, it was still around 10:00am so the sun wasn�t at full strength yet.
The Sahara Desert
After about ten minutes of bouncing around on top of my horse, we made our way up a dune. Low and behold, the Great Pyramids of Egypt were in front of our eyes. It was amazing to be staring at something 4000 years old. I had finally made it to the pyramids. After numerous photos, we rode down the other side of the dune towards the pyramids. We were able to get up close and even touch them. I was amazed by the amount of stone that had fallen off and lay scattered on all sides of the Great Pyramid. We were tempted to climb but knew we would probably get in trouble by the �tourist police� and their machine guns.

Then our guide took us to an area of Egyptian tombs that were forbidden for tourists to enter. Our guide ensured us we would be fine.
First glimpse of the Pyramids
What the hell, live a little. Under the barb wired fence we went. I could see why the place was forbidden. There was trash all over the place. The tombs had been raided by the government and the artifacts placed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. We broke into a gated area that happened to be an old Egyptian underground home. There was tons of ancient Egyptian writing on the wall along with carvings of past kings and queens.

After that little excursion, it was off to the Sphinx. One interesting fact about the Sphinx is that it is missing its nose. It was stolen by Napoleon in the early 1800�s when France invaded Egypt and taken back to France. It now calls the Louvre home. The view itself, however, was incredible. The Sphinx with the Great Pyramids in the background.
Looking back towards Cairo


It was time to head back to return our horses and rejoin Mohammed. After a quick photo op on a camel, we were off to a few shops. Many people in the Arabic world think Westerners are loaded with money and try to sell anything and everything to you. The first stop on the tour was a papyrus store. We saw how the plant was turned into paper and dozens of beautiful papyrus paintings. Once the store workers noticed we weren�t going to buy anything, they left us alone to browse. I was expecting them to hound us until we left the door like on my previous trip to North Africa, but, thankfully, to no avail.

Next was a trip to an Egyptian perfumery. Again, we were shown the different natural oils, perfumes, colognes, and lotions. Craig was interested in buying a package for souvenirs and I decided to buy some cologne as well.
Handstand
Some sort of natural Egyptian cologne that is supposed to resemble Gucci. It smelled pretty nice on me so I bought a bottle for 13 Euro.

Our next stop was the step pyramid of Saqqara. The step pyramid is the oldest pyramid in the world, built around 2700 BC for King Djoser. It is built in layers that get smaller towards the top, resembling a stairway to heaven. We began walking around as Mohammad waited in the car and we were soon approached by an amateur guide. We tagged along with him until he began asking for money. Here�s the dialogue:

Guide: �You give me tip now?�
Us: �No�
Guide: �Yes!�
Us: �No, no money�
Guide: �Small change�
Us: �We don�t have cash, just credit cards�
Guide: �I just want small change�

This carried on for another 5 minutes until the guide got the point and left us alone.
We were able to stroll around the pyramid and tombs at our own pace without being asked for money.

After an hour walking through the desert around the step pyramid, we made our way to the Titi pyramid. This is one of few pyramids in Egypt that you can enter for free. In we went. The tunnels throughout the pyramids are very small due to the fact that the Egyptian Civilization was very short. It was a tight squeeze and Craig, at six feet three inches, had to practically crawl down backwards. Once down, the walls were covered in Egyptian writing. We continued to crawl through the cool, well lit tunnels. At the end, we found an open tomb.

First off, we didn�t have a guide even though I think we were supposed to, but no one stopped us. Second, cameras were not allowed inside the pyramid.
Broke that rule. Third, it was somewhat implied that you were not supposed to touch the tomb (and definitely not get in the tomb). Into the tomb went Craig. A few pictures later, were heard voices and walked back out as if nothing had happened. We joked that Craig was now going to be cursed for entering an Egyptian tomb.

After we crawled back out, we were approached by locals trying to sell your typical what-the-hell-am-I-going-to-do-with-that souvenirs. I decided to talk to one. In French. He handed me a book of the pyramids in French. I told him (In French) that I didn�t read books and he just stared at me. I began asking him other questions in French but he was dumbfounded. That was the end of that sale.

We then returned to Mohammad and began the 45 minute journey back to Cairo.
Craig passed out in the back seat while I continued to take in the sites and awe of Egypt. I asked Mohammad about Egyptian food and what he recommended we do for dinner (all we had had since breakfast was about ten bottles of water). Koshary. I was thinking, �what the hell is in koshary�, and at the same time �I need to try koshary!� Apparently, it is the fast food favorite of Egypt. We arrived back at the hostel around 4:30pm, took showers, and went in search of koshary.
Down the elevator of sketchiness we went to the streets of Cairo. We took a left, walked past a few shoe stores, a pet store, a KFC, and before the end of the block, we were at the koshary shop. We walked in, with the unsure swagger of a tourist, and ordered koshary.
A small was three Egyptian pounds, a medium five, and a large seven. The exchange rate from USD to Egyptian Pounds is 5.8 (one USD=5.8 pounds). We each ordered a large and received a weird look from the cashier.

Koshary! (pronounced: Coo-sha-ri). I figured out what the weird look was about. Our $1.20 meals each weighed what felt like a couple pounds. It was so much food. Like ravenous dogs, we hurried back to indulge in our Egyptian surprise. Up the sketch elevator and into the hostel living room we went.

Koshary is a blend of rice, noodles, and a variety of beans and sauces. We also received additional spicy sauces to try. Needless to say, it was different, but delicious. It tasted exactly how I imagined it would. I tried some of the spicy sauce as well, which cleared my head instantly.
I was sweating as I ate but enjoying every bite. I made it about halfway before I couldn�t handle anymore. This was by far the best bang for my buck I have received on this trip.

After digesting and talking to the hostel employees about everything from soccer and Obama to Egyptian politics, Craig and I decided to explore the surrounding area by foot at night. The place was packed. The streets again, like the previous night, lit up after the sun went down. We walked passed many stores, crossed a couple of streets, and just strolled, attempting to blend in with the locals (which was unsuccessful). Even at night, we began to break a sweat and decided to call it a night. Today was one of those days that I will remember for a lifetime.

addictedtosno says:
haha elevator of sketchiness..
Posted on: Jun 30, 2009
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The elevator
The elevator
Streets of Giza
Streets of Giza
On the horse
On the horse
The Sahara Desert
The Sahara Desert
First glimpse of the Pyramids
First glimpse of the Pyramids
Looking back towards Cairo
Looking back towards Cairo
Handstand
Handstand
Amazing
Amazing
Standing next to the Great Pyramid
Standing next to the Great Pyramid
Rock that has fallen from the pyra…
Rock that has fallen from the pyr…
Into the tomb area
Into the tomb area
I was a bit nervous!
I was a bit nervous!
Craig striking a pose
Craig striking a pose
Mummy
Mummy
The Sphinx
The Sphinx
Craig on a camel
Craig on a camel
Where ever you look there are more…
Where ever you look there are mor…
I got a little hot in front of the…
I got a little hot in front of th…
Me in front of the oldest pyramid …
Me in front of the oldest pyramid…
Hieroglyphics
Hieroglyphics
Craig in the tomb
Craig in the tomb
Light traffic in Cairo. We were go…
Light traffic in Cairo. We were g…
Pre-Koshary
Pre-Koshary
Post-Koshary
Post-Koshary
Cairo
photo by: vulindlela