The Pyramids, the Sphinx, and the Egyptian Museum

Cairo Travel Blog

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I had the afternoon free after arriving in the morning from London and I was intending to use it to go to the Egyptian Museum because I didn't think we would see it on the tour. On the other hand I was on about two hours sleep in the previous two days so I was too exhausted and tried to catch back some rest. I got woken up when my roommate Stewart arrived from the airport, which by luck was only 15 minutes before the pre-departure meeting for the tour downstairs.

We went down and met our tour leader Wael and the other six fellow travellers in the group. There was the usual pre-departure rundown about how the tour works and so on. I found out that the next day we spent the afternoon at the Egyptian Museum so I was glad I had put it off because now Wael could guide us around the place. We had dinner at a nearby restaurant called Steak Out. It was my first food in Egypt but it was completely Western so my first taste of Egyptian food had to wait. After dinner we had a couple of beers in the hotel bar and watched Spain beat Paraguay in the World Cup match.

The next morning we were straight off to the most famous Egyptian sights - the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx. We were doing it a bit differently to most tourists by doing a camel ride from a different entrance around to the back of the pyramids and then going across to the pyramids near the main entrance to see it up close. We took a van to a small street where our camels were lined up sitting down on the side of the road. This was my first camel ride so I wasn't sure what it would be like. They had a huge solid harness on them to have something flat to sit on, and a small wooden pole at the front of it to hold on to. I got on it sitting down and they pulled the camel up. It throws you around a bit and suddenly you are pretty high off the ground. We started taking the camels down the street. I was holding on pretty tight because it was swaying a lot as the camel went through its motions. We went about 10 minutes down the road and then through the back entrance on to the sand, and then about 20 minutes through the sand dunes until we were in a great spot quite a way behind the pyramids. We had a view across all three big pyramids and the six much smaller ones nearby. There was lots of photo taking and then we took the camels down towards the pyramids. When we got close the camels went off with their guides and we walked from there.

Up close the pyramids were so enormous, probably bigger than I expected they would be. The whole time Wael had been giving us the history of them and of Ancient Egypt in general. We walked around for a bit and then went down into one of the smaller pyramids to the tomb at the bottom. It was really hot and humid inside so we didn't stay long before climbing back out. After getting a bunch of photos at the base of the pyramids we walked down the short way to see the Sphinx.

The Sphinx looked amazing with the Great Pyramid behind it. The face is remarkably intact - obviously minus the nose - considering it is some three or four thousands years old and was exposed to the elements for a lot of that. The crowds were getting really heavy around the Sphinx so we didn't stay too long. Apparantly it costs $4000 to get in to the spot right in front of the Sphinx, and there were people down there so they must have paid it.

On the way out of Giza we stopped by a cartouche shop and a papyrus shop. They were both huge tourist traps so I wasn't interested despite being hassled at the papyrus shop to buy a horribly tacky 'certificate of love'. Near the Egyptian Museum we quickly grabbed some street food for lunch. I got a really good felafel roll for 40 cents, but it was a bit small so I should have got two.

We arrived at the Egyptian Museum not far from our hotel and got our tickets and went inside. We had to leave our cameras behind because photography is not allowed. Wael showed us around basically the entire place and explained the main pieces and the history around them. There was so much there it was quite overwhelming. There were elaborate pieces all over the place. One hall way had the four enormous gold plated boxes that held Tutankhamun's sarcophagus, where each box in turn would hold the one before it. Even the box that held the four sacred organs was unbelievably elaborate. The best room by far exhibited two of the golden sarcophaguses of Tutankhamun, and his infamous solid gold head plate. These pieces were almost out of this world. They were such a strong gold colour with fantastic drawings and hieroglyphics all over them. It just has to be seen by your own eyes because it is very hard to describe.

By the time we were done at the museum I was starting to get incredibly tired, I think because I hadn't completely caught up from the long haul from Iceland the day earlier. I slept for a couple of hours at the hotel when we got back and then we left to go to the train station to take the overnight train to Aswan at the south end of Egypt. The train ride was pretty good because we had big reclining seats. It got cold from the air conditioning but I knew how these kinds of trips worked so I was prepared with my jumper and sleeping bag liner to keep warm. We got in to Aswan at about 8am the next day.
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photo by: vulindlela