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Day Seven: Kodak-moment day! Egyptian Museum, Pyramids of Giza and the bazaars

Cairo Travel Blog

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Entrance at the Egyptian Museum

This IS IT!!!! THE day! The day that perhaps was worth the effort of having planned the Egypt trip, and the one set of spots that everyone asks you on return - "so...how was it?", "Did you see that lion-looking man statue?", "did you see those pyramids?", "Where are the pictures?". Basically it was cheese factor in high gear today, you could almost see us returning with that look one has on one's face after posing for about a 100 odd photos, and a bag full of souvenirs. And btw, did I mention the C-H-E-E-S-E factor? ;-)

The two most excited people for the day were good ole mum and dad. They spent the whole morning before breakfast verifying that they've recharged the batteries for the video camera, made sure they got their spare batteries, my mum even 'tested' the video feature on her new NOKIA mobile phone should the camcorder give way during the course of the day, and btn the 2 of them, they asked me AT LEAST a dozen times, "Vikram dear, hope your camera is charged and you've got lots of spare memory cards".

A Sphinx greets visitors at the Museum
 I longed for the day when I was young ,and all they'd remind me was to drink my milk on time!

Anyways, our guide for the day was Hosam. This bloke is interesting. He's Egyptian, studied Law in NY Uni and is actually a US citizen but returned home after 9/11 and hopes to go back to the US some day. He laid out the plan for the day - we start first with the Egyptian Museum. The three of us were quite curious why we're starting off (when the weather was relatively cool) inside a cool area, and why we can't do the Pyramids first. His reasoning was simple - it's a lot easier to absorb the pyramids if you know the history behind them. Fair 'nuff...

Another reason I'm in love with my hotel is because of the close promixity to the Egyptian Museum. It's so darn close, 5 mins ride max?! We were there by about 930am and the place was already looking like it had been invaded by foreign blood.

You could see hoardes of tourists, hoardes of tour guides and random "Excusez-Moi"s, "Achtung bitte"s, "now this way ladies and gentlemen" flying all over the place. The museum looks really good. The facade is great, nice pond with lotus leaves, and the compound itself has miniature recreations of almost all the traditional Egyptian "objects" such as the Sphinx, the Obelisk, a pyramid, etc. The building has a dull pink colour, reminiscent of the British buildings at the start of the century. Mumbai, India is also very similar in this regard.

Cameras are not allowed inside the museum. And they're very strict about allowing mobile phones with camera functionality as well. So we stored all these in lockers outside and headed in after the traditional security check.

The Egyptian Flag

The museum is very clean and spacious. Compared to the MET or the British Museum, I wouldn't call it that big or that 'varied' in terms of the buildings. (I mean, the British museum, WOW!).  The museum has two floors. The ground floor consists of 4 sections - the Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom, New Kingdom and the Late Period. The first floor consists of amazing, MIND BLOWING Tutankhamum galleries and the overhyped overpriced (sorry guys!) Mummy Room.

We started off with the ground floor, at the Old Kingdom. The first sight that greeted us were three matching black schist triads that represented the pharoah Menkaure (Mycerinus) flanked either side by Hathor and a local Goddess. Another highlight was the Statue of Khafre and his lion throne with Horus wrapped around his head.

The Pyramid of Khafre (Chephren)
But the GEM of this section was the room that contains the remains of Queen Hetepheres. You see her carrying bed, bed canopy, jewellry and most impressive of all, inside a box in the far corner near the wall are the ACTUAL remains of her organs, put into 4 compartments. Sure, it looked like dried mud to me (not trying to be funny) but just the fact that it was excarvated and preserved in a musuem. And note that this Missy is a BC figure, so we're looking at remains AT LEAST 2000 yrs old. The rest of the floor had great exhibits of the Graeco Roman period, Alexander the Great, etc.

Now, the first floor - and the grandest. I don't want to say much about Tutankhamun Galleries simply because I don't have the pictures to support it, and I really can't put my impressions into words.

Camel rides popular with the tourists by the Pyramids
 The jewellry is amazing, the precision work, the symmetry, everything that gets you thinking just how much of talent, manpower AND "technology" they must've had in the BC to come up with perfection jewellry like that. Everything was amazing - the death mask, the funery, the golden sacrophegi, the Canopic jars, etc etc.  I could go on and on.

Now, the bit that I was a bit disappointed - the Mummy Room. You have to pay separate fees for this. I got a discount as I showed 'em my student card.  The room itself was small and whilst the room contains the actual, yes ACTUAL bodies of the Pharoahs such as Sequenre II, Amenhotep I and Queen Meryetamun, Tuthmosis II and Tuthmosis IV among others all wrapped carefully in individual showcases with great footnotes, I found the place very crowded and don't think I feel I gained my money's worth.

Back view of the magnificent Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) - about the height of my shoulder...that's all! :-P

Phew! We'd spent nearly 4 hours at the temple and we still couldn't believe we felt we'd only just started. Lunch was at the Felfella - quite disappointing despite the great experience we'd had the first time. From here, we pushed off to the great PYRAMIDS OF GIZA.

Yep, we'd seen them from afar the previous night thanks to the Laser show, but now we could get upclose to each of them. This was spectacular. And whilst most buses were stopping outside the compound, our minivan was allowed to drive near each of the 3 pyramids so that we could stop and take pictures. I'll let the pictures do the talking for this one. From here, we went  to the Sphinx - again, pictures please!

Our final stop for the day was a return to Khan-al-Khalili bazaar. If y'day's experience was touristy, today's was EVEN more.

Pyramid of Cheops
The place is frought with Europeans. It was so much fun seeing Europeans and local vendors haggling for prices and each one trying to outdo the other. The highlight of today's trip to the bazaar was that I got to do yet *another* touristy thing - ahwa (coffee) at the much renowned El Fishawy coffeehouse. I also got to smoke some sheesa (I chose tobacco with apple flavour, called tufah) which was good. I've done it before in Dallas on several occasions so nothing exciting. The El-Fishawy is lovely, reminiscent of European coffeeshops on the aisles with several tourists parked in the tables and couches placed in the narrow corridors of the bazaar.

From here, we spent roughly an hour shopping around for souvenirs before heading back to the hotel - quite late actually, around 8pm! But it was great.

panoramic view of all three pyramids
We had dinner that night at the Thai rsnt again. I didn't each much as I wasn't feeling very well. We went upstairs for a mammoth packing session - given that many souvenirs were fragile, we had to wrap them up in our clothes and keep them in good safe places in the suitcases. We slept around midnight quite exhausted from the day's activities, but feeling very enriched with all the sights we got to see.

Click on Next Entries on the Left to read the last journal entry: leaving Egypt

kristinasub says:
So , i had luck 'cause during my first visit to Egy in 2003 was aloud to get camera inside museum, only wasn't aloud to use a flash and wasn't aloud to take a photos inside mumies room :o)
Posted on: Jul 16, 2008
wanderlass says:
I know all about the Cheese Factor & Kodak Moments! :)
Posted on: Jun 16, 2007
Documama says:
You do a good job of both appreciating the CHEESE factor and being blown away by the experience of it all.
Posted on: Jun 16, 2007
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Entrance at the Egyptian Museum
Entrance at the Egyptian Museum
A Sphinx greets visitors at the Mu…
A Sphinx greets visitors at the M…
The Egyptian Flag
The Egyptian Flag
The Pyramid of Khafre (Chephren)
The Pyramid of Khafre (Chephren)
Camel rides popular with the touri…
Camel rides popular with the tour…
Back view of the magnificent Pyram…
Back view of the magnificent Pyra…
Pyramid of Cheops
Pyramid of Cheops
panoramic view of all three pyrami…
panoramic view of all three pyram…
The Great Pyramids of Giza - Cheop…
The Great Pyramids of Giza - Cheo…
The Sphinx
The Sphinx
The Sphinx
The Sphinx
The legendary coffee shop at Khan-…
The legendary coffee shop at Khan…
The 250 year old mirror at El-Fish…
The 250 year old mirror at El-Fis…
traditional Egyptian shawa (coff…
traditional Egyptian "shawa" (cof…
Khan-al-Khalili Bazaar
Khan-al-Khalili Bazaar
outside the Bazaar
outside the Bazaar
with Hosam, our guide for the day
with Hosam, our guide for the day
Cairo
photo by: vulindlela