Trip Start Oct 04, 2010
56Trip End Feb 15, 2011
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Where I stayed
Oh and it gets better! We landed in a crazy dust storm that took not one, not two, but three landing attempts after circling for an hour. I think I prayed in every language for every country we’ve visited so far.
So with our nerves and the day pretty much shot, we hopped into our sweet ride (a Mercedes this time) and headed to the hotel
First, there are an insane amount of people in Cairo -18 million and it seems that they all have cars. While some cars are really nice, many seem to be these old smog mongers barely on their last leg from years spent in the desert. Then there are the taxis which can be little more than a motorized rickshaw to 1970s hoopties in shabby black and white paint. There are also scooters and motorcycles thrown in for good measure. Picture this: Dad is driving the motorcycle, Mom is on the back with Burqua flying, and a baby, I am not kidding, strapped to Dad’s chest. And they were flying through traffic like they were in an armored tank.
Second, there are no such things as lanes. Three lanes can easily fit five, maybe six, cars wide. If there is an open spot on the road, it will be filled with a car in seconds. There is no yield, sometimes no real stop and multiple lanes quickly converge into one like two warm sticks of butter
Luckily, not all was chaos. Our hotel was on the 19th floor of the Ramses Hilton on the banks of the Nile and we could see the Giza pyramids in the distance. The hotel staff was just as wonderfully accommodating and kind as our last Egyptian team and we made arrangements for tours for the next two days without issue. We ate couple dinners in the lounge, make some new friends and breakfast had a fabulous buffet, fresh juices and a 200 degree view of the city.
Our first tour was out to the Giza Pyramids and we had our own driver and Egyptologist. After a quick stop at the fanciest Marriott ever (because it just happens to be the King’s old palace), we leave for the 30 minute ride to Giza. On our way, we are given little tits and tats on more than 5000 years of Egyptian history and we get to ask any question that pops to our heads because it‘s just the four of us. Did you know that the “hidden” burial chambers in a pyramid are little more than tombs built just in case the Pharaoh died before the pyramids completion? How about that clover is a major part of the agricultural economy and the meal of choice for camels? See, any question
The Giza Pyramids themselves are spectacular and mind boggling. The largest, Cheops, is the last remaining of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is flanked by two smaller, though still impressively massive, pyramids. The Sphinx is located on the plateau just in front of the Pyramids and is the largest monolith in the world. It was actually carved from a leftover rock in the quarry that was used for the pyramids. In its heyday, the Sphinx was ablaze with color as it looked out into the desert and apparently there is still a bit of blue still visible after all this time along the back of the headdress.
Following this tour, we were taken to a papyrus museum where we got to try our hand at making it ourselves. Though the process of binding the papyrus reeds together is rather simple, it creates a strong sheet that is unaffected by water and can not be easily torn. I’ll take their word for it though - my sheet fell apart by the time we left the shop.
The next day, we met back up with our guides and headed to Old Cairo. Within a very, very small area is an unbelievable history of Egypt, religion and war. We saw the Hanging Church, St
From Coptic Cairo, we swooped over to more Islamic sites and visited the Citadel, Salah El Din Fortress and later to the Sultan Hassan and El Refaei Mosques. As an end to a very busy day, we sauntered through the Egyptian Museum taking in thousands of years of history and marveled at the craftsmanship and beauty of the Tutankhamon treasures.
On the way to the airport, our driver enticed us with a life in Egypt where Sacha could enjoy up to four wives and I could enjoy the privileges of being the first wife. This will bless you with many, many children, In Shallah, like his brother who has 14. We’re thinking, we’re just fine.