It seemed like a good idea to start with a tour of the Cairo Tower – tallest construction in Egypt. At 4pm the light was beautiful – golden and hazy – so we enjoyed the bird’s eye view of chaotic traffic, the beautiful River Nile and the scars of Tahrir Square.
We then walked through Tahrir Square, to the museum and back over the river to our hotel. We were inundated by young Egyptians welcoming us to Egypt and telling us the best places to visit.
Crossing roads is a little like the challenges we faced in Vietnam, except we really weren’t sure of the protocol – will those buses, mini vans, cars and bikes really scoot around us?
The next day was a free day so we spent it in the museum – 6 hours of it! Foot sore and over indulged by artefacts, we returned back to the hotel where one of the girls asked us about Tutenkhamen’s mask. Six hours and we had missed the biggest treasure of all!
That evening was the first with the full group – we were ready to tour.
Early on Wednesday we headed for the Giza Pyramids, but found ourselves locked in an horrendous traffic jam. It was a truck, a double-B that had broken in half. The road is full of vehicles that we would have retired in Australia some time ago. Breakdowns are part of the experience.
The weather was fine when we arrived at the Giza Pyramids, but detiorated very quickly into a sandstorm. At times the wind was so strong that you felt it would blow you over, and it was accompanied by fine grained sand which got down your neck and into your eyes and ears. Bruce subsequently became the rescuer of cameras, using his special lens brush to clear the gritty sand out of various cameras.
The pyramids were as expected, magnificent structures looming over you, and in our case, rising out of the sand storm. We loved Cheop’s funery boat – found beside the biggest pyramid, in pieces. It took 10 years to reconstruct it, using ropes rather than nails to hold it together.
The step pyramid was another adventure, exploring tombs with magnificent hyroglyphics, both carved and painted. The wind and the sand was again a challenge.
Thursday started early with a tour of the Mohammed Ali mosque, a Coptic Church and a synagogue. Fantastic architecture and a wonderful understanding of Egyptian’s journey through history. Of course the original materials of the pyramids contributed to the construction of many buildings in Cairo – it was there for the taking for centuries!
After lunch we returned to the museum for a guided tour of Tutankhamun‘s treasures. He was not the most famous nor the most important pharoah in Egypt, but the discovery of his almost intact tomb in 1920 provided an insight into how the other tombs must have been constructed and filled with all the items needed in the afterlife.
Bruce & I also visited the Royal mummies – Ramses II was my hero and here he is grey and aged, not the young energetic pharoah of my dreams.
In a group such as ours you barely touch the surface of the city. We are bussed around, cocoon style and fed in the hotel. We have yet to wander the streets, explore the markets, taste the local food and feel the city. Tomorrow we are off to Alexandria, without doing full justice to this city.