Cairo and Giza

September 22, 2010 - Cairo, Egypt

Monday morning I woke up in my dorm room in The Australian Hostel in Cairo! I befriended Canadian Greg, and we went to the Egyptian Museum. It had more Egyptian mummies, statues, tombs, and pots than you can imagine. Lots and lots of very old stuff. My favorites included 1.) some black statues made of very so hard material so the fine detail still remained, 2.) a beautiful bead bracelet with detailed lion charms and a sophisticated slide clasp, and 3.) King Tut’s headdress. Unfortunately no cameras were allowed inside. Then Canadian Greg and I went to some veg friendly restaurant from the Lonely Planet. I got eggplant moussaka. Off to the train station next! Walking around Cairo is not bad at all. It is crowded, but the streets are relatively well marked and people are helpful. I was going to get a train ticket to Luxor but 1.) they were booked for the night train leaving the next day. I asked about the day trains, which the Lonely Planet says tourists can take but 2.) the women said these were no longer available. Finally, I was going to get a ticket for two days later, but 3.) the night train that was supposed to leave from the main station apparently no longer does. That was the final straw. I decided it was not meant for me to go to Luxor then. Greg got a train ticket for Aswan, but I headed to the bus station and got myself an overnight bus ticket for the next night to Dahab instead, with the tentative plan to get a bus to Luxor from there. Greg and I headed back to the hostel, stopping on the way to buy some fruit and pastries.

The next day Canadian Greg, Australian Wendy, and I shared a taxi for a day of pyramid and tomb visiting. We started at the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx. The Pyramids were very large and impressive, and we could see them well before we actually reached them. They are right next to the city of Giza though, and it was sort of funny to have a road in between two of the pyramids and to have shops and houses within a ten minute walk to them. The Sphinx was smaller than I had imagined, but still very cool. Our next stop was to Saqqara which “was an active burial ground for more than 3500 years, and is Egypt’s largest archaeological site”. First we checked out the Step Pyramid which is THE WORLD’S EARLIEST stone monument. Amazing. The first, oldest pyramid (and stone monument in general) ever. While at Saqqara we also checked out two tombs (Mereruka’s and Kagemni’s) full of carved walls and paintings, plus the Titi Pyramid which we got to go inside and also had hieroglyphics on the walls and a coffin. Our third stop was Dahshur, where we saw two pyramids. The first was the Bent Pyramid, which was really cool looking. In was an early pyramid and the Egyptians were trying to make a true pyramid with smooth sides (as opposed to the step pyramid), however about halfway up they realized the pyramid was becoming unstable and they had to change to angle from 54 degrees to 43 degrees. The second pyramid we saw in Dahshur was the North or Red Pyramid, which is the world’s oldest true (smooth) pyramid. We got to go inside of it too, which was a work out. There was nothing inside, but it was still cool to be in the middle of a huge pyramid. It smelled awful though. Sort of acidic, which stung my nose. Our last stop was to Memphis, which while there is hardly anything there anymore but a couple statues, it used to be the impressive capitol of Egypt during most of the Pharaonic period. The coolest thing there was a huge fallen statue of Ramses II. After a full day of sightseeing, we headed back to Cairo and had “koshari” for dinner. Koshari is a fast food meal in Egypt that is made of rice, macaroni, lentils, tomato sauce, and dried onions. It was pretty good. Then I got my stuff together, headed to the bus station, and got on my overnight bus to Dahab. The bus was nice with a bathroom and AC. The other passengers were also very friendly. My experiences so far with Egyptians have been great. Many of them speak really good English (definitely more than people in Southeast Asia, India, Bosnia, or even Italy), and they are curious and talkative without being annoying or trying to get something out of you. I had the whole backseat of the bus to sleep on, although we were stopped probably six times during the nine hour bus ride by police checking IDs. I should probably be grateful though. They are most likely doing it for the tourists’ benefit anyway. We arrive in Dahab at 5am, and luckily a couple (Egyptian man who is a scuba instructor and his Dutch wife who is a windsurfer instructor) who lives in Dahab offered to share a taxi with me, so I didn’t have to deal with the touts trying to rip me off. But I will continue my story of Dahab later!


Pictures

outside the Egyptian Museum
Cairo
Sphinx and one of the Giza Pyramids
me with one of the Giza Pyramids
 
 

1 Comment

dad:
September 24, 2010
love your adventure stories, d
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