- Cairo, Pyramids, Sphinx, Nile
Cairo, Pyramids, Sphinx, Nile
My last news seemed so long ago but we have been so busy and are almost ‘templed out’!
Arrived in Cairo and headed to the Sofitel Hotel. The river separates Cairo proper from Giza and the Sofitel is actually on the river’s edge but in Giza. As the name implies we were in Giza and very close by bus to the Pyramids which was our first stop for the day. The pyramids are very close to the city so it was only a short dive there to join all the other tour buses doing exactly the same.
I actually expected the pyramids to be bigger! They are however a magnificent feat of ancient Egyptian engineering and just being so close is amazing. Did all the compulsory photos of course in front of the pyramids, on the camels etc etc. Visited the Great Pyramid first, then over to another smaller one followed by a stop which provided a great panoramic view of the pyramids. Here of course every tout and his friend is in town and on their neighbourhood camel, horse or donkey!!!
The Egyptians are probably the best (or worst) I have ever seen for seeking money from tourists! One is not allowed to take a photo of them without paying for it, the common amount being $5 EGP equalling about $1 AUD. I had taken advice from Suzy to have lots of small notes on hand – thank Sue – came in very handy. Kemm thought I was mad at the bank when I said I wanted heaps in 5 pound EGP but it was the best piece of advice I had. Easy bartering when you know a set of postcards is only 5 pound – there’s no such thing as change here!!!
I wanted a camel photo taken so had the cash in my hand whilst taking photos which worked well, then gave the camel guy the cash and he was fine – sit on the camel and another photo set and hand him another $1 and he was more than happy as was I as I got my camel photo and his photos. But as said, everything costs! Not in any way expensive but it’s very much expected! Want to use the toilet?? $1 and so on.
Headed down next to see The Sphinx and in and amongst all the photos I take, I did manage to get one postcard perfect photo of the sphinx so was really pleased with that. I love taking photos and seem to take about 200 – 300 per day then each evening cull them down to about 50, then reduce the whole lot of each day’s set down to web/internet size, then of course I write these newsy screeds for you!!! But that’s just me and it also gives me a record of what’s been done where.
I do have all the newsy bits at www.baber.com.au as my record of our holidays now and to date.
The Sphinx is a fascinating piece of work of course and our tour guide is full on with Egyptian history for us – he’s a wealth of knowledge but sometimes a little over the top and gets a bit long and drawn out when most of us just want to SEE things! I guess though, as he says, the more he tells us, the more we will retain.
On to Friday and ANOTHER early start as we were to catch a 7.30am flight from Cairo down to Luxor. That all went as planned and looking out the plane window one can follow the Nile with it’s greenery along each side. Other than that, it’s a very barren and dry place. Luxor in the heat of summer can get to 55 degrees C – hate to be here then!
On arrival in Luxor we headed straight to the Kanark Temple – WOW!!! The pyramids are great and I took some fabulous pictures of the Kanark Temple but photos just cannot tell the magnitude of this place – it is simply amazing!!! The temple structure is HUGE!!! How on earth ancient Egyptians could engineering, construct, move and manipulate this granite work into position is beyond belief. The columns and pillars are mostly decorated with hieroglyphics as well and it’s on a massive scale as well. Not just one or 2 pillars 60 foot high (or thereabouts), but over 100 of them!!! All with hieroglyphics embedded in the stone work. Full lengths of massive walls with diagrams as well – just so hard to describe – unless I was a real writer!! But honestly, words and pictures cannot depict the amazement we all felt for this place. It’s almost surreal.
From there we headed off to our Nile River boat – passed a few on the way and all quietly hoped that’s not what we were going on but true to APT standard, our ‘Moon Goddess’ is lovely and totally suitable. The full top deck is a sun deck laid out with deck chairs, a small pool (bit cold), full bar (of course!!) and heaps of outdoor seating facilities. We did have a couple of free hours spare on return from the temple but everyone just blobbed in their rooms mostly and tried to catch up on a little sleep.
7pm we were back on the bus to the sound and light show at the temple – quote a spectacular performance walking us from one end to the other at night and guided by a story, lights and night time desert sounds. Quite clever the way it was done actually.
Back to the boat for dinner and eventually just falling on the bed about 10.30pm
And guess what – ANOTHER 4.30am wake up call and we’re off to the ‘Valley of the Kings’ this morning. First bus in the carpark at 6.30am so an easy ride up to the main gates by ‘tourist-train’ thingie! The Valley of the Kings is the area where all the tombs of the Kings are placed – buried underground in their own separate tombs.
What I ahve learnt in a nutshell here is:
King Ramses II ruled Egypt for 60 odd years and lived into his 90’s so he was king of the lot so to speak! He had umpteen wives and ended up fathering 198 children! So much of the finds throughout Egypt relate to his time of rule.
King Tutankhamen was made Ruler of Egypt at about 9yrs of age and died suddenly at the age of 18 – no-one knows why though. His rule has become famous because his tomb (in the Valley of the Kings) has been only recently discovered and was found to contain a huge amount of treasure. I was the only one in our group who paid an extra $20 AUD to visit his tomb and am so pleased I did. His mummified body is still in his tomb, the inner part of his headgear (that gold figurine we all know) and the inner coffin all within a burial chamber colourfully depicted around the walls of his tomb. Amazing!!! He was buried in such a way that the following shows the order of how he was entombed.
• Gold inlay mask (to protect his face from scavenger animals)
• 2 further mask layers (the gold one now residing in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo)
• Inner Coffin (in the chamber)
• Outer 100kg gold coffin (in the Egyptian Museum)
• Gold Casket casing
• Another gold casket casing
• A final 3rd gold casket casing.
As said, the whole setup is absolutely amazing and I actually feel privileged and very lucky to have been able to see all this up close. I may even read a little more of Egyptian history now to fill in a few gaps – just a bit though!!!! I’m not that much into it!
Onwards and forwards this morning to another couple of temples, statues etc which are magnificent in their own way but really enjoyed visiting Tutankhamen’s tomb.
Back on the boat now for lunch – we set sail shortly down the Nile to Aswan so all for now!
Add on - spent a delightful afternoon in magnificent weather cruising the first part of our journey. Most of us spent time on the sundeck indulging in a couple of drinks (as one would!) and of course me snapping off a few photos as we go.
Had some time out before the Captain's welcome drinks cockatil half hour - to the whole shipload of about 22 guests! I think there are that many staff as well.
Dinner then bed ready for another day - have just woken to sunrise on another cloudless day - I don't believe clouds come this way very often!