A Travellerspoint blog

THE LAND OF PHARAOHS!

Cairo, Egypt

sunny

October 19th 2019 Day 8

It is up early this morning and we take our bags to the lobby. Today we fly to Cairo.

The four wives of Mohammad have one last breakfast together as Diana finishes her trip in Cairo.

Our flight is at 8.45 so we don't have much time to eat.

The drive to Sharm El Sheikh airport is a bit of a drive thru the rocky desert. The landscape turns beige once more as we leave the sparkling Red Sea behind.

As we we drive thru the rocky hills, there are check points along the way and this according to Mohammad is normal in Egypt. Occasionally we pass half built or abandoned houses, how anyone or anything lives out here is a mystery.

Finally we reach the airport, it is modern and clean, but first we must clear a check point before we can enter to park the bus... OK!

Once we have our bags, we enter the terminal and they scan our luggage at the entry, then there is more security at check in!

But lucky for us things go smoothly as Mohammad has arranged everything, so all we do is show our passports, drop our bags, collect our boarding pass and head to security to be scanned again!

It is a small terminal and there is only one way to go, down the escalators to the gates, so easy, you cant get lost!

A quick coffee and it's departure time, I am surprised that I am allowed to take my coffee on board, with us that is a no, no!

Walking across the tarmac I go against all my airline safety training and take a photo of the plane (I ask passengers not to do this on a daily basis... SHHH don't tell!) there are no safety marshals here!

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Egypt Air, now boarding...!

The flight is full, the staff are friendly and I have a nice window seat. A little gift bag is on the seat filled with travel goodies, if I am honest I am a little impressed wasn't expecting this on an hours flight.

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Getting ready for take off!

We have a enough time for a snack and a coffee bags before landing!

As you get off the plane the heat on the tarmac hits you full force, like opening a large oven door.

The cool air conditioned terminal is a relief. The walk to the baggage collection is quite long, thru long corridors and lots of stairs. The terminal isn't as bright and modern as Sharm El Sheik, actually it is a little worn and dingy.

With bags in hand we head off the exit where our passports are checked once again, shesh how many times do they need to check our passport, it's only a domestic flight!

A mini bus is waiting for us at the door and as we leave the airport there is yet another security check point where our driver has to produce a passenger list and destination hotel before we are let out of the gate...!

The drive into the city starts of easily passing thru what seems to be the wealthier suburbs. High decorated fences with Egyptian scenes guard military compounds.

We along the edge of a sprawling Islamic cemetery, the tombs built to depict miniature mosques.

And there it is the Nile, glistening in the morning sun, boats and river cruise boats are moored on the banks.

Then we hit the city center entering the depths of Cairo, the roads are jam packed with traffic and people. No one cares about who is in what lane, giving way is non existent. They just turn and push into the traffic, no indicators just the blasting of horns! People just walking in amongst it all to cross the roads!

Every car has a dent or a scratch, apparently it is typical daily traffic.

Suddenly there is a loud bang at the back of the bus, someone has hit the back of the bus! Our driver stops in the middle of morning rush hour to inspect the goings on, he is pissed and has words with the driver and all the while the blasting of horns becomes louder and more insistent!

The streets are filthy piles of rubbish are everywhere!

The high rise apartments are jammed together like Lego blocks, covered in dust and grime. Washing hangs from windows and balconies, how they clean their clothes in this city is beyond me, they hang them out clean, but they must get dusty when they dry!

We stop in front of the University which is a beautiful colonial building with lovely gardens to pick up our guide for our trip out to Saqqara and Memphis.

The drive to the hotel seems to take forever, I just can't get over the rubbish, how can people live like this.

The government is trying outsource the trash collection and apparently there is a lot of back room dealing going on, and as Mohammad puts it there are fees involved which is code for bribes!

We pass the Cairo Zoo and my heart breaks, those poor animals locked away in this decrepit, filthy place! When I see a Zebra thru the fence so close to the noisy street, so skinny its ribs are showing its head down forlorn, I turn my head in shame, wishing there is something I can do about it! (there is the world organization for animal welfare, Oh and yes I did report what I saw)

After it feels like we have been going around in circles we finally arrive at the hotel, WOW it looks it's age, if you know what I mean!

When we get out of the bus we are greeted by at least 8 cats , so dirty and skinny. Two of which are the cutest little kittens, one has a big sore on it's nose the other has an eye infection. They crowd around our feet hungrily waiting for any morsel of food... oh my breaking heart.

The lobby is old world colonial all wood and worn furniture. We wait to be given a room and with key in hand we head up to our rooms, yikes that elevator is so old I don't know if I trust it or not!

The rooms are... hmm something positive to say... big! But very old and worn, the bathroom looks like it needs a good scrub!

So we dump our bags and it's back on the bus and we slowly navigate our way out of the city.

Donkeys, Horse and carts as well as Goats wander the streets in the grimy suburbs of outer Cairo, poor things! They look so sad all skin and bones, it is very depressing!

The country side traffic is a relief from the crazy, but if it is possible the rubbish is worse! The canals that come from the Nile are filled with it! At one point we see a truck pouring dirty waste directly into a canal... WTF! WE all gasp in horror as a few miles back we saw people fishing in the very same water! Why, would you? It turns my stomach to think of eating anything that comes out of that water, reminder to self do not order the fish! Ever!

Finally we arrive at Memphis, it was once the capitol of Lower Egypt.

Once we have our tickets we are greeted by a Sphinx, not as large as the one at Giza, but still impressive. Apart from some damage to one side of his head he is in fantastic condition you can see every detail! He looks so peaceful as if he is sleeping.

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Meet... The Sphinx

The open courtyard is filled with broken pillars and stone artifacts and little shops line the edges, but the Sphinx is the center of attention.

The carving of this Sphinx was believed to take place between 1700 and 1400 BC, which was during the 18th Dynasty, the faces of Sphinx usually depict one of the Pharaohs but since there were now engravings found with this one it is unknown which Pharaoh he is.

Back in the day Memphis was one of the oldest and most important cities in ancient Egypt, located at the entrance to the Nile River Valley near the Giza plateau. It served as the capital of ancient Egypt and an important religious cult center. When the city was destroyed the Sphinx was one of the only remaining treasures to survive.

They are often regarded as protectors with the body of a Lion and Wings of an Eagle.

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My new friend!

There is a little museum building which houses the Colossus of Ramses II.

The two story building is a little crowded and it is difficult to find a spot to get a good view.

It is filled with little treasures found at the site but it is Ramses that dominates the all the attention.

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Colossus of Ramses II!

It is huge and he is still in fantastic condition. You can see every detail carved into the stone. It is quite amazing, arms by his side, standing with one foot forward, although that part is missing! Hieroglyphs decorate his wrists, belt, chest and shoulders, you can see every detailed line in his clothing, beard and headdress. He looks very regal and serene.

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The details of the face are fantastic!

He is 3,200-years old and the view from the second floor you can understand why the call it colossus. It is made from granite and weighs 83 tons and is about 10m (33.8 ft) long, even though it has no feet. It was discovered in 1820 by Giovanni Battista Caviglia at the Great Temple of Ptah near Memphis, Egypt.

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Wonder what that says!

After looking at some of the artifacts, I get a bit sick of being bumped and knock by people who have shopped at 'Tourists are Us' there is enough pace for everyone, patience people patience, I make my way outside.

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Hey does anyone read Egyptian...!

Outside is quieter, hot but...! At the end of the open air museum is another statue of Ramses II not as colossal as the one inside, but this one has it's legs. The setting behind him is quite fitting, palm and date trees give him a a great backdrop. His features are a little weather worn but he still looks fantastic considering he is over 3000 years old!

To me he looks like he's smiling, and why wouldn't he be, he was after all a mighty ruler.

His name alone means something like "The Maat of Ra is powerful, Chosen of Ra". Often regarded as the greatest and most powerful pharaoh of the New Kingdom the most powerful period of ancient Egypt.

At age fourteen, he was appointed Prince Regent by his father, Seti I and it is believe he assumed the throne in

1279 BC until his death at the age of 90-91 years old and is buried in the Valley of the Kings!

Apparently he was he was quite popular, famous for building cities, temples and monuments but like most Kings he spent a lot of time at war. He led several military expeditions against the Syrians, Nubian and Levant (which today is Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Palestine!).

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Ramses II... with both legs!

It's time to move on to our next stop, and as we are getting on the bus we get our first taste of Egyptian Entrepreneurship as all the store owners come out from the shade to try and convince us to purchase a little something!

So we evade them and jump on the bus... phew!

The drive takes us further out of Cairo and the canals don't get any cleaner! The landscape turns to farmland as we head to Saqqara.

Date Palms are everywhere, fully loaded with bunches of dates, some yellow others red, it is quite the view!

As we pull up the Saqqara security gate (yes, more security checks!) the green suddenly ends and the desert begins!

The view of the desert seems to go on forever and there is a hazy view of Cairo in the bright blue skyline, giving you a sense of just how large the city is.

After parking the bus it is a short walk to monuments and the first thing you see is a huge copper sand stone building, I wasn't expecting this it looks more like a brick box than an ancient Egyptian temple. Oh it's not a temple it's funerary complex that has galleries and tombs! Built by by the royal architect Imhotep in the second dynasty 2890 – c. 2686 BC... so very, very old!

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Djoser's funerary complex!

The stone feels cool and smooth as you enter, on the left and right, there are reproductions in stone of a double doors, walking thru the doors a colonnade opens up and there are forty columns in this area and are thought to represent the provinces that would have existed during that time. It provided a place in which the daily rituals and offerings to the dead could be performed, and was the cult center for the king.

We head to the side and walk down an alleyway of pillars, on a rather wonky wooden walk way made from planks of wood.

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Mind your step!

Suddenly a pyramid comes into full view, made of 6 large layers and 4 sides, this step pyramid was built in the 27th century BC during the Third Dynasty for the burial of Pharaoh Djoser. The architect Imhotep who was chancellor of the pharaoh and high priest of the god Ra, so he was quite the famous builder around these parts it would seem.

It was once the central feature of a vast complex in an enormous courtyard surrounded by ceremonial structures and decoration.

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Pyramid of Djoser!

Looking out into the vastness of the desert there are 3 more pyramids, a smaller one stands in front of a larger in the distance, both a wonky and look like they are crumbling. The smaller one lots worse for wear, the larger one is bent at the top, not at a perfect angle and know one knows why, one theory is that it is a failed building attempt and it looks quite unusual next to the larger more angled pyramid to the right.

This is the oldest royal tomb in pyramid form built in the 4th Dynasty. The small crumbling pyramid was built in the 12th Dynasty and has been nicknamed the Black Pyramid.

It is hard to imagine standing here in the dust and sand what this place once looked like in it's glory days, but I am betting it was magnificent!

What else is hidden out there lost to time and the sand!

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There is actually 5 of them out there!

There is time to wander around outside and our guide is quite insistent that we take a group photo in front of the step pyramid, which is taken by one of the locals. But with the rift that has been forming among the group isn't as easy as you think!

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Intrepid Wanders, a Pyramid & a real live... Mummy!

The entrance to Mereuka Tomb is decorated with carvings around the the door frame, the are so fantastic, time has worn them down a little but you can still read them, if only you knew how.

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Hmm is that him? Pharaoh Mereuka!
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Khen-M-R-Oop, Umm think my dictionary is faulty!

We enter inside the tomb of Mereuka, and once your eyes adjust to the gloom we see our to first tomb on the trip. The grey stone is carved with effigies of the Pharaoh, they do like to depict themselves as larger than life.

There seems to be a lot of death and destruction, there is a Hippo fighting a Crocodile, under the Pharaohs foot is a Hippo eating a Croc.

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Nile under water scene!
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Go the Hippo!

But there are scenes of farmers working with their livestock or playing musical instruments on the river bank.

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Taking care of the prized livestock!

The tomb is filled with twists and turns, and in fact it has about 26 rooms with 5 being dedicated to his wife.

Suddenly the a colorful statue of the Pharaoh himself appears and we get our first colored hieroglyphs, so bright with reds, blues , black and turquoise, what a sight! His facial features are worn and broken but he still has his hair...! It is actually quite comical in way!

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The Pharaoh Mereuka!

In one chamber there are beautiful colorful scenes of everyday life fishing, farming, carpenters, hunting and goldsmith working and they are quite detailed.

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Farming...!
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Fishing...!

There is so much to look at and so detailed!

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Umm... A parade, dancing, not sure!

We enter another chamber and this one is also full of color, but here he has a lot of depictions of himself, and he is painting the seasons and playing a board game. This 6th Dynasty Pharaoh really was portrait well in his death!

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Image of Pharaoh Mereuka!

We have some time to ourselves to look around, but it is not long enough, as there is so many details to take in!

But I will admit it is nice to have the time to take a better look!

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Hmm... did the Ancient Egyptians put on underwear?!

As cool and refreshing as it is in here we have to make our way back.

But instead of heading straight for the bus the wives and I explore a little more. There is still excavating happening in the area, the workers have gone home so the place is quiet. I wonder what they will find in the future!

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Excavation Work!

We take one last look at the amazing scenery before we head back to the bus. The local traders follow us as soon as we appear from the alleyway of columns. It is rather annoying actually as they won't take NO for an answer, but with the economy the way it is here, I guess you have to make a living somehow.

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One last view from the excavation work, aren't the snakes fantastic!

The drive back is quiet, I think everyone is tired, it has been a long day.

As we make our way thru the suburbs of Cairo the joy of seeing the ancient wander soon begins to fade. Watching the everyday struggle in this bustling dirty city.

Goats are eating rubbish on the side of the road, Donkeys all skin and bone pull carts over loaded with goods that look too heavy for their skinny legs.

A women has set up a tale in the middle of what is a roundabout trying to sell small packets of tissues. All the while cars are honking their horns oblivious to her existence.

By the time we get to the hotel dusk is covering the city and we head up to our rooms to freshen up!

I meet the wives in the lobby and we weigh up our dining options and we decide to go to McDonald's. After what we have seen today it seems like the safest culinary option. Especially after seeing meat hanging on hooks in the open dirty streets, including under a motorway underpass. To be honest our appetites don't trust anything else but overly processed food!

Trying to cross the busy main street... whoa... it is like an extreme sport,drivers don't believe in indicators and most cars don't even have their lights on, let a lone care that pedestrians are trying to cross!

Luckily Hannie wife No:1 has google maps on her phone and Zoe wife No:2 is bolder than the rest of us and leads the way getting us safely to our destination!

We sit upstairs and I feel sad that this is

Diana's last night with us and the only place we can find is McDonald's! She has been a fantastic roomie even if she makes fun of my accent, the rest of the trip wont be the same without her!

The walk back is just as perilous as the walk to the restaurant but we make it back in one piece.

We chat for a while in Zoe and Hannahs room before we head off to bed.

As much as Diana and I try to stay awake and chat we can't... there's always breakfast!

OCTOBER 20TH 2019 DAY 9

At breakfast the four wives of Mohammad say goodbye, I really wish she was continuing on with us! We also say goodbye to the 2 young Canadian fellas who have given us a lot of laughs and bought a youthful balance to the group, their enthusiasm was infectious!

As we get on the bus I feel both excited and a little sad, today we are visiting the 2 places Mum really wanted to see and I really wish she was here with me.

We make our way to Giza on the outskirts of Cairo, passing the Islamic cemetery into what is the more wealthier parts of the city. The streets are cleaner wider and lined with trees. Suddenly top rate hotel begin to appear.

We drive up a steep hill and just as we reach the car park two perfect iconic peaks appear above the Palm trees in the morning sunshine!

Our first glimpse of those treasured wonders of the world the Giza Pyramids.

We walk up to the entrance and they come into full view!

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The Iconic Pyramids of Giza!

There is security screening as we go thru the gates, and then the view opens up... there they are!

WOW... it is huge, so much bigger than you think! I am gobsmacked! I whisper to Mum I know she would have loved this!

It is blocking the view of the other two it is so huge! As you get closer you see how big each building block is.

When you stand at the base and look up you feel so small!

Walking in the shadow of these iconic monuments built by man is humbling!

We walk around to the right following the base,and the second largest one becomes visible. Not as large as the Giza pyramid but still fantastic.

It is quieter around the back away from the crowds and the street sellers and it gives you time to take it all in! All three!

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Yeap, I am actually here, unbelievable!

The sun has risen above the smaller second pyramid, know as the Pyramid of Khafre was completed in 2570 BC, appears larger than the adjacent Khufu Pyramid because of its more elevated location, and the steeper angle of inclination of its construction, it is, in fact, smaller in both height and volume.

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The Pyramid of Khafre!

Camel riders wander across the open ground which was once a courtyard filled with trees and water ways, the Giza Pyramid dominates everything. This huge great pyramid was built as tomb for the Pharaoh Khufu, built between 2580 – c. 2560 BC, there are 3 chambers inside that they know of one for him and another for his wife.

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The Great Pyramid of Khufu!

We take our time, it's nice being away from the crowds and the overly insistent traders. You can just see the back of the Sphinx head across the sand.

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Hey Zoe whose pyramid is that!

Up close you can see all the large blocks that were used in the construction.

It was built by quarrying an estimated 2.3 million large blocks weighing 6 million tonnes total. The majority of stones are not the same size or shape.

The outside layers were bound together by mortar. Primarily local limestone from the Giza Plateau was used. Other blocks were imported by boat down the Nile from Tura and Aswan weighing up to 80 tonnes each!

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How perfect is his timing!

When you look out to the horizon the desert stretches on endlessly, but Camel riders seem to appear as if they have come out of the sand, there must be something out there somewhere!

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You wouldn't want to get lost out there!

The further back you walk the better the views slowly all three begin to line up. The third is small in comparison to the ones dedicated to the Pharaoh Khufu and Khafre.

This humble little pyramid was the tomb of Pharaoh Menkaure who was Pharaoh in the 5th dynasty, building was completed in 2510 BC. Behind it is 3 smaller pyramids built for the queens... can' get a view of them from here though!

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When you walk backwards from the Khufus great pyramid then...
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Slowly...
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Khafre's pyramid appears then...
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Then the Pharaohs Menkaure's little pyramid comes into view!

Seeing all 3 and standing out in the desert is kinda surreal, as horses wander into view, it is hard to believe that we aren't far from the bustling city and on the other side of the great pyramid are hordes of tourists!

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Feels like we have stepped back in time!

There is more out here than just pyramids, cemeteries and temples were all part of the vast complex.

Some have been rebuilt but there are still areas under excavation.

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At firlst you think 'Oh look a temple' but....
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....it turns out they are the public toilet!

We start to head back to the gate and take in one last view of the 3 pyramids and the desert view.

I can't believe my eyes when I see buses drive past, I mean... don't they know what damage they could cause, you would think they would protect better than this.

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One last look at the amazing view!

As you make your way around the third side of the great, you get a view of Cairo in the valley below. The what should be blue skyline is grey with smog from the city. It isn't the prettiest of views as the buildings don't have anything architecturally interesting about them, they are just beige and brown bland high rises. The only spot of color is the red blankets on the wandering Camels.

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Cairo!

We pass the eastern cemetery and as you follow the path Camels sit by the great pyramid in the sun, or being led around, their owners try to convince us to take a tour, yeap the peace and quiet is over!

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Rest up buddy!

The pathway back is so close the outer wall of great pyramid that you can see how they stacked the stones. At first glance in places they look so haphazardly stacked but then you see how they were cut into blocks and placed exactly where they needed to be.

It was once covered smooth with white limestone casting, initially standing at 146.5 meters, now that must have been a sight to see. But over time the outer layer was removed, which lowered the pyramid's height to the present 138.5 meters.

It was built by quarrying an estimated 2.3 million large blocks weighing 6 million tonnes total.

The majority of stones are not the same in size or shape and are held together my mortar. Sadly today the blocks are worn and broken, crumbling away with time.

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The outer wall is great place to relax!

The Pharaoh Khufur buried 5 Solar Boats in one of the 3 small pyramids and they unearthed on and put it in a small museum next to the pyramid. As we walk past the the museum I think about going in but to be honest I think I will give it a miss.

We make our way to the front and sit in the shade and watch the crowds.

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The little museum!

The Traders are wandering around with scarves and trinkets and I think we got asked to buy something about 5 times within 10 minutes and they just wont take NO for an answer! An elderly women is selling water and she seems to be doing quite well.

Slowly the rest of the group have found their way back and Mohammad asks if anyone wants to go inside the pyramid to see the tunnels, it is a bit confining he says so if you don't like small spaces it is best not to go... so yeah... na... I will pass, thanks... small spaces not my thing, went caving once and lost my torch, freaked the hell out of me!

I am disgusted to see people actually climbing onto the large base stones to take photos, what a disgusting selfish act, don't they realize they are helping to destroy 1000s of years of history... idiots!

Once the group is back together we make our way back to the mini bus and drive to the back of the pyramids as Mohammad is treating us to a Camel ride. But I decline as... well... I have seen how some of them treat these adorable trusting creatures and it goes against conscience!

Some of the group goes and the rest of us stay behind and enjoy the view!

With the Camel ride over we get back on the mini bus, Mohammad wants to know who is going to Abu Simbel, and I wasn't really listening to the first part of the conversation, but "little Miss Bossy" from the ferry to Egypt has started an argument with those who feel it is a little expensive and to be honest at $100US I agree, poor Mohammad is in the middle of it all and when those who have decided to go make a snide comment about being able to afford 'unlike some'. Well lets just say it pisses a few of us off! And I can't stay silent anymore! How financial someone is, is not their business and they should keep there opinions to themselves. So, now there is definitely a rift in the group!

Lets just say I am glad the short drive to the Sphinx entrance is over!

You can just see the top of his head from the main gate. As you enter there is an open area filled with chairs, you can't quite see the whole Sphinx as it sits low in the ground.

Trying to get to wall that surrounds it is quite a mission as it is very crowded and lets say just people seem to have lost their manners! There is a lot of pushing and elbowing... what the hell!

Finally we get to the viewing wall, and there it is! Aaahh, thought it would be bigger! But WOW...! What a view...! With the pyramids behind it... just well... WOW!

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The World Famous.. Ah you know who that is!

Finally we get a view of the 3 small pyramids, that were the Queens tombs, that were out of sight from the pyramid plateau!

So finally a complete view of the Giza Plateau!

He looks a bit... well aged, his body has worn with time, but hey, he is around 4,500 years old! He looks so proud, and he definitely has the body of a Lion, the huge front legs are shaped like paws, how amazing he must have looked in his glory days!

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The body of a Lion!

Yes, he is missing his nose, there are many theories about how he lost it, one is Napoleon shot at it with a canon ball, another is that historians attributes the loss of the nose to Muhammad Sa'im al-Dahr, a Sufi Muslim from the Khanqah (a strict religious sect in the 15th century) found local peasants making offerings to the Sphinx in the hope of increasing their harvest and defaced the Sphinx to stop them from showing religious favors to any other god but his!

But his face is said to be a representation of the Pharaoh Khafre, who was in entombed in the great pyramid.

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With the face of a man!

I walk around the viewing platform, but it is so crowded, one poor elderly couple are having difficulty making their way to the barrier, so I invite them to stand in front of me, they don't speak a word of English but the get the gist, ah... Italian and we get a fantastic view with the great pyramid peak and the Sphinx, and all I understand from their chatter is 'Grazie!'

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Oh WOW the icons of Egypt!
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At 4500 years old he still looks great!

I walk to the rear of the Sphinx but it is covered with scaffolding. So I make my way thru the thickening crowd to try and get a front on view of his face. I bump into Zoe and Hannie, and we push thru and up a set of stairs, like me they are a little fed up with the crowd, but it is kind worth it as the view is quite amazing!

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Wow, how amazing is that view!

We head back out to the open seating area away from the crowds and enjoy the peace and the view! Slowly we spot the others making their way back to the mini bus. It is not until we spot Mohammad that we join the group.

I will admit the argument earlier has put a damper on the groups mood, and the 4 that started it sit at the back of the bus away form the rest of us, it's petty really, but hey if they want to exclude themselves, no loss on my part, I for one have had a great morning...!

I am in Cairo, and have just seen one of the ancient wonders of the world and the iconic Sphinx up close, with 2 fantastic new friends and the day is not over there is still more to come!

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'It's just not the same without you Mum!'

There are a few stragglers, but soon we are heading back into the center of Cairo. Suddenly we turn off the main streets and down a side street, the bus so wont fit down there! But somehow our driver does, the streets are busy with pedestrians going about their daily lives in the tree shaded streets.

We have no idea where we are going, as Mohammad has a surprise for us!

We stop in front of a restaurant that is 3 stories high and takes up most of the corner block. Mo is treating us to lunch!

We make our way up the third floor and our tables a wait. As predicted the groups split and once settled a waiter quickly comes over and takes our drink order.

Soon they are placing condiments on the table... but hey we haven't ordered our food yet, don't we get a menu? Mohammad tells us we are all going to have a traditional Egyptian meal and we, in create it ourselves.

The condiments are our ingredients, chilies, roasted onions, lemon juice, chickpeas and jugs of a type tomato sauce... Oh OK!

So my curiosity is peaked, finally the waiters bring us steaming bowls of a type of pasta, and as the waiters explain how it is put together so we can flavor it to our individual tastes.

This is traditional Egyptian dish and this restaurant is famous for it!

So here we go, I hold of on the chilies, but OMG it is good! Filling, but good!

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Delicious!

I am so full, but it's time to get back on the bus.

We make our way to the famous Cairo Museum, we park out side the main gate, the red brick and columns the old colonial building is quite impressive.

Once past the security check we sit under a tree in the lovely manicured front garden and wait for Mo to get our tickets. It doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the city, it is so clean and cared for!

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Can't wait to investigate all those treasures!

We follow Mo up the large stone stairs thru the massive arched doors. Inside is cool and inviting. We are greeted by 4 giant statues of past Pharaohs.

Mo gathers us around and gives us a run down of the Museum, and yeah I wasn't really listening... I was distracted by... well everything!

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Don't know who you are...
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... or you...
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...but these past rulers...
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... are impressive!

Mo takes around the ground floor, this place is amazing, of the main hall are galleries for all the different Kingdoms and Dynasties, filled with unearthed treasures.

The first few galleries are dedicated to the Old Kingdom, they have discovered entire walls of hieroglyphics and the statues marble and beautifully carved.

We aren't allowed to use cameras but we can take photos on our phones. It is difficult to get good photos as I feel like we are being a bit rushed, but Mo assures us we will have time to ourselves later!

But the place is huge and I try to take in as much as possible because I don't know if I will get the chance to come back this way.

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Protected by the wings of Horus!
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Makes for interesting reading if you know what it says!

Some of the early statues look kinda child like. But there seems to be one theme that they all have in common, the Scarab which represents renewal and rebirth as well as the winged god Horus is prominent when they are buried. He is after all the god of kingship, and the eye of Horus is said to give protection to the Pharaohs on earth and in death would be united with the god as a god!

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This Pharaoh has double protection for his journey to the afterlife!
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All I can make out on this is Horus as an Eagle, a Scarab & what looks like lovers!

Slowly we make our way upstairs passing statues and engravings along the way. The Old Kingdom was an interesting time!

One catches my eye I think it is meant to be a more life like styling of the Sphinx. I can't help but laugh to myself it is a little comical and weird to look at, it is even winking!

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Is this Sphinx winking!

We head up a large marble staircase and Mo takes us to the one of the most famous exhibits in the museum. King Tuts tomb! The famous boy king!

Apparently his tomb was one of the richest finds in history, and I for one am interested to see all his treasures.

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The tomb layout!

In fact he was buried with so much treasure the museum has an entire hall dedicated to his discovery.

The first thing you see is are these 3 solid gold boxes, that were filled with treasure. They each are intricately carved with hieroglyphs that cover every inch. One is inlaid with blue lapis stone.

They must weigh a tonne.

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Solid Gold!
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No wonder they are behind glass!
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Each filled with treasure!

We are enter into a separate room, that has museum security at the door and inside. The room that has his death mask and is decorated with semi-precious stones.

The security inside are to stop us from taking photos of the mask, which is magnificent, solid gold and inlaid with jewels. It is difficult to describe really! It is larger than I thought it would be, it is 54cm tall, weighs over 10 kilograms

An ancient spell from the Book of the Dead is inscribed in hieroglyphs on the mask's shoulders. The mask had to be restored in 2015 after its 2.5kg plaited beard fell off and was hastily glued back on by museum workers.

As much as I want to sneak a photo the security guards are hovering making it impossible (photo below is thanks to Wikipedia)

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No, I didn't take this, too chicken to try!

After browsing thru all the displays finally a gap opens and I get to take a look at his solid gold sarcophagus, which is pretty spectacular. It was discovered inside a larger stone sarcophagus with 3 other coffins within each like a Russian doll, and here is one, the other 2 were also solid gold, and each carved on the inside as well as the outside.

That is a lot of work for one man, well teenager!

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One of 3 coffins found in his sarcophagus!

Mo has left us to browse on our own, and OMG the boy king, was spoilt, they buried everything with him, golden shrines, jewelry, statues, a chariot, weapons, clothing, a boat, his throne, they really believed they would be taking it all with them into the afterlife.

Of course there is a statue of Anubis, he is after all the god of the underworld, he was the one who guided the dead souls thru the underworld so it makes sense he would have prominent place in the kings tomb.

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The statue of Anubis found in King Tuts tomb!

The wives and I find ourselves in a hall filled with mummies under glass, rooms are filled with coffins, some very ornate and other not so much.

Some of the mummies are freaky, they look quite frightening, I guess they didn't think they would look all dreied and shriveled when they got to the underworld.

In some cases the bodies are quite well preserved in others... well not so much.

Anubis as well as being the god of the underworld he was also was associated with mummification.

In the Osiris myth, Anubis helped Isis to embalm Osiris, when the Osiris myth emerged, it was said that after Osiris had been killed by Set, Osiris's organs were given to Anubis as a gift. With this connection, Anubis became the patron god of embalmers, overseeing the rites of mummification.

But I swear if I see one of these mummies so much as twitch I am out of here, it is kind of creepy!

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Yeah... your not creepy at all!
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Your in pretty good condition for a dead guy!

From up here on the second floor you get a pretty good view of some the lower galleries.

There really is so much to see the place is like a maze, somehow I don't think an afternoon is going to be enough time to see it all!

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View from above!

We ourselves in a hall filled with coffins, some very ornate and other not so much. The more ornate the richer you were.

The one thing they all have in common is they are engraved with the face of the deceased.

But the legend goes, that Anubis not only guided the souls of the living into the afterlife, he weighed you heart against the truth, the truth was represented by an Ostrich feather, Anubis dictated the fate of souls.

Souls heavier than a feather would be devoured by Ammit and once Ammit swallowed the heart, the soul was believed to become restless forever.

Souls lighter than a feather would ascend to a heavenly existence.

So really it didn't matter how rich you were or how fancy your coffin was, it was your acts in life that determined your fate.

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This one was just a normal person like you and I!
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Hmm... wonder if there is anyone inside!

As you walk around the mezzanine floor the coffins become more elaborate and decorative. You cant help but stop and study the fine details in the carvings and the colors are amazing, a lot of work went into these coffins.

Some of them are quite beautiful.

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Look all those Scarabs, someone wants to be reborn!
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So intricate and colorful!
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Oh... OK I can make out Horus & Isis...!

As you walk around the mezzanine floor the coffins become more elaborate and decorative. You cant help but stop and study the fine details in the carvings and the colors are amazing, a lot of work went into these coffins.

Some of them are quite beautiful.

I head downstairs, the little galleries are dedicated to the New Kingdom this part of the museum is more modern and brighter.

In the main hall is a huge statue of a seated King Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye and between them is a small girl one of their daughters it is 7m high from Upper Egypt in 18th Dynasty.

It is so big I wonder how they got it in here!

A team of workers are attempting to move a large stone sarcophagus, it most weigh... well a lot!

They are relocating the entire museum to a new site opening in 2022, which is no easy task, looking at that statue of the couple... good luck to hem they have a lot of work ahead of them!

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Family Portrait!

In front of them is a the top of a pyramid called a Pyramdion, this black marble peak was from the pyramid of Amenemhat III in Dashur, the inscriptions are beautiful, I love how delicate the hieroglyphs look!

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Pyramid peak from the Amenenhat III pyramid!

I walk around to some of the smaller galleries, I find a room filled with this amazing statue of Horus, Seth and Ramses III.

Horus was the god of kingship and the sky with the face of a Falcon, Seth was the opposite he was the god of darkness, chaos, and confusion, in fact Horus defeated Seth in battle and it was thought that their battle was an eternal struggle between good and evil.

If Ramses III one of Egypt's greatest kings is the middle of these two did he struggle to do the right thing, I guess he was like the rest of us, human!

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Horus, Ramses III and the evil Seth!

I make my way to the famous Rosetta Stone, the fragment of rock that was key to deciphering Egyptian text and hieroglyphs, was carved in 196 BC.

Written in the 3 languages spoken at the time. The upper text was Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, the script used for important or religious documents which was understood by only about 1% of ancient Egyptians. The middle portion was demotic, the common script of Egypt at the time used for writing records, letters etc. The lowest portion was ancient Greek, script of the Egyptian rulers of the time.

It was discovered in July 1799 by French officer Pierre-Francios Bouchard during the Napoleonic war campaign in Egypt.

It is so crowded I can only get a glimpse, so I explore another gallery, where I bump into Zoe and Hannie.

Ah there's my favorite Egyptian deity Anubis, he looks stronger more regal depicted here than he did in King Tuts tomb. Next to him is Horus they are both kneeling with a fist in the air. Who would these gods bow down to, Ra the sun god maybe, but... now they are my fav exhibit... I think they are awesome!

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Anubis!
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Horus!

We browse a little long before we head out thru the gift shop... Noooo! I didn't buy anything, I am not a total shopaholic!

We make our way outside and the glare of the afternoon sun is harsh, we sit in the shade and have some cold drinks while we wait for the others.

Mo is the first to appear he is waiting patiently for us all. Soon we are back on the bus and heading back to the hotel.

My furry little friends are there to greet us.

We head off to buy snacks for the next part of the journey and before I head up and get my bags I feed my little friends the last of the cat biscuits. I really wish I could do more for them... yes I would take them home if I could!

Our bags are loaded onto the bus and we head to the train station.

Mo organizes our tickets and we drag our bags to the platform. There is a bit of a wait for the train so I grab a coffee, I know I wont sleep tonight so might as well.

Finally the train arrives and we are assigned our cabins, I have a new room mate she is new to the tour and doesn't say much at all. Which isn't going to much fun in such confined quarters... where on earth am I going to put my bag, it just manages to fit under the lower bunk!

I find Zoe and Hannie and a sit with them for a while until dinner and then head back to my cabin.

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The train cabin... not first class then!

The food is... well I am just gonna say it awful, the rice and the chocolate cake were nice, that's about it! Luckily I bought snacks.

I head down to the toilets... Eeewww, really, that's not pleasant, but when you gotta go , you gotta go!

Ok so I think I will just go to bed, which isn't the most comfortable, but it will do, am I being picky, maybe, probably, guess I am just tired.

So with head phones in and a movie on my phone I try to get some sleep.....

Posted by TracingTheWorld 03:46 Archived in Egypt

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