Monday, 22 April 2013


"He who hath not seen Cairo hath not seen the world: her soil is gold, her Nile is a marvel; her women are like the black-eyed hours of Paradise; her houses are palaces; and her air is soft, more odorous than aloes-wood, rejoicing the heart. And how can Cairo be otherwise when she is the Mother of the World?".  A quote from "The Tale of the Jewish Physician”

As with most big cities and especially those on the African continent, Cairo’s air is not quite so soft, but the soil still produces opulent foliage, the Nile is still marvellous (although probably more so for the different types of bacteria you would find in it) and there are still palaces to be seen.  The women are beautiful and mysterious and the men handsome and charming (verrrrrry charming).

Arriving in Cairo in about 07:00 in the morning after an 8.5 hour flight was not my finest moment but being met and escorted through passport control by our awesome tour operator Mahmoud was an immediate “pick me up”.  We were then escorted to baggage claim where we met our tour leader Mostafa (remember when I said handsome and charming……) and our driver Yusser. I have never felt like a queen let alone at seven in the morning but these three gentlemen were amazing and made us feel so special.

On our way to our hotel we had the privilege of being exposed to Cairo’s traffic. 25 Million people call this city home and I am pretty sure that all 25 million were on the roads at the same time. Although being tired Megan and I could not help but be enthralled with our surroundings and excited shouts of “did you see that” and “Oh my word” resounded in the silent car.  I think we provided Yusser and Mostafa with a lot of laughs that morning.

As time in the car wore on the traffic was starting to lull our tired bodies to sleep when suddenly the mist lifted and there it was the top of a pyramid winking at us.  I was desperate to draw Megan’s attention to it but I did not want to deprive her of seeing it with her own eyes in her own time and fortunately I did not have to wait long. The way her tired eyes shone with delight and her smile which set my heart ablaze said it all.  We were seeing one of the seven wonders of the world in person and in the moment it seemed that the world stopped, the traffic drew quiet and dreams came true. It was heart stopping.

My first sighting of the pyramids (taken with my BB)
We arrived at our beautiful hotel, the Mercure hotel in Giza and Mostafa checked us in.  Suddenly we were being whisked off to our room for a hot shower and some much needed sleep.

I loved our hotel in Cairo and I highly recommend it

That moment when you look up from your grilled cheese sandwich and see the pyramids right in front of you...
yip that just happened

After a light lunch we were picked up at the hotel by our beautiful and awesome guide Shahenda and we set off on our first official tour. Yusser navigated the traffic using the uniquely Egyptian code of hooting (horn honks) which seemed to magically open up a path for us to get through the crowded Cairo Streets.  I had butterflies as I watched the pyramids rise up from the sands and it felt a little surreal.

Within the space of fifteen minutes we had been transported back in time.  For a moment we were in the middle of the hustle and bustle of modern Cairo where men and women  are dressed in everything from suits to galabeya and the next moment we found ourselves in ancient Egypt in a time belonging to Pharaohs.

As we made our way from the ticket office to the pyramids my butterflies were replaced with complete and utter awe. It seems like you are looking up and up for eternity to see the recognizable top of the second pyramid Khafre.  Seeing the perfect point helps you imagine how much more magnificent the pyramids must have been their original casing (read more about that when I show you the citadel).

From a distance it is hard to grasp the size of the pyramids but up close….its mind boggling!!! Standing at the base of the great pyramid I felt so insignificant.  The base stones were shoulder height for me and even though you are standing right there you really can’t believe how massive the structure really is.  Standing in the shade of the great pyramid you realise that no movie or doccie has ever truly captured how big the stones really are. But standing there you can start to begin to appreciate the size and when you do then you also start to appreciate what it must have taken to move just one stone across the sand of the desert.  There were no cranes or modern machinery and depending on your beliefs no aliens who built them. It’s an engineering feat and one that we could not with all our modern technology repeat today. Yet the construction of each one of the pyramids is precise and more beautiful almost impossibly so.

We went into the second pyramid which was awesome. It is quite an interesting experience as there are no stairs only wooden ramps, so you kinda go down on your haunches because even for a shorty like me there were places where I could not stand up. Then you go up a ramp and finally you enter into a big open space in the centre of the pyramid where when it was used as tombs the sarcophagus stood. It was very hot in there and I must say that I could not stand the thought of being inside.  I am not claustrophobic but I think the heat and the closeness just freaked me out a little bit. I have sourced a video clip from Youtube which will give you a very good idea of what it is like going in and out and just how narrow it is.  

We then went and took all the normal tourist photos at different spots around the pyramids and it was awesome to see them from different angles and to realise just how close to the city they are.  I think I am not the only one who thought that the pyramids were in the middle of the desert.  That is so not true…they are almost in the city.

From the pyramids we made our way to the sphinx.  The Great Sphinx as it is known is the oldest and largest statue in the world.  It was built around 2550BC.  The sphinx lost its nose in 1348AD when a man by the name of Muhammad Sa’im al-Dahr hammered rods into it and broke the nose of.  The guy was later hanged for vandalism according to history. For many years (as in centuries) the sphinx was buried in sand almost to its neck and it was only fully excavated between 1925 and 1936.  There is no mention of the sphinx in any of the ancient writings so the name of the sphinx and who ordered its construction remain a mystery. The sphinx is a mythical creature which has the body of lion and the head of a human. The great sphinx is made from limestone. 

It is currently under construction so you can’t really get close to it.  I somehow thought it would be bigger….I mean make no mistake it is huge but it is not as big as I thought.

We went to the light and sound show which is held at the sphinx and it is pretty impressive seeing the pyramids and the sphinx light up and the big bold voice of the sphinx tell the history of the pyramids. The mozzies were just a little hectic....

It is amazing when a dream comes true and standing in front of the pyramids and kissing a sphinx….well that has become a reality and my cup runneth over.

Meg at the airport with the travel journal I made for her as well as the
scarf I had bought her...

And I get to cross "see the pyramids" off my bucket list!!

Those blocks are HUGE....

Such tourists...

Yusser and Shahenda

Cairo is right there...

The casing at the top of the second pyramid..

The sphinx

This is Sphinx street in Giza . We walked to some of the government shops but more on that in a later post

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