Sunday, October 10, 2004

Cairo - Day 2

Pictures... http://community.webshots.com/album/198364739FlbcEV

Today we got up early and hired an English speaking taxi driver for the day with the help of the hotel receptionist. David negotiated a price of 130 Egyptian pounds for the whole day of sight seeing the pyramids outside of Cairo. The original price was 170 Egyptian pounds. David is getting much better at his bartering skills J

We drove from Cairo to the three huge pyramids at GIZA. They are simply outstanding. At this site there were many tourists and many locals trying to sell pyramid souvenirs, hats, camel rides, donkey rides, and cold drinks. The sphinx is the first monument you see. It is directly in front of the largest pyramid which has smooth edges at the very top. David and I took many pictures of the Sphinx. David included these pictures in the blog from today. You could imagine how beautiful this was when it was first built. You can tell that the feet have been rebuilt and amount of weathering is significant.

From the Sphinx we walked up a long paved road that brings you closer to the pyramids. This road had many tourist buses and David and I noticed that we were one of very few tourists using the road to walk up it. About half way up we noticed that you could enter a tomb on the right, which was included in our entrance ticket. A guard showed us the original door of the tomb and then took us to where the body was found. We peered into a large crypt where you could see real human bones. The pathway was extremely narrow and the ceilings were very low. It reminded me of caving, minus the water up to my waist.

We continued up the paved road and walked around the pyramid with the smooth sides near the top. We could walk along the very bottom perimeter of the pyramid, which made a much easier path than trying to walk through the powdery sand. We took pictures of us with the Tourist guards at this pyramid and bought a drink from an old man and his donkey behind the pyramid. Everyone was trying to sell us a ride on a camel or donkey. Neither David nor I were interested in doing this. I believe it is part of our tour when we go to the Valley of the Kings when we are in Luxor.

We collected pebbles from the base of the large pyramid. I found a beautiful alabaster pebble and we collected several limestone pebbles.

From Giza our taxi driver took us to the step pyramid in Saqqara. In the distance you can see the pyramids at Giza. The entrance price to see this pyramid was the same as the ones at Giza, 40 Egyptian pounds for the both of us (9 US dollars). This tourist site was much quieter. There were fewer people trying to sell you things.

The taxi driver was able to drive us to the top of the hill where you can see the step pyramid. He dropped us off at the entrance where you can buy a ticket. You enter through a large entrance way with many pillars into a large quart yard. To your right you can see the step pyramid. The step pyramid looks much older than the ones we saw at Giza. We walked around to the back of the pyramid, where we could see the pyramids at Giza and Memphis in the distance. Behind the step pyramid they had enclosed a stone statue in a rock chamber where you could peer through eye holes to look at it. David and I took photos of the statue. I hope it turns out. We saw a group of tourists meditating at the base of the pyramid. After walking around the base of the pyramid we decided to head back to the hotel and have a nap.

Today was extremely warm in the dessert where the pyramids where. We drank about 2 litres of water between the two of us. Since there were few restaurants around the pyramids we only had a snack for lunch.

On the way back to the hotel our taxi driver nearly hit a pedestrian. He was helping us look for fruit stands and was distracted for a second. When he turned his attention back to the road a pedestrian stepped right out in front of our car and we came to a screeching halt. There was no time to grab the holy shit handles. Luckily the breaks on the taxi were working!

Once safely back at our hotel, we took a shower and a cat nap. Then we had to find dinner. We had much better luck today. Since today is Saturday and not a day of prayer we noticed that there were many more shops and restaurants opened. We were able to walk to our hotel and quickly find a BBQ chicken restaurant. It looked like a fast food restaurant so we kept looking along Nile Street. Right around the corner from the BBQ restaurant we found an Arabic restaurant that we thought would be our equivalent to a Swiss Chalet back home. We had delicious hummus and two types of bread and delicious grape vine leaves for an appetizer. I had a chicken wrap with vegetables (cucumbers and tomatoes on the side) and David had a beef platter. Then we had coffee. The food was delicious and reasonably priced. We saw several items on the menu that we would like to try. We might return tomorrow with two Australians that we met this morning while eating breakfast - who are on our tour. Their names are Kathy and Bruce. They just spent a month in London and Ireland and now they will be on our tour before returning to their home in Cambra, Australia.

We found a pastry place that sold gelato on the way home to our hotel. We bought a variety of sweets and two small cups of gelato. It was delicious. We manage to make our way back to the hotel without the help of a taxi tonight. We bumped into Kathy and Bruce at the entrance of our hotel and we went up to the roof top bar with them for a beer and to share our sweet treats with them. They are very friendly and it will be fun to travel with them over the next two weeks.

Tomorrow we plan to take a boat ride on the Nile on a Felucca and then go to a market, maybe the Citadel.

Cheers,
Veronica and David


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