An Unforgettable Adventure To The Land of the Pharaohs, The Pyramids and Sphinx. Click photos please.
Visiting the "Cradle of Civilization" a beacon of religion in that part of the world is more appreciative in a group with tour guides familiar with the Egyptian people, their customs, culture, language, history, and the country; this is a journey through time, a journey through the history of an immortal civilization.
For thousands of years Egypt has been the playground of emperors and kings, a land bustling with life, visual beauty, excitement, and relaxation, especially on a cruise down the Nile on festive river boats and swift faluccas (small, traditional sailboats).
Cairo is the largest city in the Middle East and Africa and lies at the center of all routes leading to and from three continents: Asia, Africa, and Europe; the city has an incredible selection of shopping, including spices, perfumes, gold, silver, carpets, brass, copperware, leatherwork, glass, ceramics, musical instruments, craft work, and cotton jubbe or Gilbab (long gowns worn by men). Experience dining on a floating restaurant on the Nile or sample an apple-flavored shisha waterpipe at a coffee shop; see Oriental dancers at the cabarets.
A must-see after dark on the first night in Cairo is the Sound and Light show at the Pyramids, a dramatic fusion of light and music recounting the story of antiquity, orchestrated with mystifying perfection. The show follows a typical Egyptian dinner at Rahoma Grill on Sphinx Street in Cairo a short distance from the Sphinx and Pyramids. The speciality grill serves homemade barbeque, a large selection of famous Chinese dishes, and other Oriental foods with selections of fish, chicken, meats, desserts, and fruits.
Traditional dishes include koshary, a savory blend of lentils, chick peas and rice in a spicy chili sauce, or dish shami, the local equivalent of pita bread, made before your very eyes, spread with baba ghanouj, a tasty dip made of purreed eggplant.
Whether it is during the day or night, one thing is consistent, the constant sounding of horns by drivers who are always in a hurry. It is safer and easier to take a taxi to go anywhere, do not ever consider driving or renting a vehicle on your own. Signals are almost never used, but you wonder sometimes whether the driver of these vehicles ever take their hands off the horns. What is truly amazing is the fact that accidents rarely occur.
The Egyptian Museum
The first activity on the eight day Pyramids and Nile Cruise package is at the Egyptian Musuem, housing the greatest collection of Egyptian antiquities that evoke considerable interest. The ground floor traces the history of ancient Egypt. Security is very strict and all cameras, camcorders, or digital cameras have to be handed over to the Security outpost. Upon entering the check-in area, a whole concourse opens up, revealing sarcophagi and boats in enormous sizes and descriptions.
Included are some of the most important items from the time of the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt some 5,000 years ago, including the famous slate palette of King Narmer, one of the first documents of Egyptian history. Also on display are small masterpieces of sculpture, many over 50 centuries old.
Also depicted are a diversity of small statues from the Old Kingdom depicting individuals, families, and people at work.
Tutankhamun’s tomb stored four gilded shrines nested one inside the other. All four of these shrines are on display and attract such curiosity that one can hardly get a good view for quite a while. The innermost of covers a stone sarcophagus which remains in the tomb.
Inside the stone sarcophagus are three coffins, the innermost being made of 110 kilograms of solid gold. Inside that lies the pharaoh himself, wearing the famous gold mask. Two of these three coffins are on display in the same room as the mask, along with jewelry that stuns the imagination.
Apart from the Tutankhamun exhibits on the second level, there are numerous coffins, amulets, ushabtis, and household items. What is truly amazing is the impression that the human figures are alive.
Security is strict inside the museum with officers dressed as ordinary Egyptians mingling with the visitors from all walks of life and from different countries. A few hundreds yards away is the beautiful Mosque of Al Azhar, where the melodious call to prayer (Azaan) is sounded five times a day.
It is not easy to leave the museum and many wander in the compound to show their reluctance. But the next stage of the tour is about to begin . . . the Pyramids at Giza. The one and only Wonder does not need speculations concerning its appearance, size and shape, or continuance to mesmerize mankind.
Described as the only survivor of the Seven Ancient Wonders, the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) was built by the Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu of the Fourth Dynasty around the year 2560 BC to serve as a tomb when he dies. Actually the practice of pyramid building began in Ancient Egypt as a sophistication of the idea of a mastaba or platform covering the royal tomb.
At 756 square feet and at a height of 481 feet, the Great Pyramid is believed to have been built over a 20-year period. Throughout their history, the Pyramids of Giza have stimulated human speculation and imagination, but no one knows how they were built or the method implemented.
The structure comprises approximately two million blocks of stone, each weighing more than two to two and a half tons. On the north side is the pyramid’s entrance. A number of corridors, galleries, and escape shafts either lead to the King’s burial chamber, or were intended for other reasons. The King’s chamber is located at the heart of the pyramid.
There have been many theories over the years, including one that the Pyramids are astronomic observatories. But the scientific and historic evidence suggests that the Great Pyramids were build by the great Ancient Egyptian civilization just off the West Bank of the Nile as tombs for their magnificent Kings, used for transportation to the afterlife. The towering stature symbolize steps to the heavens in order to achieve eternal life.
The other pyramids on the Giza plateau are Kafre (Chephren), 704 square feet and 471 feet high, and Menkaure (Micerinus), 345.5 square feet and 216 feet high. These magnificent monuments create an almost unbelievable look on the faces of the onlookers as they gaze dumb-founded at the masterpieces of past civilizations.
The next stage of the tour is the Great Sphinx, located on the Giza plateau, about six miles west of Cairo, and it is believed to be part of the funerary complex of Pharoah Kahfre, lying halfway between the base of the pyramid and the Valley Temple. Many have viewed photos of the Sphinx but nothing prepares for that moment of confrontation that elicits responsive phrases like, “Amazing”, “Great”, “Utterly Fabulous”, “Unbelievable”, “Fantastic”.
Items on sale include the galabeya, a long flowing tunic or robe for men, the type for females, other clothing, jewelry, souvenirs, key chains, dresses, shoes, scarfs, handbags, leather items, teacups, tapestry, pots, sandals, sculptures of the various Pharaohs and/or Gods, artwork, towels, magnetic souvenirs, ornaments, gold and silver chains, charms, rugs, and of course hundreds of different types of T-shirts. The ploy of these vendors and shop owners is to start at a high price and reduce the items almost 50 percent after a bit of haggling. They express extreme annoyance if you leave their shop and make your purchase from a competitor.
As we explore the kaleidoscopic city of Cairo, it becames evident that the Egyptian people are among the friendliest and warmest in the world, looking for some means to attract your attention and to get closer to know you. We cannot escape the impact of a city that boasts of ancient tradition alongside a modern metropolis of old as well as new buildings, two-storey as well as ten-storey buildings.
Feature by Edwin Ali, Jetsetters Magazine Adventure Editor.