Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Last Standing Ancient Wonder of the World

We arrived in Cairo Wednesday (11/26) morning at 10AM and were immediately greeted by our contact that was there to help us through customs. We had no problems. Next we were taken to our hotel, The Mena House, by our amazing driver (who stayed with us through most of the trip) and our trip organizer (we called him Larry King because none of us could remember his name). The Great Pyramid was less then 200 ft from our hotel and we had a great view from our bedroom windows!

Suffering from serious jet-lag, we all napped and rested. Trust me, we wanted our strength for the next day.

We were awoken the next day (11/27) at dawn by a loud call to prayer, which consisted of the prayer leader reading the Koran (or some prayer). The Muslims pray 6 times a day and are alerted to this by the prayer call. One is at dawn, one as dusk, and the other four are throughout the day.

Well, this was the day I’ve been waiting for: we were going to see the Great Pyramid of Giza! And let me tell you, it was totally worth it. We met our tour guide, Tamar, in the lobby at 8 AM and headed up to the pyramids. After Tamar gave us a background on the pyramids we had “free time” to go and explore. We all hiked up into the Great Pyramid of Khufu (the largest one) and into the King’s Chamber where the great pharaoh was buried. The passage was small, steep, and narrow, which is why Dad and Luke didn’t attempt the climb. Being able to climb into the last standing ancient wonder of the world was an experience not to be forgotten.

After taking our pictures and gazing at the Great Pyramid, we walked around the backside of the pyramid and came to the Solar Boat Museum. Inside is one of the oldest wooden boats. The solar boat was discovered in a large trench next to the Great Pyramid and excavated in 1954. A second boat was discovered but remains buried, due to the lack of funding. It’s amazing that the boat was able to be completely reconstructed, since it has been buried under the sand since the death of King Khufu (2566 BC).

We next walked past the Pyramid of Khafre (2nd pyramid) and headed over to a high place where we could overlook the pyramids. My mom really wanted to ride camels and this was the place to do it. So of course, we did! I never realized how huge (and smelly) they were.

The day would not be complete without seeing the Sphinx. We drove down to where the Sphinx (it’s farther away from the pyramids then it seems) and Khafre’s Valley Temple are located.

Next we went to a papyrus shop where we were shown how to make papyrus and how to recognize real papyrus so we are not fooled by the street venders. I got a large papyrus sheet with a painting (hand painted) of Anubis on it with my name.

AND this was all before lunch!

After eating we went to Memphis (one of the capitals of ancient Egypt) where we saw a large colossal limestone statue of Ramses II and the Alabaster Sphnix. Sadly, most of Memphis was destroyed and very little remains of the once great city.

Our last stop of the day was in Saqqara. We saw the Step Pyramid of Djoser and Sneferu’s Bent Pyramid; both of which were predecessors to the Great Pyramid.

Stay tuned...

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