Egypt

Egypt

Day 1:  Adibiya and Suez City

Day 2:  Cairo

Day 3: Cairo

Day 4:  Cairo to Luxor

Day 5:  Luxor to Alexandria

Day 6: Alexandria

Long story short most Egyptians didn’t even know where Adibiya is.  Barely a blip on the radar it’s a small industrial port (so why did we port there?) that’s surround by mountains and dirt and did I mention everything is brown??? As far as the eye can see brown, brown, brown.  Just a short taxi ride though took us to Suez City which was yes you guess it where we found the Suez Canal.  It’s actually located on the canals entrance into the Red Sea (Port Said is located at the entrance into the Mediterranean).

Suez City

Not much to do here except see the canal.  They don’t get tourists so when a white foreigner does emerge it’s like they are a new puppy everyone wants to look at.  While I did enjoy my time there (1 day) that enjoyment was made entirely by the company I had (my two friends, and Egyptian named Amer and somehow Russian Sailors).

Cairo

Sometime in your life you’ve probably gotten a glimpse of all the many things Cairo has to offer.  Whether on TV, in a Magazine, a book or a movie Egypt has always fascinated people and Cairo offers many of those things people love.

Saqqara: Just on the outskirts of the city you can find Saqqara which plays home to some of the oldest Egyptian monuments and ruins.  The step Pyramid of King Zoser is the highlight of the area having been the first pyramid to well, keep it’s shape.  If you walk up onto the bluff next to the pyramid and look off into the distance you can see some of Egypts other giant and less famous pyramids.

Saqqara also plays home to some tombs.  These tombs are in an above ground building and have some beautiful hieroglyphics on the walls.

Memphis:  Near Saqqara is Memphis the ancient capital of Egypt.  I had been expecting some spectacular ruins but instead got a small museum plot with several statues littered around the grounds.  The highlight of this is a giant statue of Ramses the 2 which was fished out of the Nile.

Khan al Khalili bazaar:  Are in the market for a Hookah?  If your answer is yes then you’ve come to the right place.  They offer every shape , size and color you can imagine.  Aside from Hookahs there are some clothing and spice shops.  The metal and brass shops offer beautiful (and very large) items.  Then of course you can get every Egyptian souvenir imaginable (Egypt was the worst with this).  Magnets that look like King Tut, Papyrus “scrolls,” mummy paperweights, you name it they’ve got it.  What I really enjoyed though was just wandering the immense network of alleyways and just taking in the sights, sounds, colors and smells.

Cairo Museum:  This place is Amazing!  You could spend weeks here and never really see everything.  The seriously have a whole wing filled from floor to ceiling with sarcophagi and mummies.  Another wing is willed with the hundreds of items found in King Tut’s tomb (save for the mummy himself, they left him in the tomb).  If you wish to see some royal mummies you can pay a small fee to get into a room where you will see more Ramases then you ever knew existed.

Citadel of Saladin and the Alabaster Mosque:  Although it looks like many other ottoman mosques I got quite a different felling from it. The inside wasn’t as large as the great mosques of Istanbul but it felt much more warm and inviting.  It was also much more open to visitors.  I found I could lay on the floor and just stare up at the brass chandeliers suspended from the ceiling for probably hours and not be disturbed.

The Great Pyramids:  There are a few great wonders and great mysteries left in the world.  The Pyramids are definitely one of them.  The morning we visited the plateau we got up at an ungodly hour so we could sit on a hill a short distance away and watch the sunrise over the Pyramids.  I was a truly beautiful sight.  The only unfortunate thing is you have to wait a couple hours before you can actually approach the Pyramids.  Camels drivers who are passing back and forth at the bottom of the hill will try to tell you differently but don’t believe them.  However, later in the day you should ride a camel.  A picture of you on top of a camel in front of a pyramid is something you will cherish forever.

When you eventually get down to the pyramids there are two that you can go into.  The great Pyramid of Khufu (The tallest Pyramid) or the Pyramid of Kaphre (the one in the middle).  Our wise tour guide told us both pyramids look the same on the inside but the Pyramid of Kaphre is much cheaper to get inside.  That’s the one I went for.

Before you climb inside there are a couple guards checking to make sure you don’t have cameras (no photography allowed inside).  Instead of rushing back to put mine on the bus I just hid it well inside my bag.  To get into the pyramid you must crouch inside a very small tunnel and shuffle downwards at a gentle grade.  Soon you reach flat ground and the ceiling raises so that you can actually walk.  After maybe 25 or 30 feet of this you must crouch down again and this time shuffle upwards.  Halfway up the shaft this time the ceiling opens up and if you look behind you and up you can see another entryway.  I was told this was used by the servants.

The chamber within the pyramid is maybe 30 feet long, 20 feet wide and 30 feet tall.  At one end there is what looks like a large stone bathtub which is where the sarcophagus once lay.  On the wall, painted in large letters is a notice from the men who I assumed first discovered the tomb 150 years ago.  There were no hieroglyphics that I saw anywhere inside the Pyramid. Now,  as you can imagine, with 2 dozen bodies this room soon gets hot and cramped so we rushed out.

The Sphinx:  Thought to have been made in the image of Kaphre the sphinx sits at the beginning of a causeway to his Pyramid.  You can not go up and touch the sphinx, in fact the closest you can get is at least 20 feet away.  But just being in it’s preasance is a pretty magnificent and I must say photogenic thing.

Giza Lazer Show:  I must admit the idea of a laser show is always a little corny to me but I genuinely liked this one.  There are several showings each night in a handful of languages.  Your Narrator is none other than the Sphinx itself.  They use lasers to project a face onto it and they do a pretty good job.  In the background the history of the Egyptians and the Nile is projected onto the sides of the great Pyramids.  Both fun and educational J

Luxor

The ancient city of Thebes.  The city of temples and kings.  If you go to Egypt Luxor is more than worth a stop.

Valley of the Kings:  Across the river in a lonely mountain valley sits the valley of the kings.  A place where excavations are constant.  You never know when a knew tomb might pop up.  Obviously the big draw here is the tomb of King Tut.  His tomb was actually prepared so quickly that it is really just a small room which you must enter the same way we entered the pyramids (by crouching down and shuffling down a gentle grade).  However this tomb is the only one with the mummy still inside.  Because of that they will not let you take pictures inside of the tomb (nor any other tomb) and if a guard catches you taking a picture he will approach you and force you to delete it.

With a payment to get into the Valley of the Kings you are able to gain entrance into 3 tombs as well as King Tut’s.  Our guide told us what he thought were the most magnificent ones.  All of the ones I visited were of kings Ramases (the numbers I do not remember).  These tombs were massive, descending hundreds of feet sometimes into the mountain.  Hieroglyphics covered every surface.  Painted stars decorated the ceiling and of course the burial room was the most magnificent of all.

The temple of Queen Hatshepsut:  built into the side of a mountain this temple truly honors the queen it was built for.  When you picture Egyptian Ruins this is one of the things you imagined.  Built in three tiers, carved columns line every side while a very large stairway ramps up the center.  Look closely and you might be able to find the Hieroglyphics that spell the queens name.  After she had died these glyphs were erased from nearly every surface that bore it.

The colossus of Memnon:  worth just a quick stop for a photo these two seated Pharaoh figures sit side by side at the entrance to a once great temple which is currently being excavated.

Luxor Temple:  Located just a few Kilometers from its much larger counterpart, Karnak temple, Luxor temple is most majestic to view at night when it is illuminated by colored lights.  I loved the enormous columns the most.  One aspect of this temple I thought was very cool was the mosque within it’s boundaries.  Built hundreds of years ago, when most of the temple was still buried under sand the doorway now sits more than 20 feet up the side of the building.

Karnak Temple:  Magnificent in every way Karnak Temple embodied my visions of Egypt.  From the towering columns to the giant entrance.  Just be wary that you don’t climb on any staircases.  You’ll get yelled at.  There are also a couple obelisks in the compound and interestingly enough the largest one is the obelisk of Queen Hatshepsut.

The Nile River:  Our Hotel (Le Meridian) offered faluka rides on the Nile river.  This is something I just had to take advantage of.  How many people can say they went sailing on the Nile River?  Our boat was called the Diana and although there was no wind we still had a great time taking in the scenery and talking to the boats “captain.”


Alexandria

Almost European in some ways Alexandria is a nice mix of new and old.

Catacombs:  We went early in the morning before anyone else arrived.  Again you were not allowed to take pictures but I was able to snap a few since there were no guards inside.  A small catacomb compared to many of those in Europe, it was no less creepy with it’s dark corners and crevices in the walls.  Each nook was empty however, all the bodies having been long removed.

The Library of Alexandria:  No longer in it’s ancient and world renowned state, the current library of Alexandria sits as an architectural marvel right next to the harbor.  The interior is filled with lines of books and computers where you can use the internet for free (some sites being blocked however).

The Harbor:  This is a nice place to just walk along.  You wan watch men fishing from along the shore and when you reach the end you can visit an aquarium in Fort Qaitbay which was built on the site where the famous lighthouse once stood.

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