Sunday, April 5, 2009

Oh, the Pyramids! A day in Giza.

Our first full day in Egypt we spent doing what one should do on their first day in Egypt - we got our picture taken in front of THE PYRAMIDS. Actually, we got our picture taken in front of a lot of things, come to think of it. We decided to do a private tour that our hostel manager set up. It turned out to be a great decision. It was ridiculously cheap - I wish I could remember how much exactly, and it saved us from dealing with the hassle of cabs and navigating a new country and all of that. It included 3 stops and lunch.

First stop - Saqqra. I actually didn't even know this place existed until we went there on the tour. Eek. Bad History major. This is the world's oldest pyramid, and oldest stone structure, for that matter: (and of course me, cheesing it up in front)

Second stop was Memphis, where the highlight was this massive statue of Ramses:

Sphinx at Memphis. Pictured here are the girls I traveled with: K.C., Katie, me and Nura. In front was our trusty tour guide for the day. He was great.

Third stop: lunch. These women bake pita bread for the restaurant, and threw us some right out of the oven as a little pre-lunch snack.
After gorging ourselves on our overpriced lunch, we headed out for Giza and the Great Pyramid...... da da da....!

There are actually 3 large pyramids at Giza. But you can't get them all in one picture unless you are pretty far away. We declined on the option of riding a camel to get a better picture (don't worry, camels come later).

Check out how HUGE the stones are! How in the world they moved those things is still a mystery - it is truly a wonder.
And... here we go... the trashy tourist pic. Gotta have some of these.

So, funny thing about the pyramids... they are not in the middle of the desert.. was I the only one who thought this? Giza is actually just a suburb of Cairo, and HUGE. You can take the bus to the pyramids, or a cab - its only a few minutes drive from downtown Cairo. Don't believe me? Check out this picture, standing in the same place as the picture above, just looking in the opposite direction:
One more for the road:

We walked for a couple of minutes, and ran right into - The Great Sphinx! (this actually was the coolest moment for me - it hit me how surreal it was to be standing in a place I had been seeing pictures of my entire life... wow wow!)

A little closer...

The Sphinx and I got close and personal.

There was actually a little girl standing there showing tourists how to angle their cameras to take this picture. She was precious and made my heart hurt. In general, I have a policy of not handing money to kids on the street, so I didn't give her money.

And I feel bad.
(You can't win when it comes to kids on the street, I'm telling you. You give them money, it is perpetuating poverty by keeping them out of school. You don't give them money and they may not eat that day. Seriously, it tears me up, still. ... and... I'll end the downer rant, but if you have a great solution, let me know. Meanwhile I'll be kissing sphinxes for free AND feeling terrible about it.)

After a long day of being ridiculously touristy, we did the cheesiest tourist thing yet - we went on a dinner cruise on the Nile. Complete with semi-bad belly dancer.
... A whirling dervish.. and, oh it gets worse....

.... and a Little Person whirling dervish.

Oh, to be a tourist in Egypt. It actually was all a lot of fun, of course. A lot of fun. It was incredible to see the sites and be in the places that people from all over the world flock to. But it doesn't compare at all to actually being able to DO something for the place - to get to know the people, contribute, have them get to know you......

The more I travel the more I realize this.

1 comment:

Victor said...

I think I would be a whirling dervish if I were Muslim (I would be into Sufism). I wonder what makes a belly dancer bad. The pictures look amazing actually. What a great experience!