April 7-9, 2017
We traveled to Egypt (Cairo and Luxor) for a weekend … Well I think we had calculated a total of 56 hours from our arrival time to our departure in Egypt. An absolute whirlwind weekend, but non-stop sightseeing and learning about ancient Egyptian history!
We flew from Abu Dhabi on a usual overnight flight, which landed into Cairo in the early morning (5:15am). Upon arrival we quickly “freshened” up in the airport bathroom and met our guide outside the airport doors at 7:00am. We drove around looking for a small cafe to grab a coffee and something that would fill our bellies. We headed to a nearby hotel to relax and connect to some WiFi (duh) until the museum opened.
Our guide met us again at 8:30 and we headed to the Egyptian Museum (Museum of Cairo). The museum has the biggest collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts in the world (including the collection of King Tut, animal mummy room and the Royal mummy room *Extra cost to visit the Royal mummy room, but worth seeing!). Not like most museums you enter, this museum is a bit chaotic, unorganized and cluttered with many artifacts poorly displayed. While these characteristics seem like a drawback for history and art lovers, I found the museum fun and unique. The significant historical pieces were labeled and placed behind glass, but as you walk the halls you’re surrounded by statues, photos and many other pieces which are tucked away in corners, or piled in the hallways. There is a feeling of authenticity and overwhelming amazement with the sheer amount of history within its walls. [The Grand Egyptian Museum is currently being built in Giza, planned to house all the artifacts of ancient Egypt].
*I recommend a minimum 3-4 hours at the Museum (including the mummy exhibit).
We then rode on a felucca (wooden sail boat) on the Nile River. A felucca has no engine and relies solely on wind power to travel. So the ride is slow and smooth. We only cruised around for about an hour enjoying the experience of being on the Nile River.
After we ate lunch, we headed to Giza to see The Great Pyramids!
We arrived around 2:00pm, in the middle of the hot afternoon sun. Driving towards the Great Pyramids you can see the beige of the stone quickly approaching and the peaks of the Pyramids popping above buildings. I was not expecting the Pyramids to be in the middle of the city, I had thought they would be further out in the desert. (This is another good example of my lack of research into things before traveling). When we arrived to the Giza Plateau, my first impression was: WOW! It was one of those moments that give you goosebumps, put a smile on your face and make you think “Holy Sh*t I’m actually here”! They are spectacular and gigantic … Then, I remember thinking that it was crowded and VERY touristy. Surrounding the pyramids are many tour guides with and with out tourist groups, as well as many men and children selling maps, magnets, hats and other travel trinkets. Prepare to be persistently hassled and approached by these sellers and get used to saying “no, thank you” or “la, shukran”. *Tip: Go to the Pyramids with a guide, this will stop you from get hassled.
Our tour guide gave us a bit of the history of the Pyramids (Great pyramid of Cheops, Pyramid of Chephren Pyramid of Mycerinus) and then set us free to walk inside the Great Pyramid. *Note: you have to pay additional money to go inside the Great Pyramid (the cost of entering the Giza Pyramids site was included in our tour) – I think the additional cost was around $15CAD.
As you walk through narrow tunnels and up a long (nearly 90 degree) step ladder (Grand Gallery) you eventually come to an open chamber, the King’s Chambers which is a room entirely walled of granite. Once we reached the top to the King’s Chambers, I had another Holy Sh*t moment, “I’m inside the Great Pyramid of Egypt”. It was a long climb up and it was very dark and extremely hot inside. Once we got our pictures, we headed back down (and I think going down was harder than going up).
From there, we got back into the car and headed further away from the Pyramids into the Sahara Desert to take the cliché Pyramid pictures and ride camels.
We woke up at 6:30 to have breakfast before starting our Luxor tour at 8:00am.
Luxor was VERY busy, there is so much to do and see here and it is an overwhelming amount of history and information! I remember thinking how green and lush Luxor was in comparison to Cairo.
We went tob:
Across the Nile (by felucca again) to the East Bank:
- Mandatory military for boys.
- Egypt population 92 million (greater Cairo split into East / West divided by Nile River). The East Cairo is modern, larger population. West – Giza. Pyramids break it up
- The Great Pyramid at Giza was built as a burial place for King Khufu and took more than 20 years to build. Built from over two million blocks of limestone, it stands taller than the Statue of Liberty. The base of the Great Pyramid takes up almost as much space as five football fields