This is a continuation of the “vacation run” – a 50/50 mileage run / vacation my wife and I took to Cairo in January, 2015. Previous posts include: Etihad flight from Washington to Abu Dhabi, Etihad lounge hopping and Abu Dhabi to Cairo, Arriving in Cairo and Keeping an Open Mind, Review: Cairo Marriott Hotel and Omar Khayyam Casino and Review of the Doha Marriott Hotel .
We started the day in a somewhat hectic lobby of the Marriott, at which time it occurred to me that I had no idea how we would link up with our tour guide Mina. We did thankfully, I suppose we stood out enough.
A little background: We were in Egypt essentially to start a mileage run. I had also seen a post on One Mile at a Time by Tiffany about her and Lucky’s short tour while they were in Egypt a few months back. We decided that we’d give it a shot.
Soon enough we were on our way to Memphis, or at least the ruins that have been found to date, which ended up being a bunch of statues and other stone artifacts. But not before we passed donkeys and horses. It was an interesting change for us, moving from a city of cars and trucks, to a small suburban village–for lack of a better way of saying it–with donkeys and horses.
Beyond the donkeys, we made it to Memphis, and saw some amazing finds:
Soon after, we were to the Sakarra site, where the stepped grave site is. It’s not technically a pyramid. (need to build this out more).
Our next stop was the main attraction: The Pyramids at Giza.
Perhaps the most well known. Its interesting to note that up until this point we hadn’t seen more than one or two other tour guides and groups (and when I say group, I mean a family). The Giza Plateau we started to see many more tourists, but still nothing like I think you would have seen before the Revolution. We’re talking this is more like what you might expect first thing in the morning, except that it was noon.
Mina warned us of two key things to avoid: First: Don’t take anything from anyone, even if its offered as a gift, Second: Don’t take photos of camels, horses, or donkeys in front of the pyramids. He added, that he would convey offers from vendors of things for sale to be polite, but that he advised us to simply say “no.”
We were able to get some up close shots of the Great Pyramid, and learn that it once had a limestone fascade, however it was “scavanged” by Saladin in the 12th century for an Aquaduct for a fort nearby. I’m sure there are many things that could be said, but I won’t.
Mina noted when we went up to one of the distant viewing areas, that Egypt had the “second longest wall of China,” because at the Giza Pyramids, the predomenance of souveniers were all “made in China”. We’ve seen this around the world, but, the way he said it struck me, he felt that the cheaper craftsmanship reflected negatively on the experience of seeing the Pyramids and Egypt.
We visited the Sphinx, then left the area with a stop at a Papyrus factory. There we learned how Papyrus paper was made. Really it is one of those things on every tour where they try to get you to purchase something. I was impressed here though – there was no pressure.
Our last stop was a Felucca ride. A Felucca is an Egyptian sailboat, and as you can probably imagine, I, nor my wife, were going to turn down sailing on the Nile river. The Felucca was wider for the length than sailboats I’ve sailed on in the past. We had the wind at our backs for the first 15 or so minutes, and spent the next 35 minutes tacking back and forth, all told we spent about an hour on the water, and it was wonderful.