I’ve decided it’d be a bit easier to split my travel blogs by cities, instead of countries- that way the post is shorter but you get the most out of my tips and information.
Honestly, this trip for me was a dream come true! Who hasn’t dreamt about seeing the Great Pyramids of Guiza, not to mention the famous Sphinx…. I know I have... eh, had! And I blame it all on the movie; The Mummy. Ever since the fearless Brandon Frasier; eh, I mean O’Connell, raised the infamous Imhotep from his grave- I knew that I’d one day have to visit this magical land filled with adventure, peril and romance. Of course, a couple years later I tragically realized that The Mummy was a phony. For starters it wasn’t even filled in Egypt; not one scene! Not to mention the story itself, although it was believable and VERY entertaining, came nowhere near the actual Egyptian legends…. I was heartbroken, I really was *tear* but that didn’t stop me from wanting to visit this country to experience true Egyptian culture and to visit one of the 7 wonders of the world.
My trip began with online reservations. I booked a two-week tour for my friend Theresa and I with Ramses Day Tours. They are ranked #1 tour group in tripadvisor.com, but I did do my homework before finally deciding on Ramses Tours. If you read other Travel blogs, you might have heard horror stories about Egypt. Some travel blogs stated that the majority of the online reservation tours are scams, others suggested that you just “wing it” and visit Egypt as your own tour guide. I don’t know about ya’ll, but when I visit a country I like learning about the people and their culture, and what better way than to have an actual citizen be your guide.
But, as you might imagine, I was very nervous when I finally contacted Ramses, and they wrote me back asking for a 10% deposit. I was very “ify”, but let me tell you- I followed their guideline/process for sending my payment and everything worked out perfectly. I went to a local Western Union, sent them my 10%, and the next day got a confirmation email saying my deposit was received and they couldn’t wait to meet me. So despite all the scam warnings, I’m here to tell you that Ramses Tours is a company you can trust.
|climbing the Great Pyramid|
GREAT PYRAMIDS OF GIZA:
After a good nights rest, we got up bright and early because our first stop was the Great Pyramids of Giza. Mohammad, our tour guide, gave us a history lesson while we were there. The three main pyramids of Giza are the pyramid of Khufu (the great pyramid), Khafre, and Menkaure. The Great Pyramid is awesome and even taller and bigger in real life. You are even allowed to climb on it, just not allowed to climb to the top of it! Theresa and I bought tickets to go inside the Great Pyramid. The passageway is very steep and narrow and you have to walk it while hunched over! The passageway ends in the tomb's chamber, which in reality isn't much. To be honest, I wouldn't recommend buying tickets to go into the pyramid because it's not very exciting, just a strenuous climb, but how many people can say that they've been inside the Great Pyramid? So it's up to you, just know there's not much to see once your inside. After our visit to the Great Pyramid, I did a camel ride around the other two pyramids, Theresa was too scared :)haha!
OK, so I quickly learned that camels are not my favorite mode of transportation. First of all, camels are REALLY tall and it's a long way to fall to the ground! Secondly, by now it was midday and it was HOT. I mean, really, really HOT. Sure I enjoyed the surrounding scenery; there are three smaller pyramids towards the back, which were made for Khafu's wives, but after 10 minuets of riding in the sun, I suddenly felt really sick. Thankfully, the ride wasn’t much longer and I was able to get back to camp and drink a liter of cold water in one gulp.
SPHINX & THE EGYPTIAN MUSEUM:Our next stop was the Sphinx. Theresa and I had our picture taken and we got a little bit of information from our tour guide. By this time I was feeling a bit woozy. Our tour guide told us that it was 38 C. Now, if I remember correctly, 38 C= approx 100 F! That's CRAZY! And let me remind you that my trip was in November.... NOVEMBER! It's supposed to be winter for crying out loud! But I guess the normal temperature rules don't apply in the middle of the Egyptian desert. After the Spinx, Mohammad quickly took us to a restaurant to grab a bit of lunch. I ate lots of pita and hummus. Food definitely helped and I felt ready for our next stop, which was the Egyptian Museum.
This museum is just packed full of every Egyptian treasure you can imagine. Mohammed gave us a quick basic tour of the first floor, then we were left on our own to visit exhibits such as King Tut's golden mask and tomb treasures and the mummy room, which houses eleven royal mummies. The whole second floor (or almost all of it) is dedicated to the treasures found in King Tut's tomb. Its amazing to see how much possessions he had and he was only Pharaoh for approx 10 years.... imagine if they found a closed tomb for a Pharaoh that lived his whole term; 40-50 years... they'd need 15 Egyptian museums just to display all his possessions. The Egyptian Museum is something that is well worth the entrance fee and is a must see for every tourist! But remember, there are no cameras are allowed in the museum (they store them away at the entrance of the museum) and there is no air conditioning... deodorant quickly became my best friend throughout my whole trip!
SHOPPING AND NILE RIVER CRUISE:
The next day was a more relaxed, non rushed day. We spent the majority of the morning shopping for souvenirs, we visited a perfume factory and I bought myself a Lotus Flower scented oil. It smells delicious! We did make a quick stop at an Egyptian papyrus store... it was very educational. They walked us through the process in which the plant becomes the canvas or paper. Unfortunately I was running low on cash and I didn't have enough to buy one :( they were pretty expensive, but I can see why! They're hand made and BEAUTIFUL! We took a car/scenic route of Cairo (the city, not the desert) and visited a couple of Mosque's. I'll admit that I did jump the first couple of times the prayer calling came on. There are speakers ALL over the city and Egyptians take their prayer time very seriously. The calling is done 5 times a day for 20 mins (1 hour a day).
pita and hummus filled (I was addicted to that stuff) lunch, we took a private Nile River cruise. This was probably the funniest part of my afternoon. Our boat driver/navigator had this little boom-box on the boat and was blasting some Egyptian/Arabian music, which I must admit had an AWESOME beat to bit (I appreciate any kind of good music when I hear it). Once he noticed that I was tapping my foot to the rhythm of the music, he pretty much stopped our boat, and started belly dancing. It was the coolest thing I had ever seen, that boy could MOVE! Theresa and I cheered him on with some clapping, "Woo!" and "you go boy" comments, but he eventually got us dancing too. It was such a fun evening :) I definitely recommend taking a scenic river cruise.... Be on the lookout for this guy!
TIPS AND SUGGESTIONS:Practice saying Shukran (pronounced show-kran), which means Thanks or thank you. Everyone and their moms expect you to give them a tip.... they all have this misconception that tourists are just loaded with money to hand out. Expect to give anyone who helps you a tip. Egyptian people are very friendly, don't be afraid to start a conversation... that is, if they speak English, which majority of the folks at the touristy spots do. You don't know how many people I befriended just by talking about soccer, or futbol. They couldn't believe that I was a soccer player (very rare in Egypt for a women to lay a "mans" sport). They where blown away when I started commenting on the 2010 World Cup and certain games/players. Also, make sure and exchange your money for Egyptian pounds. It makes it less of a hassle when your trying to bargain- which is something you should ALWAYS do! Never settle for the original price, they will bring it down, TRUST ME! When I was there 5 EP = $1 US. You can use my favorite exchange site to calculate the current value; http://www.xe.com/
Well guys, as far as Cairo, that is all I have to tell. The next day we got on a train towards Aswan, but I'll be doing that city (and many others) in separate blog spots. There's just so much to share about Egypt... Gosh, I hope this wasn't to boring for you y'all. Let me know if you would like me to add details of a certain aspect of my trip or if you have any questions. Here are a couple more pictures of my visit to Cairo- enjoy :)
|in front of the Egyptian Museum|
|educational demonstration on papyrus|
|giving the Sphinx a little farewell kiss...|
Planning a trip to Cairo in the near future... have questions I didn't answer in my travel post? Please, dont hisitate to ask eithe rin the comments below or by email; lovelygetaway @ gmail.com
I'm here to help :)