After a fairly early night…easy to do after a few of those apple cocktails! We were up and ready to go for today’s adventure, and boy is it a big one! The Giza Plateau!
This is, of course why we all come to Egypt. The pyramids, the Sphinx, how often do you actually get to touch one of the Great Wonders of the World? After a short bus ride, we made our way up towards the Great Pyramid of Khufu, the largest and oldest of the three. As you get closer, you can finally see how massive this structure is, and how imposing it must have looked fully encased in bright white limestone.
The casing stones have all fallen off this one, but some are still visible at the base of the pyramid. There is a small portion that visitors are allowed to climb…see that black spot? No, not that one, the one under it? Visitors can climb up to that one for pictures. It may look like you’ve barely even climbed, but trust when I say that pictures cannot convey the sheer size of these things!
Of course you cannot go inside the great pyramid. There is plenty of security around to make sure that no one climbs anywhere that they are not supposed to be. But still it is almost surreal to be there, actually standing on the Great Pyramid.
But, the Great Pyramid is not the only thing worth seeing on the Giza Plateau, far from it. We headed around the side of the Great Pyramid to head towards the Giza Solar Boat Museum, where Khufu’s fully intact vessel from 2500 BC is being preserved.
On our way to the museum, we were able to stop and see a group of burial chambers thought to be for the pyramid builders/workers. As these tombs are long emptied, some were open for us to climb down.
Then we could climb down the ladder into the burial chamber.
From our group of 16, six of us climbed down, and for the most part, that is all that would fit in the chamber.
We then, of course had to climb back up the ladder, then the ramp back to the top. Its strange to say that the fresh air was a welcome change when that air is 103 degrees, but being underground, surrounded by all that stone was kind of like being in a kiln.
Next up was the Solar Boat museum. We all had to wear shoe coverings in order to not track the sand/dust from outside into the exhibit.
This museum is specially designed to preserve the cedar used to make the boat, and it was built just a few meters from where the boat was originally excavated. It had to be, the boat was in over 1200 pieces! It was designed for the afterlife, and while it is regularly identified as the best preserved vessel of antiquity, it was never meant for sailing on the water, only the Duat.
See all those windows? When the sun is shining on that side, it is HOT! Once again, it actually felt good to get back outside into the regular heat.
After the museum, it was time to hop back on the bus for our next stop. I had left cooling towels on the bus and boy were they a hit! Here’s a travel tip…at night, after you wash out your cooling towels, put them in the hotel fridge, it makes them super cold when you are ready to use them…In Egypt, they were a godsend.
Our next stop was around the other side of the Giza Plateau for the quintessential photo opportunity in Cairo.
We were then each paired up with a camel and taken on a ride around the Plateau. Stopping of course for the obligatory photos.
Another quick Egypt travel tip: Those handlers will always ask for a tip, even though our tips were prepaid by the tour company. Mohamad warned us ahead of time that they would still ask and so not to feel guilty saying “no.” If you want to give a little something extra, set it aside in your pocket with nothing else. That way, you are not pulling out a bunch of bills and you will have no problem telling your camel guide that its all you have. They will ask for more, it just happens. But if you don’t have to rummage through your wallet, it is easy to stick to your pre-set amount.
Our next stop was another quick bus ride away. The Sphinx. Another iconic site on the Giza Plateau
There are many, many theories about the Sphinx. From when it was built, to why and by whom. While we have tests to measure the when, the rest is still somewhat up for debate.
Most accepted theories date the Sphinx back to 2500 BC, built for the Pharoh Khafre.
Can you believe its only just lunchtime? We drove to a restaurant in a new “planned community,” New Giza. The restaurant, Andrea NewGiza, is a bit of a drive away from Cairo, but the views were spectacular. The food was pretty awesome too…TRY THAT CHICKEN!
After lunch, it was back to the hotel to pack up and prepare for our VERY early flight to Luxor in the morning. We had dinner at a nearby restaurant on a boat in the Nile, called The Blue Nile Boat. It’s pretty cool to see and the food was darn good.
I also tried to get a sneaky picture of our security guy, because he was really cute, but they all turned out blurry…must be for security purposes. But it is probably for the best. Still, he was super nice and unobtrusive. And cute.
In the morning, we have to be on the bus to the airport by 3:45am!!! We are flying to Luxor for the next stop in our journey. We will be back to Cairo at the end of the trip for one night before flying home. There is so much more to see in Cairo, but I absolutely loved my little taste. I would definitely come back for another visit.