Clicked our heels, and we’re finally here (ha!)
It’s actually day two after our long, long, direct flight from JFK to Cairo. Fortunately, Egypt Air was more comfortable than anticipated (especially after our recent cramped and creepy experience on Finnair to Scandinavia). More leg room, decent food, and “current” movies (most from the
The only setback was the delay leaving the airport after a big train collision that morning that snarled traffic all over Cairo. Then off to our hotel on the island between Cairo and Giza.
Our Marriott has two towers, one a historic structure (we stayed in the other). Not for long though as we started our journey back into history at 7:30 am the next day. Our first glimpses at Cairo and the way through populated parts of Giza were of a not very interesting cityscape and landscape. It is dry and dusty (only one to two inches of rain a year) with mostly drab, concrete structures (very little wood available). The concrete sucks in gray and brown dust and the wind swirls a ballet of plastic and paper trash into eclectic sculptures in every protected space.
The pyramids suddenly appear – a lot closer to civilization than we had imagined. In the foreground of the photo is the beginnings of the Grand Egyptian Museum that will eventually stretch from there to the foot of the pyramids with walkways and exhibits.
We also see hundreds of mostly abandoned three and four story buildings built on spec by land-grabbers after the Arab Spring, terribly close to the ancient pyramids. The new government is in the process of having most of the structures demolished and removed. The unauthorized building is also wreaking havoc with local agriculture the Egyptians are so dependent on.
Up close, the Pyramids of Giza might not photograph as spectacularly, but it gives you a real sense of the almost unbelievable skill and determination of their builders.
The Great Sphinx of Giza…
Off to Saqqara, the Ancient Capital of Egypt
After exploring and learning about the Great Pyramids, the Sphinx, and the granite temple and mummification hall (preserved during the valley flooding because they were made of granite, not limestone), we drove through the countryside. You could see the gradual changes in culture and life-style. For example, the women’s birkas were now covering everything but the slits for their eyes.
Saqqara is Egypt’s largest archeological site. Old Kingdom pharaohs were buried in 11 major pyramids. Smaller tombs abound.
Emerging from one of the tombs, we see the spectacular and significant Step Pyramid of Zoser (Pharoah until 2648 BC). His chief architect, Imhotep was asked to build the world’s earliest stone monument, 60 meters high, surrounded by a vast
It was quite a day. Our bus wound its way back toward the island between two places where our dinner and rest awaited. The next day would be no less amazing, flying all the way to Aswan, the southern-most part of Egypt, adjacent to Sudan. The Great Dam, Philae island, and our trip up the Nile will begin. Join us.