Day 10 (10/15/2011)   Cairo: Gizeh


Pyramids route

  The highlight for this day is the visit to Pyramids of Gizeh. We're going to be allocated close to them because of this. Optional visits would be adding Saqqara and/or Dahshur to our tour..

   Then we would lunch at hotel or nearby and would rest until the time to get the sleeping train, which we would take at Gizeh station around 20:00.

Spots marked on map are:

0- Hotel Oasis
1- Pyramids of Gizeh and sphinx
2- Saqqara
3- Dahshur


   Another day without accomplishing with the early timing: Waking up, breakfast, get the baggage ready, checking out of the hotel and a short but a slow taxi ride to Pyramids by 45 pounds, make us being inside Giza Necropolis at 11:00. I’ve already removed Dahshur visit from our list, but I’m still hoping visiting Saqqara.

   Pyramids area entry fee is 60 pounds. Once inside the selling pressure is brutal. Although being fewer tourists these days has the advantage of avoiding crowded monument visits, here it has a big drawback as there are more go-getters than tourists and, therefore, the few we’re here are more overwhelmed. We cannot be a single second alone; the visit is becoming a run away from vendors and camel men who keep chasing us wherever we go. They’ll try everything to get some money from you: vendors put something in your hand saying is a gift and keep at your side until you give money or they take their “gift” back. There are a lot of people chasing you for a picture, whether to them or they do it to you, and they will always ask money in return. In one moment, we go beyond an area marked with tape at Pyramid of Khafre feet just looking for scape as the tourist police is in there making us signs for passing in and we get what we want… closely. We’ve changed a lot of chasers by one who, under police protection, insists on doing pictures with us looking with the visual game of “touching” the top of the pyramid. We let him do as is the quietest moment of the visit. This is the only place I know where word “No” means nothing.

   Everybody here wants his baksheesh, even the police or guards. One guard makes me rectify my way when going out from a place but finally the way he tells me is the wrong one and mine was right, so I have to return to my steps. He asked me money for indicating me wrong. We have to assume this and live with it when visiting this place, but it makes one cannot enjoy the visit as would like.

Gran PyramidPyramid of Khufu

Pyramid of MenkaurePyramid of Khafre

  Considering that, we rounded the two big pyramids from their base, first Khufu one or Great Pyramid, and then Khafre’s, which is the only one keeping part of its original cover at the top. Then we get the small Menkaure’s, where we get two calash to go to the view point, far enough as per having a sight of all three pyramids, which is impossible when you’re close to them. I must say the Great Pyramid is really huge, as big as a mountain, Khafre’s is not far from it, but I didn’t know the size difference with Pyramid of Menkaure, which is ridiculously smaller than its sisters.

Calash in fron of Pyramid of MenkaurePyramids view

   We’re driven back to pyramids from view point until the Great Sphinx but, when arriving I realize my mistake in our route as Sphinx is sited just at the exit, so we come back to Great Pyramid, where we want to watch the Solar boat which was buried along the pyramid in order pharaoh Khufu could get the sky by sailing on it. We pay 50 pounds entrance fee for the boat and 100 pounds for both calashes, which end here their service.

MastabaSolar boat of Khufu

  &nbspThen we do the short walk down to the Great Sphinx again and after some pictures there we drive our steps to the exit, but before, we get a deal with a taxi driver who offers the trip to Saqqara and from there to Cairo citadel by 120 pounds. This driver should be retired by age like twenty years ago, but there he is, waiting out for us.

Great SphinxSphinx

   We start our trip to Saqqara at 13:00h and I still don’t know how we’re going to manage the lunch considering citadel closing time is at 17:00. We arrive to necropolis few minutes before 14:00 on a drive where we can see, even more, this country’s misery. The trash accumulates everywhere in the streets and water canal and there are people living on it.

   We pay 60 pounds entrance ticket for us, and 2 pounds for taxi, which takes us up until the stepped pyramid. This is the oldest pyramid in Egypt and shows a step in evolution of building these funerary monuments.

Djoser's step pyramidFunerary complex of Djoser


   We visit Djoser funerary complex closing the circle by asking to taxi driver to move to Serapeum and Pyramid of Teti area.

   This pyramid is the one I’ve chosen for taking my parents in as the way is easier than the rest and the interior is more magnificent.

   Just arriving at entrance to pyramid a boy there assumes the role of our guide without any request from our side. He uses a torch for illuminating our way down and the straight and very low one after. There are three small rooms inside with their walls entirely grabbed with hieroglyphics and the Pharaoh Teti’s black granite sarcophagus in one of them.

Pyramid of TetiPyramid of Teti

   No time for more here, so the taxi leaves the place some minutes past 15h back to Cairo as we want to see the citadel. We arrive at 16:00 there, very tired and so sick of spending money that when we read we must pay 200 pounds as citadel entrance fee for all four of us and just one hour, we take another taxi to go to the hotel. This tiredness comes from removing one day in Cairo from original plan for visiting Athens, so we’ve done in one day what should be done in two. Anyway, this way we’re sure to be at train station on time.

Mosque of Muhammad AliSaladin citadel

   And that’s how it is, more or less. The big plate of spaghetti Bolognese satiates hunger and at 18:00 we’re ready for leaving to the station. We’re very on time as train leaves at 20:00, but now we meet the working day rush hour traffic jam and we spend in the taxi more than one hour and a half, even fearing to be late for taking the train. Also, on the only parts of the highway taxi could run, the car engine’s stops a couple of times, making driver to go out and “touching” something in engine to be able of starting again.

   Finally, all ends well and we wait a few minutes to the train on platform 1, close to column 3, which marks the car number we have on our tickets.

   Our car’s steward takes our baggage up to the train and we take the closest cabins to wagon door.

   As we’ve eaten so late we’re not hungry when dinner comes. It is not that bad or dry as I’ve read, but we’ve got rice, meat with sauce and something similar to our potato omelet. Drinks are paid apart.

   The steward transforms our seats to two beds with extreme ease and our exhaustion transforms us from awake to asleep.