DAY 13 – SATURDAY, MAY 6:
Today was our first day in Cairo, a city of 21 million people. We had pretty typical Cairo weather today for this time of year… hazy sun with temps around 90. A breeze kept it comfortable.
After an amazing breakfast, we left at 7:30 for Giza. Located on the other side of the Nile River, we drove through the “farmland” of the area to Memphis, the first capital of ancient Egypt. Although only a small part of the city has been excavated, we saw a massive statue/colossus of Ramses II (around 1280-1220 BC) as well as a smaller sphinx and other stone items from the New Kingdom.
Close by is the site of the oldest pyramid, Sakkara. It is one of about 120 pyramids found in Egypt so far. Built close to 5,000 years ago, this pyramid is a stepped pyramid. It was designed by Imhotep. The body of the Pharaoh/King Zoser buried here was not placed in the pyramid but rather under it (about 90 feet). Also here was another smaller pyramid. Most in the group went inside this one. The entrance in was low but it opened up to a larger room where the sarcophagus was placed. We also went in the tomb of Idut (5th Dynasty, 2,360 BC). The hieroglyphs and painting on the walls were still very colorful. Close by we stopped at a carpet school. We also had quick lunch at a convenience store.
This afternoon we the classic site in Cairo – the Giza Pyramids. The Great Pyramid of Cheops is the largest (around 500 feet high) and is comprised of 2.3 million stone blocks, each weighing an average of 2.5 tons. This pyramid is so large that it is hard to capture it on camera! We enter this pyramid and visit the King’s Chamber. It was remarkable to climb up to nearly the middle of this massive tomb!
From here we drove to a panoramic view of the three larger pyramids here (there are a few smaller ones as well). Here we also enjoyed a camel ride as well a visit to see the Solar Boat Museum. Housed here is a sacred ancient Egyptian cedar wood boat dating back 4,500 years.
Also in this area we visited the Great Sphinx. The body of the sphinx is that of a lion (strength) while the face is that of the Pharaoh (wisdom). Like the Great Pyramid, getting close to it really made us realize how big it is (66 feet high, 240 feet long, 63 feet wide). An embalming temple was nearby. It made us remember Genesis 50 and the embalming of Jacob.
On our way back to the hotel we stopped briefly at a papyrus and cartouche store. Arriving at our hotel we enjoyed another marvelous dinner here at this 5 star+ hotel (the Intercontinental).
DAY 14 – SUNDAY, MAY 7: CAIRO – CITADEL, MOSQUE OF MOHAMMED ALI, COPTIC CHURCH, EGYPT MUSEUM, NIGHT FLIGHT HOME