On our fifth day here, it was finally the day for the Great Pyramids, the Sphinx and a ride on some camels. We also spent some time at the Cairo Bazaar and with a scent master. Many Adventures for us today!
We started at the Great Pyramids which sit right outside our B&B. We took a number of group photos at the foot and base of the Cheops pyramid.
Our excellent guide who was with us during our visit to the Egytian Museum and Cairo holy sites led us to a tomb of the architect for the pyramid whose family was granted the privilege of being laid to rest near this Great Pyramid.
The security guard handed one of the kids the key to unlock and enter one of these tombs. Pretty creepy but also pretty cool. Check out these 4500 year old hieroglyphs.
After this we were introduced to our camel master whose command of English was remarkable. He communicates with his camels through hisses and horks. It sounds like he is clearing his throat but they seem to respond.
Brian’s back and Tiffany’s knee seemed to survive the hour jostling from pyramid to desert and back. At one point CreeperPuppy claimed that he was having his “best day ever” which was nice.
One interesting part of the ride is the camel standing up after you mount and sitting down before dismount.
Have you ever wondered why there are no hieroglyphs depicting a camel? Apparently feral camels were not domesticated at the time of the ancient pyramids. They used human labor for the majority of the work effort with an occassional ox.
We finished our camel adventure at the base of the center Great Pyramid. This was built by and for Kafre. His face adorned the Sphinx. In fact the pyramid, the Sphinx and a temple at the Sphinx were to be used only once and after his death.
We purchased tickets to enter Khafre for a nominal amount ($7) and found the passageway to be so small and tight that it was a relief to be able to stand up in the main burial chamber.
After emerging from the Khafre pyramid we visited the Sphinx. This monument, unlike the pyramids which were built by stone carried to Giza, is carved from rock.
The Sphinx had a beard which supported the weight of the head. Apparently the British absconded with the beard a few hundred years ago and the head of the Sphinx is expected to fall off in about 40 years without structural preservation efforts. Some of the limestone siding has been re-applied to the legs and body of the Lion as you can see.
We took a photo from the Sphinx back towards our B&B so you can see where it is.
We had a chance to take a number of novelty photos that we blushingly share with you here. It felt like more of an Instagram thing than we’ve ever done for this blog but our guides were insistent that we would love these shots later. You can be the judge of their merits.
After leaving Giza for Cairo we spent about an hour in a van and noticed buildings along the new highway whose sides had an unusual checkerboard effect.
Apparently, eminent domain in Eqypt may mean that one set of apartments might be torn down in a building to provide room for new lanes leaving the other portion of the building to remain unaltered. The variety of paint, wallpaper, and occasionally bathroom tile was interesting and a bit voyeuristic.
We were originally going to visit the famous Khan el-Khalili Bazaar during the Egyptian Museum day since they are close to each other. But when the winds blew on Sunday, we switched up the itinerary and drove back into Cairo to visit the Bazaar today as originally intended.
It’s been a continuously operating market for over 1200 years and is one of the largest in the Middle East. During the day it caters primarily to tourists for souvenirs but at night it gets lively with locals spending time in the cafes.
In Egypt they call cotton candy shaear albanat which translates to sugar hair (or sweet hair). The kids ate two of these while the parents sat for a cup of tea before heading off to a late lunch.
Our guide took us to a restaurant which served an Egyptian specialty called Hawawshi. This is a pita sandwich with minced meat in the center. We had a selection of them, some with beef or cheese, some with vegetables, some with chicken. They were quite tasty and seemed more like a flat hamburger to the Americans.
Our final stop was to a perfumer who taught us about all of the basics of fragrance making. The proprietor is a Master Perfumer and can reproduce any perfume or cologne from his stock of base oils.
We smelled trace samples of lotus flower, papyrus, sandalwood, and musk. We asked a number of questions and learned more than we had thought possible about the making of essential oils and fragrances.
We finished the day with another look at the evening sky with the ancient monuments in the foreground. We enjoyed our unforgettable time in Cairo and Giza.