Friday, November 26, 2010

Cruise Port Review: Cairo, Egypt, Part 1

Our day in Cairo was an incredibly wonderful experience. Private tour arrangements were made by Ellen with Egypt and Beyond Travel. (DO NOT confuse with another company called Egypt and Beyond!)

The first thing that caught my attention was our tour guide right on the pier waiting for us. Of all the tour guides, he was the only one that came to meet us by the ship. Our beautiful, clean, comfortable bus was first in line for the convoy into Cairo. We had a full sized Mercedes bus, a driver, Egyptologist, guide AND a gentleman to handle security, with no question that he was packing.

We knew we'd be leaving Port Said in a security caravan. Port Said itself is not very interesting. The streets were dirty and the ride between the port and Cairo had a lot of nothing. But our Egyptologist helped the time go quickly by telling us about her country and answering our questions.

Our first stop was the Pyramids of Giza. I had read that the Pyramids were located right outside of the city of Giza. And, yes, that is exactly where they are. As we turned a corner, the top of the Great Pyramid appeared above the city buildings and THAT was something to see. It really gave me a feeling for how large it really is.

We had time to walk to the Great Pyramid and even to climb up about 3 courses. No one is allowed to climb higher than the opening and there is a charge to go inside. It was very crowded, very noisy and not the cleanest of places. Still, it was most impressive.

Our next stop was an overlook. Crowded with tourists, vendors and camel drivers, it was still a worthwhile stop with a beautiful view of the three pyramids: Great Pyramid for the pharaoh Cheops, his wife and his mother. A warning here to be careful of the camel drivers. (DO NOT allow them to put you on a camel unless this is something you really want to do and have negotiated a price BEFORE getting on. One couple told us how they were, literally, steered onto a camel and then the driver wanted $100 to let them off.)

Our final stop on Giza was the Sphinx. I was looking to the left, outside of the bus, and when I turned my head to the right, THERE IT WAS! WOW! The road goes literally along the length of the Sphinx and we were dropped off at an area that allowed us a view of the Sphinx with the pyramids in the background. Not good enough for my husband and myself, we crossed an area of sand, weaved our way through an ancient temple, and made our way up a ramp that runs along the side of the Sphinx. Much more up close and personal and we are glad we did it.

(Click here for Part 2)

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