Giza, the Pyramids

15 Feb

I had been living in Cairo for roughly two weeks and of course my first major excursion outside of the city was to Giza to visit the pyramids.

We took a yellow cab whose driver managed to lose his way more times than we would’ve wished and we finally made it to the pyramids around 11:30 AM despite calling for the taxi at 9.  Our driver included a nice little sidetrip to a sketchy camel ride salesman, who informed us that we “had to take a camel or horse to get to the pyramids” which, of course, we knew was a complete lie.  Still we were forced to converse with him and his workers for another 20 minutes as one of our friends debated the merits of taking him up on his extremely over-priced offer.  Just a note: you can get a camel or horse ride around the pyramids for between 5 and 20 pounds.

Once we dispensed with the salesman and his crew, we reached the pyramid area and I was simply ecstatic.  The pyramids and Sphinx were so much grander than I had imagined.  Larger and more stunning than what the pictures had shown.  We spent some time wandering around the ground looking at the pyramids, one of which I even climbed.  There were many people on the pyramids, climbing or eating and drinking, and every once in a while a uniformed guard would come by yelling at them all to get off though this rarely worked to remove them for longer than a minute.  Honestly, I was quite appalled by the trash surrounding the pyramids.  With everyone eating and drinking on them and the strong gusts blowing up sand and whatnot, it looked like someone had dumped a trash can onto the ground.  Whenever the winds picked up speed, the trash would dance around in small cyclones.

Another interesting aspect of our trip was my first confrontation with the culture of baksheesh (tipping).  There were many smaller enclosed buildings that we entered on the Pyramid grounds and often (nearly always) the attendant would grant us special treatment (taking pictures and going into areas we were not supposed to) on the understanding that he would receive some amount of pounds upon our exit. Of course, I was of two minds about this whole situation, on the one hand who would not want to examine the buildings in great detail and photograph the wonderful things we could see, but of course on the other hand, we were risking damage to these important monuments and giving the attendant incentive to continue to propagate this damage.

After a few hours of wandering around the pyramids, we purchased tickets to go inside of the Great Pyramid.  I found the King’s chamber to be somewhat anti-climatic.  The climb up on rickety “stairs” while hunched over was somewhat annoying, especially when I kept smacking my head on the ceiling, and the final destination was nothing more than a large square room with a stone sarcophagus. On the other hand, the realization that I was inside of the Great Pyramid standing in a room thousands of years old was more than enough to make up for the lack of splendor that I had unconsciously been expecting.

The Pyramid grounds closed around 4 or 5 PM so we went into the town and spent sometime sampling the local food and desserts before taking a taxi back to the New Campus.  The trip to Giza was a very pleasing experience and I plan to go back at least once more to see the Pyramids again.

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4 Responses to “Giza, the Pyramids”

  1. fwa Tuesday, 17 February 2009 at 4:49 pm #

    Michelle:

    Awesome pictures! My son also went to Giza on January 24th to see the Pyramids with a group organized by AUC’s Residential Life. He said pretty much the same thing, especially about the garbage, and wondered whether the Pyramids will survive the next hundred years after surviving the last several thousands. There are significant damages done to them by tourists climbing on them. He did, however, enjoy the camel ride.

    My son has done a few trips with Residential Life but not a lot. He feels they are too touristsy. (I wish he would have gone to Alexsandria with them, but he didn’t!) I am hoping that he will eventually go to the Cairo Museum, which, of course, has the world’s largest collection of Egyptian artifacts. He went with a large group (he claimed 90) for an overnight trip to the Black and White Desert last weekend near Bahariya. They lived like Bedouins for two days/one night (with Toyota 4×4 substituting for camels!) and had a great time.

    Anyway, great to hear that you had a great time at the Pyramids. Enjoy your adventure in Egypt!

  2. Michelle Thursday, 19 February 2009 at 4:06 am #

    Thank you, fwa. Amateur photography is a hobby of mine and I like posting my pictures for others to enjoy. I agree with your son, I’d be much surprised if the pyramids lasted through the next few generations. A great deal of the damage done to them has occurred only in recent centuries. I’ve done a few trips with ResLife but they do tend to be very touristy and overcrowded. I think it’s much nicer to explore the country with yourself and a small group of friends so that you can really get the flavor of the area you’re visiting. Also, it’s much easier getting acquainted with the locals when there are 3 or 4 of you rather than dozens. The Bedouin trip sounds like it would be fun. I’m glad your son is enjoying his time in Egypt. Hopefully, he’ll find some time to travel with friends around the country, I’m sure he’d enjoy that even more than the ResLife trips.

  3. Tia Sunday, 22 February 2009 at 7:11 am #

    Thank you posting, I always enjoy reading them. I just LOVE the pictures of the Pyramids and Sphinx. Just to know that I know someone who has seen them is enough for me. Uncle Aaron is just wishing that he could be there to hold a gain of sand in his hand. Have FUN and enjoy your time spent in Egypt. Love and Hugs, from everyone here in Michigan.

  4. Mostafa Thursday, 26 May 2011 at 12:33 am #

    Hi,

    It’s nice to see your blog, I’d like to invite you to visit my blog Tourist Cup
    I wish you find something is interesting there

    http://touristcup.blogspot.com/2011/02/great-giza-pyramids-amazing-facts-part.html

    You are more than Welcome :)

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