Phones rang in our rooms this morning at 8:00 a.m. announcing the start of our first big day in Egypt. It didn’t take long for the dining room to fill up with ninety very hungry (travel makes one hungry, you know) visitors from the US. Another fine spread here: breads, juices, cereals, eggs, meats, cheeses,salad (yes, salad) and more. There was even a section called Pan Cake. Looked like a waffle to me, but I passed………..
We loaded and departed at 9:30 for the first stop of the day, the Pyramids at Giza. Lo and behold, we could see them just moments after leaving our hotel, and the excitement began to rise. Our guides picked up our tickets and began to tell us about these mystical structures. The oldest and largest (Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) stood 146 meters high when it was completed in 2570 BC. They figure that the structure holds 2.3 million limestone blocks, each weighing about 2.5 tons. How they got there and put together is a story in and of itself – and there are many, many theories. Most agree that it was not as depicted in the movies with slaves being beaten as they hauled stones up the hill. In fact, it was a Public Works project of sorts, with off-season farmers doing a majority of the work! It is thought that the very top of the Pyramid was solid gold (in recognition of the deceased Pharaoh being the God of the Sun. That gold is long gone, however, and about nine meters of the top are simply “missing.”
The tunnel is only 36” tall, so if you are taller than that, you walk humped over until reaching a large room with a few carvings and paintings on the wall. Not much – but at least one could say that he/she had been INSIDE the Pyramid!
The group took some great pictures from a distance of the three Pyramids, then several took the chance to go on a camel ride. Yes, the camels do have names…..Michael Jordan, Michael Jackson, Michael Douglas and more. HA. It was a fun ride – and, as we were told, if you can survive the jolt when the camel gets up and when he returns to the ground, you will be just fine. Fine we were. Nervous in a few cases, but just fine!
Our last stop at the Pyramids was at the Great Sphinx which is carved from the bedrock at the bottom of thehill. Some believe that this was the area where the limestone was quarried, and that when all the rock had been pulled from the site, a less than limestone quality rock was left – from this, the Pharaoh determined it would be best to carve the object….a mythical winged monster with a woman’s head and lion’s body. The features seem to reflect those of Pharaoh Khafre (the second tallest of the three pyaramids). Also at this location is the “funeral home” of the Pharaoh’s or the area in which their bodies were prepared for mummification/burial. Can’t say that’s something you see every day…..!
We were taken to several stops within this area – the chance to see the “Solar Boat” which was uncovered in 1954 and later painstakingly restored. It is thought that this and other boats buried near the Pyramids were to take the deceased to the next world. The Solar Boat is made of cedar (found in Lebanon) and consists of 1200 pieces of wood. It was fascinating to see.
Lunch followed our visit, and then the Alumni group headed off to the Papyrus Institute wherein they were shown how the ancient Egyptians learned to write and design on the first paper ever produced……..our guide claims that the Chinese think “they” had the first paper….he claims that the Eygptians had the first paper. Whoever wins that battle, we can affirm that the designs and paintings done on Papyrus and housed in the institute are simply beautiful. Some are
now lodged in peoples’ luggage!
The Band (both busloads) headed from lunch to the Egyptian Museum, and embarked upon a literal adventure through time. This museum houses some of the most fascinating artifacts of the ancient Egyptians including King Tutankhamun’s showpieces and a mummification display. The place literally bursts at the seams with priceless treasures, and one never has enough time to see it all. I’ll provide more information about their visit tomorrow……….I’m sure there will be some great stories!
We heard about the snow in Sioux Falls…………we apologize (sort of) – 74 and bright sunshine here today! Thanks for catching up with us! PS Your editor promises to work on how to add photos to the blog........they sure don't end up like they were put in the copy! :-)