I don’t know about you but I have a hard time wrapping my mind around something 5000 years old.It’s hard to imagine that these things were around way before Christ.Yet today stands The Great Pyramid of Giza, the Sphinx, the temples of the Pharaoh and the Treasury at Petra.But wait, our trip to Egypt and Jordan this January and February was so exciting I’m getting ahead of myself.The opportunity to walk in the path of history, feel the past all around us and enjoy the foods of the region was awesome.
Many Egyptians and Jordanians speak English; however, we hired local English speaking guides.All U.S. citizens are required to have a tourist visa which can conveniently be purchased at each airport. It’s always a good idea to carry local money but U.S. currency is widely accepted.On this trip the conversion rate was $1.00 to 5.500 Egyptian Pounds which was good news for shopping.
Traffic in Cairo is a nightmare.At 11:00 p.m. it was bumper-to-bumper to downtown Cairo for a short night sleep.The next day was a full day tour of Cairo including the Pyramids, Sphinx, and a camel ride, Papyrus Institute, Egyptian Museum and Khan El-Khalili Bazaar.Our English speaking Egyptologist, Ahmed, was incredible.
Standing at the base of The Great Pyramid some 455 feet high and looking up was unbelievable.It’s the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and the largest of the three pyramids at the Giza plateau.Although it is the only one to survive mostly intact, visitors are not allowed inside.Visitors may enter the second pyramid.It’s no easy climb inside and definitely not for anyone claustrophobic, with a bad back or bad knees, or a weak heart but totally worth it. There seems to be some controversy regarding the construction methods used to build these magnificent structures.Nevertheless to think that these massive limestone blocks were moved by humans from a quarry across the river is extraordinary.The engineering, design and construction are a true testament to the Pharaoh’s architect, Imhotep.
We were amazed that the Sphinx was different than expected. The Sphinx is “small” in comparison to the three Giza pyramids, not directly in front of The Great Pyramid and walled by a complex of storage compartments.Who knew the Egyptians invented the “mini storage unit” concept!
Our camel ride was much more pleasurable than the one in Morocco last year.The camel is truly a unique animal and surprisingly graceful in the sand although the getting up and down is a little scary at first.You’ve got to try it!
There are so many things to see in Cairo but a must see is room 3 on the upper floor of the Egyptian Museum.The King Tutankhamun (King Tut) exhibit contains the gold death mask, jewelry recovered from the wrappings of his mummy, coffins, chariots and other original artifacts from his tomb.It’s worth the cost of a separate ticket for the Mummy Room too.Photos are not allowed in the Museum but the visit is unforgettable.
No time for lunch we continued to Dr. Ragab Papyrus Institute.The government approved shop offers an excellent demonstration on how the papyrus plant was used to make paper.This is the place to buy papyrus artwork.Mohamed Mondy, the owner of Sobek Papyrus, guarantees the art is on authentic papyrus not banana leaves, which is sold to unsuspecting tourists in the streets.
A must do when visiting Cairo is browsing Khan El-Khalili Bazaar.While most of the items are cheap reproductions, you can still find real treasures in the back alleys.With so many twists and turns venturing around the market is an adventure.Ahmed El-Gentel, the owner of Egyptian Pancake at the Bazaar, was our guide.
Baksheesh “tipping” is everywhere in Egypt.We quickly realized that carrying small change was important even to go to the restroom (1LE is the going rate).While it appears that Egypt runs on baksheesh the people are warm, friendly, accommodating, interesting and dedicated to praising God for all things, Bissmilah (on the name of God).
There is still so much to share with you. Check out my next article for more of the story.
Sterling Travel Group thanks you for sharing Egypt Tour Leads to the Promised Land.If you would like more information or to book your Egypt experience, give us a call at 239-592-7233 or of course, you can always email at:Sterling@SterlingTravelGroup.com.Hope to see you in amazing Egypt!