Cairo and the Pyramids of Giza
After I finished taking the grueling bar exam, my friends and I went on a “Bar Trip” through the Middle East. We started with Egypt where we visited more Wonders of the World, the Great Pyramids, and continued throughout the country on a cruise down the Nile River, finally ending at the resorts in Sharm El Sheikh.
Our journey started in Cairo. Once we got acclimated to the smoggy city we couldn’t wait to go to the main attraction, the camel ride to the Giza Pyramids. I don’t know if my camel was particular bouncy or not, but I literally almost fell off and had to hang on for dear life the entire time! We were happy to see that the company we chose treated these special creatures with great care and didn’t abuse them. Once at the Pyramids, we didn’t need to go inside to be struck with awe at the greatness of these wonders. The pyramid of Khufu is 139 Meters high! The fan favorite is the head of the Great Sphinx, the powerful lion-creature protecting the royal tomb head of Pharoah. Lions also just happen to be my spirit animals :) After lunch we visited Saqqara where you can find the first stepped pyramid in Egypt and the ruins of the ancient capital, Memphis. Our last night in Cairo, we did an awesome Cairo by Night Tour and caught the spectacular Sound and Light Show at the Pyramids.
Along the way we stopped at the Carpet School in Saqqara where they train young children the trade of making carpets. These children would otherwise be roaming the streets and the school teaches them a valuable skill. I wasn’t the least bit hesitant to buy one of the rugs, as I mentioned in an earlier post I like to purchase from local trade and artisan shops when I’m traveling to support smaller industries. The rug I purchased was beautiful silk with exquisite detail. We also stopped at tea shops for hot mint tea (on a hot August day). You definitely feel a lot of pressure to buy things and tip “Baksheesh” but that’s to be expected if you are going the tourist route instead of adventuring out on your own.
Cruising Down the Nile
Next we made our way to Aswan to board our Sentido MS Mahrousa cruise ship that would take us down the Nile for the next 4 days. The boat had amazing, all-inclusive food buffets every day and night shows with Whirling Dervishes and belly dancers. During the day we laid out in the rooftop pool and watched the Egyptian scenery pass by, (we were so stuffed from all the food that’s about all we could manage). We got private tours through the Valley of the Kings, the Edfu Temple, Kom Ombo and the Philae Temple in Aswan. Also beautiful is the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut and the Colossi of Memnon. On the West Bank of the Nile near the Valley of the Kings, the mortuary temple is dedicated to the sun deity, Amun.
My favorite stop, (I was actually looking forward to more than the Pyramids), was Abu Simbel. Standing in front of this enormous temple of the Great Ramesses II feels like stepping into the NeverEnding Story scene where Atreyu has to pass through the laser-shooting Sphinx statues. The interior is just as impressive and still very much in tact with ginormous Osirid statutes lining the long hall. It’s actually a man-made cave cut out of living rock. If you’re an Ancient Egypt history nerd like me, this is the place to see!
We ended our trip in Luxor at the Karnack temple and a sunset dinner festival. This tour was extremely well organized, we learned way too much and loved or tour guides.
Sharm El Sheikh
Visiting the resort destination of Egypt was a relaxing contrast to the hustle of blitzing through Egypt’s great temples. We stayed at the Steigenberger Alcazar for something different and luxurious, featuring beautiful pools and easy beach access. It was a welcome change and we spent the rest of the trip snorkeling outside our hotel room or visiting shops and hookah bars. I was impressed by the diversity of tourists that stay in Sharm and the food was the best I had had through all of Egypt. I cannot wait to go back.