Cairo and the Pyramids

Egypt made it onto my list of must-see places because of its history. That’s were my history classes started, a place with the only remaining Wonder of the World, the pyramids. The birthplace of writing and many other inventions. A society that lasted for thousands of years before Greece or Rome ever got started…

My visit to the land of pharaohs started very much in the presence. I arrived in todays Cairo, making my way in a taxi through the traffic. The horn is obviously the most frequently used piece of equipment and surely an invention the pharaohs did do just fine without. Fortunately for me, my hotel is quiet the oasis from the chaos, situated right on the river nile and next door to my start into the history of ancient Egypt, the Egyptian Museum.

059 EGY T3 Death MaskThe Egyptian Museum holds more than 100,000 items, so, unless you want to spend weeks there, you better prepare and identify the period you want to see. And bring a good guide book, because many of the objects don’t have descriptions or even labels to speak of. Some of the exhibits make more then up for it. My favorite part was the mummy exhibit: Not only pharaohs were embalmed before they were buried, but also their wifes, kids and cats. An incredible amount of artwork was dedicated to the burial rituals and massive amounts of wealth were buried with the rulers.

My next stop on this exploration were the pyramids of Gizeh, just outside Cairo. I opted against a tour group and opted for a public bus going out to the pyramids. This sounds a lot easier than it is…The bus leaves from the big plaza near the Egyptian Museum – together with what must be hundreds of other buses, carrying thousands of people on any given day. Walking towards the pyramids is an amazing sight. The huge structures rise straight out of the desert. It is hard to fathom that they were constructed more than 4000 years ago and are still standing in all their glory today. Compare that to your average home or store after 40 years…

Unfortunately, an independent visit to the pyramids comes with a certain hassle factor. Hawkers have laid claim to the area and will be all over you from the moment you get into their sight. While that is common at tourist attractions around the world, the Egyptian hawkers to get the gold medal for  determination, no matter how many times you say NO!

So, keep your inner calm, ignore the touts and enjoy the pyramids. To make the experience even better, schedule your visit during winter for better weather, pick a slow day to avoid crowds and make sure you will be able to get inside the pyramids when you get there!

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