|June 15 to June 18
We arrived in Cario and our travel agency had somebody waiting inside the customs area for us. We for the first time on this trip cleared immigration in an airport without actually talking to anybody, our contact got the visas for us. We then were driven to our hotel with all the local sights pointed out and our contact checked in for us. There were armed guards, military and tourist police all over the city and even in the hotel we had to pass through a metal detector. The only time we saw that many machine guns was in a movie. We spent two days touring in Cario and the surrounding area. When the guide came to pick us up, the driver brought me flowers, it was very sweet. The first day with our private tour guide and driver we went to the Egyptian Museum where all of King Tuts treasures are. There is a ton of stuff and it is even more impressive in person. Then we went to the Citadel where the Mohammed Ali Mosque is, not to be confused with the boxer, he was a patron of the Mosque. Our guide Rahifa gave us a quick lesson on present and historical Muslim Culture. We next went to the Khan al-Khalili Bazzar, not as impressive as the Bazzar in Istanbul. Cario has over 20 million people, making it crowded and pulluted. There is constant smog over the city and people trying to sell you stuff as you walk by.
The next day we started at the ancient city of Memphis, there was not much left there other than a big statue. Our next stop we went to Saqqara where the first pyramid is and tombs of several important people. From the Step pyramid (first) we could see several other pyramids in the distance. Each set of pyramids is about 20 to 30km away from each other. The highlight of Cario was the visit to the pyramids of Giza, the ones you always see on TV. The largest and oldest is Khufu (Cheops), next is Khafre (Chephren) famous due to the limestone casing still remaining at the peak and Menkaure, just famous because it is near the other two. TV and photos do not do any justice to the size of the pyramids. The only thing that detracts from the experience is constantly being harrassed to buy something or give somebody a tip for no reason. Landon went inside the Khafre pyramid, it was mostly empty. We then went to the Sphinx area, this is where the river Nile used to flow past. One thing that we did not realize was how close the pyramids were to the city. Over the two days as part of our tour we were taken to various souviener shops; the perfume store, jewlery store, papyrus stop and of course the carpet store. Our hotel had a really nice roof top bar where we had a drink with a nice view of the Nile. Tomorrow to Luxor.