Saturday, November 10, 2007

Egypt - The Land of the Pharaohs

The storied land of Egypt has long beckoned travelers whose insatiable appetite to see and experience the world’s oldest existing monuments can be fed. Earlier this year, a new “Seven Wonders of the World” were chosen and only the Pyramids at Giza actually remain standing from the original list and of course were included in the new one. They are that spectacular! Ever since Alexander the Great conquered this land in the 4th century BC, outsiders have come and marveled at the impressive tombs of the Pharaohs (the Pyramids) and other colossal sculptures, columns, and mausoleums. Egypt has a long familiarity of seeing foreign travelers within her borders and today is no exception. Millions of tourists from every continent swarm the many temples, pyramids and columns of this ancient civilization.

We landed at Cairo’s huge airport on Tuesday, November 6 and proceeded to Giza for a view of her three pyramids. The late afternoon light was a sight to behold! Later, our group enjoyed a private dinner within a huge tent while the sun set in the western desert. Here is a picture of me at the pyramids just after the sun went down. Most of the original smooth limestone facing on the these giant tombs has been reutilized by the countless later cultures who saw them as a good source of precut rock rather than something to preserve for future generations.

Wednesday, November 7 was spent looking at many spiritual sights within Old Cairo. We went to Sultan Hassan Mosque, a Jewish synagogue and a Coptic church where the Holy Family was aid to have slept. (Apparently George Washington never made it to Egypt and records of him having slept near Cairo have not been recorded). At each sight, hawkish vendors pleaded with us to but postcards, pyramid statues, pharaoh pens, or papyrus bookmarks. “I give you bery goot pryce”, is a sentence we will not soon forget. And good prices they were. The streets of Cairo teem with people - 18 million in all! That was the population of the whole country in 1950!

Thursday November 8 we drove south along the NIle to the first capital of Egypt, Memphis. Here we saw one of the earliest sculptures in all of Egypt, the Sphinx of Memphis. That’s me again standing in from of the Sphinx (I’ve been asked to include more pictures of myself in these writings so I’m trying). Next we went a short distance to the Step pyramid, the oldest in all of Egypt. The pharaoh buried in here actually built the pyramid by accident - he wanted a one layer tomb abut then to outdo a previous king, had a second layer built on top and decided to keep going up with a total of six layers in all. Other kings followed suit and pyramid structures are a hallmark of ancient Egypt.

Our hotel was the fabulous Four Seasons right on the banks of the Nile. Next it’s on to the city of Fez in Morocco!

1 comment:

gail said...

Was that the step pyramid at Saqqara? Brings back memories. I recently read that the base of the Great Pyramid covers 13 acres. Amazing! The pyramids were even larger than I had imagined, but the sphinx (at Giza); smaller ...the tombs, the temples, the towns along the Nile - the antiquities are wonderful in this country. Quite impressive, are they not?