Al salaam a’alaykum!
Welcome to Cairo, Egypt. Cairo is the gateway to Africa. As the world’s first tourist destination, Cairo has attracted millions of visitors. This is the origin of civilization. The Pyramids of Giza were the first wonder of the world and the birthplace of archaeology. They have awed onlookers for thousands of years. This is the “Holy Grail” for any serious traveller, and Cassandra and I knew we had to make the trip!
In January 2006 we flew from Washington to Europe. After stops to see family and friends in England and Greece, we caught a two-hour flight from Athens to Cairo. Cairo is a sprawling city of 19 million people. Nearly all of them are Islamic Arabs. Thanks to a strong British influence, many of them are versed in basic English (especially if they want to sell you something). Our first night we went to see an amazing light show at the Pyramids. After a wild ride through Cairo rush hour (we hit a mule on the highway), we reached the outdoor theatre. A narrator’s voice booms across the desert and interprets a cultural slideshow. The show is broadcast in six languages. There are three shows a day which meant an English version plays every other day. The show before us was in German and the show after was Russian.
The next morning we returned back to Giza to see the Pyramids up close. The three Pyramids are Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure. Khufu is the largest at 137 metres high and was built in 2560 BC by the Pharoah Cheops. To better immerse ourselves in Egyptian culture, Cass and I rented Camels to ride across the desert. We rode up to the Pyramids and climbed as high as we could. We also went inside some of the the smaller “Step Pyramids” and investigated the ancient tombs within. We also spent time at the legendary Sphinx. The Sphinx is the greatest monumental structure from the ancient world. It has the head of a pharoah atop the body of a lion.
Our guide helped translate the heiroglyphics for us. She claimed to be the only female tour guide in Egypt (women are usually forbidden to work by their husbands in Egypt). Later that day we visited a carpet factory where they make everything by hand (a small carpet takes weeks) and a museum of artwork made from papyrus from the Nile. We brought home exotic pieces from each. Our last stop in Cairo was the Museum. This museum is a treasure trove of artifacts that would give Indiana Jones chills.
Cairo was very inexpensive. The souks (markets) had an incredible diversity They love to barter, and are considered the best salesmen on earth. They always ask a ridiculous price upfront. Our trick is to not say much and type the price we want to pay on a calculator. hey eventually get frustrated and meet our price.
A direct flight from BWI to Cairo takes about 11 hours. They are seven hours ahead of OC time. We really enjoyed our time in Cairo. It was one of our most fascinating adventures. There is nothing else like it in the world. Ma’ Alsalam (Peace Out, in Arabic) Ocean City!
– The Rox