Saturday, August 15, 2009

Egypt - Alexandria, Memphis, Cairo, Luxor (part 1)

Here are the trips I did in Egypt:

EGY03 CAIRO/LUXOR (On Arrival, Thursday, 30 July - 2200 Sunday, 02 August) Minimum 40/Maximum 140 Day 1: Depart from the pier by air-conditioned motorcoach for a journey through desert scenery reaching the outskirts of Africa’s largest city, the legendary Al Qahira, internationally known as the teeming metropolis of Cairo. A guide will provide the history and culture of a timeless land, on a journey lasting approximately three hours. Arriving at Cairo’s outskirts, you will proceed for lunch at a leading hotel located at the Pyramids area. After lunch continue driving southwards through verdant countryside to Egypt’s first capital, Memphis. On arrival visit the ruins of the temple of Ptah, the fallen colossal statue of King Ramses II and the Alabaster Sphinx of King Amenhopis II. Continue to the oldest, ancient cemetery of Sakkara and the world’s first monumental stone building, the Step Pyramid of King Zoser, built by the engineer Imhotep almost 5,000 ago. After visiting the complex continue to one of the mastabas (funerary chambers) built nearby, such as those of Ptah-Hotep, Mereruca, Idut or Ti, for an inside visit. A buffet lunch will be served afterwards at a hotel in Cairo followed by check-in formalities. Travel to Tahrir (Liberty) Square, where the National Archaeological Museum is situated. Here you will have the opportunity to acquaint yourself with Egypt’s ancient history spanning a period of 50 centuries. The museum houses the richest collection of Egyptian antiquities, including the magnificent Tut Ankh Amun collection. Continue to the exotic and colorful Khan El Khalili Bazaar. The bazaar offers shopping and colorful photography options. Bargaining is an art and expected when negotiating a purchase. Silver and gems, bronze and copper, exotic spices, leather goods, and fresh brewed coffee can be found at the Bazaar.  Proceed to the hotel for dinner and overnight. (L, D; Hotel in Cairo) Day 2: Early risers will be transferred to the Giza Plateau for a chance to view the Great Pyramids at sunrise while enjoying a box breakfast from the hotel. For those not participating, breakfast will be offered at the hotel. After check-out at the hotel, proceed to the Giza Plateau where the only remaining Wonder of the Ancient World is be allocated at the Pyramids to explore and enjoy the site. Continue down the valley where the guardian of this mortuary complex, the mighty Sphinx, bears witness to the passage of time and man in eons of silence. Then, to the banks of the River Nile where a cruise boat awaits to sail you on the same timeless waterway traversed by Pharaohs, Queens and Nobles thousands of years ago. Enjoy a buffet lunch in elaborate interiors as you glide past Cairo’s waterfront landmarks. A folkloric and belly dancing presentation will take place during lunch for your entertainment. Return to the hotel for a rest before heading to the Son et Lumiere at the Giza Plateau. Under a star-studded sky, the Sound-and-Light performance brings the magnificent history and achievements of the found, the ancient Egyptians to life as the illuminated Pyramids and the mysterious Sphinx dominate the surrounding darkness. Return to the hotel for dinner and overnight. (packed B,  L, D, hotel in Cairo)  Day 3: Following a very early-morning wake-up call, depart the hotel and transfer to the Cairo Airport for the flight to Luxor. Upon arrival proceed to Luxor’s West Bank, where the Valley of the Kings is situated, to visit some of the amazing Royal tombs. If time permits, visit the famous tomb of the young king Tut-Ankh-Amun (US$18.50, at your own expense, payable at entrance gate). Then proceed to the finest building in Egypt, a momentous masterpiece, the temple of the only woman Pharaoh, Queen Hatshepsut. Before crossing to the East Bank stop briefly for photographs at the famous statues of Amenophis III, also known as the Colossi of Memnon, standing exactly where they once flanked the entrance to the Temple 5,000 years ago. Proceed to the hotel for lunch and check-in. After a short rest, depart the hotel for a visit to the illuminated Luxor Temple. Built by the two Pharaohs Amenophis III and Ramses II, Luxor Temple was dedicated to Amun-Ra the god of Thebes. Return to the hotel for dinner. (Packed B, L, D; Hotel in Luxor) Day 4: Enjoy a buffet breakfast at the hotel before departing for a visit to the breathtaking Karnak Temple. Marvel in awe at the majestic Hypostyle Hall with its immense columns. Admire the avenue of the Sphinxes and reflect on its Sacred Lake. The rest of the day is at leisure. Lunch is served at the hotel before transferring to Luxor airport for the flight back to Cairo and return to the ship in Alexandria. (B, L)

EGY14 RURAL CAIRO & VISIT TO CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL (0800-1930 Monday, 03 August) Minimum 20/Maximum 45 This trip will provide insight into several aspects of Egyptian culture and lifestyle. It will include visits to a rural area near Cairo, a children's hospital, a tapestry workshop and a carpet factory. Travel to Cairo by air-conditioned motorcoaches equipped with toilet facilities. Arrive at Kerdassa, a rural area situated approximately 12 kilometers from the Pyramids of Giza. Kerdassa was once a trading post for caravans crossing the desert to and from Libya. Many of the galabiyyas, scarves, rugs and weavings sold in the bazaars and shops of Cairo are made in this village. You will have some free time to explore the village. Proceed to the Saqqara area to visit Harraniyyah, famous for the Wissa Wassef tapestry workshops, now managed by the widow of founder Ramses Wissa Wassef. The tapestries produced here have won world-wide acclaim and the school is training the second generation of weavers. The museum holds a permanent exhibition showing how the work of individual craftsmen has developed. Also visit a carpet factory to observe the process of carpet-making. Enjoy lunch in Cairo at “Le Pasha” floating restaurant followed by a visit to the children's hospital, Kasr El Aeni. After a tour of the facility, there will be an opportunity to interact with some of the young patients. Coloring books, crayons, and other materials will be provided to aid your interaction with the children. These materials will be donated to the hospital upon your departure.

Egypt was FANTASTIC.   When people on SAS talk about having an amazing time but not getting any sleep, this is the kind of experience they mean.  We woke up at 4am 2 nights in a row and then 6am the next day.  Keep in mind we didn’t eat dinner until 10pm usually.  It was so worth every second though.  It is hard to believe that I was standing in front of these huge famous places that you read about in books and see photos of. 

So the first day we arrived in Alexandria and I left for my Cairo, Luxor trip.  We ate lunch at a pyramid-side hotel.  Then we went to Memphis and saw the ruins of the temple of Ptah and saw the statue of King Ramses II and the Alabaster Sphinx of King Amenhopis II.  Then we went to the Step Pyramid of King Zoser.  We were walking around the side and these guys were sitting under a tent.  Then one of them came over and told us to follow him.  He took us around the back past the roped off area and down some steps inside part of it.  He told us to “pay off the police guard” and kept saying “Secret, secret”.  So basically we were supposed to think that we were extra special doing something that wasn’t allowed.  But that’s how they make money because then you have to tip them at the end.  But it was worth it because we got to see more of the Step Pyramid.  We could have kept going, but we had to leave to catch the bus.  Then we went to the National Archaeological Museum and saw all these statues and jewelry and stuff.  It was really big and just filled with everything.  We went into the Tut Ankh Amun collection room and saw all the stuff you see pictures of when you learn about him.  We saw the head thing and the coffins and jewelry and stuff.  Then I paid extra and went into the mummy room.  There were a bunch of cases with mummies of the kings and people.  Some were wrapped all the way up or mostly covered, but others only had the body wrapped so the head and arms and legs were out.  They still had hair and toenails and everything.  That night we went to the Khan El Khalili Bazaar and did some shopping.  It was kind of like the bazaar in Turkey except all outside.  After that we finally got back for dinner at the hotel about 10pm. 

The next day we woke up at 4am to see the Great Pyramids at sunrise at the Giza Plateau.  We walked around and sat enjoying it for like 2 hours.  At first everyone was taking every kid of picture imaginable, because well how often are you in front of the pyramids?  People took regular smiling single pictures and group pictures.  There were jumping pictures, dance pictures, pictures pretending to hold the pyramids or squish them, and more.  Then after a while we wandered over up this sand hill (hard to walk up because you slide back down) so we could see the sun rise up.  Then we walked back, finished our boxed breakfast (so good: 2 huge grinders – cheese one and turkey one, 3 croissant/ roll combos, apples or pears, a juice box, banana, yogurt, and jelly) on this mini wall looking out at the pyramids until our camels arrived.  I rode a camel single partially to the pyramids and back for about 10ish minutes.  It was a lot of fun but it’s hard to stay on when the camel gets up and down because they have really long legs and the front ones are down when the back ones are up so you are almost horizontal.  I was a little nervous to let go at first but by the end I was taking pictures and it was fun.  After the guy walking the camel took pictures of me at the pyramid side, I told him no running back because I had seen some other people do that and I was not that comfortable yet haha.  About halfway back he pushed the camel to get it to run so I had to say no and we slowed down and walked back.  Then we took some picture with the camels before we had to get on the bus.  When we got off the bus our tour guide asked if anyone had been forced to give extra money to the camel “drivers” (she told us not to because tip was included in the cost).  Then she took everyone off the bus and yelled at the guys until she got the money back haha.  Then we went to the Pyramids of Giza (the only remaining Wonder of the Ancient World) and went inside the middle one.  It was really hot because there’s no air circulation but it was AWESOME.  You have to bend down really low to fit while you walk down and up the stairs and the ramps with the planks to help you step.  On the way down we passed Lyla (going into 2nd grade) and she was almost standing up straight, but the adults had to bend quite a lot.  In the tomb inside we got to lie down inside the hole where the coffin was.  Then we just sat there for a bit until we needed some fresh air so we climbed all the way back up.  The stairs are really narrow too so you are shoulder to shoulder with people who are going in the other direction.  It’s funny because when you get out the desert seems pretty cool in comparison.  It was amazing though.  So we took some more pictures on the outside of the pyramid (like a step up).  You can’t climb them because it’s dangerous and destructive to the pyramids.  Then we got back on the bus and went to see the Sphinx and walk through the temple.  It was really cool getting to be so close up.  I’ll admit when I pictured the pyramids and the sphinx I just pictured sand and these monuments but there are actually sand roads and other things around haha.

Ok, lunch time then class, more about Egypt later.

From the Atlantic Ocean on the way back to the USA, Sharon

No comments:

Post a Comment