Trip Start Oct 07, 2007
45Trip End Oct 31, 2007
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The day started by heading out to the Al Montazah Gardens. I am sure Ashley will have better specifics than I will for the actual names, dates and specifics but my overall experience was just the visuals alone. The Garden is still kept in immaculate condition and many groundskeepers were on site when we drove through the winding road between the trees, flowers and plants, either pruning, watering or sweeping up. Not only was the garden very lush, green and colourful, it was very well organized and just visually very pleasing in many ways as far as landscaping goes.
The next stop was the Underground Catacombs. It is an interesting story the way they were found. A man came by pulled by a donkey and because of the uneasy ground the donkey fell amongst the rubble and the tombs were found.
The tombs are all underground and so far are the most impressive thing I have seen. Maybe I just can't wrap my mind around the pyramids because of their overall size, but the fact that tombs were all carved out of the ground is just amazing to me. Ash joked that they were definitely dyslexic. They carved all the rooms and tombs in one piece basically is the best way to describe it. It isn't like they carved out the square rooms and brought in extra stone to construct statues etc. They were all carved amongst the wall, even the sarcophagus' themselves. The covers over the top in fact weren't even loose, they were just sculpted in to appear that way. The bodies would have been put in through holes in the wall from behind and sealed closed from there. It is tough to explain completely and they didn't allow cameras inside so I just suggest you go to experience it yourself.
The next stop was to find some snacks(we weren't overly hungry after a big breakfast and thought snacks for the road might go over a bit better than stopping for lunch when the others couldn't eat) before starting on another 4 hour drive heading west along the North coast. I will let Ash tell you of the hilarity and adventure that took place when we visited the Egyptian Superstore.
Ben expects me to add all the technically info about our visit, but I enjoyed reading his take on our experience, so I am not going to drag it down with any historical lectures. Although it is King Farouk, Ben was close... The Palace is still in use for high visiting officials, but somehow we didn't qualify.
I will say it is funny how often guide have to say that something was discovered by accident when a donkey fell into a hole.
I loved watching Ben enjoy the Catacombs. Before this trip, I had done tons of research, on the internet, through books etc... so my expectations for most things are accurate-- I know what things are, how they came to be, and generally what they will look like. Because of this, I am never really "surprised" at least not like Ben who had no context for this site and was able to be truely wowed by it. It is very impressive, but my "wow" moment was being able to enjoy it alone. There was no one else in there, no one waiting to have us move along, or squish in beside us- just Ben and I with these beautiful, ancient carvings. The silence in front of this art is my "wow", all the info or photos in the world doesn't match that.
To explain why the creators of these tombs might have been dyslexic is due to a common ability to work in 3D, not flat images, therefore being able to plan out the craving.
The Pillar was definately a bit anti-climatic. The area is under renovation so it is all torn up and just seems... put on? It is huge, and to allow it its own glory, one only has to image "how the heck the got it up right without a crane?"
The library itself didn't make it into the itinerary, but we were able to make a quick stop to check it from the outside and get some photos. The structure is amazing, I love the idea that it is trying to honour the famous library of antiquity that housed 700,000+ scrolls of information from all the corners of the world.
Our funniest adventure of the day had to be the Supermarket. Our three local guides, who could either tell you anyhing you asked about history, monuments, culture and nature, or drive you there-- completely out of their element when it was the first time Ben and I felt "at home." It was a hilarious scenario, wandering the aisles, looking for snacks, weighing the fruit, making decisions... and being guided by people who didn't at all seem comfortable. It was a mirror image of Superstore in Metrotown.