Giza and Sakkara (Saqqara) Pyramids!

Trip Start May 01, 2009
Trip End May 10, 2009

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Flag of Egypt  ,
Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I stumble out of bed around 6am. Groggy. not happy to be awake, but smiling because I get to see the pyramids again today! I am totally drawn to these monsters. Just being there is such a humbling experience...  This trip I finally acquired some decent camera gear so I was super anxious to try it out!   (For those of you curious... I took most of the pictures of a 10 MP Polaroid I-1035 and the HD pics came from a Canon Vixia HF10 Digital camcorder. any other random video came either from both cameras or an epic sports hand held waterproof wrist camera (mostly used for the driving scenes i shot))

After showering and eating some yogurt and granola, Alexis and I were off to Giza! We left around 8:15 am to get there right at 9:00 when they open in hopes of beating the whole tourist crowd.... Fail. not only are we stuck on the main Giza strip about 4 cars back from the intersection.... waiting..... while 20 tourist buses pass us, when we get there, I add insult to injury... I always carry a pocket knife on me.... and most of the time i carry a utility tool as well.  well they have metal detectors and guards at the pyramid entrance and the driver had already went through the gates on the other side to wait for us... so I took out my tools and knife and approach a guard and tell him,"our driver just went through the gate and I didn't have time to put these in the car... would you mind walking me over to the car so i can put these in?" he semi-flipped out and brought me to another guard, who then brought me to the "General" in the back offices....

Now this was totally a scene out of a bad B movie. Imagine a 55- 60 year old man. about 185 lbs. white police uniform. Grey beard. pants flooding about 4 inches. sitting in a 8 X 8 foot room with a cheap fold out table he was using as a desk and 2 plastic chairs for people to sit on.  So the "general" was grilling me with all these questions... and mocking me (I'm sure of it) in Arabic after each response. It went something like this:

General: What are you doing with these Weapons? These are very dangerous.

Me: I forgot to leave them with the driver. Didn't realize they were in my po...                  General: What is your profession?

Me: If we could just go find my driver, he's waiting right ov...

General: What did you pay for this tool? (as he points to the utility knife that is now open and every function is spread out like its ready for a photo shoot for a sears catalog)

Me: $20.00 American, look im sorry about the knife and too...

General: You know what that would cost here?

Me: Um.... No, What wou....

General: 750 pounds. (he pulls out his wad of cash and pretends to offer me money, but then jokes to his friend and i cant understand anything)

long story short.... i have to pay the "general" and his two associates 20 pounds each. to let me find my driver and keep my knives. all the while, lexy is sitting inside the building waiting for me....

We get in! and start the trek around the biggest pyramid en route towards the sphinx. Weaving in and out of old catacombs and housing units, we catch the main stretch of road and go to the giant sitting lioness. Click  . Click . Click . Tons of pictures later, we make our way back up the road and start to circle the remaining two pyramids. As we trot along, we see a plethora of camel riding jockeys screaming an assortment of of greetings in many different languages with little ankle biting Arab boys holding postcards tell you they love obama so you will give them money for blurry non symmetrical generic pictures.

*SIDE NOTE - we saw a tourist get thrown off a camel. what a tool.


     1) never get on a camel when a guy says its for a picture. (he wont let you down without paying him some baksheesh)

     2) never accept anything from anyone. even though everything is "free" one it's in your hands.... you are screwed.  especially don't let them put a head dress on you for a picture.

     3) if a guy starts drawing pictures in the same explaining things to you.... RUN!

By mid noon, the amount of tourist showing up was ridiculous and we were ready to get going to sakkara anyway, so we found the driver and took off! Getting hungry and glad to be in the A/C... This was a great trip to Giza. We decide we want to go to a small town just north call kirdasha. they are supposed to have amazing scarves and a lot of the stuff from the khan is actually made their. but by 12 pm.. the traffic was unbearable and we decided to skip it and go straight to the second set of pyramids for the day.

35 mins later. we are in saqqara. (spelled sakkara in Egypt) at the base of the giant step pyramid. but before we explore, hunger hits and we need to hit up the sakkara cafe. its about 1pm and we get some menus and right before we order, the waiter tells us, "I'm sorry, there is no power" (apparently it doesn't come on til about 1:20pm everyday) so we order cold sandwiches and wait patiently. waiting.... waiting... hm...worst sandwich ever. stale bread and old meat. already scared that since our arrival, the government has been caught up in the slaughtering of all 300,000 pigs located through out egypt.... where does all that meat go? lets just get tickets and go in. Pass the dog which look like it dead . pay the 60 pounds. Hop in the car and we are driving up the road to the entrance of the complex.

we meet a Canadian couple near the entrance and proceed to walk with them for about 50 percent of our trip. they are on a 6 week journey that starts in Cairo and ends in turkey. both were grad students who were moving to Manhattan to practice law so this was their getaway before taking the next step...  as for us... we stuck around a little longer and checked out way more tombs and carvings.

this was a totally different feel from Giza. there was about 25 tourists their and that was just one group that showed up. otherwise it would have been about 5 people. you could basically walk wherever you wanted and touch whatever you wanted. there was no peddling locals and no loud noises. it was tranquil and quiet. and breezy on top of it. a perfect day for seeing ancient ruins. and taking some great pics of ancient hieroglyphs.

after a couple hours of seeing exactly what sakkara had to offer (lots and lots of restoration), we hit the road and starting making our way back to Maadi. We've gotta get showered up and dressed so we can meet up with Wyeel and Sherif (friends / co workers of peter) at their apartment in Nassr City... One last look at Sakkara and we are off!

Im pretty anxious to hang out with these dude because they are close to my age (26) and they are coptic, not Muslim. so party party party!!!

*more stray dogs along the way...

Before heading to wyeel's place, we decide to grab a ride down the Nile on a felluca. Hit up a pizza hut and grab some wine, we head to the Corniche to find a deal.

parking somewhere near Maddi's TGI Fridays, we head down to the waters and negotiate the price from 50 pounds an hour to 30. not bad at all. We Devour our pizza and wine and lay around listening to the breeze floating off the nile.

it was so quiet on the felluca so relaxing. a nice scape from the noisy city just a few hundred meters away. after watching a gorgeous sunset, it starts to get cold and we are wanting to get back and get ready to go party. we ask cap't paeter to bring us back and he starts trucking along yelling to all his other captain friends trailing close by us.  we get to the short, baksheesh the captain, call the driver and make our way back to the flat!

We get to their place around 8:00 pm (lunch time for them) and they start immediately with the hash. non stop. rolling, grinding, smoking, bowls, cups, joints. it was just too much. i couldnt see straight. and i didnt even start yet! heh. after about 30 goods mins of getting in touch with our inner chi. food was starting to be bought out to the table. and i mean like a 25 course meal.

Various colors, sizes, smells, textures. a few different breads and a bunch of greasy looking dipping assortments. i was scared. no one would tell us what it was. so like columbus before me, i took a leap of faith and loaded up a plate with local food and starting my consumption.

Bitter taste came from the lightly colored thin sliced white lean meat.... dry flavoring poured out of the nearly black chopped meat and a pleasant sweet taste followed the sausage.  i wont go into what each plate was. but they can all be found in the human body. gross.

a few more glasses of wine and at least 2 grams of hash consumed, it was time to leave.. not worried thought, because after our trip to alexandria, they will be meeting back up with us for a little more sight seeing before we leave!

So Tired. so much walking. so much left to do!  Tomorrow is another trip to the Khan, but a well deserved long and eventful trip that i can't wait for! we head back to the flat.

eyes getting heavy. thinking about the trip to Alexandria tomorrow. lets see what dreams these pharmaceuticals will bring me...

Time: 3:00am

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