Port Said, Egypt
Trip Start Jan 13, 2009
63Trip End May 13, 2009
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Our ship had entered into Port Said the previous evening. We arose early as we had a tour of the pyramids that would entail a two and a half hour journey into Cairo and Giza where we would visit the most famous pyramids of Egypt. 5:30AM comes early, but we are in the desert and morning and evening travel is preferred to midday travel. As we had traveled north from Safaga to Port Said we had felt the lowering of daytime temperatures. So although we were ready for high temperatures, we were anticipating more comfortable temperatures as we explored the sites of Ancient Lower Egypt located in the Sahara Desert
The trip into the Egyptian capitol of Cairo was on buses like the ones that we had used in Safaga when we traveled to Luxor. So we enjoyed the trip inside of these modern buses equipped with air conditioning. Today we would have a tour guide who had graduated with a BS degree in Tourism and was registered with National Tourist Bureau. She was a very good guide full of knowledge of both old and new Egypt. And most importantly a good command of the English Language. It seemed that most English speaking Egyptians spoke our language very well. As the bus pulled out from the crowded narrow street by our dock side, she began telling us about the Egypt of today. Port Said is a modestly sized city that was founded in 1858 at the opening of the Suez Canal. This meant that Port Said was not an old city by Egyptian Standards. It is the main port before entering or exiting the Suez Canal on the Mediterranean side. It is not a large city approximately the size of Luxor.
The road that we traveled was a smooth four lane road with a wide center divider strip. This wide divided road took us from the Suez Canal, thru the edge of the Sahara Desert
As we drove into the outskirts of Cairo, we saw one of the problems facing the urban planners of Cairo. The land along the Nile River is very valuable because this is the land that can produce the food that is needed by the people
As we traveled out this road into the past, we could see the landscape, cityscape, and people change as we journeyed farther from the Nile. We were in the area of the Sahara Desert that is most easily recognized; the area of sand and rock. It was here that the oldest pyramid in Egypt stands; the Step Pyramid of Sakkara. It was built here in the First Kingdom when the pharaoh first began to build the pyramids that have come to symbolize the ancient civilization of Egypt. It is currently the oldest of the 107 known pyramids in Egypt. We must remember that it is estimated that only 30 percent of ancient Egypt has been discovered
We were finally here in front of a pyramid. One of the items on both our Life's Bucket list was to ride a camel in the front of a pyramid. The time had come and we were in the place to complete that entry on the list. So after taking in the grandeur of the oldest pyramid, we went upon a hill be the side of the pyramid to the site of the camel herders. We had been told that the going rate for a camel picture was $1 US and $3 US for a short ride on the camel. That may sound cheap, but remember the cost that it takes to get to the site to ride the camel. But that was what this adventure was about; to go places, see things and do things that we have never done before. I negotiated for the rides as Harriet was too overwhelmed by the scene before her to think of anything but getting on the camel. We were told to be weary of the camel herders as they would charge too much or in some cases would charge a small price to get onto the camel and a much larger price to get off the camel. With our camel herder, I found that to be untrue. Yes, he wanted more money in the negotiations; but once we had settled on a price and conditions for the ride, it was final
We had taken more time on the ride than we had planned and was close to being late for the bus. That was something that we have been successful in not doing so far on our adventures around the world and was determined not to be guilty of here. So we ran almost a half mile back thru the hills and pyramids out into the parking area and down to the line of buses. As we ran, we passed several of the other members of our bus tour. We even passed our tour guide who ran part of the way with us and then told us to go on alone as she would walk the final steps back to the bus. We had returned to the bus before the final minute had elapsed on this segment of the tour.
As the bus pulled out of the site of the Step Pyramid, we were content to be moving on to the other parts of our tour
Although it was near our lunch time, we had time for a short stop at a Gold and Silver Market in the City of Giza. The women seemed to appreciate the terms "gold and silver" more than the men on the tour. But even I was impressed with the amount and loveliness of the gold and silver objects in the market. It was a just a short stop as we were off to the Le Meridien Pyramids Hotel for a luncheon. But the stop was long enough for Harriet to buy herself and Shelby a gold cartouche, both with our family name written in Egyptian Hieroglyphs. All of the tours met for a large luncheon on the second floor of the Le Meridien Pyramids Hotel. We had several tables that were marked for use by the people on our bus. To the rear of one large round table was a line of picture windows with a view of the Great Pyramids of Giza. So we ate lavishly of many dishes and varieties of food and deserts before a window of one of the most famous and easily recognized sights in the world, the Great Pyramids. Again we were given the choice of drinks. Again we decided on beer. Again the local beer was Stella. We refreshed ourselves and rested for the task on completing the remainder of the tour.
It was only a short distance in space between the hotel and the Great Pyramids, but it was a different story for the environment and the time
We have studied and thought about the pyramids for about a year, since we had first decided to take the world cruise. We had watched shows on the Discovery Channel that showed recreations of life in Ancient Egypt. But standing there between the two largest pyramids in Egypt, we were not fully prepared to comprehend what we saw. Only standing there for a few brief moments of time that is moving from the beginning to the end of time as man knows it, could we appreciate the history that is Egypt. We were here in the land that has existed since time was. Here at the side of one of the pyramids, we were able to go inside of the pyramid. It was thru a small square opening that although was wide enough for two people to rub pass each other, it was only four feet tall, just tall enough to walk crouched over at the waist thru the complete darkness inside of the pyramid
But no tour of the pyramids can be complete without a visit to the Sphinx. With the head of possibly the Pharaoh who had built the largest of the Pyramids: the Sphinx has the body of a lion. It was guarding the pyramid against grave robbers who would defile the body or the processions of the Pharaoh. As fearsome looking as the Sphinx was, it did not deter the robbers. With this lesson in mind, later pharaohs would hide their tombs in the Valley of the Kings. Again with only the exception of Tutankhamen, this, as can be presently seen, has not been a determent either. We drove out by the side of the pyramids to an area just in front of the pyramids. Here after parking and walking to an old stone wall of about 4 feet in height, we were to capture our first view of the Sphinx. One photograph and we were rapidly walking in toward the Sphinx. Although it has been sitting in this location for thousands of years, we would only be here a short time and so we hasten forward to get as close a view as possible. The area around the Sphinx is walled, with one side wider and with two pass ways for people
In the evening the ship slipped from its berth and headed out onto the Mediterranean Sea toward Athens. When the Egyptian Empire was at the end of its domination of history; it was conquered by the next great civilization of man. The nation was the birthplace of Democracy. The nation that thru the brilliance of Alexander the Great; conquered not only Egypt but the other known civilization of the time. We are heading to Athens where the ancient Greeks ruled and formed the basis of government that has flourished throughout time; Democracy. We shall be there in two days' time, not a long time in the long history of man
Where is Harriet? Hunt
In this hunt Harriet is in the front of the Step Pyramid of Sakkara waiting to ride a camel. Come on over and take a camel ride with us.
Linda on April 17, 2009
Well today I think she is standing to the left of center and to the left of the man in dark clothes, you can see her head and partial body behind the man in light blue shirt and darker jeans with hat on. in front of person in dark shirt. That’s the best I can explain it. Hope she enjoyed the camel ride. I hear they are pretty bumpy rides