The Wonders of the World

Trip Start May 24, 2009
Trip End Jul 20, 2009

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Flag of Egypt  ,
Thursday, May 28, 2009

So today was the first day I've ever seen one of the ancient wonders of the world, haha.  Naturally, we went to the Pyramids.  After a small breakfast of bread, strawberry jam, and tea Cory and I were ready to head off.  We had decided against hiring a car for the day, as was offered by the Hostel for 180 EGP and 150 EGP by some driver on the street, and decided to take the subway to Giza and get a taxi the rest of the way.  As luck would have it, a British couple (one of which speaks Arabic) checked in this morning and were also heading to the Pyramids (Giza).  They had wisely copied some pages from an Africa guidebook that had to do with Cairo, and we decided to travel with them for the day.

The guidebook led us to the bus, which only cost of 2 EGP, and about 45 minutes later we were in Giza.  From the bus we met a gentleman that worked at the light and sound show and he offered to take us to a place where we could rent out a camel for a tour.  After some debating we decided to give it a look, and see what we thought.  The whole speel (spelling?) was a sham, and after some haggling we got the "Long" trip down to 145 EGP.  So we headed out to our camels and got on our way.  It was about this time that I decided that it was pretty stupid of me to not wear sunblock, especially since I had decided to wear shorts and a short-sleeve shirt.  Luckily one of our travel partners had some, though it was only 10 SPF (in the end I didn't really get that burned, thankfully). 

So the camel trip was pretty cool, I'm not sure it was worth the price, but the experience was definitely memorable.  We had the opportunity to get up on the pyramid and have our picture taken, and had some good pictures also from a distance. We also got to get pretty close up to the Sphinx and take some pictures (though we weren't allowed on the Sphinx.  I guess the most interesting parts of the ride were meeting some people from Baylor, getting accosted by people trying to sell us cokes (for around 20 EGP might I add, when they are normaly 1 or 2 EGP), having Cory's camel freak out and almost killing him (and all of us for that matter since we were linked), and arguing with the guide about his tip after we were done (he wanted 30 EGP from each of us, we gave him 10 each).  They then took us through a series of shops, probably ownd by the same guy as the tour company, to sell us ridiculously priced papyrus paintings and fragrant oils (which supposedly dated back 5,000 years and smelled pretty good).  Finally we ended with lunch, a meal called Kushari which is supposedly very Egyptian and is composed of rice and noodles and such.  You can read about it on wikipedia here.

After lunch we decided to go to look inside of the pyramids, since we didn't get to on our tour.  That necessitated us going all the way around the site to the other side, and cost us 30 EGP for the taxi (a rip off in my opinion).  WE then bought the student ticket to get inside, which cost us another 15 EGP.  We were of course accosted by tons of people trying to sell us various services (taxi ride, another camel ride, a horse drawn carriage, etc).  We opted to walk, it was only about a 15 minute walk, not 5 Kilometers as some people would have you believe.  The inside of the pyramid was ok, but it definitely didn't require you to pay 3 times as much for the Grand Pyramid.  Upon entering the pyramid you had to bend almost in half and walk down a ton of stairs.  It was cooler than outside in the desert, but it was much much more humid.  Once we reached the bottom we walked a short bit and then went back up, though it was a smaller length.  This emptied out into a large room with an angled ceiling.  There was a tomb at the end, and that was it, we headed back out.  Unfortunately you can't bring any cameras into the pyramid. 

After we finished up here we walked the long road back to the outside of the pyramid area and then walked to the main road to catch the bus.  It was difficult to find so we ended up asking the transit cop, who told us we'd be better off taking a taxi.  Our arabic speaking friend managed to get us a fare into downtown Cairo by our hostel for only 25 EGP, which was only a couple pounds more per person than riding the rather sketchy bus.  It took quite a while in Cairo traffic, but we finally made it.  From here we decided to take the Metro down to the old town and big bazaar.  Unfortunately the bazaar wasn't open, but we did take a LONNNNNNNG stroll through the old town.  We ended up walking all the way back to our hostel, which must have been miles.  Along the way we stopped at a restaurant that sold only Kushari, and had this for the second time today.  It was pretty good yet again, especially with the spicey sauce that accompanied it (I didn't try the lemon/vinegar/garlic sauce).

After dinner (which cost us 9.50 EGP with a 7-up) we headed back toward our hostel to show the Brits an area with lots of restaurants and shops.  Finally we made the trek back to the hostel, where I am now.  It feels soo good to sit down and have my shoes off.  As a testament to the amount of walking we did (on top of the saddle soreness from the camel ride), I actually have blisters on my feet, which very very very rarely happens to me.

One last (kinda) funny story.  Cory and I both had to go to the bathroom while in the old town, and we found an outdoor bathroom which cost 1 EGP.  So cory paid and went, and then I went in after him, hoping I wouldn't have to pay the price again.  While in there the lights turned off and it started spraying somehow, which got all over my legs.  I don't know what it was, since it was dark, but I was pretty disgusted.  I keep telling myself that it was just water.

That's it for today I think.  Tomorrow we are planning to head to Luxor in Southern Egypt, likely by night train, so there might not be a blog entry tomorrow.  Our tentative plan is to go down there tomorrow night on the night train, stay Friday night, and come back on Saturday's night train which would put us in Cairo early Sunday morning.  Our flight to Amman then leaves at 11:00 from Cairo.
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