Trip Start Feb 20, 2006
Trip End Feb 18, 2007

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Flag of Egypt  ,
Monday, January 22, 2007

mum has come to visit me in barcelona for a few weeks, and while she is over here we headed off to egypt for two weeks. we arrived in cairo after very early start. cairo is EXTREMELY overwhelming, especially for the sleep deprived. the taxi ride from the airport was hairy, not only because we weren't entirely sure whether our taxi driver was legit or not, but also for the traffic. cairo has 20 milliuon people, and i think they all have cars. the traffic is mental. there are no lane markings, traffic lights or rule of law.

we survived.

next day we headed out to saqqara to see the step pyramid. this was the ancient egyptians first attempt at a pyramid, and its not bad for a first try - its bloody enormous. we had a wander around the pyramid and got to go into our first tomb when we vistited some of the smaller mastaba tombs around it.

the following day was a visit to the ACTUAL pyramids. they are right on the edge of cairo, it is quite bizzare to be driving through the smog and traffic of the city and see the pyramids rising up behind it all. the pyramids are just as impressive as you would imagine up close. we were able to wander right around them, dodging hawkers, camel drivers and heavily armed police the whole way. we went inside the second pyramid, which is better preserved than the great pyramid, and only a few metres shorter.

going inside was incredible. you can't walk in the passages as the roof is too low, so you have to go down a passge bent double, and then go back up again, still bent double. then yo come to the burial chamber where you can stand. the walls aren't decorated at all (except for a later addition by the archeologist who discovered the pyramid - his name and the date of discovery painted in 1 metre high black letters on the wall... clever man...) you can still see the sarcophagus in there. we briefly had the whole place to ourselves, as the hordes of other tourists arrived later. the atmosphere inside the pyramid is really cool - the whole place is stifling hot, even though you would expect the stone to make it cooler, and it just has a really amazing feel to it. hard to explain really. unfortunatly couldn't take photos inside though.

after that we visited the sphinx. the sphinx has a tail, which i never knew. very cool. its much larger than i thought too - standing up i would only reach about halfway up the height of its toes.

that night we caught the overnight train to aswan. train was supposed to take 13 hours, but ended up taking 16. which was unfortunate because it had the worst toilets i have yet encountered on my travels, convincingly knocking the roadside toilets encountered on the bulgaria/ serbia border out of first place.
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