Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Egypt part 3 - Memphis, Saqqara and the Giza plateau

April 13, 2016

I contacted cruising friends of ours who had just travelled to Egypt to see which company they had used for their tours. They recommended Emo Tours and they were well worth it. If you visit Cairo this is the company to use - Shaun contacted them through their website and booked a tour. We received an e-mail conformation for the following morning.

In the morning we received a call to our room announcing that Samar from Emo Tours was waiting for us in the lobby. Off we went to the lobby to find our tour guide. I didn’t realise the person was a lady until she approached us and introduced herself as Samar. It was refreshing to have a lady doing the tour. We all hoped into the van and off we went to our first stop, Memphis. Before we arrived at Memphis our guide stopped at a local shop to grab some snacks and beverages that were included in our tour.

Memphis was the farthest away and the original capital of Egypt. As we traveled I had many questions unrelated to history. I was very curious about Samars point of view being a women in a muslim culture. I wanted to know about how dating worked, and how women are treated. Samar was gracious, open and honest about everything. It was so refreshing being able to ask these questions and to get a females perspective.

We arrived at Memphis and knew that it would be a short stop as there isn’t much left with the exception of the large statue of Ramses II. Amazing! 

Sphinx of Memphis

a statue of Ramses II before he died

I think this was a top of a column
our first glimpse of the HUGE Ramses II statue

incredible cartouches
After seeing Ramses II we hopped back into the van and headed to Saqqara where the first stepped pyramid was located. I went with no expectations and was blown away. I couldn’t fathom how it was built so long ago without the technologies we currently have. There were fellows touting their wares and others wanting to give donkey rides. We refused them all and took in the ruins instead. There was one donkey touting man that asked for my Canadian pin and I gratefully gave it to him. He was so thrilled that it brought a grin to my face. As we were leaving we ran into Samar's Aunt and a group that she was touring with. We snapped our pictures and headed back to the van.

making our way from Memphis to Saqqara

donkey rider
our first glimpse of the stepped Pyramid, the scaffolding is being used to try and restore it
entrance to a temple
hallway into the temple

camel rider and his camel

view of the Red Pyramid in the distance

the donkey man wearing his new Canadian pin
Samar and her Aunt

the whole group that Samar's aunt was touring with
Once we had made a pitstop at the bathrooms we hopped into the van for our much anticipated final destination, the Giza Plateau.  It didn't take us long to arrive. Our first stop was at a restaurant called About Shakra, situated right below the plateau with a phenomenal view of the pyramids and the Sphinx. We were lucky enough to grab a table at the window overlooking everything. Samar had perfect timing to all of the attractions. We arrived at every one before the hordes. It was perfect.

The restaurant offered grilled chicken or mixed meat pieces. Each came with rice shaped into a pyramid and veggies. The presentation was really nice. Luckily, I asked if there was pomegranate in the rice before eating or I would have had a migraine. Once our lunch was complete we took the van up to the entrance to view the Grand Pyramid. I will admit, I cried when I saw the pyramids. I cannot quite explain why. Partially I think it was the feeling of being so small and the other was shear joy at experiencing something so incredible and ancient.

Samar was always explaining the different areas and even pointed out her home. Yes, she can see the Giza Plateau from her home. We walked right up and touched the pyramid, I was in awe. We looked at the false entrance made to confuse thieves and then the real entrance. We even climbed a short way up and had our photo taken. Once we were finished Samar explained that we would finish off at a view point that allowed us to see all 9 pyramids. We made our way to our transportation and headed up to the viewpoint.

We hopped out of the van at the top to look around. Breathtaking! I have secretly always wanted to ride a camel and had expressed this interest earlier in the day. Samar said that the viewpoint was the most cost effective area to experience this. After we were introduced to her friend and all of my touristy photos taken (me holding the pyramid etc...) we struck a deal for a 30 minute ride (15 minutes down and 15 minutes back). Shaun was in the front followed by Jordan and myself and Paige (the lucky devil had her own). I nearly fell over with laughter at Shaun’s expression when the camel first rose. It was priceless. The rest of us followed and fell into the gentle roll of the camel saunter. It is a must! If you ever have the chance to ride a camel, DO IT! Shaun and I both agreed that it would be interesting to do and overnight Bedouin camel ride. I will add it to my bucket list. 

Once we got back to the viewpoint we looked at some of the trinkets and then hopped back into the van. We made one more stop on the way down to grab a few more photos and then it was time to head down to see the Sphinx. Samar explained that Napoleon had shot off it's fake beard and nose. Both of which now reside in the Louvre (we are unsure if they are on display).  Once we were satisfied with taking a crazy amount of pictures and video we called it quits and headed back to the hotel. What an amazing adventure. EGYPT, A MUST VISIT PLACE!

yes that is piles of garbage on the left of the riverbank, we saw a lot of this and it was hard to 
riding down the street on a camel
view from About Shakra the restaurant
camels in the distance
another view from the restaurant
our meal
getting closer

this pyramid had all but the top of it's alabaster taken

to give some scale

on the Great Pyramid

chilling on the pyramids
a view up the pyramid from the base

view from the viewpoint
cheesy tourist picture

the waiting camels

view of 6 of the 9 pyramids

in my element on a camel

the Sphinx
walking up through the temple

Samar and the girls
our trip back along the river of garbage

random picture on the way back to the hotel
Another great adventure!

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1 comment:

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