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The Elegance of Egypt – Day 6|6th Apr 16


Visiting the Pyramids was a childhood dream for Bandita and this was the day it finally came true! We had thought of planning our Honeymoon in Egypt but due to the Arab Spring crisis, unfortunately we could not go there and went to Andaman & Nicobar Islands instead.

We woke up with a spring in our step as we were understandably excited to view the mighty Pyramids up, close & personal after ogling at them on TV & in books throughout our lives so far. Yes, we could take a sneak peek from our hotel room but still the excitement of finally gazing at them was too much to handle!

It was going to be a hectic day for us exploring the city of Cairo so we had a really heavy breakfast and were ready to rock & roll at 8 AM when the Memphis Tours vehicle came to pick us from the Hotel.

And then the moment of truth happened! We were finally in front of the Pyramids. We were stunned for quite some time just to witness the sheer size of them. It was an unforgettable moment for the both of us and one which we would stay with us forever! Surprisingly the site was quite empty and there was no maddening rush one would associate with one of the Wonders of the World! We soaked in the moments, clicked a lot of pics and kept gazing at them with awe & disbelief!

Bandita was really excited because finally her lifelong dream had come true. Abhay was as always indifferent to all the excitement of his parents and was monkeying around!

This complex includes the three pyramid complexes known as the Great Pyramids and is by far the oldest of the ancient Wonders and the only one still in existence constructed somewhere between 2560 and 2540 BC. Theese 3 Pyramids are the tombs of Cheops, Chephren and Mykerinus.

I had also booked a short camel ride which we thoroughly enjoyed. It was Abhay’s first camel ride and he managed to do with great fervor & excitement! He was so happy to get all those bumps and kept laughing all the way! The names of the camels we rode were Tom & Jerry, and Abhay remembers the names of these 2 camels till date!

And then we headed towards another landmark site named Sphinx. I am sure all of you would have seen it in photographs and we were lucky to enjoy it in absolute peace. We spent almost 15 minutes at that site and we were the only ones there! Yes, there was nobody to disturb us! It was unbelievable to say the least!

The Great Sphinx of Giza is a limestone statue of a reclining sphinx, a mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head of a human. It measures 238 feet long from paw to tail, 66.3 ft high from the base to the top of the head and 62.6 feet wide at its rear haunches. It is the oldest known monumental sculpture in Egypt and is commonly believed to have been built by ancient Egyptians of the Old Kingdom during the reign of the Pharaoh Khafre (c. 2558–2532 BC).

After the memorable time at the Pyramids & Sphinx site of Giza, it was time to head towards the city of Cairo and explore the historic City.

The first stop was an Egyptian papyrus paintings shop named “From Cairo with Love”. These paintings depict the daily life, mythology, gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt.  Each papyrus painting is hand painted and made out of the Papyrus leaf. We saw the process of making the paper out of the leaves and also a lot of paintings in that shop. We also bought a small painting for ourselves with our names written in ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Alphabet.

Next stop was the famous Hanging Church of Cairo whose original name is Saint Virgin Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church. It is one of the oldest churches in Egypt and the history of a church on this site dates to the 3rd century AD. The Hanging Church is named for its location above a gatehouse of Babylon Fortress, the Roman fortress in Coptic Cairo (Old Cairo).

It was quite a picturesque and peaceful place. The design of the wall paintings and the interiors of the Church were quite magnificent indeed.

Then we walked through the narrow streets towards the Ben Ezra Synagogue which was originally a Christian church, which the Coptic Christians of Cairo had to sell to the Jews in 882 AD in order to pay the annual taxes imposed by the Muslim rulers of the time. It is the most-visited Jewish site in Cairo and we were not allowed to take any photographs inside the Synagogue. It was the first time we were inside a Synagogue and it was good to know about the history of this ancient site.

We had done a lot of walking since the morning so the time was perfect for a much needed lunch! We headed towards the Bonne Soirée Restaurant which is quite a famous place for travellers to enjoy an extensive Lunch buffet. We had a real delicious continental meal followed by desserts which were quite delicious! We relaxed at the restaurant for quite some time as the agenda for the rest of the day enjoyed a lot of walking so we wanted to be adequately ready!

Next we visited the Egyptian Museum which is home to an extensive collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities. It has 120,000 items, with a representative amount on display, the remainder in storerooms. This is one of the largest museums in the region. The most famous & popular artefact displayed in this museum is The Gold Mask of Tutankhamun, made of 11 kg of solid gold which is one of the most famous images of Egypt after the Pyramids & the Sphinx. We were eagerly waiting to witness the gold magic!

But before that we went through numerous galleries and displays of artefacts which were innumerable! Lots of history lessons were in store for us!

During the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, the museum was broken into, and two mummies were reportedly destroyed. Several artifacts were also shown to have been damaged. Around 50 objects were lost. Since then 25 objects have been found. Thankfully!

The most famous objects in the museum come from the tomb of Tutankhamun who was a Pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty of Ancient Egypt. He was one of the youngest Pharaohs of Egypt and his tomb was found intact at the Valley of the Kings. The amount of artefacts found in his tomb is absolutely humongous and takes up a lot of space at the museum. We were mesmerized after witnessing the collection and the amount of detailing which must have gone through!

Then we visited a special gallery housing Tutankhamun’s mask, also known as the funerary mask of Tutankhamun which is the death mask of the 18th-dynasty Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun who reigned between 1332 & 1323 BC. It was discovered by Howard Carter in 1925 in tomb KV62 at the Valley of the Kings. The mask is one of the most well-known works of art in the world and we were lucky to have finally taken a look at it.

And then we witnessed another historic site which became quite popular in the recent history! We walked across the Tahrir Square which has been the location and focus for political demonstrations in Cairo, most recently those that led to the 2011 Egyptian revolution and the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. I had followed the protests quite closely and also watched a documentary film about the historic protest named “The Square” in 2013.

It was a completely different experience watching all that traffic move seamlessly after watching all the scenes of the protests when thousands & thousands of people were demonstrating!

We drove across downtown Cairo and headed towards another Cairo landmark – the Khan El Khalili, Cairo’s old bazaar. It is an old Arab souk which reminded us of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar which we visited in November 2015. Shop owners kept calling us to their stalls, there was an overpowering scent of spices in some parts and the hustle and bustle reminded us of India! We shopped for some Egyptian souvenirs for our friends and family and had a real good time walking through the alleys of this historical market. The market dates back to the 14th century when Emir Dajaharks Al-Khalili built a large market complex on the site of the Za’afran Tomb, which had been the burial place of the Fatimid rulers of Egypt.

It was quite a tiring day for us and we were quite exhausted after all the walking. But then the evening’s agenda was really exciting so when we reached our hotel at 6 PM, we didn’t waste any time sleeping but freshened up and got ready for another famous attraction of Egypt. The wildly popular “Sound & Light Show” at the Pyramids.

It was a beautifully designed & curated 1 hour long show which brought us face to face with the rule of ancient Egyptians through a magical combination of colours, lights and sound.  The history is re-told by the Sphinx which opened up the most ancient secrets of Egypt! I have attended many sound & light shows in India but this by far was the best I have ever attended. In one hour, the show narrated the history of the great Egyptian kings, their secrets, legends and secrets of ancient history.

After witnessing the magic of Pyramids earlier in the day, it was mesmerizing to enjoy them in the evening with that light & sound play! It was definitely the best possible way to end a day filled with so much highs!

But then one agenda item was still pending! I had read a lot of good reviews about the restaurant chain named “Felfela” and when I spotted one of their takeaway outlets, I immediately asked our driver to stop the car and then got our dinner packed! Lots of Falafels which is the staple snack item of Kuwait along with some grilled chicken and breads.

We reached our hotel room at 9 PM, enjoyed our Egyptian dinner and went to sleep with our tummies filled and after enjoying a thoroughly entertaining day filled with a lot of history lessons!

The agenda for the next day was quite simple – just chill & do nothing! After the 6 hectic days across Egypt, we definitely deserved such a day to end our trip!

So till the time we meet again…

Cheers to life…

Till then ride safe and have safe sex…

Inquilab Zindabad…

Hasta la Victoria Siempre…

Jai BoP!

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