Thursday, 27 May 2010

Day 13

After our last visit to the step pyramid it was back to our hotel to pack and prepare for our second part of our journey on the road to Jerusalem.

We made some good friends on the tour group, particularly Jaqui and Gillian from Canada and it was sad to say goodbye. Perhaps we will catch up with them should we have the opportunity to travel to Canada, particularly to Toronto where they live.

We wound down in Cairo by having a late lunch at McDonalds and some window shopping, at the mall across the road.

The next day was a rest and relaxation day and making ready for the trip to Israel. After breakfast Grant, Penny & Linda decided to visit the markets to get hassled by the stall keepers and then we met to see Prince of Persia at the movies as we were still in the mood for Arabs and desert scenery. The movie was loud and we were presented with an intermission break during the movie, which gave some of us a toilet break. I haven’t had an intermission break in a movie since Gone With The Wind. It was very quaint to experience this again.

We finally left Cairo for Tel Aviv Israel via Amman Jordan. We travelled once more through the streets of Cairo with all its chaos and mayhem and finally boarded our plane.

The plane trip was uneventful, but smooth in timing and travel. We landed in Tel Aviv airport, which is a clean and new structure. Catching the taxi to our hotel and travelling along the roads of Israel was quite a contrast with those of Egypt. We didn’t hear a horn and all the cars stayed in their lanes and there were no pedestrians walking with the traffic. The scenery reminded me of home and for the first time in over 2 weeks we didn’t feel out of place or did we stand out in this society. We reached the hotel and bedded down for the night.

Day 12

Giza, what can I say. Its always impressive no matter how many times you see it. It was the first time for the rest of our group and so the enjoyment of that spread to us again. We saw the pyramids from the other side and went inside the second pyramid so we can actually say “been there”.

The capped pyramid is the smaller of the two, but is actually constructed on a higher level giving it the impression that it is bigger. Time has deteriorated the exterior of the pyramids, but it didn’t help when previous generations “stripped” the exterior to use those materials in building other insignificant structures that nobody knows what was built. The only example of what the exterior looked like is the cap section where limestone was used and would have given the pyramids a white shiny veneer that would have made them even more spectacular.

The Sphinx is the guardian of the pyramids and was constructed out of the bedrock that was there making it even older than the pyramids.

We also got within touching distance to the sphinx and you could actually see the base and how beautiful it was when fully intact.

The back view shows the tail and rump that they are attempting to repair.

We travelled to the area of what was the previous capital of ancient Egypt, Memphis. The site where a “miniature” sphinx made out of alabaster was found laying on its side which caused it to be deteriorated.

A huge statue of Ramses 2 was also found at the site. The building which houses it was built around the statue for viewing. I’m guessing it couldn’t be stood upright as the legs have broken and deteriorated. It is quite a huge statue.

Well our tour of Egypt has finished and we expressed our appreciation to our tour director, Mohamed Mahmud, he has made touring a wonderful experience. We have one more night and head off to Tel Aviv via Amman tomorrow evening.

One last photo, I think represents at least in my mind what Egypt portrays to the visitor to this timeless country. I’m not trying to denigrate the country and its people, maybe more its leaders. Although the intentions are genuine, I’m sure, the actual practice is where it lets it down.