You know what they are, you know what to expect. But believe me – you cannot prepare yourself for seeing the Pyramids for the first time. As we drove through the hectic streets of Cairo, over the river into Giza, the Pyramids almost sneak up on you because you don’t think that they’ll be THAT close to the city. And then, “Whoa!”, there they are in all their glory. As much as I hate to make this reference, and I’m laughing at myself right now for doing so, the experience is a little similar (just a teeny bit) to seeing the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas as you’re driving through the desert, but on a much smaller scale. The Luxor would have to be like eight times the size of the U.S. Capitol building to meet the magnitude.
I already described the hysteria with the camel rides in the previous post, so I won’t get into that again. After the camel rides, we had the choice of going into the Great Pyramid or the smaller Menekaure’s Pyramid. We opted for the smaller pyramid due to the fact it was 30 Egyptian pounds per person and that the entrance fee for the Great Pyramid was much more expensive (I failed to record the price, my bad). But nonetheless, the Great Pyramid on the outside was spectacular enough that we didn’t feel like we had less of an experience by not going into it.
Going inside the pyramid was extraordinarily claustrophobic, even more so than going into the tombs at the Valley of the Kings. I would not recommend the experience to anyone who is the least bit uncomfortable in tight spaces, and/or has back problems because you literally have to crouch down an incline for about 50 meters. Once inside, the interior was pretty anti-climactic and we came out of it with only the feeling of accomplishment that we A) made it in and out without completely freaking out and B) that we were inside a pyramid.
Once we got out, the fresh, cool air never felt so good. As we strolled around a little more, another thing I’d like to point out is that the second largest pyramid, Khafre, still actually had some of the original smooth casting stones on its apex allowing you to see/imagine how amazing the pyramids all originally must have looked thousands of years ago. I’ll also say that at nighttime, the pyramids on the horizon are actually pretty ominous looking. The silhouette of the pyramids was actually relatively frightening and it’s not hard to see how the villagers of the time viewed the pharaohs as nothing short of godlike.
From there we took a short walk down the hill and a got a look at the Great Sphinx (which was one of the few things I expected to be a little larger, but was still cool nonetheless). I had no idea the “What has four legs at sunrise, two legs at noon, and three legs at sunset?” riddle that I’d heard before was the question the Sphinx asked. I’m glad I would have known the answer (it’s “Man” btw if you didn’t know) because the Sphinx ate those who got it wrong. The one annoying part of that area was the millions of girls trying to take pictures of themselves giving the Sphinx a kiss (a little to the left, a little to the right, lift your chin up a little more, go on your tip toes a bit, crouch down a little, turn you head…)
We moved onto the Egyptian Museum in the center of Cairo next. As much as I would have loved to take pictures of the amazing displays – once again, no photography was allowed inside the museum. We were able to take some snapshots from the outside though. The building itself is actually a historical landmark and it has the same 1930s Indiana Jones feel to the architecture. However, any blogging I do about the artifacts inside wouldn’t nearly do the museum justice. So here are just two tips. 1) Dedicate a full day to the museum, that’s how big it is and you’ll regret it if you don’t give yourself the necessary time to wander around and discover everything. 2) Pay the extra money to see the mummy room. It’s worth every penny (though admittedly little morbid) to see the actual mummies of many of the famous pharaohs of Egypt.