Thursday, February 17, 2011


TODAY: One of the biggest fears of the recent uprising in Cairo was that demonstrators would go wild and damage or possibly destroy the vast collection of antiquities contained in The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, known commonly as the Egyptian Museum, in Cairo. Fortunately, other than a small break in with minor damage; the Museum survived relatively unscathed. Demonstrators linked arms with the soldiers and surrounded the building during the height of the demonstrations to protect their treasurers. So, unlike the National Museum of Iraq that was completely stripped during the recent war; future generations will still enjoy the treasurers that we viewed in 2005.

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005


Today is a travel day so we're up early and while I packed the suitcases Jim met with three of the guys and they walked back to the pyramids near our hotel. Jim, Joe and Josef wanted to go up into the largest of the pyramids; we'd only walked around it on Monday. Chris wanted to walk totally around it and then walk to the Sphinx of Giza for an early morning view.

The pyramids of Giza are perhaps the most famous of the ancient monuments and probably the most photographed. The Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) was not only the first pyramid built in 2500 BC at Giza but also the largest. All of the pyramids were built during a hundred plus year period. It is also the one with the Solar Boat found buried next to it.

What an adventure; they paid $20.00 for entrance fees and then found out that you were not allowed to take your camera in; Jim ran to find Chris who'd started his trek and then back so he started the journey out of breath. After entering the pyramid; the climb was all uphill at a forty-five degree angle. The first 150 feet was done bent over at the waist...looking at your feet all the way to the Great Gallery and the Grand Staircase. This was twenty-five feet high and easy to climb the next 150 feet. Opps...then another 50 feet bent over at the waist again before entering the burial chamber. This room was rather plain but large enough to fit a double Decker bus! There is a large granite sarcophagus; but other than that the room is empty. This was the only room that they were allowed to see; disappointing but now they can say they were actually inside the great pyramid of Giza! (This was narrated by Jim)

The three of them were back in plenty of time to check out of the hotel...but Chris arrived at the very last minute as we were boarding the bus. I think Jim's biggest concern was that Chris had his video camera!

On the bus we had another visual tour for the half hour of traffic as we made our way into the downtown city of Cairo for our visit to the Egyptian Museum. Rita gave us a guided tour of the Museum for two hours and then we had another hour to explore on our own. For me the best exhibit in the museum was the complete display of everything that they found in King Tut's (Tutankhamen) Tomb. The only missing objects were his mummy and pieces that are on a touring exhibit in the USA (and we saw that they'd only sent objects that were duplicates of was not unusual to see four of the same over and over). The most impressive were the four gilded boxes lined up in order of decreasing size; that contained his body. Actually, his mummy was inside of nine various containers starting with the four boxes that represented the nine months of gestation in the womb...everything was done towards his entering the afterlife. There were Chariots, gloves, jewelry and of course the most famous of all: the gold mask! In later chapters you will find that I actually had the opportunity to walk into his tomb and see the final mummy case that still contains his mummy; one of the few that have been returned to their tomb.

The King Tut exhibit is only a very small piece of the Egyptian Museum. There are so many objects packed into this museum that it's hard to really understand and see everything. They are in the process of building a new museum out near the Giza Pyramids so that they can display all of these beautiful objects for the public to enjoy. A few years off so we did our best to see as much as possible in our three hours. Again, no cameras were allowed inside but I put a few Internet photos in the slideshow.

Our lunch was at a local restaurant in Cairo; Roger and I decided to try the peppers on our were definitely HOT...brought tears to the eyes. Another different dessert of red dates, papaya and melons.

After lunch we had an afternoon of Rita's Discoveries starting with the opportunity to walk in an upper class shopping area to investigate the stores. From there we rode the bus to a "Supermarket" called the Metro. Not the same "supermarket" as we have because just like Europe, shops tend to specialize in only one item. But a few "supermarkets" exist in large cities for the foreigners and wealthy Egyptians; they had lots of American brands but still the selection was only food items. One of our objects was to purchase snacks as dinner tonight was "on your own" at the airport. We still have plenty of power bars so only purchased drinks.

Our next stop was on the way to the airport after dark; the city of Heliopolis to the Northeast is much newer than Cairo and is the location for the airport. It was also the area where Anwar al-Sadat held his military parades and where he was eventually assassinated during a review in 1981. From that time on the Viewing Stadium has been preserved as part of the memorial built on the parade grounds in his memory. Security guards stand at attention all over the place twenty-four hours a day. Heliopolis is a mixture of European and Moorish styles. It attracts the wealthy Egyptians and although no longer separate from Cairo, it maintains a distinctly different style from the older Cairo. The entrepreneur who had the vision to inspire this garden city in the desert...yes Heliopolis is known for the number of trees and plants...was Baron Edouard Empain who arrived from Belgium in the late 19th century. A photo of his palace taken as we drove by at night is in the slideshow.

Arrived at the Cairo International Airport about 6 pm for our eight o'clock flight to Aswan. We arrived in Aswan at the hotel about 11:30 pm. I then spent about an hour looking for the locks to lock our suitcases with during the day. Yep...we are still using the plastic ties during air flights, but like to put locks on them during the day. We have an early departure in the morning so I knew it was important to find them before going to bed. I finally gave up and got out the bag with my nightgown...yep...there they were...I'd carefully put them in that bag this morning because I knew we'd be going to bed as soon as we arrived. My but sometimers sure hits at the worst times!

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