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Friday, 22 December 2017

Cairo - Pyramids and Museums

Catching a taxi in Cairo is easy, however, keep your eyes closed until you reach your destination. The drive through town, was scarier than any roller coaster I have been on!

The temperature in Cairo was a lot cooler than anywhere else we had been in Egypt. We think this was down to the constant cloud cover caused by haze, smog or pollution. Another source was possible sand blowing from the Western Desert. This didn't stop us from getting an amazing view from out hotel rooftop of the Pyramids at Giza.

Marvel Stone Hotel/Hostel has very helpful and friendly staff. Our room was big and comfy. There is a small rooftop gym and pool table and great views of everyday life around Giza.

Later in the evening, we watched the light show from the roof of the hotel.

Next morning, we had early breakfast and waited in the lobby to meet our guide, Sameh El Ganainy, who we booked through 'getyourguide' online. This proved to be an excellent choice as Sameh was very informative, knowledgeable and friendly.

We jumped into Sameh's car and we were off through the busy streets of Giza.The step pyramid of King Djoser, is one of the oldest stone structures in the world.

The pyramid complex was surrounded by an enclosure wall, originally 35 feet high and a mile long. There was also a trench running along the walls outer perimeter.

The entrance to the complex appears to be a large open wooden door, but it is false and cannot be moved. 

This doorway opens into what is thought to be the first hypostyle hall in the world. The ceiling, made of limestone, is made to look like logs. 

40 columns are carved to look like reeds or again, logs but they have no function. Statues, may have once stood in the niches.

Once through to the other side, we had an amazing view of the step pyramid complete with scaffolding which has been erected in order to save the oldest pyramid.

The Step pyramid stands at 60m high and built of locally quarried sandstone. it is not possible to enter due to safety issues.After seeing the scaffolding, we were happy to view from the outside.

We did walk around the pyramid but not before having a fabulous history lesson in the sand from Sameh who told us all about the pyramid and area of Saqqara.

Another pyramid here belongs to Unas. We were led down a descending passageway and into a hallway.

The pyramid is very famous for its texts and they are very well preserved. The inscriptions are carved into plaster covering the masonry pyramid walls.

The hallway leading through to the burial chamber where a black sarcophagus stands. These walls are also covered in colourful painted texts.

The white ceiling above the sarcophagus is painted with blue stars.

Close to the step pyramids at Saqqara is Memphis open air museum.

Here we saw a colossal 10m long statue of Ramses II. This once stood outside the temple of god Ptah who was worshiped as the creator god and techniques and art.

The Alabaster sphinx is 8m long and 4m tall. It was found lying in water eroding but is still very impressive with his body of a lion and head of royalty. This sphinx was carved in honour of an unknown pharaoh and may have stood at temple of Ptah.

We visited a government run papyrus factory where we were given a demonstration on how the paper was made. Fascinating!

We chose a papyrus painting showing a hunting scene with Tutankhamun shooting and arrow at a bird. Ankhesen (his half sister and wife) is handing him an arrow for his next shot. 

Back in Giza, Sameh bought us a local lunch dish while haggling a price for a horse and cart ride around the huge site at Giza Pyramids.

Absolutely fabulous to finally be in Giza and taking a tour to the famous pyramids I'd learned so much (yet so little) about at school.

We slept in on our last day in Cairo! Marvel Stone, arranged for a uber driver to take us to their sister hotel and leave our bags so we could go and look around the museum before our bus journey back to Hurghada. 

The Egyptian museum is inside a huge old fabulous building. HUGE! It has two floors with grand staircases and views over many exhibits. The ground floor has heavier displays including coffins, enormous statues and stone carvings. They are organised into Old Kingdom, Intermediate Period, New Kingdom, Late Period, Greco Roman Period and the antiquities of Nubia.

Upstairs has lighter displays which include gadgets and tools, funerary objects, small statues, papyrus papers, wooden coffins, jewelry and a display of Tutankhamun's tomb.

This is an amazing museum. HUGE! A fabulous way to end out time in Cairo before the seven hour drive back!