Approaching the area of Giza felt like a dream. I’ve only seen these structures in pictures, movies, or have read about them in books. Now I am here. Surreal. On the way to Giza, but in view of the pyramids, you can see the impressive structure being built, which will soon be the home of the Egyptian Museum. It is a huge building built with pointed triangular tops mimicking the beauty of the pyramids.
The Great Pyramid of Giza is the only (and oldest) wonder to survive until modern times. In this 13 acres of desert, you willsee the pyramids of Khufu, Khafra, and Menkaura with Khufu being the largest of the three. I was able to climb from the bottom up to the entrance only and it wasn’t a far or strenuous climb. You can pay to go in Khufu but I opted not to enter because there’s really nothing in it according to the travel threads/blogs. The treasures and property from this pyramid are now housed in the Egyptian Museum. I took a picture of the entrance to Khufu.
From here, the tour guide drove to the area where you can see the 3 pyramids. There is a nice platform to view this and take pictures. This area is also full of tourists, people selling wares, and local people who will hassle you to take a picture this way or that but also expecting to be given a tip. This happened to me and I was quite rattled as a result. This man approached and gave me unsolicited suggestions about where to stand, etc. He was also quite abrupt and grabbed my phone so he could take a picture of me. However, I didn’t let that little exchange ruin my day, but be wary of this kind of encounters.
Near the platform, but away from the hawkers, you will see the camels and their human care takers. You can take a camel ride up to the 3 pyramids for about 20-25 minutes round trip, or a longer trip to see all the 9 big and little pyramids in a row. The person in charge of the camel took some pictures of me on the camel that would make for a nice souvenir. The camels seem to be taken care of and seem to know what to do.
The Sphinx was the next stop and it sits in front of the largest pyramid. In front of the Sphinx is an area where spectators can watch the light show and the Sphinx lights up. I didn’t do much research for this activity and it didn’t appeal to me much. There is a cafe that faces the Sphinx and near the road. I didn’t pay attention if it was open for business.
The tour guide made 2 more stops after this, which I wasn’t aware of but apparently included in the tour. The first place was a perfume store, a place that claims to sell only pure oils and aromatherapy oils. You sit for a bit while the person in the store gives you a dab here and there of oils. The second stop was a papyrus store and I thought it was interesting to see how the plant is made into paper. I think these places are cool to visit to learn or have a look.
A much needed nap was required, which energized me for another activity before calling it a day. From Zamalek, a taxi took me to the Garden City area near Four Seasons Hotel. This place, called Dok Dok, is highly recommended by travel bloggers for a felucca ride. It was a perfect ending to a hot day; the wind was blowing and the temperature was kind of cool for Egypt standards. I recommend, as others have, to end your day with a felucca ride on the Nile River. The sunset isn’t a bad thing to end the day either.
Some notes before I sign off:
1. If you like to DIY like me, have the concierge at your hotel write the destination or place you’re going to in Arabic. It has been helpful to show this to the taxi driver. Don’t forget to do the same for your hotel address.
2. The driving is madness and I commend the quick thinking and moves of the drivers. Hold on tight and know you are “safe” in the cab than you’d be outside as a pedestrian.
3. The taxi challenge continues to be frustrating. I have wanted today to be different and to find taxi drivers that are honest. Before heading to Dok Dok, I attempted to ask 3 taxi drivers to take me there only to be told no or solicited an overpriced fare. All 3 claim to have meters (and I saw them) but did not want to turn it on. Again, I realize that it’s all business, but this is a frustrating and highly anxious activity for a tourist.
4. Guided tours like the ones I engaged today at Giza are helpful. The private air conditioned car was super nice in the heat. However, I was not very pleased with the guide even though she knew more history than I do. The guide was pleasant and I tipped generously but I probably could have done some reading about the Giza before this trip.
5. I continue to observe that the local people, even in the hotel, are familiar with the English language but don’t seem to comprehend it well. Be patient. Ask your questions in various ways until you are satisfied.
Tomorrow, the Khan Al Khalili Bazaar.