Day 3: Pyramids at Giza

by - November 16, 2010

I have just received a text from Ellie saying that there are two typos in the first paragraph of the first blog (found below).  If it is any excuse, this keyboard is in arabic and is very sticky.  But apologies.

Preparation of a cow for Eid

After rejecting both the 4am minaret alarm and the 9am alarm that we set, we settled on getting up at 10.  Danni and I walked out onto the balcony to find that the mosque below was in the process of slaughtering and preparing a cow for the Muslim festival of Eid.  The festival is a family time and is marked by the traditional preparation of half an animal for the family and the other half for poorer people.  This was what we saw happening and watched with fascination as the head was hacked off, the skin torn off and the guts pulled out by a group of around 10 men.  The reason that I haven’t been able to get on a computer until now is that the internet cafes have been shut for Eid - just like the Grand Bazaar was shut when I was in Istanbul for Eid last year.  An annoying coincidence.  We still had an appetite for breakfast after the slaughter however and ate before we got a taxi for the Pyramids.  Tom had already been, so Danni and I lost our Arabic speaking guide.  We were still able to travel the 12km to Giza on a combination of the Cairo metro (which rivals any that I have been on in the west) and a taxi. The outgoing journey cost 11EGP for the two of us - about one british pound. 

Me and Danni in front of the Great Pyramid
There are two things that struck me first about the Pyramids.  The first being just how much they dominate the surrounding area of city, which comes right up to it (they would be visable from most of the city if it weren’t for the Cairo smog) and the second being just how small the Sphynx is in real life.  We paid our entrance fee and wandered towards the base of the Great Pyramid, past people selling all kinds of Ancient Egypt minatures and offering rides on camels and rather ill looking horses.  It was here that we picked up the camel owner who, after following us and lowering his price as he went, we chose to give us a tour.  This meant that we had to partake in the terrifying, but worthwhile experience of getting up on to, travelling around on, and getting back off, a camel.  They are remarkably tall, because the passengers sit on the hump which towers above people on the ground.  The tour lasted for about an hour and yielded several once in a lifetime photos.  It was ridiculously expensive (in Egyptian terms - we are now all massively stingy and will quibble over as little as 50p) but we were willing to pay as he had been friendly and had warded of the numerous little kids who spent their time riding around on horses, trying to scare the camels and in doing so cause them to throw off their tourists.  Our guide even said he loked like his son - which was a nice attempt at making me like him, but was pretty inconceivable considering that I have yet to see a ginger Arab.
Blinded by the Light - notice man with pizza board

After the epic camel we wandered around for a bit, went down into a small tomb (we weren’t able to go under the Pyramid itself as the number of tickets was restricted and they had run out) and then headed for the exits.  One of the major flaws on my travels is that I am bad at fitting in meals - last night our dinner consisted of the free bar snacks at the Four Seasons.  As a result we didn’t have lunch until 4 in the afternoon and by then were so hungry that we went to the first place we saw - the Pizza Hut opposite the Pyramids entrance.  It was far cheaper than in England and the food was similar, and there was the added advantage of a terrace overlooking the Pyramids.  It was up here that we found a group of other English speaking backpackers - Aussies, Canadians and Americans, who wanted to watch the “Light and Sound Spectacular” at the Pyramids, but weren’t willing to pay for it.  Unfortunately the authorities had realised that people would try and “steal” their show by watching from outside the gates, so had put massive floodlights up that shone onto the terraces of the surrounding buildings.  We shielded our eyes though with whatever we could (Lonely Planets, cardboard boxes and even, amusingly, a pizza serving board) and actually saw a fair bit.  It was pretty cheesy and not worth the 95EGP entrance price, and the cynical attitude of the 15 or so English speakers we spent time with made it far more amusing than if we had paid. 

The Pyramids illuminated
The “spectacular” finished at half 7 and we made our way back to town and met Tom for dinner - a full meal which cost about 1.50GBP each.  A lot of locals were about for Eid and Tom said that this was because all of the children get a new pair of clothes from their parents for the festival, and walk around town showing them off.  We ate our takeaway dinner on our hotel balcony and stayed up talking with the owners until midnightish when we went to bed.  We would be leaving at 8am for the town of Bawiti in the Bahariya Oasis about 300km west of Cairo in the Sahara Desert. Worlds apart.

You May Also Like