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  • Day10

    We awoke to another glorious morning in Cairo with the honking of car horns our new 'normal'. We were on the bus at 8am & headed to one of the seven wonders of the world - the Pyramids of Giza! It didn't take long before we spotted them in all their glory, sitting right along side the city fringe.
    We were in complete awe at their magnitude & splendor. We even got to trek inside & visit the burial chamber of the largest one at Giza - Keops; completely worth the $12 each for the privilage, albeit slightly terrifying & claustrophobic at times to get there.
    Next, we were taken behind the pyramids where we got the perfect picture opportunities with all 3 visible. It is here that we also started our camel ride too - a highlight of the trip so far.
    We had a restful afternoon at the hotel, as many in the group were coming down with the lurgy (this time allowed us to pack & prepare for the 3.30am wake up tomorrow morning for our flight to Jordan). After a quick tidy up, we ventured out for a walk in the crowded streets surrounding our hotel before coming back & preparing for our trip to the Sphynx & Pyramids again to view a laser light show before a formal dinner at Mena House. Another fantastic day done & dusted. We are ready for Jordan tomorrow.
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  • Day9

    After an early wake up call, we were on the bus at 3am heading to Ankara International airport for the next destination in our journey - Cairo, Egypt.
    The flight was a little under 2.5 hours & we arrived to a beautiful morning in Cairo.
    First impressions - I love this city more than Istanbul! Istanbul was exotic but Cairo is ancient! There are 20 million people living in Cairo & it is a thriving, mass of people & culture. Only one word accurately describes the traffic in this city - crazy! You indicate with your horn & there are no real line markings on the road, so it is every man for himself! Roads that might comfortably hold 3 lanes of traffic in Australia, hold at least 5 abreast here!
    As our hotel was not ready until midday, our buses carefully navigated the traffic to the famed Egyptian Museum of Antiquities - wow, wow, wow! This museum is so full of antiquities & ancient artifacts that it cannot hold them all. A new museum is currently under construction directly opposite this important treasure & is scheduled to open in 2018. The current museum is breathtaking, although cramped with pieces in boxes stacked haphazardly everywhere. With new artifacts being found on a daily basis, this facility is bursting at the seams & our guide (a local Coptic Christian & Archaeologist), informed us that there are multiple warehouses, around the city, stacked high with pieces that have never before been seen! 🤤
    The history held within the museum's walls dates back to at least 2500 years BC! Tutankhamun's artifacts are all stored & displayed here & it was absolutely mind blowing. There is a definite sense that being surrounded by these ancient artifacts is just 'normal' for the local Egyptians.
    We stopped for lunch at a boat docked on the Nile River, before heading to our hotel for an easy afternoon. At 6pm we were on the bus again & heading to our boat cruise dinner on the Nile where we were entertained by a Belly Dancer & a Twirling Dervish, the latter of which was absolutely mesmerising. How he spun for at least 10 minutes without getting dizzy was beyond me 😁.
    We were asleep within 5 minutes of our head touching the pillow, just after 10pm.
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  • Day15

    Today was primarily a travel day. We woke up at 6 after only 5 short hours of sleep from the night before. We said our goodbyes to the other divers over breakfast and then took off on our 3 hour transfer to Hurghada airport. The Red Sea was in view almost the whole drive; other than that, there were multiple unfinished buildings that sporadically dotted the desert landscape.

    While there are lanes on Egyptian roads, they're regarded only as suggestions. Our driver spent a lot of time driving in the left lane, and only cutting over to the right lane to avoid oncoming traffic. Fortunately the van's ceilings were high because he rarely slowed for bumps which would send us up in our seats. Nico's phone once flew out of his hand on one such bump. Needless to say, we didn't get to catch up on sleep on the drive.

    When we arrived at the airport, we said goodbye to our fellow diving friends from Denmark and Germany who were dropped off at the international terminal before we were taken to the other terminal. Our terminal was eerily quiet (it was the same one we arrived in) with only a few airport staff and security lingering around. To our surprise, we were denied entry and told that we needed to go to the other terminal by taxi. When we pointed to a sign that read "Free shuttle bus between terminals" he shook his head no and said "taxi!"

    We proceeded to the lower level where we found a taxi driver who wanted to charge us 20€ to get back to the other terminal. As we were walking away, we haggled a lower price down to $5, but it was still too much for the distance. We would have walked, but there was no easy pedestrian access (perhaps by design - taxi drivers need work) and in the 40C heat, it wouldn't have been pleasant. Once aboard the plane, we fell fast asleep on the short flight to Cairo.

    Our drive to the hotel in Cairo was just as exciting, or possibly more so, than the drive earlier that morning because of the additional traffic and lack of lane compliance. We fit between spaces that didn't seem possible and somehow made it safely to the hotel. It reminded us of the taxi ride in Jakarta and we were happy to have arrived at our cocoon in the chaotic city. We had a great view over the Nile river from our room.

    We ventured a short distance out of the hotel for dinner at a quaint little pasta shop in the 26th of July district. Crossing the street was a fun challenge. We also noticed several youths riding bikes without a front tire. It was an early bedtime for an early tour start to see the pyramids the next day.
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  • Day16

    Warning that this is a very long post. We wanted to include enough historical context to remember how fascinating it was to revisit high school history class experientially.

    We woke up early to grab breakfast, pack up, and check out of the hotel before our pyramids tour. We grabbed a taxi to a nearby hotel where the tour would begin. We happened to be the only ones on the tour so we set off right away to get to the pyramids in time for opening time at 8. Mahmoud, our guide, explained that we would be using a side gate to avoid the crowded main entrance and would get to experience the pyramids alone, at least for a little.

    The pyramids were built to house the body of the Pharaohs and their treasures so that the soul could rejoin the body in the after life. The pyramids at Giza were part of the oldest era. After the tombs were frequently robbed post-mortem, the burial for Pharaohs thereafter was moved underground to the Valley of the Kings in Luxor. The majority of those were also robbed, but some remained undiscovered - more on that later. The Great Pyramid is the only remaining of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. It's still unknown exactly how the Egyptians had the technology to build such structures. If it were to be deconstructed, the stones could form a 2 meter high wall around the perimeter of France - that's absolutely mind-boggling.

    We started with a view of the 3 main pyramids and the Sphinx. The only other people were vendors and camel keepers getting ready for a long, hot day. Even at 8, the temperature was already at 35C. We chose an 'adventure' tour, of course, which would include walking from the Sphinx to the main entrance by the Great Pyramid. It wasn't a great distance, but the heat and flies made it seem long enough.

    Mahmoud insisted that we take a typical tourist shot kissing the Sphinx so Brittany continued with the Egyptian tourist photo ways. We really did have the place to ourselves until other tourists began to trickle in as we neared the main entrance. We were going to go inside the Great Pyramid, but it was already very crowded by the time we reached the main entrance to buy tickets, so we decided to try the smallest pyramid instead.

    Our tour bus took us to the panorama plateau where one could capture the 3 pyramids together. A dusty layer of fog sat low in the sky that made the city behind the pyramids vanish, making it even more surreal. Even with the multiple tourists, taking more touristy photos, it was great way to take in one of our world's greatest wonders.

    The smallest pyramid, fortunately, was a lot less busy and we got the experience of going inside the inner chambers to ourselves. Our guide had taught us how to say thank you in Arabic ('shokran') and it was helpful in politely declining the tacky souvenirs and pushy salesmen that we encountered multiple times.

    Not wanting to participate in camel riding, our tour of the pyramids ended a bit early. As part of the tour, we were to experience Koshary, a typical Egyptian meal. However, Mahmoud felt it was too early at 1030 since it was typically eaten at lunch time (which is at 5, our dinner time) so he offered falafel sandwiches for breakfast (lunch). We weren't yet hungry so we visited a "proper" papyrus shop first.

    In the papyrus shop, we were shown how paper from the plant was made and how durable it is - durable enough to have survived for 1000's of years. They had beautiful artwork on the papyrus that was available for purchase. We chose to get one with the Egyptian calendar and one with Bastet, goddess in the form of a cat.

    Since we were the only ones on the tour and had mentioned interest in going to the Egyptian museum, Mahmoud offered to continue as our guide. We asked to combine it with a visit to one of the city's great mosques and a walk through the historic market (Bazaar). We took him up on his offer since he was very knowledgeable and $50 for a private tour and driver was quite reasonable. Lunch was a bowl of Koshary, and rice pudding for dessert, all for around $1.

    After lunch, we were off to the Egyptian museum. We started off with a discussion about the Rosetta Stone - the real one is located in London, so a replica was displayed at the museum entrance given the historical significance. For the majority of AD history, very little was known about the meaning of the Egyptian artifacts due to a lack of understanding of hieroglyphics. The Rosetta Stone, found in Luxor, contained the same text in 3 languages, including Greek from the time when Alexander the Great ruled Egypt after the last great Pharaohs. This provided the key to deciphering the meaning of the wonders of ancient Egypt, including their writing and calendar.

    As was mentioned before, most artifacts from their Pharaoh burial sites were stolen over the succeeding millennia. But one site was only partially robbed, and the sarcophagus was completely untouched. In 1920, the tomb of the child Pharaoh Tutankhamun was excavated in what was the greatest archaeological discovery in history. For context, Tutankhamun only ruled for a decade, and was not known as one of the great rulers, but the vast collection is preserved in the museum covering a large part of the second floor. Included in this collection were chairs, chariots, sandals, and games made out of pure gold, precious stones and other exquisite materials. The attention to detail in these artifacts was immaculate, and would be considered high quality even by today's standards. We'd have to keep reminding ourselves that these artifacts are over 3000 years old. The highlights of the collection were the 11 kg golden mask and the multiple sarcophagus shells within which the king laid. It was absolutely unreal to get this much insight into this ancient civilization: their writing, arts, crafts​, calendars, deities, enemies, and everyday life. Even those not into history (Brittany...) are left in awe.

    Next up, fast forward a few millennia to the Islamic history of Egypt. After the Greco-Roman and Byzantine periods, Egypt was "islamized" in the 7th century by crusaders from nearby Saudi Arabia. In 18th century, the French invaded Egypt. The Independence movement was led by Muhammed Ali, who later ruled the country. A great mosque was built in his honor, on the hill overlooking all of Cairo, in an area known as the city of the dead where the extremely poor live atop buried Muslims' tombs; acting as caretakers of the deceased. Our guide Mahmoud is Muslim and was willing to teach us about the history and principles (known as the 5 pillars) of Islam. The mosque itself was quite beautiful, with a large courtyard area, two tall minarets (towers), and a vast interior under the domes decorated with various scriptures from the Qur'an. It also contains the tomb of Muhammed Ali himself. It was quite interesting to learn more about this religion firsthand.

    Our last stop was the market, aka Bazaar, located within the old city walls. We visited another mosque, much older and built in a different architectural style, and walked through the narrow streets and alleys where almost anything could be bought. At this point, after having spent several hours outside in 105 deg F weather, we were happy to settle for some cold waters and get picked up by the van.

    We picked up our luggage, got a ride to our hotel by the airport, and then jumped in the pool just before sunset to wash off the filth and sweat accumulated throughout the day. It was a jam-packed 10 hours of touring around the city, but well worth it for the amazing history.
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  • Day1

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  • Day2

    Kairo ist komisch. Man fährt (lässt fahren) durch das Chaos und auf einmal sieht man die Pyramiden zwischen den Häusern... die Dinger aus der Glotze, echt sureal. Das verstärkt sich noch, wenn man davor steht.
    Ein Hauch Kamelscheisse, ein bisschen Arabergezeter aber fast keine Touries.... Ich bin entspannt an einem Weltkulturerbe....wie gesagt: surreal
    Ein klasse Tag!

  • Day9

    Gestern sind wir also mit dem boot rausgefahren om bei 3 verschiedenen koralriffen zu schnorcheln und unterwegs delphine zu sehen. Wir hatten viel glueck und haben 2 gruppen gesehen. Kay hat sich an bord prima amusiert mit seinem neuen freund aladin. ( der heisst wirklich so🤣) . Da ich vorgestern einen stachel vom seeigel in die zege bekommen habe konnte ich meine schwimmflossen nicht an und war das schnorcheln im meer sehr ermuedent. Morgen gehts zum neuen hafen und bummeln...Read more

  • Day2

    Jeder mit Interesse für Geschichte wäre vor Freude gehüpft. Die älteste Pyramide der Welt, über 5.000 Jahre alt. Unglaublich zu was die alten Ägypter fähig waren. Die farbigen Bilder sind Wandschmuck des Grabes von Prinzessin Idut, übrigens mit Originalfarben von 2.300 v.Chr.
    Gegen geringes Entgelt durften wir "außnahmsweise exclusive" Fotos der Hyroglyphen innerhalb der Pyramide schießen

You might also know this place by the following names:

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