Today Laura and I would go to Giza to see the pyramids and Sphinx. It was amazing drinking coffee on our balcony, looking at the pyramids. The last time we had coffee together was in Florence, Italy overlooking Santa Maria del Fiore. It is strange to me that every time we have coffee, it is in an exotic place. Next time it will be in Bangkok. I like having coffee with Laura.
Laura soon learned the wonders of Egyptian pastries. I am not kidding when I tell you they are good, they are better than the ones in Paris. So we snuck a few extra ones in a little bag for the trip and share them with the boys.
Hassan greeted us with morning hugs, and we were off for the adventure. It was fun watching Laura’s excitement over the white donkeys, an occasional camel, and the condition of the buildings. She did not disappoint. She said, “OMG Cheryl, look at that” a lot.
Yesterday the crowds were absent, today there were people. We pulled into the complex while Hassan obtained water and our tickets. He kept asking us if we were sure we wanted to go into the pyramids. Are you kidding me? I think he was worried I wanted him to go with us. There was no way in hell I would not go into every pyramid I could, and the big ones were a must.
We started with the Great Pyramid, the one I saw from the freeway my arrival night. Massive does not describe the size accurately. There were horses and camels everywhere. It was a pretty large area; you had to drive between pyramids. I somehow figured it would be a more intimate setting in the sand, like the other pyramids. There was a parking lot near Giza. I mean, it makes sense, a lot of busses and people arrive there every day.
Hassan led us up to the edge of the pyramid, or he tried anyway. I went crazy over every camel I saw. Finally, we get up to the edge, and the size of the blocks really hit me. They were almost as tall as I am. What is so shocking was how precise the blocks were cut and how big they were. How on earth did they do that 4600 years ago? The pyramid is 321 feet tall or 32 stories. Sadly the smooth white limestone was stripped of the great pyramid, and only a little was left at the top of the other one.
We decided to start with the great pyramid of Khufu. There were some stairs cut into the big blocks up to the entrance of the pyramid. Hassan told us we were on our own; he would meet us outside. We talked months after the trip; Hassan then confessed to me that he does not like to go into the pyramids but went in the first two with me as he wanted to make sure I could get myself out alive. Thanks for watching out for me, Hassan.
This one was different; I expected a horrible tiny tunnel to the pyramid basement. Instead, we entered into a rough-cut tunnel that was almost like a cave. There was a small staircase and another ramp up into a small low climb; there it was, the hunched over the climb up this time. It was not too bad.
Up at the top, there was the grand gallery. It was a large corbelled ceiling climb to the king’s tomb. There were 2 ramps, and in the middle was the tunnel to the queen’s chamber. Unfortunately, it was not open at the time, so we did not get to crawl down there. There was another corbelled room with one ramp up to the top.
The king’s room was very simple, clean, and pristine. There was a tomb at one empty end. It was made of beautiful granite. It was so hard to imagine that the room was as old as it looked fairly new. You could really see how tight the seams were in the massive blocks of rock. It will blow your mind. Then, of course, there was a guy up there wanting to take your photo for a tip. It happens a lot, in Egypt so expect it.
We went to Khafre’s pyramid next. This one still has some of the polished white limestone on top. I imagine when the whole thing was covered in the white limestone, it gleamed in the sun. We read the signs and learned a bit of the history before we went in. I decided I needed to lay down on the stone floor a moment to stretch my legs and rest as 5 pyramids in 24 hours…well, I was pooped. Poor Hassan thought he killed me at this point. Five minutes and some water, and it was time for us ladies to go into the pyramid and Hassan to sit outside and take a nap.
This one was more like the ones from yesterday. Laura got to experience her first long bend-over climb on a wooden ramp. At the top was a short hallway you could stand up in before another bend-over climb. It was so amazing walking down that hallway to yet another ramp to the tomb room. The granite tomb was in the floor, not sitting on it like Khufu’s. The lid was propped up nearby. This room was long with a peaked ceiling. Written on the wall was “Scoperia da C Belzoni 2 March 1818. Some Italian guy that explored Egypt and liked graffiti.
We initially were down there alone when a loud man came in with a couple of tourists. He yelled at me, “no photos.” I was shocked at first but already took the photos that I wanted. I knew we already paid the guards for the photo license, so he was full of crap and pulling a scam. Hassan warned me about this. He told us for a tip we could take photos. I told him “NO” rather loudly and uttered a few profane American words under my breath as we left. He ruined the moment for us, and I was not impressed at all.
We told Hassan and the outside guards what happened as we knew it was a scammer. They felt so bad they decided to have some fun with us. They had us do funny poses with the pyramid in the background. We had to act like we were touching it and making silly positions. We all laughed, and the loud guy got a new asshole when he hit the entrance from the guards.
I was so excited about the next stop, the Great Sphinx. I imagined it to be absolutely massive, gigantic, larger than life, and I could not wait to see it up close. I expected a good crowd, but it was not that bad. I was shocked at how small it was. The pyramids are massive, so I just expected the same, nope it is fairly small in comparison. You could not walk around it, so it was a little hard to tell the true size. You got to stand on a ledge nearby and view him in all his glory. The face carving was quite nice, but it did look like a lot of the body was worn away. I felt a little underwhelmed, but it honestly. I wish I saw it first.
Hassan insisted we follow him to an upper area so a woman he knows could take some photos of us acting silly with the Sphinx. Goofy stuff like kissing it or having it kiss your hand. She rushed us through these poses, and for me, it was uncomfortable, but Laura seemed to have a great time with it. However, I did not like the experience as it felt rushed to me. The photos were cute but silly.
The large area in front of the Sphinx was nice; you could line up the pyramids behind him for some amazing photos. But, overall, the Giza Plateau was beyond overwhelming and amazing. It is almost surreal being there in this ancient world of the Egyptian Kings. You climb into the massive tombs built over 4600 years ago, and they still stand. Until you do that yourself, you can never really understand how it feels, and it feels unbelievably amazing.