Right, so, after IKEA and pool/souq day, it’s the pyramids. You can’t live in Egypt and say you haven’t seen the pyramids, so we did. Even though it was the high point of the whole trip, it’s also the hardest one to write about. I can’t really explain why.
We hired a guide for the whole day for 600LE, which included a driver and minibus. He was nice, very knowledgeable, and spoke English incredibly well – although by 3:00 we were teaching him a new English word: “hangry”. Even though we had intentions of getting to the pyramids fairly early, he was running a little late, so I don’t really know what time we got there. All I need to say is that it was very hot. After some strange security procedures (packing the bus, unpacking the bus, x-rays, metal detectors, repacking the bus), we went to buy our tickets. Giza plateau is 80LE/person ($10.25), and we also bought tickets to enter the second largest pyramid for 40LE each. The Great Pyramid was another 100LE, but we decided we could do it later.
The guide, Mohammed with a 4-year degree in tourism and an amazing wealth of knowledge about Egyptian history and mythology, told us all the stories we could possibly have wanted to know about the pyramids, one by one. We also stopped at a spot where the pictures are taken. It was all very tourist-y and awesome. We took a ton of very similar, very tan pictures. Many of them included camels, which, by the way, are everywhere around the pyramids. Some were just lying around waiting; some were being ridden by men trying to lure people onto them for photographs. The photographs were free, of course, but the story is that these touts won’t let you off their camels until you pay them an exorbitant amount of money, sometimes hundreds of pounds. Easy to resist, actually.
After the pyramids, we stopped at the Sphinx. More stories, more pictures. What do you even say about a place
almost 800,000 people visit every year? And many of you are those people. Giant piles of rocks, no one knows how they got there (but we can be pretty sure it wasn’t aliens); you can go inside of two of them, but the rooms are obviously empty now, and heavily vandalized with spray paint. No cameras are allowed inside the pyramids, so the only ones we can offer were taken quickly and aren’t very good. I would almost say that the culture on the plateau around the pyramids is more interesting than the pyramids themselves. Postcards won’t tell you that among all the tourists, there are hundreds of people just trying to squeeze a couple pounds out of anyone they can. It must work, too.
Anyway, after the pyramids we headed to the Egyptian Museum. Like almost every single other place in Egypt, photography is forbidden. This time I didn’t even try to sneak one, because there was nothing in that museum that you can’t find pictures of on the Internet. But again, Mohammed showed us that he “know[s] stuff” (his words, not mine), and it was all worth it. We could have made it around the pyramids without a guide. It wouldn’t have been as enjoyable, but possible. The museum, on the other hand, would have been insurmountable without someone to tell us what was actually worth looking at. Like this guy, whose eyes are made of something special (I was paying attention, I promise), and this guy, who was found in a room in front of the Sphinx that people now throw money into. And of course Tutankhamun, saved for last. We opted not to do the Mummy Room this time, because no one else wanted to pay 100 pounds and we could always go again later. There is a fascinating (and free) animal mummy room, though, which was great.
From the museum, we ate, went to the train station and boarded our train for home. The lesson there is to always check your ticket before you leave the ticket window.
This time, more pictures below: