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Posts Tagged ‘nile’

After we left the Great Pyramids of Giza we drove across the Nile into the heart of Cairo. Since I already told you about the traffic, I won’t bring it all up again, but I am so thankful for our wonderful bus driver and his ability that got us safely to the Egyptian Museum.

The current museum is only large enough to display about 1/3 of its total antiquities collection. We saw the location and construction in process for a new museum that will be large enough to display everything. It is hoped that it will be completed in three years.

Of course the most celebrated collection in the museum is the artifacts of King Tutankhamun. The amount of gold in the collection was astounding. His coffin alone was made of solid gold and weighs 243 lbs. There were thousands of statues, busts, sarcophagi and other artifacts throughout the entire museum. We also saw Canopic jars that the internal organs were removed and placed into during the mummification process. Pictures were not allowed inside of the museum, so I have attached some from other sites so you can get a sense of what the place was like.

The museum for the most part was completely accessible. The one thing that was not accessible was the restroom. And of course, just my luck, the clock told me it was time that I use a restroom. This was a definite experience. I’m not sure why, but in the design of the building, the restroom was located between the first and second floor. The elevator did not make a stop on the restroom mezzanine. So in order to get to the restroom a person had to hike up a very large stairway from the first floor, or hike down a very large stairway from the second floor. And I might add that the stairs are not carpeted but are made from fairly slick marble. Looking at this situation, I was more than willing to look elsewhere for a restroom. But my guide was determined. So from the second floor he grabbed a museum worker and they lifted my wheelchair down the very long slippery stairway to the restroom. Wendy just walked beside of us ready to make a grab for me if anyone slipped. And of course once I got to the restroom, it was not wheelchair accessible! But I have learned to make do and this was no exception. Then they lifted me again to carry me down to the ground floor. I could tell from the face of the poor museum worker that this was a first for him. Lol

After leaving the museum my guide lifted me into our van and off we headed back to the ship in Alexandria. I enjoyed the drive and scenery and asked many questions of things I saw along the way. We also had an interesting experience of needing to get some diesel fuel. Evidently diesel is difficult to come by at the moment and even though I could not understand anything of the exchange between the throngs of people at the pumps, I gathered that the price is not set, but is rather bartered for in very heated exchange. But our guide got us right to the front of the lines, we got the diesel, and continued on our way to Alexandria.

So many wonderful and amazing memories of everything we saw in Cairo. Truly a land of wonders.

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We awoke this morning with the lights of Alexandria, Egypt coming into view. Wendy and I went to breakfast early so we could be back on our balcony and watch the ship dock at 7:00 AM. The tugs and pilot boats were effectively doing their jobs as we neared the mammoth boat docks.

Our first view of Egypt was a mixture of the ancient with the modern. With a couple of quick pictures taken, we went to meet our group, ready to exit as soon as the gangways were put out. For anyone in a wheelchair, exiting and entering the ship was fairly simple with lots of assistance. Wendy and I were ushered to the front of the line, checked off the ship, and then helped over the gangway.

We were no sooner on the docks than we were greeted by EO representatives acting like we were long lost friends. Once again, EO had every detail worked out to perfection. The people knew our names, welcomed us to Egypt, and ushered us to our private touring van. Our van here was an ordinary van with the sliding side doors, but no lift. I thought this would become a nuisance transferring in and out of all day, until I met our guide and bus driver. They were both good sized guys, and after looking the situation over carefully, they just picked me up out of my wheelchair and placed me in my seat!  Lol I assure you that is no light task. I’m not huge, but I still weigh in at 180 lbs. But EO chose well, and over the next two days they lifted me in and out of the van several times a day with no apparent effort on their part. At times, just one of them would lift me. Wendy and I laughed about how up close and personal we got to know each other!

We left the docks, drove through Alexandria, and headed for Giza/Cairo about an hour away. I guess now would be a good a time as any to mention what driving in Egypt was like. I have been to about 20 countries, and even driven in some of them, but I would never even attempt to drive in Egypt. I read recently about someone’s trip to another country, and he said “that at best, driving laws were merely a suggestion.” In Egypt, I don’t think there was even anything to suggest. The population of Cairo and surrounding suburbs is about 23 million people. I do believe that all 23 million have a car and they are all on the road at the same time! From our perspective, the only rule of thumb was survival. Mere fractions of an inch between vehicles at all times, Smart cars, huge touring busses, mopeds, people running between cars to cross the road and the constant sound of blowing horns all made for an adventure of sheer terror mixed with the thrill of defying death. Wendy did her best to suppress her screams, but an occasional yelp would slip out every now and then. Our driver and guide acted like it was no big deal and pressed on. The driver would weave in and out of seemingly impossible situations, while our guide would point out things of interest along the way in the most nonchalant manner. Truly an experience that you must add to your bucket list!

Our first glimpse of the Great Pyramids of Giza made it all worth it. One of the seven wonders of the ancient world and we could definitely understand why. Their purpose, a giant tombstone, was not outstanding, but the architecture behind them was incredible. Just imagining moving the huge blocks of stone to build them was mind boggling. The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest of the seven wonders and remains largely intact. It is believed it took between 10 and 20 years to construct around 2560 BC. It stands approximately 454 feet high, covers over 13 acres, with over 2 ½ million blocks of limestone weighing anywhere between two and seventy tons, and was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years. Surrounded by two smaller pyramids, they make for a very imposing skyline. Then add in the nearby Great Sphinx, and it truly is something to see and remember. The great Sphinx guarding everything brought all of the movies about ancient Egypt to life.

We met the rest of our group here and took many pictures. Surrounded by very eager locals to sell gifts to tourists was a challenge, but my guide watched over me like a hawk so I just got to enjoy the sites without the least amount of hassle.

Driving from Giza into Cairo we crossed over the Nile River – the longest river in the world at 4,130 miles long. It flows through 10 countries and it was a wonder to see it and remember all of the history surrounding it. I could just imagine Cleopatra, “Queen of the Nile,” sailing here.

I hope you enjoy the pictures, and in my next post we will go to the Egypt Museum and the King Tut treasures.

 

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