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Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone
Since it was 108º that day in Giza/Cairo no one, except me, in our group of four wanted to venture into Cairo from Giza after lunch (45 min. to an hour taxi ride we were told); so, they enjoyed the swimming pool, & I stayed in our air-conditioned room researching where we might go for an over-the-top last night in Egypt.
It wasnt long before I thought Id found just the place. In 1869 a palace was built in Cairo for the Empress of France for when she attended the opening of the Suez Canal. The two towers of the current Cairo Marriott were built adjoining this palace. The photo in my guidebook looked very Arabic and quite fetching, and I knew they had several restaurants in that complex. (I, of course, didnt care much about the food, but I have a passion for architecture.)
Jessie, Ryan, and Dave acquiesced to my choice, and Jessie made the arrangements to have a taxi for us at the appointed time. When we left our hotel lobby, it was 96º outside. Imagine our horror to see all of the windows of the cab rolled down—the car had no air conditioning! And it wasnt even a legal cab; it was a driver, a friend of the doorman (who arranged the ride) in his personal car. (It was clean.)
Our driver was very pleasant, and even pulled over to the side of the road to show us where the new Egyptian Museum was being built as we were heading to the freeway from our hotel, but traffic was horrific on the freeway, along with the stifling heat and massive air pollution in Cairo. When we finally arrived at our exit ramp, traffic was stopped/backed up! More sitting in the 96º heat with poor air. And in the dark of night, one vender after another approached our car wanting to sell us everything from fresh-air herbs to breads and trinkets. It was rather frightening to me, as we did not want to roll up our windows due to the extreme heat; so were at the mercy, so to speak, of the various men who came to our cab windows. Dave estimates that we sat for 15-20 min. on that exit ramp. I kept thinking, My husband and our two new friends are gonna hate me for life for this venture.
When we finally stepped out of the car, we had been traveling for nearly an hour and a half! (So much for the 45 min. to an hour ride into Cairo.) And we were dropped off in the parking garage, across the street from the Marriott, with heavy traffic and no street light to help us cross the street. The driver simply stepped off the curb, waved his hands, and the traffic stopped for us to cross in front of it. Cairo traffic ways are amazing.
The palace part of the Cairo Marriott was breathtaking—highly decorated ceilings, elaborate chandeliers, archways, walls, and gorgeous marble floors! Since it was too hot to eat comfortably in the attractive, outdoor terrace, we selected one of the inside restaurants and each of us had a delicious Italian meal. (Jessie is a real foodie; so, the outstanding dinner partly made up for our very long ride in the heat to Cairo.) After dinner, we explored a little more of the former palace and continued to be wowed. Then we took along my dinner leftovers and gave them to our cab driver, who was waiting on our side of the street, and again made safe our crossing. He was very appreciative of the food, and said he would give it to his son.
Our ride back to our hotel went much faster, and it was considerably cooler, since it was later at night. We ended up having a lovely evening and a lovely dinner, and no one said a word about the horrific beginning to our evening.
Our wake-up call the next morning was at 5 a.m., with our luggage outside the door by 5:15. By 6:30 we were on our way to the airport, and this time we did not sit on the runway for 2-1/2 hours before taking off. We departed on time, & arrived safely back stateside.
En route home, I revisited in my mind and in my guidebook the sights/experiences we had in our 10 days in Egypt. Our particular tour became a bit of endurance challenge for many of us, due partly to the extreme heat we experienced in seven of our ten days there, but also because so very many extraordinary sights were crammed into those 10 days. (Plus those five mornings of early wake-up calls of 5 a.m. or earlier4:15 a.m. being the earliestkept most of us, I think, less than 100% our usual stamina.)
I would recommend seeing Egypt with 12-14 days on the ground there, even more if time schedule and budget allows, and I would suggest traveling there in late November or March for the best weather. (Landing there on April 30 is risky heat-wise, as we learned.) And while I thought our four days on the Nile would be enough, it was not for us, due to most of the temples being located on the Nile, thus more time is needed not to feel so rushed in terms of experiencing them the way they should be experienced. They are grand and glorious and tell a story of a very important ancient civilization.
But, yes, go to Egypt, if you can (our Gate 1 tour was not expensive, even if wed opted for more days on the ground there in one of their longer tours.) You will experience part of mankind’s history.
Think of time. Ancient Egyptian civilization lasted 3,000 years, longer than any other on earth. When young King Tut ruled Egypt, the famous pyramids of Giza had already been standing for well over 1,000 years. When Cleopatra came to power in 51 BC, Tut had been in his tomb for more than 1,000 yrs. (By the way, Cleopatra was an educated Macedonian Greek, and although fluent in seven languages, including Egyptian, she used Greek for her official documents.)
Think of the scale. The only Wonder of the Ancient World still standing, the Great Pyramid in Giza, was the tallest building in the world until well into the 1800s. Tens of thousands of men labored to create this tomb, but they were not slaves. They were free farmers and artisans. The organization of this project truly humbles most modern achievements.
Think of its mystery. Egypt was the most advanced of the ancient civilizations, yet even after deciphering the hieroglyphs (the worlds oldest known writing system), we still have so much to learn.
Learn more of this ancient civilization from the first pyramid in Saqqara to the pyramids of Giza; from the Temples of Karnak and Luxor and across the Nile into the Valley of the Kings, and then travel the Nile, in person or by book or video, visiting the multitude of temples representing so very many pharaohs and honoring so many ancient gods.
If you do, we suspect youll feel as we do, inspired and humbled at the same time.