5/7 – 5/11
After three sea days we arrived at the port of Alexandria, Egypt. Alexandria is the second largest port on the Mediterranean Sea (first is Marseille, France). In this port we had arranged a two day tour with Alex City Travel. It turns out our tour guide, Hany (who also owns the tour company), has a great deal of experience in the field. In 2009 he was part of the escort for President Obama. He certainly did a good job for our group which included about 40 people on a large bus. The tour started with a quick drive around Alexandria where we almost saw the rubble of one of the original Seven Wonders of the World, the Alexandria Lighthouse. Then we headed south for the city of Cairo, about two hours away. Along the way we saw farm land close to Alexandria changing to desert the further we got. We have all heard of the Nile Valley and we saw it in real life. All of a sudden, as you drive through the desert, you come upon beautiful, lush green land – yep, the Nile river is just over the bend. Our first stop in Cairo was the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities. What a fantastic museum. We saw all of the treasurers that were found in King Tut Ankh Amun’s tomb including the gold death mask and the 230-pound gold coffin. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photos in the museum. We picked up a boxed lunch and headed for the Nile River for a short sailboat ride on the river. A short drive brought us to the town of Memphis (Memphis was the earliest capital of the united Egypt in 3000 BC) where we saw the huge fallen statue of Pharaoh Ramus II among many others. Another short drive brought us to Sakkara to visit the Step Pyramid of King Zoser (built in 2800 BC) and his tombs.
Well, that seems like a whole day’s worth but no – we were only half way there. Our next stop was a rug making school where some of the instructors gave us a short course on how to make silk and wool rugs. The silk rugs were quite amazing with 500 knots/square inch. The prices were also quite amazing, $320 US for a piece about the size of a dining room placemat. We got dropped off at our hotel for a one-hour rest. The five-star Meno House Oberol Hotel was built in 1869 as a palace. We had a large room with a balcony which overlooked the Pyramids of Giza (the big ones). After our short rest we were off for the light show at the pyramids, good show. After a demo on how papyrus is made we had a buffet dinner at a local restaurant. Good food but hard to identify what we ate. And that ends our first day, it was truly an exciting day.
The second day began with an early check-out and a short drive to the pyramids/sphinx. These pyramids and sphinx are the only Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still standing and we got to see them in style. Our bus dropped us off at a remote location and we all got on our camels for a 45 minute ride around the nine pyramids and tombs. Very impressive and great fun. After numerous photo opportunities, we got back on the bus and headed back to the ship.