We took the 5 hour flight to Cairo and reached in the evening, checked into the Hilton and the view from our room was that of the world’s largest river - Nile. We could see the ships cruising right under our nose. It was an amazing scene.
So we got all pumped up and decided to make the most of the evening and went out for a stroll and then scavenged the Hilton mall which was right across the road. As the journey’s exhaustion started to creep in, we decided to call it a night and hit the bed.
The next day we were fresh and ready to see one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world - Pyramids. It was spectacular to see the Pyramid of Giza -the largest pyramid in the world. My mom really wanted me and Aakaash to dance on Suraj Hau Madham and Teri Ore Teri Ore in front of the pyramids but we let that pass for this time. Seeing the pyramids really makes you wonder and ponder on a lot of things. How magnificent a creature man is and it makes you realise how much time and energy is wasted in doing unfruitful and destructive things.
Anyway, the experience of seeing the pyramids itself gives a high and to my utmost surprise, we could go inside the pyramid. So we had to bend and walk through the small and dark but perfectly created tunnels to see the chamber where an empty tomb of one of the kings of Egypt lies. It is unbelievable how 4300 years ago with limited resources and no modern technology they could have created such a perfect architecture which has stood to give the testimonial of time. The precision of 52 degree angle from all sides of the pyramid is remarkable; no wonder there are debates till date that the pyramids were built by aliens.
Anyway, after seeing the pyramids, we did some itar (perfume) shopping and were amazed to know that companies like D&G, Paco Rabanne, Polo etc import their concentrated fragrance from here. Later we moved on to buy some papyrus paintings. The seller showed us how the paper is made and the paper is so strong that it can be washed too. We did end up buying a lot of papyrus paintings too and then moved to see the Saqqara Pyramids. One thing I can say for sure that the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx are really beautiful; however the other pyramids that we saw in Saqqara were miniatures in front of the Giza pyramid but the scenic view was spectacular and reminded me of scenes from the movie “Mummies”. In Saqqara, on one side of the uphill road you can see beautiful city covered with greenery of palm and coconut trees and on the other side are sand dunes till where your eyes can see. So the scenic beauty made the trip to Saqqara worthwhile.
On our way back we stopped at a carpet factory. Well for sure we didn’t do any shopping there; for a beautiful handcrafted handkerchief size silk shaded carpet cost more than $200. So we just watched them make beautiful carpet and off we went to see the light and sound show at Giza. It was remarkable to see the dazzling light show on the backdrop of the Sphinx and Pyramids. Different kinds of light including lazer were used to take us back in time to relive the Pharonic civilization. It was indeed an enchanting experience and by the time the show got over, the night had already drawn upon us and we decided to try authentic Egyptian cuisine.
The next morning, the archaeologist took us to the Museum where I witnessed the mummies for the first time. The museum is huge and if a person spends 1 minute on every artefact there; then you would have to be in the museum for almost 9 months. So you can imagine how huge the place is and definitely we couldn’t see everything but with the help of our guide we saw all the major artefacts and possessions. It was amazing to see the burial chamber of King Tutakhamun and the innermost coffin which is made out of 110 kgs of solid gold.
We saw the oldest mosque in Egypt called Ahmad Ibn Tulun which is one of the largest mosques in the world. The city of dead was our next stop which is a 5 km long cemetery and few people live there, some who choose to live near their dead ancestors and others are forced due to over crowded city.
Khan-el-Khalili market is filled with all kinds of souvenir and is a stop for all tourists. We just stalled around for a while and later in the evening we decided to go for Nile dinner cruise. The food was just amazing; I think the best that I had in that trip. To make the experience more memorable there was music, live orchestra, belle dancing and an awesome Tannoura performance by an Egyptian guy.
The next morning we left early for Alexandria. It is said that centuries ago, Alexandria was the largest city in the world. We went to the port where Alexander - The Great set his first step in Egypt. There is a huge fort next to the port too. This fort was reconstructed from the fallen bricks of the Lighthouse. After that we saw the temple built by Cleopatra and the underground library of the medieval times. In that area there was an obelisk made out of one rock and a Sphinx made from pink granite. Then we headed to the catacomb which is one of the 7 wonders of the Middle Ages and were discovered in the 1800s by accident. It is amazing to see how they had constructed the catacombs underground.
The Roman amphitheatre and the remains of Roman-era baths was an interesting site to see. There were quite a few huge artefacts on display that were discovered from the bottom of the sea and have brought back to Egypt. These artefacts were either being taken to other countries by smugglers or were being sent as gifts. Last but not the least location that we saw was the spectacular library made with the help of UNESCO which is the largest library in Africa and Middle East. It is just spectacular to see the amazing architecture. It looks like a mini world of books and people; just magnificent, is all I can say. The last day we kept for shopping, all though didn’t do much but just enjoyed the culture and the beauty of the city. All in all, our entire trip was excellent, lots of site seeing and loads of experience to bring back with.