An auspicious beginning
A highlight of our small group journey came on day one – a visit to the Great Pyramids of Giza. This iconic site has long been on all of our bucket lists and we were all quite eager to begin our shared experiences together with this most impactful site. Following a restful night’s sleep at the luxurious Four Seasons Nile Plaza, we boarded our bus early in the morning to beat both traffic and crowds.
Our first surprise was the proximity of the pyramids to the city. Giza is a suburb of Cairo and we caught our first glimpse through the bus window less than 30 minutes into our drive. Wow – the scale was already most impressive and it was a crystal clear day. Our entrance to the area was smooth. We were soon briefed by our lovely guide, Menna Elhamy, as we stood just in front of the towering Khufu Pyramid Complex.
It is most difficult to put the emotions I felt into words: awe, inspiration, wonder, humility, gratitude. And just before becoming completely overwhelmed, it was time to go inside…
Climbing up to the entrance provided an even more profound impression of the scale of Khufu’s pyramid. The individual stone blocks, of which there are thousands, were huge – many larger than me and certainly heavier! And upon entering it was cool and quiet. I expected it to be much warmer than the outdoor temperature. The climb to the upper chamber was not easy, but manageable. Quarters were tight, as there is only one way both up and down. Reaching the upper chamber we took rest and pondered what may have once been inside the large empty space.
Outside the immediate area of the pyramids, our next stop was a scenic vantage point showcasing magnificent views of four pyramids. We took a break for photos and fun with camels. A ride was not on the agenda, however we each continued our photo shoot incorporating these ornery animals. It must be tough being a camel (at all) and especially at the pyramids – I would likely not be of cheerful disposition either ;)
Following this interlude, we visited the new home of the boat of Pharoah Khufu, the Solar Boat Museum. Ruins of the vessel were excavated adjacent to the great pyramids. The boat was buried in close proximity for the deceased ruler to access in the afterlife. Menna accompanied us inside and explained more about the beliefs of this ancient civilization.
Our morning concluded in the shadow of the enigmatic Sphinx. This site was another marvel that easily leaves one speechless. Ironically, the scale seemed small in comparison to the great pyramids – a little cat-like creature resting in the middle of the desert. Thousands of years later, the detail remains incredible. I was mesmerized.
To say this was an incredible day would be beyond an understatement. This inspired beginning to our journey begged the question of what may possibly come next to match this poignance? The answer: day after day of amazement. Tomorrow we discover Abu Simbel…
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