These pictures were taken during a Spring day trip to the pyramids. You can also read more about our visit at http://pauperswithouttravel.com/2012/11/15/the-great-pyramids-of-giza-simply-memorable/
Here are the top 3 reasons why we had to see the Great Pyramids of Giza.
– It is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
– We had to make our academic learnings on one of the world’s oldest civilizations come to life.
– (Ok….don’t laugh on this one) A recent Hindi movie had an incredibly romantic song filmed against the backdrop of the pyramids
So, how did we do this? We dedicated a day to covering the Pyramids and the Sphinx. Since we wanted to take our time and also delve into the history deeper, we arranged with our hotel for a car with a driver and an Egyptologist to take us there. The one big benefit of this arrangement was the ability to bypass the long lines and ensure that we got tickets to go inside the pyramids as well.
Set against the backdrop of a desert 30 minutes from Cairo, the pyramids feel almost unreal and mythical. As you set eyes on them for the first time, you go through a mixture of emotions. You are awestruck, humbled, amazed and simply feel blessed for the privilege of standing in front of them. And as you turn and watch Cairo city encroaching closer to the pyramids, you think back in time when Giza was simply a world away from civilization. A place where the great rulers decided to build their final resting spots.
2.3 million limestone blocks were cut and assembled to build the Great Pyramid which is the resting place for the fourth dynasty pharaoh Khufu. We were fortunate to be able to enter the pyramid. As expected, the pyramids are dark and it feels surreal as you walk in the dimly lit, sharply ascending space, making your way to the top. We walked around the narrow spaces and landed where the sarcophagus was. Even though all of the treasures are long gone thanks to looting, you can visualize the sanctity and importance of this place.
Once we had seen all three pyramids up close, we drove a distance to look at them from a different vantage point. We clicked a popular picture of each of us appearing to touch the tip of the pyramids and then took a camel ride. Sitting on a camel for the first time was a bit nerve-wracking and weird. And when the camel shook, I held on to it for dear life and marvelled at the advances in science that appeared to exist close to 5000 years ago.
After the camel ride, we went to see the Sphinx, one of the largest monolith statues in the world. It was majestic.
So, how would I best summarize our feelings about this visit? I am simply going to steal the words of Carl Hoffman who wrote eloquently in National Geographic , “To visit the Pyramids is to be struck dumb by their monumentality.”
If you would like to take a virtual tour of the pyramids, please take a look at this NOVA/PBS site:
This article on the Sphinx built our anticipation and excitement for our visit:
In light of all that is happening in Cairo at the moment and the election of President Mohamed Morsi in what is hopefully a true democratic leap for Egypt, I thought it was fitting that I write about a place I knew before revolution exploded on the streets of a city aching with a desperate heartbeat for change.
Two years ago, my family sat on our Continental mileage accounts looking at where we could do a unique cultural immersion trip for Spring Break. When Cairo cleared up as a viable destination, our intrepid souls booked the tickets without a blink. This would be another crucial and adventurous step in our goal to conquer each of the Ancient Civilizations, a dream that possessed me ever since I took my sixth grade world history class.
Cairo was unforgettable, to say the least.
In the largest city in the Middle East, it can take 40 minutes to travel a mile in the severe traffic that congests the narrow, populated streets. On your feet, you simply cannot stop moving amongst the whirlwind of almost seven million Cairo locals who have mastered the haste required for basic survival in their city. The City of A Thousand Minarets is a fitting name indeed, so expansive that according to those who’ve been born and raised in Cairo, a lifetime navigating the metropolis isn’t enough to fully experience its scope.
So when I visited Tahrir Square, I felt like I was in another Cairo. Broad spaces, pristinely maintained grounds, a delicate Sphinx exuding serenity, and the warm enthusiasm of the paints on the walls of the Egyptian Museum. Tahrir inhabited a wholly different world than the city I had roamed in preceding days. As much as I enjoyed and appreciated the ceaseless energy of Cairo street life, sitting in Tahrir was a much-needed escape from the thrilling yet tiring rhythm of the city.
On that trip, Tahrir Square came to represent structure and relative tranquility in a city that otherwise embodied the shameless pulse of disorder (one that, in retrospect, so precisely incarnated the tremors of an Egypt ready to be flung into the heat of rebellion).
Tahrir was peace and order amidst a city throbbing with the spirit of an overwhelming but beautiful chaos.
And less than a year later in the very strange timeline that is our world and the way it works, I was sitting at home and CNN flashed with images of an entirely unnoticeable place. They called it Tahrir Square. But it wasn’t the place I had visited. Swarms of protestors in crowds significantly larger than I had seen in the most populated streets of Cairo occupied the place that I could only remember as an exhibit of unruffled composition. There was peace, at first. And then bloody violence. Tahrir became the site of arguably one of the most significant modern social uprisings that lit the first flames that would ultimately set the rest of the Middle East on fire.
It’s almost impossible to juxtapose these two Tahrir Squares in my mind. One is a serene departure from the harmless turmoil of the city, and the other is a tumultuous revolution fighting for the preservation of human rights. Seemingly antonymous on every level, and yet so intricately intertwined. The place that embodied physical peace within the greater city wilderness had become the place that decided that peace meant something a lot more. Even if guarding it meant upheaval first.
Perhaps soon, when President Morsi and Egypt begin working towards the construction of that functioning democracy, Tahrir will once again begin to resemble the place I remember it as.
It is all very confusing and intriguing at the same time. But what I take away is that any notion of “static” is foreign in the constantly surprising continuum of human politics and desires. What a place means isn’t bound to any locked grid of time or ideologies. The connotations of its presence transform, eternally. Just like Tahrir.