Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Walk Like An Egyptian

Today was a cool day.

I was picked up this morning at 830am by my guide and a driver. We pulled out into the crazy traffic headed to the Giza plateau, home of three of the world-famous pyramids. Here's a shot of the three pyramids from the freeway through some new Cairo suburbs:

Pulling up to the pyramids themselves was surprising because they were smaller than I expected. Now that's not to say they're small but rather, in my mind, they were super-giant and they could never be that big. They are very big and very impressive though especially if you consider their age. Here's a shot that I think shows their relative size. Note the camel (purely a tourist thing) and the cars next to the largest of the three pyramids.

The stones that were used to construct these things are massive. According to my guide, they were quarried near to downtown Cairo and brought here. That's impressive as it took us a like an hour to drive there. Here's a close up of one corner from a distance of about 50 feet:

After walking around the pyramids, we went over to see the Sphinx, which is just in front of the middle pyramid. Once again, it was smaller than I expected but not small. As you can see from photos, the face is pretty beaten up and they're restoring the bottom right now. The Sphinx is quite a sight to see in person.

On the way out of the complex we snapped a couple of "overview" photos. This was the best one:

From here we headed down to Memphis to see some statues. Memphis used to be an important place but most of the construction at the time was clay brick and is pretty much all gone. There are two cool things at this area. First is the second largest sphinx in Egypt, which is quite small. This is what the "big" sphinx would have looked like if it still had a nose, etc.

The other cool item is a large, one-piece-of-stone statue of Ramesses II:

We then went on to Sakkara, home of the the oldest know Egyptian pyramid. This one is a stepped design and isn't as impressive as the Giza pyramids. What makes this site extra special though is that you can go inside one of the pyramids and see some amazing hieroglyphics. Here's a shot of the stepped pyramid. If you look to the far right of the photo, you'll see what looks like a small pile of sand off in the distance. This is the pyramid you can go in to see the hieroglyphics.

Here's a shot next to a "doorway" for the spirits:

And, finally, a real close up of some hieroglyphics. I have to say that it's really neat to be able to get this close and actually touch something this old.

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