Whether it is reading about the Egyptian civilization back in school, or watching the Pyramid of Giza documentary on National Geographic , the whole aura surrounding the Pyramids is intriguing . When Humsafar and I were considering Egypt as our holiday destination – we were excited to the marrow.
22nd December 2012, we took off from Chatrapathi Shivjai International airport to Cairo via Saudi. It was our kid’s first ever overseas trip:-) We reached Cairo at night and it appeared to be like any other metropolitan Indian city.
The next day after a heavy breakfast we set out to Giza, to see one of the ancient wonders of the world – the Pyramids. About 10 minutes into our drive, we caught the first glimpse of them- WOW, WOW and WOW.
The pyramids were built based on the Pythogoras theorem. Ancient egyptians were the pioneers of trigonometry and geometry, one look at the pyramids and you will know why. The largest pyramid is the one at Giza – built for the Pharoah Khufu. Each pyramid houses only a single mummified body.
Several steps have been taken by the Egyptian government to preserve these monuments. For instance, limestone caps have been attached to the pyramid tips to protect them from climatic changes and natural disasters. A camel ridw will take you close to the pyramids and gives a good opportunity to click away!!
Right behind the pyramids is the beautiful Sphinx – which has the face of a man and the body of a lion, all carved out of a single stone.
Vegetarians -please note that there is a Pizza Hut, which serves veggie options located right behind the sphinx.
Papyrus trees are in plenty and the paper derived from the papyrus trees is completely organic. A tour of how the papyrus leaves are boiled ,treated and then put to use is educational. The papyrus paintings are good souvenirs and local artists write things of your interest in hieroglyphics ( use pictures to denote english alphabets) on the paintings.
A tour of the perfume factory is a rare experience and is a must stop for all. The locals use unique combination of flowers and leaves from different plants to produce the equivalent fragrances of big perfume brands – Hugo Boss, Davidoff, Gucci and so on. For example – the perfume Tut Ankh Amon, smells exactly like Hugo Boss!
The sound and light show against the backdrop of the pyramids and sphinx is stunning and well programmed.
Very close to the popular and controversial Tahrir Square is the Ancient Egypt Museum. This place is every history lovers delight. Soaked with knowledge and lots of supporting visuals and artifacts – dedicate at least half a day for this place!
Egypt is also home to the longest river in the world – the River Nile. A cruise in the Nile river at night is a must. Not only is the cruise smooth, the entertainment during the cruise is memorable – belly dancing and some stunning ancient turkish dance forms.
Having satisfied ourserlves fairly well, Humsafar and I decided to make the trip memorable for our kid too. So we decided to go to the biggest park in Cairo – the Al Azhar park. The park is beautifully maintained.
It has a wonderful lake, a lake facing cafe, good view of Cairo city and a play area. Needless to say our little one had a ball.
Next stop in Egypt : Alexandria
The highlight of Alexandria was the stunning hotel we were staying at – Helnan Palestine. The hotel has a private beach and the swimming pool overlooks the same. Excellent property and good indian food too!
Alexandria is a small town on the coast of the Mediteranean sea and has several ancient attractions. Our first stop was the Citadel on the sea coast. This fort served as a very defensive stronghold not only along the coast but throughout Egypt.
The next stop was the famous Catacombs. Unfortunately no electronic gadgets are allowed in here, thereby depriving me of clicks for my blog:-(.
The catacombs is an ancient egyptian cemetery, consisting of a multi-level labyrinth, reached via a spiral staircase and featuring dozens of chambers laid out in different levels. .A narrow stone staircase descends into each level, an area eerily alive with sculptures on either side.
Alexandria also has remains of an ancient Roman amphitheater as well. This monument is preserved well but hardly has any visitors.
Once the largest library in the ancient world, and containing works by the greatest thinkers – Socrates, Plato and many more, the Library of Alexandria is popularly believed to have been destroyed in a huge fire around 2000 years ago and its works lost. To commemorate the loss of this library, the New Bibliotheca Alexandrina was set up.
The library is one of the largest in the world and boasts of very high internet speed. It houses 15 galleries and a planetarium.
Other places worth a visit in Egypt are – Aswan Dam and Luxor valley. Due to time constraint and the company of a 1 yr old, we had to return home:-)
A highly recommended holiday destination for those interested in history and civilizations!!