Our first full day in Egypt gave us the chance to have one of the coolest experiences we’ve had so far — standing in front of the Pyramids at Giza. Everything you’ve heard about them is true. As the only (and oldest) remaining Wonder of the Ancient World, they are massive, impressive, and extremely old. To think that they have stood here for centuries is almost unfathomable. For thousands of years, the Great Pyramid of Giza was the tallest structure on the planet.
Since our visit took place only four months after the Egyptian Revolution, we were accompanied on our visit by an armed guard (as a requirement of our tour company). Other than the fact that he was wearing a suit, it was actually pretty inconspicuous, although also unnecessary. The only time we were more than 6 feet away from him was when we decided to venture into a pyramid.
Determined to see the inside of one of these massive structures, we went into one of the smaller pyramids, the Pyramid of Menkaure. We felt like seeing the inside was something we had to do, but it’s definitely a one-time thing. It was roughly 95F/35C, so we were more than a bit warm. And although we expected the inside of the pyramids to be cooler, they weren’t really. Also, the passageway into the pyramid is extremely small and you have to crouch down to walk down in, so you’re basically sweating and doubled over while walking on an incline. The passage is wide enough for one person to go down, but it was extremely challenging to have one person go down and another coming up at the same time. Inside the tomb, we were underwhelmed. I’m glad we didn’t pay the extra money and take the extra time to go into the Great Pyramid. That said, you kind of have to do it once.
The highlight of the day was the panoramic overlook. This windswept vista offers the chance to take in the three largest pyramids, and the view is really indescribable. Vendors on the panorama offered camel rides but did not harass us. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law decided to take a camel ride while we hung back and enjoyed the view.
The view from the camel ride was even more spectacular though. My sister-in-law says it’s one of the best things she’s ever done. In retrospect, I kind of wish we’d gone.
After taking in the massive size and scale of the Great Pyramid of Giza and viewing the complex, we visited the Solar Boat Museum. The massively ugly building straddles the great pit where a massive boat was found disassembled in the sand. The boat was built in 2500 BC (and then buried) to carry Khufu across the sky in the afterlife. Found in 1954, it has been reassembled and on display for 30 years. It is a thing of beauty, and I just cannot comprehend how it survived for thousands of years under the sand.
Before leaving, we stopped at the Great Sphinx of Giza. I had rather high expectations for the Sphinx. This is an absolutely iconic symbol of Egypt, and it’s a shame that the Sphinx has sustained so much damage over the years. Nevertheless, seeing it and all the other structures in Giza was the opportunity of a lifetime.