Ah, Cairo! A city holding so much history and so many expectations of what it’s actually like. Many tourists have been travelling to the capital of Egypt for centuries simply to see one of the Ancient Wonders of the World which is, of course, the Pyramids and the Sphinx. Some people have certain expectations about Cairo, forgetting that it is a huge city with a lot of poverty and animal abuse. It’s not all luxurious, even though it has the most famous sight in the world. People were kind, but you have to understand that it’s not a 5* resort area such like Sharm-El Sheik. I doubt we’d ever go back, there is not much else to see than the pyramids, so we’d probably go again just to show our parents!
Trust me when I say that the pyramids were exactly how I imagined them to be but felt even greater in real life. We also went inside the largest one, which was definitely one of the most exciting and amazing thing I’ve ever experienced! We had to climb ladders in an extremely narrow passage, so it can get rather claustrophobic for some people but I can definitely say it was worth it. It was very hot too, as no air goes in or out of the pyramid. Some people have said to prefer going in the smaller ones. Below I’ve written some information about the pyramids just so you can remember what it’s all about, though I’m sure you’ve read all about it in school!
So, the largest and oldest pyramid of the three pyramid complex is the Great Pyramid of Giza and it was constructed circa 2580–2560 BC by pharaoh Khufu as, what it is believed today, his tomb. His body hasn’t been found yet, and archeologists and scientists are still looking for his chamber by measuring the temperatures of the stones. Based on estimates, building the pyramid in 20 years would involve installing approximately 800 tonnes of stone every day, so in order to complete the building in 20 years would involve moving an average of more than 12 of the blocks into place each hour, day and night. The Ancient Egyptians brought the stones from a quarry in Aswan more than 800 km away via the river Nile since the right type of stone was found down in Aswan. We also visited this quarry on the last day of our Nile cruise, which will be the subject of my next post!
Modern discoveries suggest that the pyramids were built by tens of thousands of skilled workers, but the Greeks believed that slave labour was used. The method used to make the pyramids so mathematically accurate still remains unknown, as the engineers and architects today can’t achieve the same accuracy as the Ancient Egyptians did.
We stayed in a place called the Pyramid View Inn, which is right across the road from the pyramids. Many people think that this was some expensive, luxurious hotel when actually it was quite normal! What made it special was the view from the rooftop, obviously, but also the staff. They were absolutely wonderful and super friendly, constantly making sure we were all right. Tourism has dropped a lot since the protests in 2011 but it’s slowly coming back, which I’m very happy about.
Egypt has made so much effort to bring tourism back to what it was before; there are constantly tourist police knocking about and yes, they do have guns, but it’s just to make us travellers feel safe. People still go to London, Paris and Barcelona though there are many more attacks than there is in Egypt! The only thing one should be aware of in Cairo is theft, since it is really poor there and the population is a mental average of 20 million people.
- If, and when, you go to Cairo, I’d say avoid the city centre but don’t miss out on the Egyptian Museum , which you need a guide for: it has mummies, all the hundreds of golden things found in Tuthankhamon’s tomb as well as collections of ancient Egyptian antiquities. On their site it says: “The museum houses approximately 160,000 objects covering 5,000 years of Egypt’s past.”
- Keep in tourism areas and travel everywhere by taxi
- When hassled, don’t talk to the hasslers and they’ll think that you don’t speak English and eventually they’ll leave you
- Don’t be scared to haggle! It’s part of an etiquette in the Middle East and Southeast Asia to haggle about e v e r y t h i n g because if you don’t, you’ll end up paying a lot more than you’re meant to (in shops, taxis etc.)
Accommodation: Pyramid View Inn (30e/night)
Favourite Restaurant: Pizza Hut!
The locals were much more interested in us than the Ancient Wonder of the World?!