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Contiki Egypt & The Nile: Day 2 – Cairo

Our first full day in Cairo was everything I had hoped and more. We had a 6:00 AM wake-up call and were out of our rooms by 6:30 AM for breakfast. The breakfast was pretty good & included things like eggs, sausage & waffles. The only noticeable thing that was missing was beef – Egypt is predominantly a Muslim country.

We hit the road by 7:30 AM towards our first stop, the last remaining of the original Seven Wonders of the World, The Great Pyramids of Giza! They are over 4,500 years old and still standing! Built as burial chambers for the old Pharaohs Khufu, Chephren & Mykerinos, the pyramids were an amazing sight to see. I couldn’t imagine how they built them without modern technology. Despite being located next to Cairo’s downtown area, they were imposing and you can’t help being awestruck when you see them for the first time. It truly is history coming to life. I was able to walk up and touch things I’ve only read about in textbooks during my 9th grade World History class!

At our first stop at the largest Pyramid, built for Khufu, we also had the opportunity to climb on it. It was amazing to be able to be on something that old!

After experiencing the first pyramid, we boarded our bus for a different destination within the Pyramid complex, the departure point for a camel caravan. Yes, that’s right. I rode a camel to get a better view of the Great Pyramids!

It took a bit of getting used to, but I was actually able to sit on the saddle. Usually, I am unable to ride a horse because I can’t spread my legs due to my disability, but the saddle was much thinner due to the camel’s humps. It moved in a very herky, jerky motion, so I wasn’t able to take a lot of pictures as I had to hold on with two hands, but after 15 minutes we stopped and grabbed these awesome shots!

We then rode our camels back to the outpost where we got off and took a few more photos including our group photo!

We then had the opportunity to go in the smaller of the three Pyramids (they rotate being open every day). Menkaure’s Pyramid had a very steep ramp to gain entry to the burial chamber, but I’m happy I did it. There really wasn’t anything to see except a large, undecorated room, but the experience of going in one of the Great Pyramids is something that will last a lifetime!

After going into the Pyramid, we made one final stop, the Sphinx. It has the head of a human and the body of a lion and was built to guard the pyramids. It is built out of one piece of stone & it wasn’t until the 1900’s that they realized he had a body as his head was the only thing visible above the sand.

After The Sphinx, we left the Pyramid complex and headed to the Egyptian Museum. It had no air conditioning, so we saw as much as we could while everyone’s attention was still decent!

It was amazing that most of the things we saw were older than 4,000 years old! The below is Menkaure, Hathore & a Goddess & it was carved about 2,500 BC!

The next thing we saw was the statue of a friendly man, Sheikh el-Balad. It was also carved around 2,500 BC!

We continued to navigate the artifacts around the museum for about an hour with our guide, Sharrif, before having about 45 minutes of free time.

In our free time, we were able to go and see King Tut’s famous mask. We weren’t able to take pictures, but I found one on Google and put it below.

The mask was gorgeous up close and, unlike the Mona Lisa, it was not disappointing in person. We were able to go within a few feet of it & look it in the eyes. It’s hard to believe that the mask is so old!

After King Tut’s mask, we walked to the Mummy Rooms where they had about a dozen mummies across two rooms. It was a bit eerie, but an amazing testament to their methods for preserving bodies since the mummies are still here nearly 4,500 years later.

After that, we met back up with our group and headed for the bus. We stopped at a very nice restaurant and had lunch. It came with hummus, zucchini, baba ghanoush & chicken. For dessert, we had ice cream. It hit the spot.

Since today is a special holiday in Egypt, their independence day from the British, most people had off and there was less traffic in the street. Given this, we went to a traditional Egyptian Cotton store on our way to the train station. I bought 2 ties (one for my father & one for me) and a button down shirt for my brother.

Then, we headed to the train station to catch our overnight train to Aswan. There were two people to a cabin, so I shared with my friend, Jess. The cabin was exactly what I expected in size, but also had a sink in it which I’ve never had for an overnight train before!

We were served dinner on the train, but most of us were so full that we just picked at it. After about 45 minutes, the crew came to collect our dinner and set up our beds.

Within 15 minutes after that, I was asleep!

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