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The Pyramids! - Cairo Part 5

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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hello dear Sparkfriends,

Unlike my other blogs about Cairo, this is going to be a completely touristy blog, I am not ashamed to say! emoticon

That morning, my colleague Mumtaz picked me up at my hotel in Cairo at 7am and we headed towards Giza to see the Pyramids! (The little I know about the Pyramids I learned from Mumtaz... thank you!!!)

One hour later, we were there...

The Pyramids (of Giza... there are 80 in total around Egypt!) are actually very close to Giza, which is part of Cairo Metropolis. Here you can see a little the city as it appears from the Pyramids...

To me though, the best way to get an idea of how close the Pyramids now are to the city is Google Maps...

Isn't it amazing? I thought the Pyramids were in the middle of the desert, when actually they are very close to modern buildings. I was impressed how huge they were!

Here is Mumtaz at the bottom of one of the smaller pyramids:

The Great Pyramid (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World) was the tallest building in the world until the 19th century. It is 481 feet (146.5 metres) high. Also known as the Pyramid of Khufu or the Pyramid of Cheops, it was built as a tomb for Pharaoh Khufu around 2250 BC. He was 20 when he organized for his pyramid/tomb to be built! This is what I call planning ahead! :) The entire project took about 23 years to complete. 2,300,000 building blocks, weighing an average of 2.5 tons EACH (although some weigh as much as 16 tons!) were used to build it.

Originally, beautiful smooth blocks known as 'casing stones' covered the entire exterior of the pyramid, encasing the whole structure. It has been calculated that the original pyramid with its casing stones would act like gigantic mirrors and reflect light so powerful that it would be visible from the moon as a shining star on earth. In the 14th century, earthquakes struck Egypt, toppling temples and snapping bridges. The pyramid's limestone casing was removed and repurposed for repairs. Many buildings such as mosques or churches in Cairo today were also built with these casing stones.

I have to confess we didn't go inside and that is entirely my fault! I tend to get a bit claustrophobic, especially when the space is limited and there isn't a lot of air to breathe, so the thought of walking in long corridors, having to bend part of the time as the ceiling is very low (and I am 6ft!) didn't appeal much to me.

We didn't stay outside the whole time though... Having passed by this temple at the bottom of the pyramids...

... We entered a museum. Mumtaz didn't reveal to me what was inside, so that it remained as a surprise.

Yes, it was a boat! A huge cedar-wood solar boat. It has a very simple, elegant and refined line. The boat was meant to help the pharaoh cross the river to eternal life.

It was found sealed in a pit at the base of the Great pyramid. This boat was interred in pieces and has since been reassembled, restored and preserved in this climate controlled museum over the site of the original pit. Another similar boat was found nearby lately:

At the museum I bought some postcards to send to a couple of friends (I warned you it was a completely touristy blog!!!)...

... and then we walked to the Sphinx.

According to Wikipedia, it is the largest monolith statue in the world, standing 73.5 metres (241 ft) long, 19.3 metres (63 ft) wide, and 20.22 m (66.34 ft) high. It is the oldest known monumental sculpture, and is commonly believed to have been built by ancient Egyptians of the Old Kingdom during the reign of the Pharaoh Khafra (c. 2558-2532 BC!).

I know some of you often comment how amazed you are that some buildings that are 1000 years old are still standing in Europe... Can you imagine that the sphinx is over 4500 years old? To me it is mind blowing!

Voià! This was my visit to the Pyramids of Giza, and the last of my blogs about Cairo (I came back to France 10 days ago)! I was really encouraged by all your kind comments on my latest blogs. I had thought that maybe you would read the first one and then get a bit bored, but it wasn't so! It encourages me to keep posting blogs when I travel!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I enjoyed all of your blogs - in fact, I'm not sure which one I liked the most. I really enjoyed this touristy/informational blog about the pyramids, though. Thanks.
    1878 days ago
    absolutely love it~ the history and the photos!! Thank you for sharing!
    1878 days ago
    emoticon for sharing these amazing pics emoticon
    1878 days ago
    By all means you should continue posting when you travel. Your blog is always so interesting. I learn something new from every one of them. In reading this one, I learned about the boat that is now in the museum. What a beautiful shape it is.

    However, I am struck by how deserted everything seems. I have heard that tourism in Egypt is way down because of all the political upheaval of the past two years and sadly that seems to be true based on your photos.
    1878 days ago
    beautiful pictures. :-)
    1878 days ago
    emoticon pics thanks for sharing
    1878 days ago
    I loved the pictures and your insights. I learned a lot.

    1878 days ago
    YOU ARE ONE LUCKY PERSON WHO CAN SAY YOU WERE THERE. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1878 days ago
    I was looking forward to your blog about your visit to the Pyramids! Oh, Claire you are so lucky to have been to this great archaeological site! You have given us a lot of information and it feels like I was joining you at this tour. I loved the photos and especially the one you are face-to-face with the Sphinx! Thank you my sweet friend for the lovely tour and your beautiful photos!

    1878 days ago
    What a wonderful tour! I have always wanted to see the Pyramids, and your blog provided a great way to virtually be there! emoticon for sharing.
    1878 days ago
    1878 days ago
  • _CYNDY55_
    emoticon emoticon Beautiful Share!!!!!
    1878 days ago
    I'll just echo everyone else here: you look like you had a great time and we are so blessed that you shared it with us!
    1878 days ago
    Thank you Claire for your wonderful blog! I have always wanted to visit Egypt and the pyramids, and I really appreciate seeing Egypt through your eyes. The pyramids are amazing, and I did not realize how close they are to the city. Great photos as always!
    1878 days ago
    Some of us don't get out much. My husband travels all over the mainland US for his job. I rarely leave the state to take care of everything. Your travels allow me to travel to places I could only dream of just looking at my computer. You really do a great job making it interesting. I'm glad you are safe at home and were able to share your adventure.
    1878 days ago
    I appreciate the time you take to give us a look at the trips you get to take. Thank you!
    1878 days ago
    1878 days ago
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon Now I have been to Egypt!!!
    1878 days ago
  • JUNEAU2010
    Thanks for the vicarious tour!
    1878 days ago
    What an amazing and interesting world we share, thanks for sharing!

    Have a great week!

    1878 days ago
  • YIWEN39
    emoticon Claire, and emoticon !
    I never thought much about visiting Egypt but your blogs make it very tempting :-) Want to check that googlemap view, thanks for posting the link. I'm glad you made the most of your trip, professionnally and personally, that's great. So many new great memories, right? emoticon
    Take good care, Claire!
    Until your next blog,
    1878 days ago
    Thank you so very much for sharing your trip to Egypt. I feel so very blessed with my chance to see through your eyes and the eye of the camera places and peoples I would never have the opportunity to view in person with my own eyes. Thank you again and again for sharing your pictures and your story with me/us.
    I am looking forward to any blog you wish to share.
    1878 days ago
    This blog is wonderful, and as someone who probably will never see them it is wonderful to have come with you to see them. I love your prose and excitement. I am one of those who is amazed at the age of buildings and awed by the sights.

    It makes me wonder at the lives of people of the times and how they survived such a harsh climate.

    Thanks so much emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1878 days ago
    Like you, I was very surprised to learn that the pyramids aren't way off in the desert by themselves, but actually close to Cairo. I didn't know, either, that there was originally a casing to make them reflect light like a mirror.

    It's absolutely mind-boggling to think of the years of work that it took to build these giant structures, and the thousands of people involved in their construction. I'm so glad that you wrote about them and showed us your pictures.

    Thank you for sharing,
    1878 days ago
    Oh YES!!!! Please keep posting blogs when you travel. I feel I am there with you and would certainly love to be. You are so good to all of us and I feel sorry for those that have not found your blogs.

    You are such a kind, beautiful, caring person. emoticon emoticon
    1878 days ago
  • RAMONA1954
    Thanks for the trip to the Pyramids. That is one place I would truly love to visit. It's just amazing that they are that old and still standing. Actually learning about Egypt is one of my favorite things too so these blogs have been wonderful. Ahh..a mini vacation for me.
    Thanks for sharing all your travels with us! I love these blogs as it's a nice change of pace and I learn something new all the time from a different perspective.
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    1878 days ago
    It must have been amazing to stand there and gaze up---thanks for the wonderful blog.
    1878 days ago
    My students were always fascinated when learning about Egypt and these "touristy" venues! Thank you for sharing your experiences and photos; I especially love the nose to nose shot of you and the Sphinx. Your smile is very cute as you stand next to the seated statue. I too had no idea of the proximity of the pyramids to! What a surprise to see the boat intact!! There is truly nothing like first hand knowledge, but a blog from Claire comes in a close second! Un grand merci!

    1878 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/30/2013 4:25:14 PM
    So very interesting. I had to call my hubby into the room to see the pics as well.

    Your blogs never disappoint!

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    1878 days ago
    Thanks for sharing your pics and journey to such an amazing place. The pyramids and Sphinx are so amazing it looks like. Glad you got to see them. Your whole series about Cairo was amazing and I loved it!
    1878 days ago
    Formidable! Merci! Et comme vous je pensais que les pyramides se trouvaient en plein milieu du désert! Le blog n'est donc pas simplement touristique, il est aussi pédagogique!!! emoticon
    1878 days ago
    On my "bucket list" thank you for the tour, loved itand you and the sfinx photo just great.
    Don't worry it was not as you say touristy ,just a fun piece.
    Thanks for sharing. emoticon emoticon
    1878 days ago
    I have always wanted to see these, and Paris. But my cousin squelched that. He had visited them in late 80's and had told me that both places were dirty. Of course they may have cleaned up more by now. But then the unrest happened, and I just wouldn't feel safe. Sad to feel that, because I had a lot on my bucket list, that I have had to cross off. I do appreciate people like you who have the chance to share your trip and photos. I guess that is my visit as well.
    1878 days ago
  • NAN041
    Dear Claire,
    Please, do not even entertain the thoughts of not
    continuing with your blogs. It would definitely be
    a loss for one and all.
    Your joy of traveling shows thru...many thanks, Nan
    1878 days ago
    Oh, I sincerely hope you do keep posting your travels. I so look forward to both your walks and your travels. emoticon emoticon
    1878 days ago
    Thank you for giving us a tour of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, Claire. Too bad you didn't get inside but I can't blame you! I've heard from a friend who's visited the pyramids that it gets too dark and narrow down there!
    So, was it the most impressive of the things you saw in Egypt? It's definitely a spectacular site but I believe that sometimes things that are not so famous can really impress us so much more in a country that we visit for the first time. I have no personal experience of course as I've never traveled anywhere outside my country. But following your blogs, I am often impressed by your discoveries.
    Thank you for showing us the beauty of one more country.
    1878 days ago
    Fabulous photos!! Thank you Claire. I so envy you going there. it is incredible when you think how old they are. I can't see any of our concrete rubbish still standing after that long.

    Glad you're just about better!
    1878 days ago
    So totally impressive! Isn't it mind boggling to think about how these structures were constructed in that time! Oh my!

    The sphynx is probably my favorite structure. Looks massive, as do the pyramids. How wonderful that you got to see it and I really appreciate you sharing these wonderful pictures. VERY surprised @ how close the pyramids are to "civilization".

    1878 days ago
    Hi Claire, First of all, I don't know how anybody could be blogged with your blogs, whether it be your hikes or your travel blogs. I have seen and learned so much through your eyes and the lens of your camera. I love how you explain everything with such enthusiasm. I learned so much here that I didn't know. That boat totally amazed me. I have seen similar ones in drawings, but thought they were of somebody's imagination. It pleased me to see that there are real ones in existence and what they were meant to be used for.

    I am happy to know that you are safely home in France and as always, I look forward to your next blog. emoticon
    1878 days ago
  • _BABE_
    I love your face to face pic with the Sphinx...great blog... enjoyed it as always!
    1878 days ago
  • DR1939
    Until the recent problems Egypt was on our bucket list. We had planned to go in May of the Arab Spring. Instead we did a 5-day 50 mile walk through a river valley in Wales along with hitting some areas of the UK we had missed before.

    I had the opportunity to go on a University-paid trip to Egypt about 8-10 years ago but the dates conflicted with a critical task. I think that was the year I did 3 weeks in Poland on their dime. Could have been India. However, in preparation for Egypt I sat in on part of an Art History course taught by a colleague. Very interesting material. According to the art historians the tops of the pyramids were encased in gold. Obviously that, too, is long gone.

    Thanks again for sharing your adventures.
    1878 days ago
  • DALID414
    I don't travel at all, so I travel vicariously as much as possible emoticon Thank you SO much for letting me tag along. And I don't blame you at all for not going inside I'm a tiny girl and small spaces scare me too!
    Thanks again for the free trip!
    Have a great week Claire.
    1879 days ago
  • MAWMAW101
    Being one of those people who has not traveled the world, I love your blogs. My world has been made bigger by your pictures and comments. Thank you for taking us along on your touristy trip!
    1879 days ago
    J'aime tous tes blogs de Caire!!! Merci! emoticon
    1879 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/30/2013 12:41:20 PM
  • LINDAK25
    Loved your blog! I think it's great to do the tourist thing. How incredible the pyramids are. It's a shame that they couldn't have been better protected over time. I can understand not wanting to go into the pyramids. I wouldn't want to have a panic attack inside one. Isn't it nice to know that your profile is so much prettier than that of the Sphinx. (You have a much nicer nose!)
    1879 days ago
    1879 days ago
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