Today was the day of dreams coming true. Since we were both young children, Richard and I have dreamed of the day that we would see these great wonders of the world. Egypt almost did not make the cut for the trip as the Canadian website had warned against travel to this region. However, we checked with some tours and they assured us that it was completely safe. So, that is how we actually ended up in Egypt and to this day of days.
Our first stop of the day was at the Saqqara Archaeological Site and Imhotep Museum, also known as the Step Pyramid of Djoser. The earliest colossal stone building in Egypt, it was built in the 27th century BC during the Third Dynasty for the burial of Pharaoh Djoser by his vizier, Imhotep. You may remember Imhotep from the movie The Mummy with Brendan Fraser. Imhotep was never a king but he was christened the god of Medicine and Architecture for his work during this era. We entered the colonnade from the east entrance of the structure and once through this magnificent work of architecture, came into the large courtyard that served as the Sed Festival or rejuvenation ceremony area. Now a festival does sound a little morbid considering that a pyramid is actually a place of burial. However, it was believed that the festival was meant to allow Djoser to continue benefiting from the ritual even in the afterlife. This pyramid is also different from the Great Pyramids of Giza as Djoser decided to stack six mastabas, (bench of mud) each of a decreasing size, on top of each other, thus producing the Step Pyramid. The site is still an active excavation site which most of the pyramid sites are so it looks a bit like a construction site with mounds of rock and sand everywhere. We also were able to descend into an actual tomb here. Much like the catacombs that we saw in Alexandria but much larger. It just gets better and better!!
And then off to the great pyramids of Giza. These are the ones that you see in all the photos and they did not disappoint. The largest of the three was built in the 2550 to 2490 BC by the Pharaoh Khufu. The second largest was built by his son and the smallest of the three by his grandson. It was a definite “pinch me” moment to actually see these great structures up close. We climbed part of the way up and were amazed by the size of the stones. How did these people with no modern technology build this? Were slaves actually used? If not, then where did the manpower come from? There had to be thousands of men to do this work. Unbelievable. Like the Taj Mahal, we just sat for a few minutes and drank it all in.
And….I rode a camel! I wasn’t sure whether this was the ethical thing to do but I decided that I would probably not get another chance to ride a camel in the desert – especially around the pyramids. It was pretty cool but I don’t think that I would want to sit in one of those saddles for a long day of riding!! Richard has signed up also for the Camel ride, but when he saw what was required to get up on the Camel he did not want to chance damaging his knee that has been very good to him so far, so I went solo.
The Grande Finale – The Sphinx, constructed from a large block of bedrock with the head of a man and the body of a lion, sits in front of the second pyramid. The detail is amazing!! The paws. The tail. And so large! Another sit and stare moment.
An Egyptian lunch buffet. An educational trip to a perfume factory. Back to our hotel. And our second day in Egypt is already over. Tomorrow we catch a short flight to Aswan and get on board our cruise ship on the Nile. Three days of cruising and touring. Life is good!!
The Step Pyramid.
The Pyramids of Giza. Someone Pinch Me….
Ride em Cowgirl…