Monday, November 15, 2010

First Port: Egypt (2 days)

 Day 1 Cairo: 
The port we were in was Alexandria. Cairo is a 3 hour drive south of Alexandria. There is almost nothing to see on that 3 hour drive. I fell asleep and slept for a good portion of it going down. We had arranged for our Shore Excursion through Princess and we had chose "The Best of Cairo", which included going to the Nation Archeological Museum/ the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, lunch at a hotel's restaurant, and seeing the Pyramids and Sphinx. When I was in elementary school I wanted to be an Archeologist. I was fascinated with the ancient cultures of Western Civilization. So going to the Pyramids and to the Egyptian Museum were both musts for me and everyone else in our group (6 of us total: my husband and I, my in-laws, my brother in-law, and our cousin) agreed that if you only get to spend one day- that sounded like the best.
When we arrived we were taken first to the Egyptian Museum. There are two museums that when you're looking at Egyptian art in a book, that are credited with holding the item. There is the British Museum in London, and the Egyptian (National) Museum in Cairo. Those are the main two. So I was super excited about this. It was my biggest disappointment. No pictures, no cameras even, it was hot, humid from human sweat from crammed rooms of people, no AC, very little air circulations, and then it felt like hardly anything was there. I saw so much more at the British Museum of Egyptian Antiquities then I did in Egypt. Sadly I couldn't wait to leave. The heat/human sweat in the air was making me nauseous. We did see the Tut displays. I wish we had had time to see the Pharaoh mummies, but by the time we saw them we only had 5 minutes to spend to find our way back to the entrance to meet our group. They did have the two funerary boats that were discovered in pieces and put back together, they were cool. There was a cat just sleeping and hanging out on the top of it. None of the guides or guards there seemed to care, people aren't allowed within 10 ft of it but a cat can sleep on it. There were cats all over in the museum. You'd never see that in an American museum. I don't regret going, I just will not go again until they have a modern facility.

From there they took us to the lunch Mena House Oberoi, it use to be a palace, now its a 5 star hotel. It was a yummy lunch. Then they took us to the Pyramids. My husband and I (and our cousin) were able to go inside the 2nd pyramid. They say not to go in if you're claustrophobic or have back problems. NO JOKE. Remember those drawings of the inside of the pyramids from your school day text books. Besides the passageway shown they are solid bricks. The passage way is about 4 ft by 4ft and its highlighted on the drawing. I could feel myself panic as I went through it. There wasn't much to see either. But I can say I've done it. I've been asked if the pyramids were disappointing. I wouldn't say that at all. I would say that they are  just so gigantic that its overwhelming and then numbing. There is just no way to comprehend them.
After going into the pyramid and taking our pictures we were given some day by the Sphinx to take some pictures. The Sphinx was disappointing, but only in the sense that I always thought it was bigger. I was actually not very tall/big compared to the way all the picture make it look to the pyramids. From there it was the 3 hour bus ride back to our ship. This time I slept little, although exhausted, and read my book.

Day 2: Alexandria. Alexandria is the 2nd largest city in Egypt. It is a very old city but very very little of the old city is around anymore. The shore excursion we book for this one was the Fort Qait Bay/Great Library. Fort Qait Bay is a fort that was built by the Ottomans. Its a great place to see and is built on the site where the Great Lighthouse was, that fell due to an earthquake long before the fort was built. From there they took us to the site of the ancient theater and where all the items brought up from the sea from the Great Lighthouse are. Lastly we went to the New Great Library. Built on the site where the Great Library at Alexandria once was. The new library is huge and is trying hard to be a place of culture, learning, and history as the original library was in its day. They have a cool website if you want to check it out.

And that was our trip to Egypt. Thoughts on Egypt: The people were very friendly. They'd smile and wave at you, I enjoyed waving back. They were many families out together, and it made me miss my son. I can't say it was beautiful. There wasn't natural beauty to see and the cities were old and not grand in anyway. But it had its own beauty. It also had a sadness. The poverty, the filth and trash, the wonder of what happened to that glory in their civilization that now is gone.

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