Egypt – such a perfect place for ancient and modern periods to meet, a beautiful country where culture and cosmopolitan equally share the comfort of people, a thriving mass of land in spite of intermittent war and civil unrest. I always thought of my first traveled country to be full of memories, both personal and historical, and I’m grateful enough it happened here.
It was late October when the three of us embarked in an Indiana Jones kind of travel to Egypt. Lethargic from a just concluded night shift, we prepped our passports, tickets, few luggage and pockets full of excitement for what’s in store with this world heritage country.
We arrived in Cairo International Airport late in the afternoon via Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi. The arrival area was a little shocking to us; some lights were busted, ceilings have fissures, distinct smell similar to budget cinemas, and ungrateful-like officers. A Staff from our travel guide helped us get through the airport and Immigration officers. The moment we stepped out of the airport was the moment we were not prepared to face yet – gridlock traffic! We traveled for more than 2 hours and reached Le Meridian Pyramids Hotel and Spa past 8:00PM. We had an all-you-can-eat dinner outside the hotel and leisure walk thereafter. A short night stroll was enough to say that recent political instability got the best around Giza. We reached back the hotel past 12:00AM to rest.
We had to wake up early for a jam-packed day of attractions and activities. Our guide fetched us immediately after breakfast. What happened the whole day surely went down to history, to my history at least.
The tour started with Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. Commonly called Egyptian Museum, this is a home to extensive collections of antiques and relics of Egypt, solidifying the claim of power and strength of this country for thousands of years. From gigantic sculptures, polished tombs, traditional weaponry and golds – lots of gold, this place is an entertainment and an awakening to people who didn’t have the slightest idea of what life was about on once the most powerful civilization.
King Tut was an Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty (ruled c. 1332–1323 BC in the conventional chronology), during the period of Egyptian history known as the New Kingdom or sometimes the New Empire Period. He may not be the best King Egypt has ever had, but the recovery of his priced possessions left Egypt with rich bounties for the world to witness.
I’ll simply put mummification as a preservation of a dead body of a person or animal. Egyptians long believed that dead people (especially rulers and kings), would one day descend from heaven (resurrection) and re-rule a civilization, hence the mummification of bodies. Logic would have told them that the first thing that these bodies would look for is food, hence the mummification of animals. We had the pleasure to meet some of the greatest of ancient Egypt mummified but unfortunately taking pictures were strongly prohibited.
After succumbing to the overloads of golds, paper and giant stones, we then geared to a short glimpse of the famous River Nile. Regarded as the longest river in the world, Nile is the primary water source of Egypt. The river was actually clean and free-flowing, contrary to what I read.
PYRAMIDS AND THE SPHINX – WILDEST DREAMS DO COME TRUE!
Nearing noontime, we then took off for the highlight of our travel – the surreal pyramids. They are world archeological sites and were made popular when the Great Pyramid was listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. As ancient as it is, it is the only ancient wonder in existence.
I was in total awe and got a little emotional when I had the first sight of this majestic creation. One could feel the power of a great ruler and the sacrifices of the slaves as these pyramids were hundreds of years in the making. Pyramids, together with the Sphinx are definite works of art.
After a full day of walking, climbing and soaking under the scorching sun, we then headed to bazaar store for souvenirs such as authentic papyrus, busts and figurines and adorable keychains. I even bought my first chessboard here. We then headed back to the hotel and ate a mouthful of lunch.
LE MERIDIEN PYRAMIDS HOTEL AND SPA
With our heads full of granted dreams and mouth full of food, we then gathered ourselves, decided to take a quick dip in the water and discover the hidden amenities of the hotel.
Resty and Duds relaxed on a complementary massage and soaked on a hot Jacuzzi while I readied myself to an early sleep.
Waking up early has never been as exciting as this. We fulled ourselves with the breakfast buffet and took away some breads too as we’re about to embark on a long, long journey to the north of Egypt – Alexandria.
Alexandria is the second largest city in Egypt, the largest seaport serving most of the imports and exports of the country, and a city of high importance due to Lighthouse of Alexandria, another Seven Ancient Wonder.
MONTAZA PALACE and GARDEN
Montaza palace was our first destination. It is an extensive palace and grounds in the Montaza distric, built strategically to overlook the Mediterranean Sea. Inside this complex ground is Al Haramlik Palace. Built as a summer palace, it has a mixture of Turkish and Florentine styles, with two towers, one rising distinctively high above with elaborated Italian Renaissance design details.
We headed on a leisure road-trip to several locally significant attractions of the city.
Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a major library and cultural center in the city of Alexandria. It is both a successful attempt to commemorate the Library of Alexandria that was lost in antiquity, and to rekindle something of the brilliance that this earlier center of erudition represented. We visited this magnificently modern library, its structure way far from the establishments surrounding Alexandria, or the whole Egypt for that matter. Securities are high-end, facilities are state-of-the-art and galleries and collections are laser focused to the development and breakthroughs than to history itself.
We then headed to our hotel a little past 2:00PM. Exhausted and famished, we mandated to take our lunch and spent the whole afternoon strolling around Mediterranean Azur Hotel.
And while Duds and Resty were enjoying the Mediterranean ambience of the hotel complex, I decided to jog along the corniche and look around what we missed from our day tour.
Alexandria is a face of a fighting city. Recent unrest that affected the whole Egypt hit Alexandria by a storm but the city has been rebuilding a new facade of development, raising its viability one notch at a time until reaching an economic progress they once enjoyed.
Another day to wake up early, but this time to hail goodbye as we conclude our 4-day trip to this highly significant country ever risen. From Cairo to Abu Dhabi then Abu Dhabi to Muscat, we were able to return home at around 11:oo PM. The trip only lasted for 4 days, but Egypt would last two lifetimes for me.