Merry Christmas from Egypt!
The trip here was long but uneventful. My mom was kind enough to drive me to the airport early Tuesday morning where I checked in for my shuttle to JFK. We grabbed some breakfast and said goodbye. I meandered over to my gate and watched episodes of Bones on my iPod until we boarded and then I slept the whole way to JFK. I had to wait a couple hours to check in for my flight to Cairo, and then I wandered around the terminal until my flight started to board. I managed to sleep most of the way, thankfully. We arrived in Cairo and the health inspection and immigration were a breeze, especially since I had arranged my visa prior to leaving. Once again, most of my time was spent waiting for my bag to arrive. I cleared customs and met the driver my hotel had sent to pick me up. Then we braved Cairo traffic to head to the hotel. Let me say this: driving in Cairo is pure chaos.
No one pays any attention to the lines, they just swerve across the road as they feel like it. If traffic is moving too slow, no problem: I'll just drive between two cars in a space that leaves only inches on either side - all at top speed. No one uses blinkers and I have not yet seen a car that does not have damanged side mirrors, probably from swiping the side of another car on the highway. Anyway, we arrived at the hotel and I went right to sleep.
The next day I spent wandering around downtown and at the Egyptian Museum. The museum was fantastic - royal mummies, King Tut's treasure, ancient hieroglyphics - the only downside was that they confiscated my camera, forcing my to buy postcards and a calendar to photograph so you can all see some of the artifacts on display! Then I arranged for transport to Aswan - which was not easy considering it's the high season - and grabbed dinner. Still incredibly jetlagged, I read for a bit (The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, if you're interested) and went to sleep.
Yesterday was Christmas! And what did I do? I went to the pyramids! I hired a driver for the day, Youssef, and we set off for Giza. Since there was no traffic we arrived at about 8:30. There was no line - I walked right in! It was still very foggy and it was impossible to see the pyramids from the entrance. I could just make out the Sphinx so I walked toward him and took a few photos, hoping that the weather would clear. I took a camel ride around one of the pyramids - my camel, Moses, was very well behaved and he didn't spit at all. It was possible to see the pyramid from about 30 feet away, but the top was still surrounded by fog. As I walked around taking pictures the fog started to lift and I gradually began to make out the other pyramids at the site. I spent a few hours at the site, but eventually it was time to leave. I met Youssef outside the entrance gates, where the line was now down the street, and we took off for Saqqara. Driving through the towns outside of Cairo was fantastic. Eventually we arrived at Saqqara, the site of the Step Pyramid of Zoser - otherwise known as Egypt's first pyramid! Youssef told the guards at the entrance gates that I just wanted to take a pictue and slipped them a little baksheesh and just like that I didn't have to pay for an entrance ticket! We drove right up to the pyramid and I got out of the car and took a few photos. Then we drove back to Cairo. I grabbed dinner and called home to say, "Merry Christmas!"
Today is my last day in Cairo. My plan is to enjoy some of the delicious pastries before heading off to the train station for my train to Aswan.