THE MIDDLE EAST & EUROPEAN SERIES PT8
The ancient pyramids of Giza are the only survivors of the original wonders of the world and probably my favourite out of them all.
CAIRO & SCAMMERS ASIDE, THE PYRAMIDS ARE JUST INCREDIBLE
Built over an incredible 4000 years ago with the help of over 4000 workers who dedicated 30 years of their life it is hard not to be impressed. For me, nothing else really comes close.
WHERE ARE THE PYRAMIDS?
Getting inside the Ancient Pyramids of Giza
EYGPTIAN NIGHT HOSTEL
I arrived from Athens and checked into the Egyptian Night Hotel, which was ok, Cairo isn’t the type of place that has an abundance of 5* accommodation or great hostels. Immediately after arriving I wasn’t entirely impressed, which surprised me considering the huge pull of the pyramids. I expected this place to be a metropolitan city which attracts people from all around the world to visit it’s sites.
I had immediately booked a trip via the hostel for the following day. The area around the pyramids have proven to be quite contentious due to it being so close to such an incredible site. I’m sure you have seen the photo of KFC beside the pyramids, it’s a bit of a shame but money talks no matter where you are.
We were given a camel for the trip and made our way to the back entrance where we would enjoy incredible views of the pyramids in the distance. We stopped at various spots for some great photos and again this was becoming one of those pinch yourself moments.
The reason I can admire these buildings is not much to do with how they look although that helps but rather wonder how they were constructed. Let me tell you how ahead of their time, the romans were.
The pyramids are almost perfectly aligned north, just 3/60th of a degree. To give you an idea of how difficult this is even now, take a look at the Meridian Building Greenwich Observatory. This building was built just over 340 years ago to also be aligned true north but is considerably less accurate!
CENTRE OF THE WORLD
Another incredible fact is that the pyramids is believed by many to be in the exact centre of the earth’s land mass. This means it is at the exact intersection of the longest line of latitude and the longest line of longitude. At a time when there was no maps and 3500 years before America was discovered by Christopher Columbus.
- Built around 4500 years ago
- The tallest is 455ft (less 31ft from when it was first complete)
- 4000 workers were involved
- It took 30 years to build
- 5 million blocks of cut limestone were used
We can get someone on the moon, we can build structures that are 1 kilometre high, can get 500 people in the sky but with all this knowledge and technology we still can figure out how these structures were made.
There are many theories and one of the most recent is the use of water to minimise the friction between the huge stone blocks and the ground. It is believed that transporting the blocks on a massive sled and using the correct amount of water enabled them to pull the sled.
However, The purpose of the pyramids have been known for years, they were used to house the tombs of the pharaohs; Khufu, Menkaure & Khafre and were built over 4000 years ago.
I have heard mixed stories on whether access inside the pyramids was allowed but on my visit we enquired and just had to wait 30 minutes. Thinking back to the history and who has walked through this very tunnel, its hard not to be impressed. The tunnels are hot & humid but much bigger than I imagined so don’t be afraid of it being too enclosed. However, you can just turn back.
The King’s Chamber which homes the tomb of Khufu can also be access via the Grand Gallery, the passage way the Queen’s Chamber. There isn’t much to see apart from the granite sarcophagus which would have once contained the King’s mummy.
Just a few hundred metres towards the front entrance is The Sphinx who’s existence is also debated through. It was believed this was built to commemorate Pharaoh Khafre but it is not known for sure.
The following day I had a bit of time to kill and if you know Cairo there isn’t much to do besides the Pyramids. I had planned to visit the Egyptian Museum to view the mask of Tutankhamun. Unfortunately it remains closed on certain days of the week so be sure to check. Anyway I took off for a walk around the city and I wasn’t long before I was approached by a local.
He immediately started to talk to me in an English accent which I found bizarre but was a little disappointed when I told him I was Irish. I suppose this scam involved him assuming I was English so we could talk about how much we have in common. Anyway his Sheffield accent was fantastic and he pleaded for me to come to the shop. I don’t normally do this but I had nothing else to do and who knows what you might find.
The shop typically offered very little but a ‘special scroll’ he handed me to keep. I was well aware there was probably 1000s of these in his story, all printed for a few pennies each. I’m no idiot and decline immediately but he insisted and said take it so I thought I would play along but made sure to state the rules before going any further.
‘How much,” I said.
‘For you a gift, take it,’ he replied.
So I thought why not, if he changes his mind I’ll just give it back. So I made for the exit.
‘Hold on, one more thing’ he shouted
‘Of course there is,’ I thought
NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH
He took the scroll back and asked my name so he could write it down. As far as I was concerned the transaction was done but I knew it was never going to be ‘free’. Now this is where they get you. I know I could have asked if it was still free but I knew the type of these people and if it mean wasting their time so be it, I just thought of the many people they had successfully hustled before me or about my time in Jamaica (story). So I told him my name which he wrote on the corner and handed me it back.
However, unsurprisingly things changed and he now demanded some money. It was clear that the entire idea of him giving this for free was to try and get me to buy something else. Kinda smart, but not smart enough. I then put it back on his table and said thanks but this was stage 2 of the scam and again I expected it. He claimed he would no longer be able to sell it as it had my name on it.
“How can I sell this when it has your name on it”, he said
“Well, you shouldn’t be a lair”
Calling out someone’s integrity, especially a shop owner in this part of the world is like slapping their granny, but what was I meant to do, let these pair walk all over me? Not a chance! Sometimes these kinds of people need a taste of their own medicine and I was all for dishing it out. So having made my point I said thank you and walked out to their utter disbelief.
- PEOPLE – 9/10
- BACKPACKING – 7/10
- SAFETY – 7/10
- WEATHER – 8/10
- THINGS TO DO – 7/10
- FOOD – 5/10
- VALUE – 8/10
- HIGHLIGHT – Pyramids
- LOWLIGHT – The scammer from ‘Sheffield’
- VISIT AGAIN – To see the pyramids again yes
- RATING – 7/10
Yes I wasn’t keen on Cairo to say the least but that’s not why I visited. The pyramids didn’t let me down however and although the surrounding area had it’s problems it was hard not to appreciate what was in front of you. If you are into your history even slightly, I would recommend visiting the pyramids!
Tunisia. Click to read.
SAFE TRAVELS, DS x
This post is part of The Middle East & European Series, click to explore or for episode 1 click here.
- Have you visited the pyramids?
- What is your favourite wonder of the world?
- Did you like Cairo?
Let me know in the comments below . . .