Monday, April 5, 2010

Pyramids to Petra - An Easter break

To celebrate the long Easter holiday we have taken an extended break to travel from Egypt to Jordan. Starting in Cairo traveling along the Nile down through the desert we will make our way back up again to across the Red Sea to Petra in Jordan.

First things first, Cairo and the Pyramids! After years of seeing the iconic figures in movies, TV shows, and books we finally were able to get up close and personal. This was one of those pinch-yourself moments. Am I really seeing what I think I’m seeing? People have written about these epic structures for years and with good reason, they are simply unbelievable.

So of course with the pyramids comes the mandatory camel ride. Honestly how could you not ride a camel here? For first timers like us getting up on the camel caused a few nervous moments. The camel starts almost in a kneeling position allowing you to hop on. Then in true clumsy and awkward camel fashion it springs to life, back legs up first jolting you to about a 45 degree angle until it slowly jerks its front legs up. Again throwing you around until it’s up on all four legs. It’s quite a fun little ride, which is great as long as you don’t get thrown off. You’d just land on the sand anyway so it’s not a problem.

Lumbering along we strolled to the prime viewing point where you could see all three of the Pharaoh’s pyramids along with three built for the Pharaoh’s queens. Not surprisingly a 25-minute ride is plenty on a camel for one sitting. The saddle isn’t all that comfortable!

We also were able to go inside one of the pyramids through a small entrance into a tiny passage to visit the burial chamber. There wasn’t much to see but its neat to be inside. It was hot and sticky with some dense air! Just don’t think about how much the stones above you actually weigh.

Next up was the Sphinx – that is one cool cat!

Finally in a day filled with highlights the Cairo Museum provide another – a chance to see the infamous death mask of Tutankhamen. It was absolutely beautiful! Solid gold and filled with jewels sitting in a case just a few inches away. The ancient Egyptian’s were such craftsmen. As far as art and culture go this is up there with the Statue of David, the Mona Lisa and the likes. Wow! We stood in awe for about 10 minutes staring at it. I would have loved to try it on, but the security guard said no.

The day comes to a close as we board an overnight train to Aswan in the heart of the in southern Egypt. Here is a map of the trip. I’ll be back as often as I can with updates but I can’t promise much. Its already day 5…

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