Friday, February 17, 2012
Thursday, Feb 16th, Cairo Museum & Giza Pyramids
I'm looking forward to the day that tops this one. We flew from Luxor to Cairo. We stopped by Anwar Sadat's monument, placed across from the site of his assassination, on the way to see the Egyptian Museum in Cairo,the Pyramids and Sphinx in Giza, an architectural walk through the city's backstreets, dining upstairs overlooking a grand outdoor bazaar, and a flight to Nairobi. It was a long day, true, but one filled with non-stop 5-stsar travel experiences.
Each time we hear at a ruin that some European capital's Museum has the treasure, we learn a bit more about national heritage. And we are planning on visiting the Berlin Museum, not because we want to go to Germany necessarily, but because of the vast amount of stuff they have collected over the early years of foreign archeology. This visit to Egypt, however, has given it looks and feels like when a country has a world treasure in its artifacts.
The museum's collection is a candy store for those who love this great civilization. Except for the copy of the Rosetta Stone in the entrance (We've got to get the original back to them), the thousands of original artifacts found in the temples and tombs are original and as awesome as anything we've seen. Its organization provides a clearer understanding of the evolution of the ruling cultures over the 3,000 years of Pharaonic existence, and adds to our knowledge of the contributions made by each dynasty and regional shifts over time. Unfortunately, no cameras are allowed inside the Museum.
Unfortunately, some of the treasure has been stolen during the recent revolution. Empty cases greet visitors with no explanation, and guides point to police and museum guards as the culprits. Specifically, we should be on the lookout for eight golden shields made for Tutanhkamen.
Beyond the young king's complete treasure, there are statues that will dazzle you as technical and artistic masterpieces. Stone and wooden figures, made in 2,500 B.C. which contain ivory and crystal eyes as real looking as those the ophthalmologist with us has seen. Folding beds containing the first hinges, and papyrus leaf materials to keep away scorpions. Sculpting techniques on life-size figures designed to insure their survivability over these milleniums. Amazing beauty and workmanship, and vast numbers of pieces.
After lunch, we rest of the group went to the Citadel, and we gained a new guide for our trip to Giza. Out on the edge of the city of Giza, amidst an almost-accomodating sandstorm, were the most famous buildings on earth. What can you say? Giant, hard to construct, standards against which all other ruling monuments were imagined. And despite tour busses and vendors, able to bring a sense of what this part of the world must have looked like long before the rest of the world grew up.
That evening, sitting at tables in the open-air market in the bazaar, we were just grasping the enormity of what we'd just seen. Telling stories of the 11-day adventure, the group was soon to depart for home and other adventures. This has been one of the best groups we've been with, and we'll try to maintain contact in the future. Jonathan Hodgson has been a great tour leader, and our guides along the way were absolutely top notch. If you're ever going to be traveling in Cairo, we would wholeheartedly encourage you to contact Ahmed Hashem at firstname.lastname@example.org and Bishoy Gamal at Bisho000.email@example.com. They both provided us with great support.
Each of them asked us to please pass along our impressions of the country, and to do our best to keep all of you coming to Egypt. It's not as dangerous as you fear, and is just as exciting as you hope. We will remember it always.
To see all of the photos taken today, click on: Cairo Museum & Giza Pyramids