Egypt: Day 2 (24 Oct 2007)

Volume 10, Issue 122; 20 Nov 2007; last modified 08 Oct 2010

Memphis, Saqqara, and the Giza plateau

After meeting our guide, Hatem, we started our tour. (Hatem is a fantastic guide and a professional Egyptologist; if you want more contact information, drop me a note.)

At Memphis, we saw the alabaster sphinx, the reclining Ramesses (a toppled statue), and a number of other artifacts from Egypt's first capital.

At Saqqara, we saw several mastabas decorated with spectacular plaster reliefs depicting everything from gods to veterinary practice, rural farming practices to acrobats and belly dancers. After 4,700 or so years, and the abuse (accidental and intentional) of various conquerors and countless tourists, they still look remarkably new. The exact materials and techniques used to create, apply, and decorate the plaster are apparently unknown.

There was an opportunity to descend into the Pyramid of Teti, but it was clearly going to be a shoulder-to-shoulder climb with the rest of our tour group and other tourists, so I was content to give it a pass. Maybe next time. The tombs in the Pyramid of Teti are apparently decorated where the Red Pyramid was completely bare.

After a brief photo opportunity at the Stepped Pyramid, we proceeded to the Giza Plateau (a brief stop at another rug factory notwithstanding).

The pyramids of Giza are stunning and awe inspiring. Words and pictures do not do justice to their magnificence. Really. Don't bother trying to imagine them, just go and look for yourself.

I passed on the opportunity for a short camel ride. I don't want to ride in a circle for five minutes, I want to ride out into the desert for a few days. Or maybe a couple of weeks. That would be way cool.

The touts and peddlers are awful and really do have a nasty impact on the experience. I said they were agressive yesterday. I had no idea what aggressive was. And apparently they used to be a lot worse.

We stopped at the Great Sphinx of Giza before returning to the hotel for dinner.

After dinner, we went back to the plateau for a sound and light show. We got good seats, a few rows back from the front and I'd just setup my tripod when one of the guards approached. That's that, I figured, no tripods allowed. To my surprise he wanted to move me to the front row for a better view. When I objected that there was only one seat left in the front and I wasn't going to leave Deb further back, he moved Deb to the front row and guided me off into the desert in front of the front row. I couldn't have had a more ideal location.

Maybe some of the laser effects were a bit over-the-top, and the prose was a bit flowery, but it was excellent overall.

Tomorrow we start at 4:45am, bound for Luxor.