Tuesday night, at 11:45PM, my family and I set off from our hotel in Eilat toward the Taba Border Crossing to go from Israel into Egypt. On the Egypt side of the border we met the drivers, security guard, and one of the guides we would have for the next 24 hours. From there we set off, into and across the Sinai Peninsula, under the Suez Canal, and into Cairo itself. The drive took around 6 hours.
We arrived in Cairo around 7:45AM and had a breakfast of lukewarm but still tasty falafel. That is the first time any of us had eaten falafel that early in the morning. After a quick breakfast we were off to the Cairo Museum, where we met Nasser, our guide for the rest of the trip. He introduced himself and then told us that we might not be able to get into the museum this morning because there had been a “little revolution” in the square in front of it the day before. “Little revolution” seemed a bit serious, but eventually we figured out that it was really more of a protest with picketers and some shouting than a little revolution. This actually led the policemen operating the museum to open it a half hour early at 8:30AM. So we had extra time inside. The museum sits on one side of Tahrir Square and we were rushed out earlier than we had planned. It happened that the very day we were visiting the Cairo Museum was the day the Egyptian Revolution began!
In the museum we saw artifacts from all ages of ancient Egypt. The best part was getting to see the treasures of King Tutenkamen in what is known as “The Gold Room” of the museum. Unfortunately no pictures may be taken in the museum so come and see for yourself someday. Or, get yourself to a traveling exhibition of King Tut’s treasures. They go on international tours regularly and just returned from somewhere in Canada early this week.
We left the museum and were driven to a papyrus factory where we saw how papyrus paper is made. It is incredible how strong it is. It is almost impossible to tear and whatever is written on it can be easily washed off with water so that it might be used. It is like an ancient Egyptian dry-erase board, except that it requires water. Click here for an overview of how papyrus paper is made.
On to the pyramids! We began with the Great Pyramid at Giza and though we could not go inside of it we were given the exclusive opportunity to go inside the tombs of the architect of the Great Pyramid as well as the small pyramid of the mother of Khufu, whom the Great Pyramid was built for. It was exclusive because normally no one is allowed down inside these. However, our guide is participating in the current archaeological digs at Giza and knows the so-called “Keepers of the Pyramids”. That connection got us inside and also allowed us to take pictures! That was exciting.
After seeing the other two pyramids and getting the landscape view we visited the Sphinx, ate lunch, visited an essence factory run by a bedouin family, and then headed back across the Sinai to Eilat. The essence factory supplies the natural essences to the major perfume manufacturers all around the world, such as Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and many others. These perfume manufacturers then dilute the natural essence with alcohol so that when they sell it only between 5-20% of the contents of the perfume bottle are the natural essences/oils. Click here for an overview of the perfume creation process.
This was a fantastic day! We had a great time in Egypt and I highly recommend the tour company we went with. Check them out at www.tourplanisrael.com. Our guide in Cairo was Nasser. If you do this trip you should ask the tour company if he is available.
Grace and peace,