As we came out of the Western Desert and approached Giza the difference couldn’t have been more stark to what we’d seen over the previous week: the cars whizzed by and tooted incessantly and unnecessarily, the city of Cairo sprawled out in front of us and the smog choked the air leaving a hazy stale yellow cloud above the city. The haze was so thick, we could barely see ‘The Great Pyramids’ that we’d heard would dominate the Giza skyline. Eventually we did get to see them in passing...again...
...and again as we got a little bit lost trying to find the right route to the campsite – “Salma Camp.”
We did it with a difference...
|Looking back out over Giza with the back of the Sphinx in the middle distance on the left.|
Contrary to my concerns, the locals loved it and it was a constant ice-breaker with touts and tourists alike. With all of us climbing down from the truck (emblazoned with “London to Istanbul via Cape Town”) right outside the Pyramids, at one point it seemed like more people were taking photos of us than of the Pyramids.
|The locals loved our Arab attire.|
|The truck was parked right outside The Pyramids and got just as much attention.|
|"We built this city!"|
|"The Sphinx" at Giza|
|Pyramids? Whatever man.|
|A romantic gesture between two geezers (Berbs & Skommel Sr.).|
|Party time on the truck roof with the music still blaring out.|
We made loose plans to “meet them at the best-looking shisha house they could find near KFC” and as soon as we neared KFC, we had no trouble seeing them. The Skommel Bros had draped the South African flag over the side of the terrace bar they were at and Marjane and a few of the others were waving. For anybody that's interested, the name of the place was Albadawia Cafe & Restaurant and we were told that the terrace provided prime viewing of the Giza 'Sound & Light Show' but without the fee!
Over coffee, everybody was beaming. I don’t think it was really spoken about, it just seemed like everybody wanted the sense of elation to just fill the air for a while of its own accord. We’d spent the morning marvelling and being marvelled at. After anywhere between two and nine months on the truck, it was the end of the road for some and the last true African landmark for all of us. We’d reached The Great Pyramids and the experience there really didn’t disappoint. I just don’t know if it was the place itself or the circumstances.
|Kenj, Pat, Son, Saffer Rob (Skommel Sr.) & I chilling in my favourite shisha den in the whole of Africa.|
We wondered around a bit, doing our best to fend off the touts – all of them opening with the “I’m just here to help a tourist” approach but inevitably finishing with the hard sell. After a small bout of indecisiveness (that only those who have ever tried wondering a city in a group larger than two people will know about), Son, the Skommelers and I caught a taxi to Zamalek (an apparently affluent and therefore, ‘swanky’ Cairo district) whilst Rob D and Berbs explored the unknown on foot.
- the room full of mummified animals on the 1st floor (massive Nile crocodile that goes almost the length of the room);
- the room dedicated to the artefacts found in Tutankhamun’s tomb – especially Tut's gilded mask;
- the two rooms dedicated to the mummies that had been exhumed in Luxor – particularly the Queen (I believe "Maatkare-Mutemhet") mummified with what experts thought was her child and ultrasound/x-rays (or whatever it is they do) proved it to be her pet baboon! (It was an extra 100 Egyptian Pounds/17USD to see these stiffs - but in my opinion, well worth it.)
If we weren't out and about, we were up on the roof of the hotel at night taking the city's very own complimentary sound and light show. (The roof was also the spot where a couple of people whilst under the influence of some local delights, turned off the MASSIVE neon Coca-Cola sign...no names need be mentioned except Pasta and Rasta.)
|Cairo by night.|
|The rooftop Coca-Cola sign that got turned off.|
Elisa had a nice welcome to life in Africa when her luggage was held up at the airport...we were due to leave the next morning and couldn't hang around so Elisa (joined by Pat and Tanja) made plans to stay a little while longer in Cairo with a view to catch up with us for some SCUBA diving in Dahab...but that's after we visit Mount Sinai!