Saturday, April 11, 2009

pyramids with kids

To get to the pyramids, we took a 1 hour flight to Cairo and a 2-hour 1-hour (they said 1 hour, it took 2) drive to our hotel. The drive was long, but so fun. This was my first visit to a third world country, and I absolutely loved it. It was so lively and fun -- the major hold up on our trip was a stalled car being pushed by 8 boys in the middle of a crazy street. There was rubble and there were horses being bathed in dirty canal water; no one drove in their lanes and pedestrians were everywhere. Favorite sighting: sign for Pyramid Poultry Co. The picture above is our hotel, the historic Mena House. According to Elizabeth Peters, my font of all Egyptian knowledge, it sprang up as a competitor to Shepherds, the original high-end hotel in Cairo for foreigners. Mena House has grown a lot since then and is managed by Oberoi hotels, an Asian chain. It's lovely in every way and the food was marvelous. We ate lots of Indian food, something they do very well. I haven't had Indian food in so long! The best thing about Mena House is that it's at the foot of the pyramids, you can walk right over. A couple of the restaurants have lovely views of the Great Pyramid.
And here we are! I can't use enough superlatives to explain how happy I was to see the pyramids. I've been thinking about it since, and trying to figure out why I liked it so much. I think it comes down to my love of new things -- I felt the same happiness when touristing at the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. It also is a totally unique site, and one that was quite different from anything I'd seen before. The thing is, I've done a ton of touristing in Europe, so seeing another cool castle is indeed cool, but not overwhelming. The pyramids and Cairo in general were new and exciting for me and I'm so glad we went. Guess we need to make some more trips outside of Europe! Anyway, the rest of the family loved the pyramids as well. As I thought, this kind of outdoor tourist site is great for young kids. V just played in the sand if she got bored. Behind us in this picture is the Great Pyramid. Did you know? The Great Pyramid of Giza was the tallest man-made structure until the Eiffel Tower was built in 1889. Wow.

Here is Kafre, very close in size to the Great Pyramid. I posted this picture so you could see a bit of the texture of the pyramids. My photos aren't good enough to do it justice, but the texture is really beautiful. A combination of straight lines and randomized breakage, from 5,000 years in the elements. Organized rubble is what it looks like, and I just couldn't get enough of it. The top of Kafre is covered with limestone, and apparently it all was once. We went inside this one, everyone except E. The passage is low, so adults have to lean over while going up and down in a narrow passage. I confess to a short moment of nerves when I thought about all that very old stone above me, but chose not to think about it any more! It was fun to imagine how crazy the excavators were who expored all these with limited tools. M went inside twice, with Nathan and then again with me. The adults might have felt the lack of oxygen in the air, the stress of climbing up a steep passage while bending over, but M was bouncing he was so comfortable. All that's left inside is a sarcophagus.
The Sphinx! All the kids had a bit of trouble understanding that there is only one Sphinx. My kids and one of the friends with us thought that there must be more -- singular Sphink, plural Sphinx, right?
There's a nice overlook that we visited and got some great shots of all the pyramids together. I was impressed with the area -- they've got the whole area walled and gated. They heavily limit souvenir selling and other commercial stuff on the property. Cars are limited as well. The end result is that the views are protected and you get a real feeling of being out in the desert at the pyramids, even though you're in the middle of a large suburb. Policemen on camels are constantly running off the souvenir hawkers and guys selling camel rides. In this shot, Kafre looks taller than the Great Pyramid. M noticed this, but explained to me that it was an illusion. Smart cookie.
M and I took a ride on a camel. V sat on a camel, but didn't feel like going up. She and Nathan and E rode on a cart behind a horse. This was a great experience for M -- he wanted to go on the camel, but once we were up, he was scared and asked to get off. Then he quickly got used to it and later didn't want to get down. We were proud of him for sticking it out so that he could enjoy the ride. Camels are not comfortable, by the way.


Grrl Detective said...

These pictures are awesome! Sounds like you and the family had a great time. I've always wanted to see the pyramids -- you're the only person I know that has actually seen them. So cool!

- angel

Susan said...

Wow! It's amazing you got to go there. And the green grass and palm trees at that hotel are beautiful.

Czechers said...

Wow! That sounds like so much fun. I know exactly what you meant about the tourist excitement being so much higher when it's something new. Cool castle . . . awesome, but been there done that ;)

Bonfire said...

Amazing pictures Morgan! Thanks for sharing ;)