In Alexandria, we got a quick city sightseeing orientation tour. We really didn’t stop but a couple of places to take quick photos; right outside the Alexandria museum and nearest the seaside fortress and where the old Lighthouse use to be. Other than that, we proceeded to Cairo for our visit of the Pyramids of Giza.
The trip to Cairo was about 3 hours and the city traffic was horrendous! This is another reason why one should spend the night. You waste 12 hours in traffic alone over two days if you go back and forth from the port of Alexandria. Anyway, the highlight of the afternoon was the Pyramids of Giza. We purchased optional tickets to enter and see the burial chamber of the 2nd Pyramid. You can enter the 1st Pyramid as well which I hear the trek to the burial chamber is longer and harder but only 400 tickets are sold daily and are usually sold out within the first hour of two of opening. Given the fact that we didn’t get there until mid afternoon, they were sold out of tickets for the first pyramid but the second was still available.
The experience of entering the burial chamber is an experience I won’t forget. You literally have to climb steep inclines of 25 degrees or more up then down several meters each. After several minutes of back bending, narrow passage travel, it opens up to the burial chamber. This chamber, though large, is very musty, humid and with the thin air, I can see how someone with even the slightest of claustrophobia can be a problem. I DON’T recommend doing this trek if you have bad knees, elderly, have trouble breathing etc. I have personally seen a young woman almost hyperventilating halfway through and could not continue so PLEASE KEEP THESE WORDS IN MIND.
Otherwise, the experience was fantastic!! This optional trek cost an extra $20 per person.
After taking our must have photos of the Giza Plateau, we headed down to see the Sphinx which was spectacular as well. The only disappointing part is that by the time we got to the Temple, the security people closed it even though we had at least 15 minutes left to closing time. Mohammed explained to us that sometimes, the security guards at the Temple gets tired and closes early just because. I wasn’t too upset about it. It was good enough I saw the Sphinx and had taken my photos.
My wife and I ended the rest of the afternoon shopping at a perfume place as well as a papyrus place as souvenirs. I know these things are touristy and call me corny but these things will end up mounted or framed for the walls of my house. Now the area of these two places are not in good neighborhoods and I seriously doubt the tour buses would go to these places but I felt safe and secure the entire time. I really think the Egyptians are really pro-tourist and good Muslims that they would never in a million years think of harming tourists.
Dinner was spectacular! Mohammed took us to a very local place, not very touristy. For the menu, various cold appetizers, a salad and the best grilled chicken I thought I ever had (until the next day for lunch).
Now, I’m sure you said to yourself… what are you doing eating the local food!?!? You are going to get sick! Well, no, on the contrary. The main fear of the food here is the water. Mohammad admitted that the water in Egypt is not very good. The main reasons, according to him, are the pipes. They still have old, dirty pipes flowing through most of the cities. However, the Egyptian government has slowly started to replace them especially around the area near the Nile River in Cairo. In general, if you are in the touristy area of Cairo, the water there is safe to clean with but not potable. I still took the proper precautions and not eat too much raw stuff like salads and fruits with skin on them. Any food that is cooked, heated or grilled, I thought was good and safe to eat. After my trip in Egypt, I personally did not get sick, not one day. Now, there were people on the ship that mentioned they got some gastrointestinal issues afterwards but they ate the local fruit or ate food that was cold and probably washed with the tap.
That night, Mohammed dropped us off at the Fairmont Nile City in Cairo. One of the best hotels in Cairo, many locals believes it rivals the Four Seasons in service and amenities. The room was spectacular. Immaculately clean, modern and the bed was so comfortable that we slept extremely well. Too well. In fact, we were suppose to begin our 2nd day tour and be at breakfast (which was included) by 7:30am for an 8:30am start. Unfortunately, the hotel forgot to wake us up even after we called the front desk for a wakeup call and received a confirmation that the wakeup call was set. I spoke to the Front Desk Supervisor the next morning and they were extremely apologetic. So my stay was bitter sweet. Would I stay there again, yes of course. The hotel was SPECTACULAR to say the least but for next time, I would set up a separate portable alarm along with the wakeup call.