Luxor Part Six: farewells and a day in Cairo

29-30 July 2014

Despite being in bed for a few hours, I had only hand about 45 minutes sleep before my alarm went off at 5am. We were getting picked up at about 6.15am to be taken to the airport, so we had to be up and out. An hour after we managed to drag ourselves out of bed, I we were set to head to the lobby when I glanced at my watch- 5am it read. That couldn’t be right- my phone said it was nearly 6am. My friends phone agreed with my watch however. Then it changed its mind. We called reception to find out what the time actually was: my phone clock had jumped ahead an hour. We didn’t need to be up yet.

The citadel

We tried to go back to bed for an hour but unsurprisingly it was hard to sleep and soon enough we were in reception, waiting for our mini-bus to pick us up. Because we had booked the trip last minute, we had to pay extra as it was only going to be the two of us. We were taken to the airport, put on our plane and flew about an hour (I think) to Cairo. There we were collected by our tour guide who took us to the city’s citadel for our first stop. There we took some pictures whilst our guide introduced us to the site. Then it was time for the big one: the pyramids.

The Pyramids of Giza

Exhausted we fell asleep each time we hopped in the bus- our guide was not impressed with us but he complained too of having had no sleep the night before. Upon arrival at the pyramids, we decided we wanted to take the opportunity to go in the Great Pyramid of Giza. Entry to the site had been included in our trip cost but this had not. We were happy to pay extra for it though, I mean how often do you get to go in a pyramid?

The Pyramids of Giza

I had been ready to be disappointed with the pyramids- I’d hyped them up so much it seemed inevitable- and yet I wasn’t. The three pyramids stood tall and proud together as we queued to get inside. the entrance felt like a cave, with its jagged ceiling and were quickly faced with an upward climb up a rather small tunnel. It was hot and steep and rather unpleasant but eventually we emerged into a tall hall. From there we climbed further into a chamber which housed an empty tomb. The idea that this could be built today- let alone thousands of years ago- without machines was just unbelievable. They must have had alien help or something.

The Great Sphinx of Giza

From there we were to a nearby vantage point for a bit of a photo shoot, including selfies, panoramas and pictures of us attempting to ‘balance’ a pyramid on our palms. Then it was time to go and see the Great Sphinx. As we walked along, people asked to take pictures of us. My friend even had a baby thrust at her. If we’d charged tips then we probably could have made back the cost of our trip. Eventually, our tour guide refused to let us stop for photos so that we wouldn’t be there all day.

By the time we finished at the site, it turned out that we were too early to go for lunch. We went via a papyrus shop where we were told how the sheets were put together and formed. There were some lovely images painted onto them but sadly these ones were beyond our price range and we had already bought some bargain ones in the market in Luxor.

Next stop was food. We were taken to a restaurant which felt a little far out and we seemed to be the only ones there. Despite that we were treated to a spread and the food was delicious. The only problem was that there was more than we could eat. Not that that was much of a problem. We stuffed our faces full of hummus and other dips, falafel, aubergine, vegetables and meats from our mixed grill.

The Egyptian Museum

Full of food, we moved on to the Egyptian Museum. Our guide took us around to a few choice pieces in order to tell us about them and then left us to explore. I have never seen a museum with so much stuff in it. It was practically a storage unit- literally everywhere was covered in artifacts from all over Egypt. This included an exhibition of mummies which we paid extra to go into- it was well worth it- and the items from Tutankhamun’s tomb- including his golden death mask. King Tut was placed in a coffin inside a coffin inside a coffin (I forget how long this goes on for)- like a Russian doll. We’d seen one of his golden sarcophagi along with his mummy in the Valley of the Kings and the rest was held here. Considering the relatively small size of his tomb, I couldn’t believe how much had been found inside of it.

Our next stop was a wander through the city, looking at some of the incredible architecture. I didn’t know what to expect from Cairo, apart from the pyramids, but there is much more history to the city than just the ancient stuff, as evidenced by the array of intricate buildings. Our walk then took us to a market. We had been told this would be part of our itinerary but had not been told how much time we were actually going to be spending here. I think this was probably because our return flight had to be booked late in the evening- a fact that we weren’t told until we called up to ask the night before. Unfortunately, this meant that we hadn’t brought nearly enough money so after we shopped for a little while we soon had to move on. My final purchase was a necklace with my name written in Arabic. We had to wait for it to be made so we grabbed a drink in the meantime. It was worth it though- I was subsequently informed by a few people who saw me wearing it that it did in fact say ‘Ellis’.

Finally it was time for dinner and, shockingly, we were taken to a TGI Fridays on the Nile. That is not what we were expecting. Annoyingly, we didn’t have much of a choice in food and were given a set meal that did not come with Jack Daniel’s sauce. Sadly, this was the time our trip started to go downhill. We’d had a few disputes with our guide during the day- which I won’t go into- but this now meant a rather awkward atmosphere at dinner and in the end we asked to be taken to the airport early. This meant we had three hours before our flight instead of the 45 minutes we needed.

After a long, long, long wait, we eventually made it onto the plane and back to Luxor. It was a shame it had ended the way it did but it had all been worth it. By the time we got back to the hotel, we found the boys in the bar, which had just closed. We explained our long day to the barman who agreed to fix us up a couple cocktails and then we all cracked out the cards again until the bar closed. We then moved on for a midnight swim. All in all, it was the perfect way to spend our last night in Egypt.

The next day, we made the most of our final pool-time, popping out only to go the market to pick up a few final souvenirs and to say goodbye to the locals we had made friends with. We grabbed some lunch at the hotel- a club chicken sandwich covered in cheese, with a side of chips. All to soon, it was time to settle up and so I reluctantly dragged myself out of the water and left for the airport. It had been an incredibly good holiday.

Read about the rest of my trip:

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