After that long ride through the desert, I finally arrived.
In my mind, I imagined us B-lining from our road through the desert, straight towards the pyramids into the middle of nowhere. Nope! Wrong again. The pyramids are actually located in the middle of the city. Of course, due to the magic that is perspective, once you’re at them you can’t see the city.
When we arrived, our small group of four was greeted by our tour guide for the day, Ahmed. Ahmed gave us a brief rundown of his credentials while gifting us each a small breakfast — pre-packaged croissants!
It might have been the 10-hour road trip with no food, but that croissant was yummy.
Ahmed is an archeologist — he even showed us one of the mummies he and his team found. He taught himself five languages, all from YouTube, and he was thinking of accepting a professor position at Boston University. Needless to say, we were in good hands.
First stop Ahmed took us to was the Egyptian Museum. He did an excellent job explaining the history and symbolism of many pieces. Like did you know most pieces are just heads because explores thought pieces were too heavy to carry the whole statue so they would cut off the heads to move out quickly and sell. Or when statues have their arms crossed that means it was built in memoriam of the person who had already died, when arms aren’t crossed, that person was still living when their piece was made.
Next stop was the pyramids. And they were just as grand and lovely as I expected.
We had some time to marvel, photograph, and climb — yes, climb the Pyramid of Khufu. I didn’t know it was allowed! It is the oldest of the three Pyramids of Giza and the oldest and last remaining of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
We continued walking throughout the area making our way to the Pyramid of Giza’s Great Sphinx, where I may or may not have imagined Louis Armstrong serenading me, as he did his wife so many years ago. (Swoon.)
Afterward, Ahmed and our lovely driver, Nasir, drove us to lunch, where we stuffed ourselves with rice, meat, and baba ghanoush. From there, we headed out for a papyrus manufacturing tour.
We arrived at the papyrus shop (family-owned and -run), and were showed how the raw material is used to create ancient paper. While they demonstrated the process, we were allowed to touch, feel, and smell all the materials. The artwork throughout the shop was lovely. They even had pieces that glow in the dark! The prices were a bit steep, but if you are able to haggle they’ll work with you.
On our way to our next stop, we took a brief break at the Nile River. Technically the Nile is over 4,000 miles long. We only stopped on a bridge for a few minutes.
Our next stop was an Egyptian oil and perfume shop called Siwa Perfumes. Being inside this perfume shop was such a lovely experience. We were taken to a private room upstairs where we were given mint tea.
The salesman explained to us Egyptian tradition of the oils and how these are the healthier alternative to perfume because they’re alcohol-free. He eventually went down a list of oils they were selling and telling us the alleged benefit of each. He even applied almost every kind on any free skin we had available.
A few standouts were:
Attar of Roses – rose essence to be used as a perfume.
Sandalwood – to apply to sore mussels or for massage use. This oil heats up when you rub your hands together.
Menthol – Inhale its scent for respiratory relief. I brought this one in hopes that it would help with my sinuses.
After going through a list of over 30 choices, I ended up purchasing two, but they seemed to be diluted when I opened them at home.
Finally, our long day was coming to an end. We still had to ride back to the Taba border in order to walk our way back into Israel. This time, our ride took about 12 hours, because our new driver made way more stops along the way. Running on fumes from being awake for 30+ hours, I swore I could never do such an intensive one-day tour again. But as I write this, I can’t help but smile as I remember what a true adventure it was. And if I close my eyes, I can still see the sky full of stars, feel the bumpiness of the road ahead and sense the excitement of not knowing what’s coming next.
And with that, I’d do it all again.