[Thursday 9 February 2012]
I was already in the shower when our 7am booked wake-up call came. Having discovered that the first and last serial number IS printed on the receipt for travellers’ cheques, we decided to try again at the hotel bank. The computer system was “down”, though, so the teller (a different one) said we would have to come back later. We were pleased when we went to the lobby just before 9am that it was Mustafa who was going to be our guide again today. We headed first beside a long canal to Saqqara, where there was an almost modern-looking enclosing wall (also older mud-brick walls around that) — and, within, the oldest of the pyramids, the so-called “step pyramid”.
09:43:53 Frieze of cobras
10:02:41 Lashed-together wooden scaffolding is ubiquitous in Egypt.
10:05:48 Three pairs of feet, with insufficient space above for there ever to have been complete human or anthropoid figures
10:08:10 Again, almost “modern”-looking buildings
Then we went on to Memphis, the ancient capital of Egypt. I thought there’d be ruined palaces, etc., but we only saw a museum. The centrepiece of this, though, was a colossus of Ramesses II, not standing because its feet were missing.
10:45:16 Colossus of Ramesses II, with seated attendant for scale
Finally, we returned along the canal, on the other side. The sloping canal banks, I noticed then, constituted one long rubbish dump! And so back to Giza — and to the pyramids. One or two men approached me, and without leave from me, took my hat and put a headdress on my head. Someone thrust a trashy (presumably painted plaster) model of the three pyramids in my hand, and took my photo. It happened too quickly for me to resist. I don’t know how much I paid them. Not as much as they wanted! Janet and Mustafa had gone on ahead; he had assumed I was experienced enough to avoid such a pitfall. (First thing I did on return to the hotel was to chuck all this trashy shit in the bin!)
11:36:16 Caught out by the trash-vending bastards!
11:41:52 Large entrance to the Great Pyramid
11:44:38 Smaller and more important entrance to the right and somewhat below the first entrance
11:50:48 Passing the second pyramid in the car. Originally faced in limestone, only the cap remains.
11:53:12 And the third
The car took us to a vantage point behind the pyramids.
11:57:12 Two pyramids…
11:57:24 …and the view to the right of them
11:57:36 More pyramids away to the right of those, as far as the eye can see
Back into the car, and round to the front of the pyramids. I’d almost forgotten the sphinx!
12:16:20 A plain-pillared temple just by the sphinx
12:18:40 Right turn, then up a ramp to a viewing area
12:21:04 The sphinx was originally hewn out of the rock of a hill that obscured the view of the Great Pyramid, but the feet disintegrated and have been reconstructed out of limestone blocks. On the rule of symmetry in Egyptian art, there should be another sphinx at the other end of the pyramids, but one has never been found.
12:22:50 We got caught out again. Some young women who appeared to be tourists took comic poses — then afterwards asked for money!
After we parted company with Mustafa and the driver at the hotel, we cashed a travellers’ cheque at the hotel bank without difficulty. We went back to the street-corner kiosk but it was shut up (it was Friday). We wondered whether the holy day ended after sunset and ventured out again, but it was still shut. Dinner — then back to the room.
[Saturday 11 February 2012]
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