We left our hostel just after half 7 with what we thought was plenty of time to cross Cairo and travel the 7km to Giza, unfortunately we had vastly miscalculated Cairo traffic so we arrived at the gates at about half past 8. The gates having been open for half an hour already meant that half a dozen tour groups had beaten us through the gates.
Not wanting to be surrounded by a couple of hundred camera wielding Asians by the Great Pyramid we instead made our way to the quieter Sphinx, the impressive, human headed beast.
Again in keeping with our theme of trying to stay away from the crowds we circumnavigated the Pyramid of Khafre (the second largest tomb) and walked to the Pyramid of Menkaure (the smallest of the three main tombs). On the far side of this tomb are three smaller ‘Queens Tombs’ and a couples of hundred metres further on Emily and I walked to an unofficial viewing platform which gave us a view of all three pyramids in a row in one frame. The view was certainly worth the hot walk across to it.
We decided to return to the hubbub and made our way back across the sand, back past thee Tomb of Menkaure, round the other two sides of the Tomb of Khafre and back to the Great Pyramid of Khufu. We had earlier paid for entry to the tomb so made our way up a short flight of stairs to the entrance. Initially inside it was cool as there was a slight breeze but as we climbed further inside, through claustrophobic tunnels (thankfully neither of us is afraid of small spaces) it got hotter and hotter, by the time we reached the burial chamber we both had a sheen of sweat coating us. When climbing through the tunnels I was very glad I wasn’t 6 foot tall as some sections were extremely low. The whole time I couldn’t help think what an incredible feet of engineering it was and so much effort just for one person’s resting place. Truly remarkable.
After leaving the site we caught a white, vintage, VW minibus to the metro and then boarded Cairo’s version of the London Underground. Unfortunately we hadn’t seen the signs before boarding but it took me less than one stop to realise I was on an all female carriage. Not wanting to make a scene and as I was already in a corner I made sure I wasn’t bumping into anyone. 5 stops later I was very relieved to get off. Nobody seemed to mind that I was there but I just felt uncomfortable. It had taken Emily a lot longer to realise that the carriages were segregated too. I guessed it was because on a busy train they don’t want random men pushed up against Muslim women.
After lunch I decided to go on a hunt for the Sudanese Embassy, I had read that the Cairo Embassy gave pout visas reasonably easily whereas the London one doesn’t. So wanting to save time and effort in the future I trekked across the river into another part of the city, after nearly an hours walking I arrived and was told they weren’t issuing visas this afternoon, come back tomorrow. On the journey back to the hostel I shortened the time by getting the metro, this time I was in the correct carriage which was very very hot and smelly.
For dinner we decided to chance our hands at Egyptian fast food. Emily went for a ‘safe’ omelette and some onion, breadcrumb thing and I went for a mixed meat plate with chips. My meat was done brilliantly and all 3 types had different flavours, Emily’s onion breadcrumb things were good but her omelette was virtually swimming in oil, not quite how we make them in the UK. Despite a couple of slight mishaps another great fun day.