Days 1 + 2 – The trip started out as a very rainy day at London, Heathrow. I ended up sitting next to someone on my tour, which was nice. Met the rest of the group at baggage claim in Cairo, and went to our hotel, the Steigenberger Pyramids. I didn’t realize it that night, but it is right across the road from the new Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), and it is massive!! Still no firm date on when the GEM will actually open…
First stop was the Giza Plateau. Walked past the Great Pyramid of Khufu to get to the less visited, smaller pyramids and mastabas. I never realized how many mastabas there were on the plateau. The pyramids tend to overwhelm everything else in the area.
The mastabas of Qar and Idu were the first ones we visited, and are in the Eastern Cemetery. They were a father and son (not sure which is which) who were priests of the cult of Pharaoh Khufu, two dynasties after his death, during the reign of Pepi I.
Next, the tomb of Meres Ankh III, daughter of Hetepheres. This had some amazing color, and is the only tomb on the plateau to feature statues of all women.
After the cemetery, we drove to the Pyramids observation point. Then, it was off to the Sphinx. I had never seen it from this angle before. You can still see the traces of paint on the Nemes headdress.
We had a short stop back at the hotel for a snack and a drink, then it was on to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization (NMEC). It is an absolutely beautiful museum. They moved all of the royal mummies from the Egyptian Museum in Tahir Square to the NMEC during a massive parade. The mummy hall is a huge step up from the old room. It is meant to mimic a tomb, with black stone walls, and there is information about each mummy, some with their sarcophagus. No pictures allowed.
Upstairs, the exhibits start on the right with Egyptian prehistory, and go all the way around to modern Arabic times.
There were some really cool models. My favorite was the three-story apartment building. It had waves in the brick walls to help it withstand an earthquake. This was in 332 BC. That’s BC!!! The shabtis from the tomb of Sennedjem were really colorful. I’ve never seen shabtis like that before. Also, a really cool astrolabe. Outside the museum, there is a really nice view of the Citadel of Saladin.
Had dinner with some of the group back at the hotel, and capped off the night with some of my favorite desserts!