Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Photo Nostalgia = Pyramids of Giza, Egypt (2007)

In August 2007, at the end of my long trek from Greece to Egypt (by land!), I rewarded my labors with a visit to what should be on everyone's bucket list, the Pyramids of Giza. Here are some of my photos from the time, just a day before I began flying home to California.

The Pyramids of Giza are not just popular tourist attractions for Westerners, but also for those in the Arab world (as seen here).

Don't be fooled = this teenage hustler had the balls to say he was an official guide. It was actually laughable. He then begged for "baksheesh" (tip) when I turned him down. The omnipresence of such hustlers makes visiting the pyramids (and other Egyptian sites) almost unbearable.

Giza's east field contains smaller pyramids, which are tombs just like the 3 largest pyramids


The Sphinx is a short walk downhill from the Great Pyramid of Cheops, and is visited through a separate complex (same ticket, I believe)

Photos of the pyramids usually make it appear that the complex is reached via long camel rides. Don't believe the hype.

Scaffolding takes some of the magic out of it...

The Pyramid of Khafre looms behind the Sphinx

Somehow I got invited to pose with these tourists from Yemen. I think they wanted to pose with an American, for the novelty of it. They were a nice bunch, esp. the ones not on their cell phones.

The Sphinx faces apartment buildings in Giza... another thing the brochures don't tell you.



The Great Pyramid

Close-up view of the stones; there are limestone casing stones around the base of the Great Pyramid, but most of the stones are from the surviving core structure.

It's not easy to get tickets to go inside the Great Pyramid (something like 200 people a day are allowed in), and it's quite expensive by Egyptian standards. Still, I had to do it... so here I am, hamming it up at the orders of a baksheesh-loving guard. No mummy in the coffin, by the way... just a dummy sitting on it. :-)

The Great Pyramid is so large, it boggles the mind to imagine its construction 4,500 years ago. No wonder some people think aliens constructed them (seriously!). The Great Pyramid was also the tallest structure in the world until the spire of the Lincoln Cathedral in England was completed... in AD 1300. In other words, it held the record for 3,800 years!

In contrast to the skeletal Great Pyramid, the Pyramid of Khafre still has a cap of the casing stones at the top. This pyramid is actually smaller than the Great Pyramid, but due to its being built upon higher ground, it appears taller.

Here's a close-up of the casing stones at the juncture with the exposed core structure. It's a wonder that gravity hasn't caused the casing stones to collapse...
A day after my visit to the Giza Plateau, I would be on a flight to London, followed by a flight home the next day. To think that people once sailed long distances and rode animals across the desert to see these wonders of the ancient world; I for one can't help but feeling infinitely spoiled. Not that I mind...

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