TRAVEL THERE: DON’T LET GIZA BE YOUR ONLY PYRAMID EXPERIENCE
If you go to Egypt, you’ve got to see the Pyramids, but don’t stay in some Cairo hotel and take a day trip to the Giza Plateau. Get out of the city and stay at the Mena House. Someday, hopefully, they’ll finish the new museum that is supposed to replace the antiquated Cairo Museum and doing it this way will make even more sense. But even if they never finish the museum (a distinct possibility given the tomorrow/bokrah mentality) you don’t want to be just another tourist. There’s more to the Pyramids than you see at Giza.
A Tourist Trap to Avoid
Before I go into what you should see, let me steer you away from the Light and Sound Show. I had been warned, but back in 1996, the Luxor Temple Sound and Light Show was one of the highlights of my trip. The stunning display was interesting and entertaining. Chances are that in 1996 the Pyramid Sound & Light Show was pretty amazing, too, but it’s not anymore.
There’s a huge outdoor theater which would seat hundreds of people, suggesting the show was once a really popular attraction, but I’d be surprised if there were 50 people at the performance we attended. What’s more, the parking lot and entry were right next to a spot used as a toilet by the local camel population. You need to be careful where you step and the smell will bowl you over.
I had threatened to enjoy the performance from my balcony at the Mena House, but wasn’t sure if I could see it from there. It really doesn’t matter whether I could see it or not. The balcony would have been a better choice.
You Will Go to Giza First – and You WILL Like It or ELSE
Egyptians don’t see their country the way we do. I had great difficulty convincing my nephew that I really did want him to schedule our guide to visit Dashour and Saquara. Having already seen Giza, I really didn’t want to waste my time there, but skipping it altogether was not to be allowed. What’s more my excellent guide, Zuzu insisted we had to start the day there.
My nephew and his friend had toured with Zuzu the day before and warned us that he was a little, shall we say, stubborn. With Steven and John, the main problem was that he was going to give them all the information they paid for whether they wanted it or not. I didn’t see that being a problem for me. I challenge any guide to tell me more than I wanted to know about what I’m seeing. However, Zuzu was a little stubborn in other ways, too.
When we got in the car to begin our day, I explained how I had already been to Giza before and I preferred to start at Dashour. Zuzu said we would get to Dashour, but we’d start at Giza. I tried several approaches to convince him I was the customer and he should do it my way, but whatever tack I used, he wasn’t going for it. I didn’t want to be that Ugly American, so content in the knowledge we would get to all three pyramid locations, I decided to sit back and enjoy the tour.
The Solar Boat Museum
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go to the Giza Plateau at all, because my previous unorthodox tour had not included the Solar Boat Museum and I wanted to see it. I just didn’t want to waste time stomping around the Pyramids and the Sphinx, if it meant I’d miss out on Dashour and Saqqara.
Well, we did stomp around the Pyramids and the Sphinx. And guess what, they looked just like they did last time we were there. Granted Zuzu provided more background information than I got from Ahab’s guides, but after a lifetime of watching shows about Egyptian archaeology, Zuzu didn’t have much to add that I hadn’t already learned from Zahi Hawass and Giorgio A. Tsoukalos .
The Solar Boat Museum is fascinating, but they make you wear these awful shoe covers and pictures are not allowed. The boat was buried in the sand somewhere around 2500 BC. It had been disassembled before burial and the pieces were intact when it was found in 1954. It was painstakingly reconstructed over a number of years and then in 1985, the Egyptians built the museum to show off the treasure. Don’t miss it if you visit the Pyramids.
My Giza duties fulfilled, Zuzu let Izzat take us to Dashour. Come back next week and enjoy that part of our day. In the meantime, here’s a video of our visit to the Pyramids.