At the age of 11, I unexpectedly went on holidays to Zambia with my sister and parents. On the way back, we made a stop-over in Egypt. And although I have travelled a lot ever since, I never returned to Egypt ever after until recently. We obviously visited the pyramids near Cairo, and then went to the South, to Luxor. There, we rented bicycles, and cycled around the area. I clearly remember how impressed I was, when I saw the huge temples and statues, and how mystified I was by the inscriptions to be found everywhere. We also visited the National Museum in Cairo, from which I only remember the endless amount of items on display, and the feeling I had that I was seeing something of incredible importance without the ability to grasp its actual meaning, its links with other cultures, the shrewdness of the ancient Egyptians.
Finally, I had the chance to revisit the pyramids recently. I wondered what memories would come back to me, confronted with whatever I had still in my mind about that first visit as a small boy so many years ago. In my memory, we had to travel outside Cairo, on a dusty road, and the pyramids were deserted. In reality, at one moment the sight of the top of the highest pyramid, of which the base was completely concealed by buildings, was a surprise to me. Instead of driving us directly to the pyramids, the driver wanted us to stop at little shops, and also wanted us to take a camel ride to see these wonders of ancient times. But the real hassle started once inside (an asphalted road leads all around the pyramids from where they are all in easy walking distance). Camel drivers attack you at all times, and no matter how you react (saying no politely, saying no unpolitely, ignoring them, or even walking somewhere else), they don't stop to bother you. Yes, after some time they stop, but you never have to wait more than a few minutes for the next one to haunt you.
And I must say, that this really spoilt the experience of the visit to a large extent. Gone are the days in which you could truly admire the beauty of the place, the tranquillity, the silence, and let yourself be soaked by the overwhelming feeling of ancientness. Instead o focusing on the main attraction of the pyramids, you have to try to get rid of this human kind of pestering flies all the time. Also, it is not possible anymore to climb a pyramid, while my memory tried to convince me that I actually climbed one of them. If anything, this place to me remains an outstanding example both of almost extreme ancientness, as well as an extreme tourist trap.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Pyramids of Gizeh (Egypt). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Pyramids of Gizeh.
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