Sphinx, Great Pyramid, Giza
One Week in Egypt – Pyramids
Egypt Air wouldn’t be my first choice for air travel, but they did get us safely from New York to Cairo on a 10.5 hour flight. The plane was older with remote controls tethered to the tv screen. My tray table was completely missing, so I ate meals from my lap. Hmmm. Gate1 Travel picked us up at the airport and took us to the Cairo Marriott, which was a nice hotel. Gate1 Travel has wonderful buses with wifi on board. After visiting a site, it’s always nice to return to the bus and post pictures.
Giza Pyramids, Tourist Carriage
Our first excursion, early the next morning, was a visit the the pyramids. The early morning crowds were shocking. I counted more than 100 tour buses and I couldn’t even see them all. Many tourists were paying the small fee to climb the narrow passage inside the great pyramid to see the burial chamber. All that remains in the chamber is one empty stone sarcophagus.
Next it was on to the far side of the pyramids where hundreds of camels were waiting to take tourists on a short camel ride to the classic viewpoint where the 3 pyramids line up nicely for photos. All I could think of was that I wished I’d chosen to go hiking in the solitude of Switzerland instead of the tourist carnival in Egypt.
Great Pyramid Tourist Carriage
Advice for Dealing with Vendors
The important thing to remember about vendors invading your personal space is that they are trying their best to make a living by selling you something. You can make eye contact with them and politely say no for starters. If you don’t look at the items for sale, they will quickly move on. But if you show interest in anything, they will immediately up the pressure on you. If you touch an item, you have indicated a willingness to bargain and it will become difficult to refuse to buy something at this point.
When someone offers to take your picture, they expect to be paid. Once they have your camera, they won’t give it back until you give them a tip. Often they will show “official” ID to make you feel more comfortable before you become indebted for a tip. Just remember that nothing is free. If you want a local to take your pic, negotiate the tip first and have fun!
Many items cost around $5 and statues may look authentic, but they are formed in plastic. A recent selling technique in Egypt is to offer everything for $1, but when you show interest, it turns out that’s the price to look or to take a picture of the item. Many tourists try to bargain hard for the best deal, but if you understand how badly they need the sale, you realize you are being kind if you don’t bargain hard. Enjoy the chaos and leave some money behind.