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Europe Cruise Day 23
Tuesday, September 28th
Alexandria, Egypt

Here is the map.

Day 23 Map

Arrival in Alexandria is scheduled for 8:00AM. Time in Egypt is complex due to Ramadan the Muslim holy time. Usually they use the same time as Greece. Here is the current correct time in Egypt from timeanddate.com.

 

I have been to Egypt and Alexandria before. That previous trip was in 2002 just a few weeks later than this. Here is a link to that trip if you want to see more lesattwood.ca/Vacations/vac02web/Octday6.htm . On this trip I decided I wanted to see the pyramids again because I had some strange things happen the day I was there on that last trip. If you want to see what strange things, click on the link above.

The shore excursion I have chosen is called Giza Pyramids, the Sphinx & the Nile in Style. Here is the description.

Drive from Alexandria to Cairo across the desert, learning about Egypt as you travel. It is about three hours to the capital city and, when you arrive, you will proceed to the Pyramids of Giza—the sole survivor among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Step inside one of the pyramids for an interior view of these colossal monuments. Your Egyptologist guide will share fact and fiction with you as you continue to the Sphinx to see this mythical creature crouching on its lion body in the desert. You will have time to browse at a local souvenir shop before proceeding to the River Nile to board a riverboat, where you will dine at one of Egypt’s finest restaurants. After lunch, relax for the motor coach ride back to Alexandria.

This excursion is scheduled to take 12 hours. From the description above you can see that 6 hours of that is just getting to, and back from, Cairo.

The ship is scheduled to sail at 11:00PM so they allow lots of time. They have a sea day scheduled for tomorrow so everyone can recover from the long, mostly boring drive across the Egyptian desert. I visited Alexandria from Cairo in 2002 as you will see if you follow the link above. So, I do know of what I speak, at least on this subject.

On to the final "At Sea" day of the cruise. After that Kusadasi for Ephesus, the final stop before returning to Piraeus and then Athens.

How it actually happened!!!
(written November, 2011)

So, after a long slow trip from Ashdod via Port Said the ship has finally made it to Alexandria.

Today's blog starts out like this......

Day 22 started with the ship docking very early (between 6 and 7AM). I am not sure of the exact time as I was not quite awake yet.

Here are some pictures probably taken after breakfast (I do not remember for sure) but before leaving for Cairo. I should just mention that there were some exposure problems with many of the pictures taken this day so if you see some differences in technical quality from some of the other pages this is why. Most of the problems have been corrected without too much problem but you may still notice some differences. On with the early morning pictures!

Busses 1 Busses 2
Coaches Coaches
Busses 3 Busses 4
and more coaches and even more coaches

The next group of pictures shows the last of the coaches and the area around where the ship was docked in the port Alexandria.

Busses 5 Port 1
And just to make sure, even more coaches. That is it, no more coaches just harbour now.
Port 2 Port 4
More harbour. And some more harbour.
Port 5 Port 6
Somewhere out there is the Mediterranean Sea. There are some dark coloured Egyptian Navy vessels near the centre of this one along with one pretty good sized lighthouse.

The blog continues......

The next major event was an early (8:30AM) departure from the ship at Alexandria for the two and a half hour drive to the pyramids in the Giza area of Cairo.

Here are a few of pictures taken en route to Giza from Alexandria.

To Cairo 2 To Cairo 3
You can enjoy Coke anywhere you are! I think these are for pidgins but I do not remember for sure.
To Cairo 1
One of the newly (at that time) paved parts of the Alexandria to Cairo highway.
The dark blue section across the top was caused by the coaches tinted windscreen.

The blog continues talking about the arrival at the pyramids.........

Arrival there was at approximately 11:15AM.  The weather was the same boring stuff that I have been describing for most of the previous ports of call. It was hazy sun, few (if any) clouds, and a high temperature of around 100F. It was really warm there. This was expected as reports we were getting indicated that the high temperature would be this high.

Here are the pictures of the pyramids.

Pyramids 1 Pyramids 2
The pyramid of Khafra built sometime in the late 2500's BCE. A close up of Khafra's pyramid.
Pyramids 3 Pyramids 4
Khufu's is the greatest and best known of the Giza pyramids, hence its name, the Great Pyramid of Giza.
This one was likely built some 50 or so years earlier than Khafra's.
Khufu was Khafra'a father and Menkaura was Khufu's grandson.
Lots of people, many from my ship.
Pyramids 5 Pyramids 9
A side view of Khafra's pyramid. Another front view of Khafra's pyramid.
It is 215.25 metres along each side and 143.5 metres high.
Pyramids Panorama 1
The Great Pyramid of Giza along with the coach parking area in this panoramic view.
This pyramid is 230.3 metres on each side and 146.6 metres high.
Pyramids 12 Pyramids 13
The city of Giza, which is a suburb of Cairo, which is further off in the distance. More of Khafra's pyramid.
Pyramids 14 Pyramids 15
A corner of Khafra's pyramid and a small subsidiary pyramid. One last view of Khafra's pyramid.
Pyramids Panorama 2
Another panorama of the parking area with the city in the distance.
Pyramids 17 Pyramids 22
Lots of people heading towards Khafra's pyramid. The coach park.
At this point we got on our coach and headed to a viewing area behind the pyramids (relative to where the pictures above were taken from) which I had not been to before.
Pyramids 23 Pyramids 24
This is Menkaure's pyramid taken from the coach heading to the other viewing area. Menkaure was the next king after Khafra so it was likely built sometime, but not too much, later. It is also the smallest of the three major pyramids. The top of Khafra's pyramid taken from the coach.
Pyramids 25 Pyramids 27
I am not sure what this group was about but the first thing one might think of was a safari but I do not really know. The view of the three major pyramids from this other location.
Khufu's (or the Great Pyramid) on the left, Khafra's to the right of it and Menkaure's on the right of the picture.
Pyramids 29
Just to prove I was really there. This was taken by a former teacher named Helen with my camera.
HA Pyramids 1 HA Pyramids 2
And just in case you needed any additional proof I was here, this is a picture taken by one of the
ships photographers who came along on the excursion. I picked this up at the photo gallery the next day.
These were both together on one sheet which I separated for use here.

From this spot we drove back towards the pyramids, by them, and then down the hill to see the Sphinx. Here are some of those pictures.

Sphinx 1 Sphinx 2
Here is one of the first front views of the Sphinx. Here is a closer view with Khafra's pyramid behind.
Sphinx 3 Sphinx 4
Lots and lots of people! An artsy crafty shot.
Sphinx 5 Sphinx 6
This is another spot that I did not get to see last time.
This is as close as the average tourist can get to the Sphinx.
It is 73.5 metres long, 6 metres wide, and 22.22 metres high.
That is 241 feet long, 20 feet wide and 66.34 feet high.
A close up of the face.
Does not look too bad considering it was likely built in approximately 2500 BC. by Khafra who built the middle of the three pyramids on the plateau which is directly behind the sphinx when looking at it straight on (not the one seen here).
Sphinx 7 Sphinx 8
The body. The rock is limestone. The feet or paws if you prefer.
Sphinx 9 Sphinx 10
A profile view of the front. The front and the feet.
Sphinx 11 Sphinx 12
The back end. The Sphinx busily keeping watch over everyone.
Sphinx13 Sphinx 15
The nose is missing.
There are several theories about what happened to it. One story goes that it was removed around 1738 by someone who saw people worshiping it. He was hanged for vandalism.
Here is a close up from the front.
They think there may have been a beard but no one is too sure about that one.
Sphinx 14 Sphinx 16
A straight on view with Khafra's pyramid and the ever persistent tee shirt vendor in the foreground. Lots of people, Menkaure's pyramid, the Sphinx, and Khafra's pyramid.
Sphinx 18 Sphinx 19
One last close up. Here is Menkaure's pyramid, Khafra's Pyramid, the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid all together. The chairs in the foreground are used for the nightly sound and light show held here.

This might be a good place for a couple of general comments I put in my blog entry for this location. Here they are.....

The area around the pyramids is always a busy place. There were probably over 1000 people there just from the Westerdam alone, never mind all the others! This visit was very successful and I did not have any of the problems encountered on my previous visit there. There are still people there offering to take your photo on a camel for a ridiculous price (and not let you down until you pay that ridiculous price) as well as being able to purchase just any other thing or trinket that you can imagine. I managed to avoid all of these problems this time. I guess you can say I learned from my past experience. I can report that the pyramids are still there, and Mr. Sphinx sends his (or hers or its depending on a persons interpretation of whom or what it represents) best regards as well. This trip did go some places in the area around the pyramids that my previous one did not. Except for the heat I can honestly say that this visit was most enjoyable. All in all between the 3 stops around this area I thing we were there about 2 hours.

One last picture of the pyramids taken from the coach window (you can see the reflection) as we left the site.

Pyramids 30

From here excursion headed on to the next stop. From the blog.......

The next stop was the mandatory shopping stop which lasted just over 30 minutes.

I have not included any pictures of the "shopping stop" as it was nothing special other than the fact that they did offer free non-alcoholic drinks to all their customers. They were quite necessary with the heat of this day.

The next group of pictures shows a bit of what the traffic was like in Cairo. Here are a couple of references I made in the blog entry to this starting with the description of the final stop.......

The final stop was lunch on a river boat that took a very short cruise of the river Nile in Cairo. Getting there is half the fun because of the traffic in Cairo. It took almost half an hour.

The traffic in Cairo was its normal continuous chaos. I do not think that there is a rush hour in Cairo; it is just like this all the time. The guide told us that the road system in the city is designed for about 440,000 cars. Currently there are over 4,000,000 and are expecting it to grow to 6,000,000 over the next few years. Major road construction is underway which does not help things any.

Here are the traffic pictures.

Traffic 1 Traffic 2
It took a very long time to get down this street. The dark spot across the top was caused by the tinted coach windscreen. Lot and lots and lots of vehicles!
Traffic 3 Goats 1
They come out of everywhere in Cairo! It does not help the traffic when there is a herd of goats around.
This is not an unusual site in Cairo though.

On to the Nile Cruise. Due to the setup of how one got on the cruise boat I was not able to get a picture of it nor do I remember (if I ever new it) the name of the boat.

The blog comments about the lunch/dinner.......

The food was something less than interesting to me. It was a buffet so I could choose what I liked. There was enough too eat that I liked so all was well. This lunch really did not get going until almost 3:00PM so by the time it was over it was close to 4:30 and time for the two and a half hour drive back to Alexandria and the ship.

I will start with this picture......

Belly Dancer

Some of our lunch/dinner entertainment.
Apparently there was a second dancer while I was outside taking the pictures that follow that was better than this one.

Nile Cruise 1 Nile Cruise 2
Looking south up the Nile river. Looking north down the river.
Nile Cruise 3 Nile Cruise 4
Also looking north. The little boat was a police escort. Looking down the river from a bit further north.
Nile Cruise 5 Nile Cruise 6
Turned around now and looking up river towards the downtown of Cairo. You can see the previously mentioned traffic on the two bridges in this picture. I do not think it was moving much.
Nile Cruise 7 Nile Cruise 8
A bit further south. The square where the Egyptian uprising occurred earlier in 2011 is just to the left of the tallest building here. That tallest building is the Semiramis Intercontinental Hotel. This is the hotel I stayed at in 2002 when I was last here. The square I mentioned is just to the left of the hotel out of this picture.
Nile Cruise 9 Nile Cruise 10
Looking south. There are many Egyptian Government buildings along this side of the river. The tall building with the tower on top is the
Egyptian TV building I think.

As noted above it was about 4:30 before we started back towards Alexandria. The blog continues still talking about traffic and the highway back to Alexandria.......

Things were not too bad once the bus was on the Alexandria Desert Road as the highway is called. Much work has been done along here since I last traveled it seven or eight years ago. The road is still something less than smooth which was a problem for one of the passengers who seemed to be having major motion sickness problems.  There are lots of strange motions created especially when doing 90KPH (or greater as I think the bus was at times). The distance between the two cities is approximately 220K.

Here are some pictures taken during the return to Alexandria.

Return 1 Return 2
The three pyramids faintly in the distance as the coach left Cairo. This place is called the Smart Village that had the Egyptian offices of Microsoft, Oracle, and as you can see here,
Intel amongst others.
Return 3 Return 4
There is those pigeon coops (I think) again. A bit more stylish set of coops here.
Return 5 Return 6
The sun setting, taken from a moving motor coach as it approached Alexandria. A chemical plant of some sort on the outskirts of Alexandria.

The blog concludes this day with this.....

Arrival back at the ship was at approximately 7:20PM so the trip lasted just under 11 hours.

There was some dinner then bed.

Sometime after dinner, but before bed I took these two pictures. they may look the same but they are exposed differently and the light on the lighthouse on the left side is in a different spot in its rotation.

Night 1 Night 2
This cruise ship appeared after the excursions from the Westerdam had left for Cairo this morning. The ship is the Celebrity Equinox.

Now to bed as the blog noted.

Tomorrow is a day "At Sea" as the ship sails north all the way across the eastern Mediterranean to Kusadasi, Turkey and a visit to Ephesus which is the final port of call before the cruise ends in Piraeus on Friday, the 24th and last day of the cruise and day 26 of the trip.

On to Day 24!

Page Created: August 3, 2010
After Trip Update Started: November 14, 2011
After Trip Update Completed: November 15, 2011
Last Updated: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 12:21 PM

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