I love Egypt because it is like walking into a history book – the amount of history is powerful and overwhelming. The myriad of sights are as old as time and a feast for the senses. The moment you arrive in Cairo, a modern but ancient city of 20 million people, one of the first things you notice is the cacophony – people traveling in cars, donkeys pulling carts, people on camels – all traveling on the same road with no signs! In 2005 we took our three kids to Egypt, and now we are thrilled to return on a Windstar cruise in October, 2021.
Everyone visits Cairo to see the iconic Great Pyramids of Giza, located just on the outskirts of Cairo on the esplanade known as the Giza Plateau. The Great Pyramid, also known as Khufu’s Pyramid, is the greatest pyramid of the complex: a truly magnificent sight.
Did you know? The Great Pyramid is one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World and the only one still standing.
When gazing at this colossal structure, there’s no way to escape the feeling of being dwarfed. It is impossible to comprehend the magnitude until you’ve seen it, up close and personal. The features of the Great Pyramid are so large that they can be seen from space. Astronauts have even sent back photos. Perhaps the most amazing thing about the Great Pyramid is what is hidden inside the secret chamber that to this day remains unexplained. (What is it? Come with us to Egypt and find out firsthand!)
Another iconic landmark on the Giza Plateau that you should not miss is the Great Sphinx. It has the facial features of a man and body of a lion. Believed to have been carved during the reign of Pharaoh Khafre, the Great Sphinx protects the tomb. But new studies suggest it is much older that previously thought.
The recently opened New Egyptian Museum is a must, and initial reviews have been amazing. The museum houses King Tut’s treasures and much more.
Alexandria: A love triangle and a gem of a city.
On this upcoming trip, we also get to visit Alexandria, founded by Alexander the Great around 331 B.C. This is where the three-way romance between Julius Caesar, Mark Antony and Cleopatra VII played out. Nicknamed the Pearl of the Mediterranean, Alexandria is the second largest city in Egypt.
One of the best things to do in Alexandria is to visit the new Bibliotheca Alexandrina. This modern rendition of the ancient Great Library of Alexandria is said to have held more knowledge and books than anywhere else in the ancient world.
The ancient library was lost when the city was burnt to the ground by Julius Caesar during the wars with Rome. Scrolls and books were consigned to history while Alexandria fell from grace. However, the city’s reputation as a place for learning has never diminished. It is rumored that the sarcophagus of Alexander himself was taken there.
The Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa and Pompey’s Pillar are on our list to visit as they are within walking distance of each other. According to legend, the catacombs were rediscovered in 1900 when a donkey accidentally fell down the shaft in which dead bodies were once lowered. These are the largest known Roman burial sites in Egypt. The tombs date from the 2nd to the 4th century AD. Unique to Egypt’s ancient world, you can view the catacombs, but photography isn’t allowed inside. You will have to visit for yourself to view this historic site. Pompey’s Pillar is the only known free-standing column in Roman Egypt and one of the largest outside of Rome. The pillar is part of the ruined Temple of Serapis.
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I simply love the Souk District. Get lost amongst the maze of shops and market stalls. Stop and take in the colors and smells of the spices. It is a tantalizing feast for the senses. A cup of refreshing mint tea with sugar is a must!
Alexandria’s citadel, the Citadel of Fort Qaitbay, sits on the exact site of the Lighthouse of Alexandria, another one of the original Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. Several earthquakes destroyed the lighthouse. In the 15th century the area was fortified and the citadel was built. Stones from the Lighthouse have recently been discovered on the sea floor. Plans are in place to build an underwater museum. Yet one more reason for a return trip to Egypt.
There are too many museums and other sites to visit on this trip so I think it will be time to get back to the ship for a cocktail. I’ll watch the sun set over the Mediterranean and the harbor as it did during the time of Cleopatra. Join me, Debbie Horres, October 25 – November 4, 2021, roundtrip Athens, for a truly wonderful small ship experience.