All I could think as the bus pulled away from the ship was, “I’m really here … really in Africa … really on my way to the only remaining wonder of the ancient world.”
You guessed it, today we’re in Egypt! Alexandria is a three-hour bus ride from Cairo and I knew that, like Jerusalem, I’d have to set up a crew tour. Forty crew members piled onto the bus this morning to make the trip to see the truly amazing Pyramids of Giza.
After a largely uneventful and quiet bus ride, we arrived in Cairo. I had envisioned a very Lawrence of Arabia-esque approach through the open desert to the Great Pyramid of Giza. Not so, it would seem. The Pyramids are basically right on the outskirts of the city of Cairo! We could even see a KFC/Pizza Hut from the pyramids … more on that later.
Anyway, urban sprawl notwithstanding, the three pyramids at Giza are truly remarkable. They were built thousands of years before Christ and yet they are so large and perfectly built. I am told that these are the only “perfect” pyramids in Egypt. All of the others were left unfinished because the Pharaoh died before they were finished. The Great Pyramid of Giza was originally totally smooth because it was covered with slabs of white limestone and had a sold gold cap at the top. It currently stands in a more humble condition, but remains impressive.
After our visit to the base of the pyramids we drove to the scenic overlook to see the postcard view of all three pyramids. This was also where many crew members took the opportunity to ride a camel.
Our last stop of significance was just down the hill a little bit at the Sphinx. The Sphinx was built to serve as a guardian for the three pyramids. It has the head of a human for intelligence and the body of a lion for strength. Honestly, it’s a little smaller in real life than you might imagine, but impressive all the same.
After some pictures it was off to a long-awaited local lunch.
The bus took us to a quintessentially Egyptian food outlet. Falafel? No. Shawarma? No. KFC/ Pizza Hut? Yes. Remember that KFC I told you about … well that was lunch! I must say it was quite something to enjoy the Colonel’s recipe in the shadow of the only remaining wonder of the ancient world. Then it was off to buy some souvenirs and back to the ship.
I will say that our tour was a rather abbreviated version than we offer the guests. It’s tough for our crew to take such a long time away from the ship and this tour was almost nine hours long! Many of the guests’ tours are at least 10 to 13 hours long. In fact we don’t leave Alexandria until 11 p.m.!
The best part about this tour for me is that it’s a grand send off! That’s right, it’s vacation time. I’ll be signing off in Piraeus, Greece, the day after tomorrow.
I have a saying about working on a cruise ship: “Every day is Wednesday.” Because not a day goes by that you aren’t working. Admittedly some days are less productive than others, but generally the saying holds true.
Well, after 140 Wednesdays, the weekend is finally here! See you out there!
Anthony Garofalo is Rotterdam’s crew purser.