As the Marketing Manager of Freetime Tours I was asked to participate in the One Day Flight to Egypt which I accepted with the grace it was given. Egypt and its wonders have always appealed so I was excited to finally be offered the opportunity to go. The day started early. Pick up from the hotel at 06.15am. A representative from Sea Island accompanied the coach from the hotel to the airport and assisted with the check-in procedure. As we were without luggage the check in was quick and easy. The flight Boeing 767 with Eurocypria Airlines departed from Paphos International airport at 8:30 am breakfast was served, which was surprisingly good and consisted of a tasty sandwich, drink and a well needed cup of coffee. The flight duration was only one hour. On arrival at Cairo airport we were all given stickers with the number of our coach. "Just in case I forgot", and escorted through the hustle and bustle of an Arabic airport. Very well organized and again hassle free. Our coach was well air-conditioned, comfortable. Refreshments were available in a cool box water, fizzy drinks and juice, available at an additional charge. My main concern was lack of toilet facilities during the trip; however I was again pleasantly surprised that the coach had a on-board loo. A clean one too!!!! Irina our guide introduced herself. Good English and very knowledgeable, professional Egyptologist guide. Her extensive knowledge of all aspects of the Egyptian culture, politics, and history was exceptional. Driving from Cairo Airport to the Pyramids of Giza we passed through Heliopolis, the most exclusive area of Cairo, passing the amazing city of the dead which resembles a dilapidated shanty town. Miles upon miles of tombs and mosques.
Our first stop was at the Giza Plateau located 12 Kilometers from Cairo. Built during the reign of Khufu between 2551 and 252BC The Great Pyramid was almost certainly conceived as a funerary monument for the pharaohs burial. It is estimated that the pyramid was built over the course of 20 years, with 100,000 men working in three-monthly shifts. The great Pyramid was the world's tallest building ever constructed until the construction of the Eiffel Tower in 1889. The height of the pyramid is a mere 146.59 meters height. The volume 2,700,000 cubic meters and approximately 2,500,000 blocks strong weighing on average 2,500kg each. Seeing is believing. Plenty of time is given for exploring the plateau, haggling with the locals, an optional camel ride and also the opportunity to step inside the Great Pyramid exploring the narrow passages leading to the burial room. Great photo opportunities. Five minutes drive from the Pyramids is the Sphinx. This monument was sculpted in the living limestone of the plateau. Body of a lion representing strength and the head of a human representing wisdom. Although crowded with visitors I was able to walk inside the chamber and marvel at this awesome statue. Standing 20 meters from the statue enabled me to take some fabulous photos.
After so much excitement is was time for a welcome lunch. I was initially worried about the hygiene standards and was not completely sure what to except for lunch. My mind was put to rest when we stepped inside the Meriden 5 Star hotel. The food was a gastronomical delight dishes upon dishes of local spiced food as well as international cuisine, chicken, lamb, rice, potatoes, dips, salads and much more. Coffee, water and soft drinks were included in the meal. The choice of desserts where also incredible. Buffets are a great option. I was able to eat as much as I could!!!! and as many non calorie desserts!!!! Next stop the Papyrus institute. Very informative. With a 5 minute demonstration on papyrus paper is made. Papyrus is the oldest paper in the world.
Time is given to explore the small bazaar and purchase beautiful hand painted papyrus. Here I also purchased a gold catush. A 18 carat gold pendant with my name beautifully inscribed in Hieroglyphics. These can be purchased in either silver starting from EUR€22.00 or in gold from EUR€105.00 Museum. For me this was most defiantly the highlight of the day. Plenty of time was allowed to explore. The museum although 2 days would be ideal to fully appreciate all the treasure within the Cairo museum during the 2 hours spend I saw a mind boggling display of ancient artifacts and of course the famous treasures and burial mask of King Tutankhamen. For an additional CYP7 per person guests can visit the mummification room, home to the mummies of King Remises II and Queen Nefatiti. Definitely not for the faint hearted but really worth the visit.
Back on the coach and off to the banks of the River Nile for a luxury cruise. Again a scrumptious well presented meal is served. Drinks are additional and imported alcohol is very expensive. A local folklore show including belly dancing, a whirling dervish, 16 piece drum band and traditional Arabic music. Final stop of the day is at the Sauk. A traditional Egyptian bazaar where an hour Freetime is given to explore the market stalls overflowing with traditional sweets, trinkets, souvenirs, hubble bubble pipes, belly dancing costumes, Fragrant spices, silks, and much more.
23.00hrs return to Cairo airport, laden down with gifts and souvenirs plus a head full of memories of
an ancient land steeped in history and culture. Where the Egyptians greet you with smiles and warm
hospitality. An experience that I would recommend to all ages. A truly once in a life time
Rachael K. (June 2004).