Wednesday, 10 June 2015

A Gypsy's Rendezvous With The Land Of Pharaohs...

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This post has been declared as a WEEKLY WINNER by India's leading journalist, Mr. Vir Sanghvi and Blogmint, in association with #BloggerDreamTeam. :)

It was like a midsummer's dream. It was like a sparkle in the sand.
Certainly not an illusion. Most definitely, a mirage-like exception.

It was the summer of adventure. An exploration dating back to circa 2010. An excursion, which took us to another continent altogether.

Surprised? We were too. For, it was our first venture to a land across the seas and to a settlement on the banks of River Nile.

For the uninitiated, we planned to visit the land of the Pyramids, the Pharaoh, the Sphinx and the Phoenix, which had risen from the ashes.

That one week in April had been set aside just for that. A week of wanderlust to the picturesque Egypt - the capital city and the largest city, Cairo, the second largest city, Alexandria and the third largest city, Giza.

What made us plan a trip to Egypt was an international assignment that had been offered to the better half. Nevertheless, he prompted me to tag along too. :)

We decided to put up in Cairo, and our first day-trip was to Alexandria.

It was a three-hour journey, one way - spanning approximately 220 kilometers. Alexandria is located on the coast of the shimmering blue Mediterranean Sea and is thus aptly referred to, as the Pearl of the Mediterranean.

The credit for its foundation goes to the Roman emperor, Alexander The Great, and thus the coining of its name also.

We were greeted by the first glimpse of the coveted Lighthouse of Alexandria, which was once known as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

In the distance, we spotted this magnificent beauty, draped in yellow, surrounded by hues of grey and blue. 

Standing solitary, yet standing tall, 
Braving it all, come what may. 

With the gorgeous skyline of Alexandria to one side,
And the hustle-bustle of euphoric tourists to the other.

With white yachts occupying its vicinity,
The sporty Welcome to the Mantazan Water Sports Complex calls out.

Spot the myriad hues of azure, 
Topaz, turquoise, refreshing blue. 

Awed by the tilted rocks saying, 
Say Hi to our cousins at Marine Drive! :) 

Spot some people fishing, 
Reeling in their glorious catch. 

Relaxing under the cool shade, 
From one of the umbrella canopies.  

Then, was the time to bid adieu to this erstwhile Wonder of the World, for on the way back, we were to be greeted by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, an architectural gem, created by Alexander's successor, Ptolemy, which is famous for having been burned down during Caesar's conquest of Alexandria. 

On the other side of the road, we had this white marble statue waiting for us. 

And, a close-up shot told me of all the brunt it had borne, over millennia. For, it is not as white as it seems to the eye, from a distance. 

The cracks and crevices, the worn-off paint and plaster - were all gestural to the fact that Alexandria's heritage had witnessed a lot many gory events too. 

We decided to return to Cairo for the day, with the memoir of Alexandria in our grasp, to cherish for posterity. 

While the better half was at his assignment, I decided to explore Cairo and one of its biggest shopping malls - CityStars

The view from outside the hotel room itself was as humble as it could be. A stark reminder of the co-existence of common folk lifestyle and its luxurious twin

I spotted this donkey whiling away its time, tied to its cart, perhaps waiting for someone to free it soon. 

The next day, I was to witness the biggest mall I have ever been to, in my life. 

CityStars, Cairo. 

It is HUGE. :) 

I found these kiddish mannequins outside a clothing store to be very cute. 

The boy, in orange, on the right. Doesn't he seem to strike a pose? :) 

Here's what I bought myself, as some memorabilia from Cairo

A beetle rendered in silver, shaped as a pendant, and a silver bracelet with aesthetic green and blue flowers. 

And, once I came back to our hotel, we decided to visit one of the fine dining restaurants in the premises. 

Apart from the authentic delicacies such as Kosheri, made of rice, macaroni and lentils, which is also the national dish of the country, Ful Mudammas, made of beans and cumin, and Falafel along with Pita bread, we were also greeted by such exquisite carvings, beautifying one of the walls of the venue. 

A pleasant surprise, this, when Queen Cleopatra and King Tutankhamun came to invite us for our next day trip! 


Have a look. 

Not in person. But, these desktop idols at the reception did seem welcoming. :) 

It would not take you long to figure that the next day-trip was to Giza, though. 

Giza, its Pyramids, and the Sphinx are famous as the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Hence, a visit to Giza was not to be missed, at any cost. 

Unlike Alexandria, which lies at a great distance from the capital city, Giza is situated at an approximate distance of twenty kilometers, which equates to a half-hour long one-way journey. 

Welcoming us, was the first glimpse of this ancient heritage, from afar. 

With The Cheops to the left, 
And The Chephren to the right. 

Shimmering in the bright sun, 
Glorifying the ancient land. 

Solidarity in solitude, 
Brick by brick. 

Standing the test of time,
The only one to remain largely intact. 

The Pyramid of Cheops is also known to the locals as the Pyramid of Khufu. They say that it is the oldest and the largest of all the Pyramids in the complex. It was built as a tomb for Pharaoh Khufu. It is also said that it remained the tallest man-made structure for over 3,000 years! 

The Pyramid of Chephren is known as the Pyramid of Khafre, locally. Though it is smaller than the Cheops, the bedrock at its base is higher than that of the Cheops, and thus the Pyramid of Khafre appears taller! 

We even took a brief horse ride, like the one which is visible in the backdrop. :) 

We had the option of even entering the Pyramid of Khufu, by testing the waters with a mock setup, beforehand. How interesting and thrilling it would be! We however, decided to let go of it, due to the paucity of time, as the tour of the entire Pyramid was stated to be two-and-a-half hours long. 
This adventure was priced at a good 100 Egyptian Dollars, back then. 

Waiting for us, with its head held high, was another archeological marvel, though. 

Like a Phoenix which had risen from the ashes, 
The Sphinx stands testimony to this grandeur. 

Half man, half feline, 
Like an unexplored chapter from the scrolls of mythology. 

An androsphinx in Egyptian ideology, 
With the body of a lion, but the head of a man. 

Guarding the Necropolis, 
Watching over the treasures of Giza. 

As we decided to bid adieu to this astonishing wonder, we were yet again presented with a sight to remember. On our way back, we spotted the Pyramid of Menkaure. It is the third largest, after the Pyramids of Khufu and Khafre. 

With that, we bid farewell to the sun, the sands and the heritage of Giza. The Nile provides this city and the country of Egypt its serenity. The flow of the calm water is reflected in the simple lifestyle of its civilians. :) 

Egypt is a dream destination, as a country, for all the people looking for their ultimate wanderlust experience. I personally feel that it is one of the less-explored tourist destinations. 

For us, it has been an unforgettable experience as travelers, Egypt has provided us with one of our most elaborate travel stories, to narrate to our nears and dears. :) 


This post has been written for #BloggerDreamTeam, a campaign which aims to bring to the masses, the best of both worlds - Travel and Blogging, with the grandeur of the Food and Travel Carnival in the cyberspace.

The campaign also attempts to showcase the prowess of the best bloggers in the nation by presenting their posts to ace food and travel influencer in India - Mr. Vir Sanghvi - who will make his choice regarding the 'Vir Endorsed Blogging Eleven',  to form his #BloggerDreamTeam. 


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