In the land of the Pharaohs dozens of coaches were already waiting in Alexandria for the arrival of the passengers. On the buildings at the terminal Egyptian soldiers stood with machine guns and at the bottom of the pier there was a group of musicians, who greeted us with loud trumpets and drumming. It was 7:00 clock in the morning. Far and wide on the horizon you could see just skyscrapers. The green of the palm trees and the Beige skyscrapers influenced my first impression of Egypt.
The excursions of MSC were all booked. You could book different tours in Alexandria and Cairo. Nobody wanted to to walk the roads here in Egypt. The cruise terminal is located far away from the town center and you should definitely book an organized shore excursion. Here MSC offers the following excursions:
We booked a trip to see Giza, Sakkara and Memphis. In addition, the tour also included a visit of Ramses II., a lunch at the Movenpick Hotel, as well as visiting a museum incl. production of Papyrus. Just 12 hours had been scheduled for the trip. The bus ride to Giza took about 3.5 hours. A bus ride to Alexandria would however have only lasted 30-40 minutes. But since we were in Egypt, then of course we had to see the pyramids! Our way through Alexandria and Cairo, extended our range of first impressions. The whole country looked dull, broken and lonely. From the windows of the bus, we saw houses without windows, hundreds of stones by the wayside, retailers who offered their goods on sheets on the ground or out of the car.
First the bus took us to Saqqara, 20km south of Cairo, to the Step Pyramid of Djoser. The pyramid has 6 steps and is about 60 meters high. But first you have to walk through a huge gate with several colonnades. We were very impressed. The long journey had definitely been worth it.
From a distance we could already see the Great Pyramids of Giza! What an admirable sight on the horizon …
The next stop was Memphis. Again, there were men with machine guns guarding the entrance to the ruins of Ptah. Walls enclosed the grounds. Our tour guide took us through and waiting for us inside were the first small Sphinx and the 10.5 meter long statue of Ramses II.
We knew that it would be better to take only boiled or fried foods in Egypt, so we tried to avoid salad and fruit. The food was beautifully presented and there was bottled water. We were able to visit the premises and exchange ideas about the recent impressions. For me, every Sphinx, each pyramid and each statue was a small wonder of the world.
On the drive to Giza we saw more of the country and people of Egypt. Life takes place here in the streets where the trade and the daily exchange of news takes place.
Finally, we saw before us the 3 Pyramids of Giza. The sight was quite different than we had expected. The pyramids are just on the outskirts. In the distance one sees skyscrapers, cars and dealers. In front of the pyramids, there are an infinite number of souvenir sellers who seem to speak every language and try to sell you a mini-pyramid. Of course, besides there are also the keepers of camels, here you can ride on a camel, if you want to complete the Egyptian experience. However, we skipped that. You can walk the grounds around the pyramids freely and so you can look for nice, quiet places where you can take pictures undisturbed and enjoy the moments on your own.
After the visit we went back to the bus for our last stop: A museum and papyrus production. The bus stopped, we all got out and went inside the museum. Of course, we were supposed to buy pictures of papyrus here. However, we were rather not keen to buy anything, but to observe the production of papyrus:
After we had seen enough, we went into the fresh air and wanted to get back on the bus. Unfortunately, far and wide no buses were to be seen. Apparently the bus was to come again when the shopping time in the Papyrus Museum was over …. Well, so we waited just outside next to the main road, until half of the people had left the store with a new papyrus picture.
When we were back on the road, we were all very tired and exhausted. We’d been on the road for nine hours and we were looking forward to dinner on the MSC Fantasia. We were overwhelmed by impressions of the Egyptian culture, the sights and the fact that we were able now to delete a wonder of the world from our list! The trip was definitely worth it and we often indulge in memories, but again we probably would not get on the road to Cairo again … This day will remain forever in our memories … And as a reminder, of course, serve us well our postcards and bookmarks of papyrus, which we acquired at the Pyramids of Giza.