Visit the Pyramids at Giza from Cyprus.
Ayia Napa, Cyprus
In the year 2000 we went on holiday to Ayia Napa in Cyprus. The nightlife resort of the island. It has hundreds of pubs and clubs and is one of the most popular and certainly loudest resorts in the Mediterranean. If you are in your early twenties then I can thoroughly recommend this resort. It is fun, fun and more fun till the late hours of the morning.
It is usually quieter in the afternoons as all the young folk are still in bed from the night before. One of the best beaches is Nissi beach, white sands and crystal clear blue sea. You could only describe it as gorgeous.
It was on our way back from Nissi beach when we saw a poster about a two-day cruise to Egypt. We went in to the shop, a local travel agent and booked for the next weekend. I think it was around £150 for three of us. I couldn't wait. We were going to see the pyramids.
The Salamis Glory
It was Monday afternoon when the coach came to pick us up from the travel agents. The agent had some good news for us. Somehow he had managed to get us a free upgrade and so we had an outside room with a porthole. We set off to the port of Limassol to embark on our trip of a lifetime. As we approached the harbour, we could see a couple of cruise ships in port and I thought to myself " Wow, I wish we going on one of them". We had to go through Passport control and then on to our ship the Salamis Glory. It was one of them, Yippee.
The ship left port at 2:30pm and slowly the island of Cyprus became a distant speck on the horizon. We went to our room and I was quite surprised. It had a double bed and a sofa bed and berth; it also had ensuite with a bath and a shower. Walking around the corridors was like walking in a maze; thank God they had put up signs. We went into the lounge bar, where we were treated to a comedian and a cabaret show. I think (if I remember right) they even managed to throw in a game of bingo. I kept away from the Casino.
Then off to bed. It was the loudest room I have ever been in. Our room was at sea level; I could tell that by the way the sea was washing up against the porthole. It sounded like we were in a washing machine, but eventually we managed to get some sleep. The next morning, we were treated to our breakfast in dining room. We were shown to our table with its appointed waiter and treated to a feast of food. Every kind of breakfast was available, from toast and cereals to a full English or a continental breakfast.
Then a sense of excitement as we look out and cast our eyes on Africa for the first time. We are approaching the Port Said, at the entrance to the Suez Canal. Before we disembark, we are given a packed lunch and plenty of water each and then down the gangplank we go.
The ship is too large to berth alongside the harbour wall so a floating pontoon is sent to us. It's a weird feeling as you walk across it because people are pulling along side in little boats and dinghys trying to sell you souvenirs, shouting, "You buy, you buy". Through immigration and then outside on to the street. We were met with the most amazing sight as hundreds of hawkers try to flog their wares. "Hey Jimmy and Asda price" were shouted from the sellers.
A long line of coaches were parked on the street, each with it's own tour guide. We found our coach and quickly got on board. We had a police escort to clear the traffic in front of us as we sped out of the city. A convoy sped across the desert along side the Suez Canal until about three hours later; we came to the outskirts of Cairo.
Cairo can be daunting. One of the most populace cities on earth, crowded and noisy. It looks like utter chaos, with manned army guard towers every two hundred yards along the road. Mile upon mile of unfinished buildings and the Nile River strewn with rubbish and litter. Apparently if they ever finish building a structure then the owners will have to pay taxes, consequently they remain unfinished.
At last we arrive at the Egyptian Museum (the formal name is the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities) and utter chaos. The moment we step from the coach we are mobbed by street sellers, I ended up buying ten sheets of drawings on papyrus but the scoundrel conned me by only giving nine. Eventually we managed to get in the museum and peace was restored.
Our tour guide from the bus took us around, she held up a large green card so that people could find her. At that time we were allowed to take photographs of the exhibits but without the flash, so hardly any of them turned out well. We were still on 35mm film back then, not like the sophisticated digital ones nowadays. To say that we were a little bit rushed is an understatement. We flew around but then I came to a sudden stop.
We had entered the room of the Tutankhamun treasures and there before me stood the burial mask. I remembered back to when I was a kid and the national newspapers displayed this on their front pages in full colour. It was because the exhibition was on a world tour and in 1972; it arrived in London at the British Museum. I had that picture of the mask, burned in my memory from that day, a bit like when my dad got us out of bed in the early hours of the morning on July 21st 1969 to watch Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. Unforgettable moments in time.
Meanwhile, back at the museum. I really took my time in that room. No cameras allowed now. Only two words come to mind 'Bloody great'.
Back outside and onto the coaches. I thought we would be on the coach for ages because the pyramids are out in the middle of the desert aren't they. No, I was looking out of the windows at the people on the streets when I suddenly saw a pointed shape over the rooftops. We drove along at a steady pace when the shape got bigger. It actually took me a few minutes before I could believe what I was seeing. The Egyptians have built right up to the pyramids and suddenly we were there.
The coach pulled over and off we went. "You have thirty minutes everyone,” shouted the guide.
There in front of us stood the mighty Sphinx with the pyramids in the background. It took your breath away. I had seen it so many times on television but now it was there in front of me.
The Great Pyramids
Our thirty minutes were up and we were back on the coach. We drove around the Sphinx for about five minutes and the we were there. We disembarked "You have one hour" the guide shouted. The last remaining wonder of the ancient world.
I can't really describe the emotions I was feeling. It's like nothing I'd ever felt before. Humbled, overawed, excited. I don't know. Its like, when you have seen some place on television and it looks huge but when you see it in real life it doesn't look as good, no where near as big and mighty. Well this was the opposite, beyond expectations. The pyramids are massive, huge, gigantic, and absolutely fantastic.
Each brick is huge, I climbed up one level and just stood there, looking around in awe. Then we walked around. It was heaving with people. We were warned not to go on the camel rides as they may take you out into the desert, and then demand more money off you before they would take you back. We kept away from those, I don't like camels anyway. They stink and they spit.
Armed police are everywhere. We noticed on one of the pyramids that people were queuing up. So being naturally nosey we went to have a look. You can actually go inside. We paid our money and slowly descended into a deep shaft. It was very steep and narrow. As you were going down, other people were coming back up. It had a very low ceiling and everyone had to crouch apart from the children. We reached the bottom and found ourselves in a small chamber. About 10x10 Square with the walls covered in graffiti, a lot of which was over a hundred years old.
Out back into the open air. One last look around and then back on the coach. That hour flew by. One more stop to a papyrus factory were they try to sell you stuff and then the long journey back to the boat.
Back on the ship, we had a great meal and then more great entertainment to round the day off. We sailed back during the night and arrived back in Cyprus the next morning.
It was an amazing experience, which I would recommend to everyone.
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