Two Weeks in Egypt - October 2012
Day Three: Cairo - Pyramids and Cemeteries
We flew from Dubai to Cairo and into the melee of that city. First we had to "purchase" an immigration visa on entry to the terminal building, costing $US20 and no other currency accepted, and this was stuck into our passports. Then on to immigration where they seemed surprised that we already had a visa. Through the crowds, found our bags - surprising to some that all the bags had arrived unopened - and then on to our tour bus for the long slow drive acros Cairo to our hotel next to the Pyramids. That took up the rest of Day 2. We spent two full days in Cairo, visiting the Pyramids and the Egyptian Museum, but also some of the old New Zealand Army sites and cemeteries.
Day 3 started by visiting the Pyramids and ended with the Pyramids again at night. In between we visited two Commonwealth cemeteries and the site of the old New Zealand Army camp at Maadi.
The Pyramids by day and night
We awoke the next morning to a clear, cloudless sky but the haze and smog of Cairo soon appeared. Outside our room stood the Pyramids, as gigantic and imposing as described by everybody who has seen them. Soon we were on the bus to examine them up close, and to be pestered to distraction by the inevitable hawkers and camel riders. And yes. I did get conned into sitting on a camel for my photograph and then having to pay the camel "owner" and "driver" for the privilege. But the views of the Pyramids were worth every dollar, and every aggravation of the hordes of locals.
The Pyramids by night
According to the tourist brochures, the sound and light show at the Pyramids is something not to be missed. But what they fail to tell you is the reason - the show is so old that it needs to be viewed as an antiquity in itself, complete with the voice of Richard Burton intoning the story of the Pharoahs and the Pyramids. Most of our tour group fell asleep, through jetlag and boredom. I managed to remain awake by taking photos. But really, it is time they brought the show into the 21 Century and updated the story with a few facts.
The Old Cairo Cemetery
The old Cairo Cemetery contains 2054 First World War graves and 338 From the Second World War. Alongside these graves are those of many British residents from that time.
Closer to the NZ camp at Maadi lies the Heliopolis Cemetery. Here lie 1830 graves, 138 being New Zealanders. One of the more famous New Zealanders lying here, but marked by a British regimental headstone, is John Mulgan. John became a well-known writer, but ended his life in Cairo late in the war. Heliopolis has a well-tended hedgerow of tall trees that form a tuneel and welcome shelter from the hot sun.
Maadi became the home for thousands of New Zealand troops who apssed through here in both the First and Second World Wars. It was some distance out of cairo at the time, but not far enough to keep the troops out of trouble in the bars in Cairo. Today the site of Maadi and Helwan Camp has been largely built over, except for the dry and dusty Wadi Degla. This area housed the NZ punishment centre - known affectionately as "Rock College". We made a brief visit to the area, late in the day as the shadows lengthened and the sun set through the haze.
Last updated: 02/07/2017