05/03/2011 98 °F
Next we drive over to Saqqara to see the oldest pyramid, the Step Pyramid of Zoser, which was designed and built by the architect Imhotep. And for those of you who know nothing of Egyptian history, Imhotep was never a priest and he did not become a mummy who returns from the dead to bring his lover Ankhsunamun back to life so they can live happily ever after. Ankhsunamun was the wife of Tutankhamon who lived during the New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty; Imhotep lived during the Old Kingdom, 3rd Dynasty. I know, I know – Timothy was also disappointed to find out none of that story was true.
On the way there we stop for lunch at one of the few places to eat, Pharous Tourist Restaurant. Clearly the only restaurant for some miles as they are set up to receive large groups of people. Lunch is very good with lamb and chicken kebabs, whole wheat bread, baba ganoush, grilled vegetables. There’s so much food we have to tell them to stop bringing it. By the way, when you visit here make sure you don’t clean your plate unless you want more food. Always leave something on your plate when you’ve had enough to eat.
Here you go, Regina! As you requested, here is the first of what I hope are many food porn pictures:
Saqqara is very impressive but unfortunately we cannot go in to the pyramid – it is unstable and too dangerous for visitors. We walk through what’s left of the enclosure wall (very modern looking for something that was built several thousands of years ago) through the reconstructed Colonnade and into the Great Court. Ah yes, it’s good to be king.
I would like to go into another pyramid but it’s not going to happen here. It’s now about 2:30 in the afternoon and it is really hot. 95? 96? Something like that.
One more stop here at Saqqara before we head back to Cairo. Here’s a ruined pyramid with an underground burial chamber, the Pyramid of Unas. The pyramid looks like a big pile of sand but when we walk closer to it we can see it is made up of small blocks that have disintegrated over time. There is a staircase leading down to the passageway and a nice “guard” to lead us down there and make sure we don’t do anything illegal. Like taking pictures. Taking pictures is a no-no. At the entrance there is more crouching down and crawling through a somewhat short passageway to get to the burial chamber. The chamber is amazing – all of the walls are covered in hieroglyph texts and there are stars carved into the ceilings. The rest of the chamber is empty except for a plain stone coffin. The guard reminds us we can’t take pictures (he pantomimes most of this as he only knows a couple of English words). Well, okay, maybe just one picture; just as long as we don’t tell anyone. Us? Who would we tell?
Five, maybe six, pictures later, the guard leads us out of the burial chamber and we are ten Egyptian pounds poorer for it.
Last stop is the Ramses train station to purchase our tickets for the sleeper train to Luxor. That is a fun experience. The train station is being renovated but that shouldn’t stop you from getting inside the station to catch your train or purchase tickets. Looks like a few people have already fallen through the plywood floor in a few places. Made it back to the van in one piece and it’s on to the hotel. There we say goodbye to Shaimaa and our driver letting them know we had a great time. We are now Facebook friends with Shaimaa.