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February 02 Issue

Rebecca Noakes takes a break in Eygpt
I knew it was unreasonable to think that after thousands of years the thing would collapse as soon as I am underneath it, I still couldn’t help noticing the thing was crumbling round the edges

The wonder of Egypt can never be truly understood or described unless visited and I was lucky enough to go to this enchanted country before the recent troubles in the part of the world began.
My family and myself travelled to Egypt as part of a three day cruise while on holiday to Cyprus. The trip involved a day in Egypt, a day in Israel and a day at sea, the day trip to Egypt involved visiting the countries most famous tourist attraction the Giza Plateau that contains the last surviving ancient wonder of the world the pyramids. The trip also included a few hours in the impressive Cairo museum and a papyrus factory.

If you have never been tempted to visit this country than your missing out on a wealth of historic and breath-taking monuments ranging from the imposing pyramids, the spectacular sphinx and the ore-inspiring Abu Simbal. The cruise I went on is the ideal way to see a little bit of the country before you go back for more, and I can guarantee you’ll want to. The country has a magical effect on you and leaves you wanting to know about its history and people.

The cruise ship was relatively small but comfortable and it made the early morning seem not so bad with delicious breakfasts to suit everyone’s tastes.
The day begins early as you arrive in Egypt to you are able to see the sunrise as the ship docks. There’s a long trip into the heart of the country, which is tiring, but if you remember to pack a few bottles of water and you’ll be able to starve off the heat. The ride is well worth is as the magnificent pyramids come into view; I can honestly say this is the only time I’ve truly had my breath taken away.

The three pyramids and the sphinx make up the Giza Plateau, which is Egypt’s biggest tourist attraction. The great kings built the pyramids as monuments to themselves and to ensure they have a safe trip into the afterlife. The tallest of the three pyramids, The Great Pyramid, was King Khufu’s tomb and was the first to be built. It towers over the city of Cairo at the mighty height of 138.75 m (455.21 ft) and was the largest man-made construction on earth for years.

You can’t help but be astounded at the craftsmanship in a achievement like this, although now days we build skyscrapers thousands of feet high, we use machines and heavy lifting equipment, to stand in front of the pyramids and think that it was built with nothing more than brute strength and a few pulleys is astonishing.

I was lucky enough to be able to go in the second from largest pyramid that of Khafre, Khufu’s son. This pyramid stands at the impressive height of 136.4 m (447.50 ft) and to say I was slightly dubious of going underground when something of that height and size was above me was an understatement. I knew it was unreasonable to think that after thousands of years the thing would collapse as soon as I am underneath it, I still couldn’t help noticing the thing was crumbling round the edges. After I bit of persuading from my Dad who said I was just being silly, I wandered down the long, dark and extremely small tunnel.

As we reached what I was hoping was the bottom, there was an Egyptian man sitting on the floor telling us to go round the corner, to my dismay the way another set of steps down into the depths having now got at least twenty people behind me there was nothing to do but to go down. Once I got over the fear of being crushed I actually started to realise how marvellous it was being in a construction that was thousands of years old. At the bottom of the tunnel I entered a room and inside was a sarcophagus. (This is where the Egyptians put their dead royals).

The experience, although slightly scary at the first, was well worth it. After we exited the pyramid we decided to walk around the smaller pyramid of Menkaure, which stands at 65.5 m (214.89 ft).

Unfortunately we spent a lot of time wandering around the pyramid that our coach actually left us and went to the top of the plateau for more panoramic view, needless to say that was quiet unnerving thinking we’d been left behind, luckily though within ten minutes the coach returned and we got back on. We then made the short trip from the pyramids to the sphinx, the monument with the cat like body and the face of a man. The paws themselves are 50 feet long (15m) while the entire length is 150 feet (45m). It is extremely noticeable when you see the sphinx that the body and head don’t seem to match, the theories behind this is that the whole thing used to be a lion but thousands of years ago a pharaoh had his own image carved into it.

After taking thousand of pictures at the plateau we got back on the coach, and made the trip to the Cairo museum were we got to see the indescribable treasures of the ‘boy king’ Tutankhamun. The museum is enormous and unfortunately I only got to see a small portion of it; but seeing Tutankhamun death mask was incredible. The mask is made of gold inlaid with lapis lazuli and carnelian. The mask comes from the innermost mummy case in the pharaoh's tomb and stands 54 cm (21 in) high.

Visiting the museum helped me understand a little bit more about the countries exciting history and people. After visiting Egypt I can't wait to go back and see more of the wonderful things the country has to offer.

© Rebecca Noakes


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