We had arrived early at the Suez port (11pm) and were sent through the channel at midnight, instead of our allocated 6am slot. Hence, we all slept during the passage through most of the canal. We were then held in Great Bitter Lake for 9.5 hours until we could pass through the lower section of the canal. We departed to cross the lake and enter the lower section of the canal at 4.00pm. As sunset occurred at 5pm we didn’t see the lower section in daylight either. A great disappointment!
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The Solar Boat
We visited the Solar Boat museum which houses one of the oldest, largest and best preserved vessels from antiquity. The Solar Boat is an intact full-size vessel that was sealed in a pit in the Great Giza pyramid. It was pulled along across the Nile with the treasures of the Pharaoh who was to be buried in the tomb. The boat was then cut into sections and buried along with the Pharaoh along with his other treasures to take with him into the after-life. We had to wear protective covers on our shoes for the visit.
We then visited the Sphinx, a statue of a mythological creature with a lion’s body and a human head. It dates from the reign of King Kafre, (4th King of the 4th Dynasty), circa 2575 to 2465 BC
The Pyramids of Giza
We departed early from Port Tewfik for a full day tour to the capital city of Cairo. After a 2 hour drive we went to a viewpoint before visiting the impressive Pyramids of Giza, the tombs of the great Pharaohs and their queens. one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. We were surprised at how close the pyramids were to the city and residential homes. We were also surprised to see how uneven and eroded the pyramid stones were. I descended down the cramped corridors, crouched due to low headroom, into the chamber of the Great Pyramid of Cheops.
There are two main bridges that cross over the Suez Canal – the Mubarak Peace bridge, also known as the Egyptian-Japanese Friendship bridge. The El Ferdan Railway Bridge, the longest swing bridge in the world with a span of 340 metres, spans the western shipping lane but is no longer functional due to the expansion of the canal by the addition of an eastern shipping lane, but a tunnel is now planned to pass under the eastern canal to reconnect the Sinai to the rest of Egypt’s rail network.
After lunch at the legendary Marriott Mena House Hotel (previously a hunting lodge) we visited the Egyptian Museum with 107 halls that are separated into seven sections. In the Gold Room are the statues, jewels and treasures of Tutankhamun. We visited the Amarna Room to see the Fayoum portraits and monuments from the later periods from the Greeks and the Romans.