Egypt (the good, the bad, and the ugly)

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It's been a long day...starting with missing our train, delayed flights, etc...but now, here we are...in Cairo.  
I booked us an apartment here months ago...five days ago I get an email from the owner stating that his apartment has ended up being booked for the whole month, BUT he has somewhere else we can stay.  What??  He sends an email with photos of other apartments.  Neither are as nice as what I had chosen...ooohhh...but guess what, the price is less!  :P big deal.  With no other choice, I pick another apartment.
So, fast forward to us now looking for our driver in the Cairo airport.  We find the guy and he gets us into this van that will take us to our apartment....and so the adventure that is Egypt begins.
It's night time...and night can hide many things...but let me tell you, it sure wasn't dark enough to hide the fact that Cairo and Giza are straight nasty.  These two cities comprise almost half the population of the whole of Egypt (and they are right next to each other).  I've mentioned that Saudi is a pretty dirty place (they litter like crazy)...but Cairo and Giza take the gold medal. 
As we drove through the streets, I looked out the windows...there was garbage piled EVERYWHERE!  I mean piles that were 9ft wide and 3ft deep...and it went on for blocks.  Some they were burning...right there on the freeway.  I've never seen anything like it and I was told that there is no trash system whatsoever in Egypt right now...so gross.  There are apartment buildings everywhere, just stacked upon and next to each other...and they all looked like they would topple over during the next high winds.  Many weren't even completed all the way and yet people were living in them...it was so surreal.  I really felt like I was in some bad dream...and for these people, its just everyday life.  
We pull up to the apartment building and we get the kids out....both of who are now sound asleep...and we carry them up to the room.  Okay, now, the apartment is nice...honest...extremely over the top decorated (think lots of gold furniture and fancy lights)...but it's okay.  Then I hear the noise...I imagine it must be what it's like to live in New York...loud.  We put the kids in bed and we talk with the owner...he mentions he has another place...steps from the Great Pyramid.  He says it's much quieter...and that he and his family live in the same building..very safe...(they own the whole thing).  We decide to send Matt to check it out...and of course, he comes back and says..."we're moving."  Uproot the poor sleeping children again (it's nearing midnight) and pile back in the car.  Drive through more icky streets, some just straight dirt roads...and finally arrive.  This is not for the faint of heart folks...if you don't have an adventurous spirit...book yourselves a room at the Four Seasons (which yes they have...but no, it's not in a nice area either...)  
In all honesty, the apartment is fine, simple, but fine.  It's just a one room, one bathroom place...we put the kids in bed and then the owner takes us up to the roof...and there...there they are.  One of the seven wonders of the world and I'm staring right at them.  Okay, so the area is crap, but man, what a view.  We make plans to have the guide come get us around noon to take us to see the pyramids...and then after a bit of wine (which yes, you can get in Egypt...so there's a plus for Egypt over Saudi) we crash.
The next morning I wake and walk out onto the patio...and feel like I've stepped back in time.  Looking down I see camels lined up, horses saddled and ready to go, men working, horse pulled carts go by, boys on donkeys, men racing through the streets on horseback...I just stared.  See, right next to our apartment is a stable (hence the smell, which I don't mind, but I sure know of a few family members of mine who wouldn't be too happy)...one that is used to house the camels and horses that take tourists to see the pyramids.  And everyone was busy getting ready for another day.  I walked back up to the roof to see the pyramids in the daylight...even more amazing than I had thought.  And there, staring right at me, was the Sphinx herself...wow wow wow, was all I could think...I couldn't wait to head out to see them.
At noon, our guide met us downstairs right outside the door...I would ride a horse and Matt and the girls would ride on a camel.  I wasn't sure how the girls would handle being on the camel, but I should have known better...nothing but big fat grins on their faces.  I, of course, was in second heaven...on horseback, where I belong.  We headed off to the gates and the entrance to the pyramids.
Our guide was really good and he took us from the round about way so that we approached the pyramids from afar...nothing but sand between us and the massive stones...it was honestly one of the coolest experiences of my life.  
At one point I let my horse go...and there I was, galloping across the sands of ancient Egypt...I felt like I was in a movie...yep...top 5 best days ever. 
We stopped to take photos and then headed to the middle of the three (the largest being the Great Pyramid).  We walked around, touched the stones, climbed up a bit of the pyramid and had a grand time.   We moved on to the largest one and I just couldn't get over it's sheer size.  We entered one of the tombs...but not much to see...still cool though.  It was a Wednesday afternoon and that must be the magic day because there was hardly anyone around...which means I got killer photos (without a bunch of icky tourists in the pix) and you didn't feel overwhelmed or rushed.  We saw where they dug a large ship from the sands...and then headed off to see the Sphinx.  
She was actually smaller than I expected, but still just as grand.  We took a few more photos and then it was time to switch rides.  As much as I loved being on the horse, I couldn't miss out on riding a camel!  Throughout the day, the girls had been taking turns riding the camel and riding the guides' horse...but Matt's been on the camel the whole time.  I figured..no biggie...but man, when that big boy lurched forward to stand up...I swore I was going head first over the top!  Not to mention that I had Sara up there with me!  She laughed when mommy let out a yelp...then she asked "you okay mommy?"  lol...yep, my 5 year old has a stronger set of nerves than me!  
We rode the animals back to where we started...what a day!
That night we ventured into town (not far mind you) to a restaurant the owner recommended.  It was really very good...obscene amounts of food...then we went back to the apartment.  Not that we wanted to stay cooped up inside, but this is so not the place were you go for an evening stroll...not that we were worried about safety, its just that there isn't a darn thing to see...just dirt and garbage.  
So, it's just some wine and snacks and a movie on tv....not a bad way to spend the evening.  :)


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