Welcome to Egypt! Where to start...last night we got to the hotel around 7pm Cairo time; that's after the easiest customs I've ever dealt with, getting our bags and a crazy ride into the city. After checking in we decided to wander out of the hotel to find something to eat. Restaurants were beginning to open (with Ramadan most of the restaurants--besides fast food--are closed for the day and then open after Iftar (the breaking of the fast). We found a restaurant and decided to give it a go. Adam, Maddie (two of the other students) and I got the grilled chicken--I know not too adventurous, and Zoya (another student) got the lamb. It was all amazing! Simply cooked with great spices and Basmati rice--just what we needed to refill our stomachs.
Let me go back briefly--the plane ride was probably the worst international plane ride I've ever been on. It was a relatively smooth flight, but it was a smaller plane, the seats were TINY, no foot room, my reading light didn't work, neither did my little TV thing, and the lady next to me moved around so much that whenever I tried to sleep I would get knocked awake. So with no sleep, horrible airplane food, dinner last night was wonderful. Enough complaining, I'm just glad we're here! And like I said getting out of the airport etc...was extremely easy!
We were all tired and by the time we got back to our hotel it was around 10:30pm and we all decided to just go to sleep. This morning (8/21) we decided to "take it easy" and head to the pyramids....
What a first day! So, we woke up this morning and had breakfast at the hotel (included--thank goodness, so we wouldn't have to go and find a place to eat!) It was a simple breakfast of fig (fresh fig, which we didn't recognize, but luckily the guy serving us spoke Spanish, so he and I had a brief discussion about the fruit, but I didn't know how to translate the fruit he told me and then he told me he couldn't describe the flavor, but that it was sweet and good...) With the fig we had toast, crepes with honey and coffee. We tried to fill up because we didn't know when the next time we would eat was.
Then we hit the city. Being adventurous we took the metro--which is amazingly clean and only costs 1EGP (less than 20 cents) each way--to Giza to get to the PYRAMIDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Most of you already know, but I have wanted to go to the pyramids my entire life, so I was extremely excited! Getting off of the metro at Giza we asked a man where the Taxis were. He then told us to come and take the bus with him, which ended up us going in a "taxi" with him to a Bedouin camel tourist thing. Omar, the guys name--well he's only 22, became our new best friend, and he told us he'd get us "the Egyptian price". We got a pretty fair price (280EGP) for the "medium tour" which was a camel ride to the panoramic view of the 3 large pyramids and 3 of the small pyramids, entrance to the Sphinx and the paying off of any guards necessary (which came in handy when we climbed up on the pyramid and our "guide" payed the guard to walk away...that's how it's done here!!!)
Everything was amazing, but after it was all over, a bajillion pictures later, sore legs, drenched in sweat and extremely tired we did not want to go into the perfume shop our guide was trying to take us in to...So our friend Omar's "best friend" took us back to the metro, and extremely exhausted we made it back to the hotel. We have about 10 more minutes and then we are hopping back on the metro to go to Omar's house (we're not sure if this is sketchy or not...we'll see) for the Iftar, and to meet his family. He lives in Giza so it's going to be another hike on the metro...That's really all I have for now, we have free WiFi at the hotel, so I'm sure I'll update more later!
Things I've noticed/learned so far:
--Cairo is HUGE, and smoggy
--The pyramids are just as amazing as I thought they'd be (not sure if it's all sunk in yet!)
--The Sphinx is WAYYYYYYY smaller than we all thought it would be.
--You tip for EVERYTHING--and since we're American we get ripped off
--La, shukran (no, thank you--handy for people selling us stuff)
--Bekum (how much? for when you need to bargain)
--Ayawa (yes--Egyptian style)
--Tata qkalem inglesee? (do you speak English? sorry none of this is proper phonetics)
--Marhaban (You're welcome/welcome)
--Inshallah (God willing)
--Yullah (Let's go!)
--Lastly, the people are extremely friendly!
That's all for now, I will post pictures later, we're just in a rush because we have to get to Omar's house!