Egypt Day 2: Memphis & Saqqara

Good morning from Cairo!  Our hotel is so close to the Pyramids, you can see them from the pool.  Our day starts off with breakfast, which had everything from eggs to bread to meats, but just not pork items.  They even had Egyptian Foul (pronounced fool) which is a fava bean dish that Stephen was thrilled to see.

Our tour kicked off at 8:00 and we met the other 3 group members: Marilyn from Pennsylvania, along with Donna and Ed from northern California.  That gave us a total of 8 people in our group. Abdul introduced our group to Yasser, who would be our guide while we were in Cairo.

Our first destination is Memphis, located about an hour from Cairo. The drive from the city to the countryside was interesting.  Traffic in the US is nothing compared to Cairo. Cars don’t stay within the lines and there’s constant honking, as though it was a language among the drivers. You also see farm animals in traffic, just as common as you would see a car.

We finally reached Memphis, which was once the ancient capital of Egypt.  Now, it’s a museum which houses the Ramses Colossus and the Great Sphinx of Alabaster. When Stephen was here in 2007, he said it was crowded with people.  Now, post revolution (2010), tourism is down and this popular tourist destination is a whisper of what it used to be.


After Memphis, we went to Saqqara. Our first stop was the Titi Pyramid and Tombs. Photos were not allowed inside, but we did take some outside the tomb.

Ater Titi and the tombs, we crossed the sandy road to the Pyramid of Djoser, or the Step Pyramid. Constructed at Saqqara about 4,700 years ago, the Step Pyramid of Djoser was the first pyramid the Egyptians built.  The complex is surrounded by columns and structures, still freestanding and in good condition.

I didn’t know much about this, so I looked up some facts and found this at

 “The step pyramid is the only pyramid in the Old Kingdom that 11 of the king’s daughters were buried inside,” said Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, former minister of state for antiquities.

The Pyramid of Djoser is considered by many as an experimental structure in ancient Egypt. The actual structure began as a square mastaba which was gradually enlarged by its designer. The fact that the initial mastaba was square has led many to believe that the monument was never meant to be a mastaba as no other known mastabas had ever been square

What many people don’t know is the fact that there are tunnels beneath the pyramid stretching across a labyrinth of 5.5 kilometers in length.

Visitors are not able to go into the pyramid, and, there was scaffolding on the other side to restore it.

Next stop: Lunch!