Sixteen super-excited COSMO Swimwear team members, including Davidoff Cool Water’s Coolest Couple winners Lera Koryt’ska and Chad Meihuizen and five sizzling models, and more than 35 pieces of bulging luggage (weighing in at 600-odd-kg) all met up at OR Tambo International in Jozi on Friday evening. Our destination was Cairo, and Egyptair was going to get us there in style.
Eight hours later we were whisked through Customs and stepped out into the blistering 40-degree heat in Egypt’s capital, sleep deprived but determined to absorb as much of Cairo’s ancient history as possible before jetting off to our ultimate destination, the Red Sea.
I’d been warned that Cairo’s infamous traffic congestion and daredevil drivers put Johannesburg’s rush-hour traffic and kamikaze taxi drivers to shame, but thankfully it was a long weekend so the streets were relatively open and safe. That said, it was still unnerving getting my head around the fact that Cairo’s drivers use hooting to indicate left or right instead of their flickers!
We crossed the lifeblood of Egypt, the Nile River, into Giza, which plays host to Egypt’s most fascinating treasures, the pyramids. Our tour guide, Yasser Elsayed from Excel Travel, pointed out the silhouettes of the very first pyramids any of us had ever seen peeking out between the rows of high-rise flats. Everyone in our group exclaimed in wonder – it was just so surreal seeing these ancient wonders we’d only ever spotted in the media and heard about in history class.
Our first stop was Sakkara, the ‘City of the Dead’, which served as a burial ground for Egypt’s ancient capital, Memphis. It’s also home to the famous Step Pyramid of Djoser, which was designed by high priest Imhotep (villainously characterised by Arnold Vosloo in The Mummy) and was the prototype for all pyramids.
Then it was on to Egypt’s most spectacular attraction, the Giza Pyramids, which include the Sphinx and the Pyramid of Khufu, the largest pyramid and the only remaining wonder of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It doesn’t matter how well-travelled you may be, these marvels will astound you with their tales of god-like monarchs, the thousands of men who took at least 20 years to build each pyramid (with stone blocks that weighed anything from two to 15 tons) and the theories behind the loss of the Sphinx’s once-perfect nose.
Just a head’s up, watch out for the hawkers who haven’t learnt that ‘no means no’ when you’ve already declined a ride on their camels/horses. A few will even attempt to shove a ‘free souvenir’ into your hand and then demand to be paid for their beads. Hilariously, Californian model Curtis Hardin also proved a hit here – countless Egyptians were enamoured by his accent and skin and almost-reverently dubbed him ‘Obama’.
‘We love Americans, Obama,’ one infatuated Egyptian raved, while Curtis flashed a winning politician-like grin.
Then it was lunch (our first Egyptian banquet) at a local restaurant called Andrea – think freshly-baked pitas, garlic-infused brinjal spread, delicious lamb meatballs and succulent grilled chicken. Stuffed and content, we had to race back to Cairo International Airport to catch our flight to Marsa Alam on the Red Sea. Next stop: the sumptuous five-star hotel, Intercontinental The Palace Port Ghalib Resort…
*Keep checking back for more from the COSMO Swimwear 2009 shoot in Egypt. Videos to follow soon!