40 for 40: Day 3 – Rome to Cairo

How about starting the day with a pyramid before heading to the country known for its pyramids?

Last time I was in Rome, I tried to see the Pyramid of Cestius, a tomb that was built in 12 BC by Gauls Cestius, a member of a “religious corporation”, somebody that had enough money that he could built his tomb in the same style as the pharaohs and have it incorporated into Rome’s city walls. At the time of my last visit, it was being restored. I knew it was going to be far enough out of the way that it wouldn’t make a worthwhile addition to Daina’s first time in Rome, but I also wanted to add it to my “Seen in Rome” list, so I thought I’d come up with a creative way to see it.

Instead of hiking boots, I brought my running shoes along this trip, thinking maybe I could add a cool route to my Stavra runs. The Pyramid was about 5K from where we’re staying, and that’s about the distance I’m comfortable doing in a foreign country, so I figured I’d take the subway down to Piramide station and then jog my way back, taking my time to see what I could see.

Glad I did.

The Pyramid itself has been beautifully touched up, shining white in the morning sun, providing an odd contrast to the passing traffic. From there, I plugged Okapi Rooms into my Google Maps and began the jog over.

Now, I obviously wasn’t going for speed here. Rome’s streets and traffic guaranteed I would be slowing down regardless of sights. I managed to hit a consistent pace towards the Circus Maximus, at which point I started seeing a few things I hadn’t seen before, including the Theatre of Marcellus, before heading past the reliable sites of Vittorio, the Elephant and Obelisk, and the Pantheon. Whereas my last 5K clocked in at just under twenty six minutes, this came in at about forty, but again, time was not the goal here.

Checked out of our hotel, the cute and well kept Okapi Rooms near Piazza del Popolo, before hopping the subway to Roma Termini and it’s McDonalds for some decidedly non-Italian breakfast. Let’s call it a comfortable buffer before entering Cairo.

Leonardo Express to the airport was smooth, EgyptAir check-in asked if we wanted exit row seats, something I haven’t got from a Canadian carrier in a long time, Italian customs weren’t as disorganized as the internet had let me to believe… A coffee and a sandwich at Kimbo later and we were off to Egypt!

I think the last time I was this excited to be on a plane going somewhere was Easter Island, and considering how strange, rare and wonderful that place was, that’s a big deal for me. From the handing out of the immigration card to the arrival video, everything was getting me giddy. The hands down best part, though, was when we were flying in to Cairo and I thought “Hey, from the maps, the pyramids would actually be on this side of the plane when we fly in” and, minutes later, all three of them appeared just in front of the wing. I nearly lost my mind! Couldn’t get to my camera in time, but wow…

Cairo airport was surprisingly easy, buy your visa from a bank window, hand it to a customs officer, go. The Canadian passport seemed to get us through extra quick, as we had people from other countries get significantly more hassle than us but ours pretty much got “okay, go” when it was looked at. We arranged a ride through our guest house and were greeted by a massive red sun shining through the sand as it set. It wasn’t even setting over anything particularly amazing yet, but was easily one of the most beautiful ones I’ve ever seen.

So that was the start of the assault on the senses and, with beeps and sounds of construction outside our window, and some of the scents on our way in, it seems like that’s going to be Cairo’s MO for the next few days. After immediately getting a pyramid tour figured, paying for the hotel, navigating a Vodaphone SIM sale, and waiting too long on a fast food splurge, it looks like everything here is going to move at its own speed.

If we can recapture that magic of flying over the pyramids, though, it will definitely be worth it.

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