Last week I wrote about my White Week adventures two years ago. As another Thursday throwback, I’m sharing my travels from last years vacation. EGYPT!
If you would’ve asked me a few years ago if I ever thought I’d go to Egypt I would’ve said absolutely not. I never in a million years dreamed of it. When I was considering going my parents may have begged me not to go..numerous times. Being an ‘adult’ meant not having to always listen to your parents right? So off I went with my friend Carrie (who is a far superior blogger than I am.. check her out) to the ancient civilization known as Egypt. Sorry Mo & Kenno!
We were there for a week and traveled to three different places: Cairo, Luxor and Hurghada. We arranged a private guide and driver for the trip, so we felt pretty good about our trip, safety wise.
We arrived in Cairo after a 3.5 hour flight from Milan. After buying our Visa we then started to look for our driver. I wish I had video or pictures of this because words won’t do it justice. We stepped through security and there were a zillion drivers, none of which were holding a sign with my name. We got our luggage and continued to walk around more, finally I spotted someone outside slam a tiny piece of paper scribbled with my name on the glass. Alas, we found our driver, in an awesome Bill Cosby-esqe sweater, so naturally we called him Bill all week. I’m not even sure what his real name was, but he was a sweetie.
Our hotel was literally right across from the Pyramids. It was unbelievable. We got there and took us up to the roof to get a better view. We stayed up there for a bit taking it in.
The next morning Bill picked us up with our guide, Othman (pronounced Oz-mun).
He was incredible, kind and quite funny. As we drove to the center of Cairo, Carrie and I were wide-eyed. It was total sensory overload. The traffic was ridiculous, on top of that there were donkeys, bikers, people walking with pita on their heads.. it was just a lot. This video doesn’t do it justice.. but gives you a taste of what we experienced daily.
Our first day we headed to the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square. Tahrir Square was the home of the Revolution, in 2011. If you think back to seeing news reports or pictures about the Egyptian Revolution-demonstrations, strikes, marches- most of it happened here. Bill pulled up and the square was fairly empty. I looked to my right and saw a street lined with tanks and men armed ready to go. That was an eye opener (and also the only time the whole trip I felt scared for my safety). We walked right past these tanks to enter the Museum.
The museum was huge and you couldn’t take pictures. We saw lots of things, which two years later I barely remember. We saw lots of mummies that were preserved-gross. I did learn that when they mummify someone they take out their organs and put them in vases. Pretty insane. The main part of the museum that was cool was seeing the belongings of King Tutankhamun (which I learned quickly was King Tut). There were gold coffins packed with stones, thrones, masks and lots of beautiful jewelry.
Lunch was the most interesting part of our first day. Othman told us it was time for lunch and before we knew it we were pulled over on the side of the road and he was out of the car. We were left waiting with Bill wondering what we got ourselves into. Now, he did describe what we were eating and I was familiar because I did research ‘typical Egyptian dishes’ and this was about the only thing that came up- koshari. It is a mix of macaroni, lentils, rice, chickpeas, fried onions and fried noodles topped with a tomato sauce filled with spices.
We opened up our lunch and weren’t exactly excited to eat.. Then Othman said we needed to add our sauces. Which, mind you, were in a plastic bags that he just cut open and poured over our ‘dishes’. Yep, it was a meal to remember. As far as taste, meh it was alright. I certainly wouldn’t want to eat it everyday.. like he said most Egyptians do.
After lunch we headed to the Mosque of Muhammad Ali, a Turkish-style Mosque. It felt like I was back in Istanbul.
We finished up our day at a local market. Which pretty much was all junk, but the greatest people watching ever. We sat and enjoyed some fresh juice and took in the scene.
The next day Bill and Othman picked us up for our day filled with Pyramids. Othman provided us with our own supply of snacks.. corn nuts and chocolate pebbles.
Off we headed to Memphis- the Capital of Egypt during the Old Kingdom. We quickly learned there was not much to see here.
After we headed to Saqqara, home to the famous step pyramid of Djoser.
Before we saw the step pyramid we stopped at the tomb of Titi.
Really.. the only pyramids I wanted to see were in Giza. Luckily that was our final stop of the day.
Over my shoulder you can kind of see the entrance to the Great Pyramid. We did not know this prior.. but you can still go inside! Obviously we had to do it. It was so humid and hot in there, not to mention tiny, narrow, claustrophobic and a STEEP climb! A year later and I can’t believe I’ve been in one of THE pyramids. Nuts.
We stopped at the Sphinx which is right in front of the pyramids.
And yes.. Othman made us do this. We were thrilled.
On our third day in Egypt we flew to Luxor. I’m not gonna lie.. I knew very little about Luxor, besides that I would get to see the Nile River, and for that.. I was pumped.
Our tour guide, Mansour, picked us up from the airport and we headed straight to the East Bank (as in the East side of the Nile). Our first stop was the Karnak Temple which was absolutely mind blowing.
I can’t even tell you the history behind it, I just know there is A LOT of history behind it.
Everything was absolutely gigantic.
I loved all the hieroglyphs.
I thought maybe this was the first emoji ever made..
Our next stop of the day was Luxor Temple. I loved walking up to it. Both sides were lined with sphinxes.
At the entrance there was an obelisk on one side. Usually they are built in pairs. The matching obelisk is located at the Place de la Concorde, in Paris. Both Carrie and I had already seen it so we thought that was pretty cool.
This is Ramses II- we heard a LOT about Ramses.
Our night ended with a sunset over the Nile at our hotel. Not too shabby for our first day in Luxor.
Our second day in Luxor we spent on the West bank.
We first stopped at the Temple of Hatshepsut. It is built right under cliffs, which was pretty cool.
Next, we headed to the Valley of the Kings. We were not allowed to take pictures here so unfortunately this is the only one we have, before we passed through the gates.
With our ticket we could visit three tombs of our choice- we went with the three our guide suggested- Rameses IX, Rameses II, Tausert and Setnekht. Carrie also wanted to see the tomb of Tutankhamen (aka King Tut) so we paid a bit extra for that.
The tombs were pretty amazing, but my favorite part of this stop was seeing archeologists digging and working to uncover a recently discovered tomb. I would absolutely lose my mind with that job. I barely can handle a 100 piece puzzle.. just not my idea of a good time.
Our last stop was at the Habu Temple.
These were easily the deepest carvings we saw, some I could fit nearly my whole hand in!
As you can tell, the hieroglyphs were one of my favorite things in Egypt.
We got back to our hotel and went for a felucca ride on the Nile. You can see two felucca boats behind Carrie and I.
Ours was called the Nile Queen.
Our boat captain steered our boat like this using his feet pretty much like hands. It was insanely impressive.
Some of our boat views..
The next morning we had an interesting private ride from Luxor to Soma Bay. This ride was about 3.5 hours, but it felt like a lifetime. We were on dirt roads and rode through “checkpoints” while entering villages. These checkpoints were pointless, nobody checked a damn thing. I may have pulled up a map on my phone numerous times to make sure we were heading the correct direction.
When we arrived we were very pleased. Our hotel- the Sheraton Soma Bay Resort– was beautiful! We were certainly glad we saved this for the last part of our trip.
Yep, thats the Red Sea beyond the pool.
We dropped our stuff off and headed straight to the beach.
The next day we got picked up by our driver to head out for the day on a snorkeling excursion. I had never been snorkeling.. boy was I terrible at it! I had more fun just lounging and swimming.
We got back and had a lovely sunset swim at the pool, along with a cocktail, of course.
The next morning we relaxed on the beach then it was time to head back to Milan. It was an incredible week. One I never thought I would have, but I am so thankful I did.
Next week is my February break and Carrie and I are heading to DUBAI! I promise that blog post won’t be as long as this one! Or maybe.. it will.
If you made it this far.. you deserve some kind of award. Leave me a comment and I’ll send you a virtual hi-five.