a camel ride down memory lane…

♥ the world only gets better because people risk something to make it better. Thanks Egyptians – Paulo Coelho ♥

While it consistently crosses my mind, and my memories there make my heart smile, I feel that in light of all that has transpired these last two weeks in Egypt I should put into words what Egypt means to me. Not because I am special, but because I fear that given some of the media coverage leading up to Mubarak’s final demise people may be reluctant to visit a country, that wasn’t showcased in the best light, despite how much beauty and hospitality it has to offer.

soooo… here it is – for Egypt with love ♥

This wont be a political piece if anybody thinks that I will be here ranting. While I feel strongly about politics and have my share of opinions I not let them affect my travels, as often some of the best destinations tend to be ones with the most skewed politics…. so this is my travel view:

I originally visited Egypt in 2008 but due to luggage being lost and mild illness, didn’t really get to experience much other than a hotel room in Cairo. So this summer as I was planning my African adventure I thought very hard about in which country I was going to commence my journey to Cape Town…having been to Egypt before it wasn’t really my first choice to start but I decided I wanted to see Egypt the way the country is meant to be seen… all the landmarks, the wonders, the Nile

and try to full embrace the culture and hospitality of the Egyptians…

So I figured what better way to experience a culture then when they celebrate… my journey would start during Ramadan (which happened to be in August). I cannot tell you the night and day difference between these two visits. The first one was quick, rushed, and hectic and this time around, despite the chaos that is Cairo traffic, as soon as the obligatory visit to the Sphinx and Pyramids was over I experienced what I believe is the true Egypt.

Now I must let you know that for Egypt I travelled with a tour company, OnTheGo Tours, and while organized touring may not have been my first choice for travel normally – as a single female I let my ignorance get the best of me and thought I would travel through this part of the world with a group. I couldn’t be happier with my decision, this tour company is great at giving you the best of both worlds – you are fully immersed with the culture and travel with a local Egyptologist and yet you get the luxury of beautiful 4 and 5 star hotels that most budget travellers don’t even consider yet OnTheGo packages into an affordable option – nothing but happiness with this decision and if anyone is planning (and you all should be) on travelling here I strongly recommend www.onthegotours.com – their local tour guide, Waleed, is to date still one of the friendliest and most approachable people I have ever met and immediately made the group feel like a family ☺ I would go back and do a tour to Egypt just to see his kind smiling face and how his tour groups all fall in love with how big his heart is ☺ so yes amazing – if you shall do a tour anywhere – these are your guys :)

 

Anyways, back to Egypt – so yes the Egypt I recommend seeing is outside of Cairo’s perimeter. On your way out of the city I recommend visiting Saqqara (which is the world’s oldest pyramid dating back to 2700 BC) as well after a train down to Aswan I would suggest visiting the island Temple of Philae – very pretty.

Before you leave Aswan it is the main city from which to fly to Abu Simbel – which is down by the Sudanese border adjacent to Lake Nasser and everybody owes it to themselves to see this magnificent monument that was designed with such precision during the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II in 13th century BC that it’s axis coordinated with the sun’s alignment with the Earth so accurately that twice a year, 61 days prior to and 61 days after the Winter Solstice (on the King’s Birthday and his day of coronation) the sun would set so low that it would travel into the temple and illuminate three of the four sculptures. The statue of Ptah, which is the fourth sculpture, and the god connected to the Underworld, receives no sunlight as it is connected to… again the underworld – hence it stays in the dark. I mean I am no physicist, or scientist or even architect for that matter (I played with Lego – not the same thing) but I think this is pretty cool – actually amazing – given that when the monument was moved during the 1960s the scientists/planners at hand couldn’t duplicate the exact coordinates and now the sun still shines in twice a year but one day earlier ☺

So yes those with bucket lists, if you haven’t done it yet – add Abu Simbel onto your to-do list. Some of my other favourite things after Abu Simbel was our felucca sail down the Nile, if you are like me this is when you will fall in love. Whether it be with your surroundings, with life, with nature or the people you share your sailboat with – this, despite the 50-degree temperatures, is one of the most relaxing things to experience in life. You are completely on Mother Nature’s schedule, moving only at the speed in which the wind (if there is any) will guide you.
Eventually after two days, or longer, of sailing down the world’s longest river you arrive into the 4000 year old city of Luxor, which for me, best showcases the Egypt, and ancient civilizations that we read and dream about. While I was there it was something like 53 degrees in the shade, so sightseeing though spectacular, was short lived but we did go to the Temple of Karnak which is the world’s largest archaeological site and basically a giant maze and playground of pillars, statutes and awe.

 

If I ever had a dream location for capture the flag – this would be it. We were only exploring for about
2 hours but like Rome, you could likely spend months there without fully discovering its beauty.

Hmmmm, this really was supposed to be a short entry just saying how wonderful Egypt was and how happy I am for their freedom – and yet I feel like I am there and writing in my travel diary again – ask most people who have seen Egypt outside of Cairo – it really does hold a special place in your heart.

I will end now, because there is another entry about my trip to Egypt – however I will revisit Dahab once more… this is paradise, if anyone likes diving, snorkelling or even the movie Finding Nemo – it is a must that you visit Dahab (Sharm El Sheik tends to be more of an obvious choice – but for me it is far too commercialised, busy, and touristy) Dahab has magnificent marine life, friendly locals, stunning culinary options and one of the best options worldwide for waterfront
dining.

You literally sit over the water in these beautiful Egyptian style (duh!) restaurants over the water on cushions, smoking hookah, smelling the salt water in the air while you look out onto the water and it looks like you are in the twilight zone. Popular for its diving the Red Sea has numerous diving options, one of these is a night dive, so while you sit there, enjoy your fresh seafood you look out onto the water and see the flicker of the torches below – amazing… truly beautiful and now I want to go back ☹

Thank you Egypt for an amazing three weeks, the opportunity to start my travels with love in my heart and for showing myself and the rest of the world that people do have the power to change a situation and a consensus of minds with one goal in mind can still achieve its purpose☺ Congratulations again Egypt!

-       Haha just re read this – no flow – do NOT watch BBC while trying to write anything!