As the snow falls outside, I’m reminiscing on our trip to Egypt this very week last year. My husband and I had not taken more than one night away with each other in over 8 years, and when we were given the chance to take a kid-free vacation…we took a trip of a lifetime.
I truly have no words that would describe the magnitude or the scope of visiting one of the most incredible places on the planet: Egypt. To be honest, the mere thought of traveling to Egypt scared me. I had never been to Africa before, let alone a country in the Middle East.
The first morning we woke up after arriving, I was legitimately nervous to go down in the lobby of the Ritz Carlton hotel where we were staying. We arrived after midnight, and the hotel was as busy as a shopping mall at Christmas. There were actual sheiks dressed in the finest clothes I had ever seen, women dressed up to the nines, to the point where I felt like we were wearing our pajamas to a royal banquet. I couldn’t believe my eyes when children were running around until 3 am, but due to the intense daylight heat, that’s normal in Egypt.
The following morning, once I conjured up enough guts to go downstairs, I carried the culture shock with me, but I enjoyed every minute of it. Some do not enjoy the feeling of culture shock, but for my husband and I, that’s what fuels us to see the world—even if we stick out like sore thumbs.
Being a light-skinned and light-haired woman with green eyes…I got a lot of attention. From random waiters asking to get their picture taken with me, to being mobbed by 20 teenage girls for a photo-op, it was quite overwhelming and strange. Egyptians just don’t see many blonde caucasians very often. My guide had to stop the group of girls from their selfies with me so we could continue through Cairo. Closest I’ll ever feel to being a celebrity! 😉
From accidently stumbling upon a funeral and witnessing traditional wailing from the family, to hearing the call to prayer five times a day echoing through the streets, we became fully immersed in Egyptian culture. One of our favorite memories was being stuck in the heart of Cairo’s streets surrounded by 22 million people and the constant sounds of honking horns.
We traveled throughout Cairo, Giza, and Alexandria in the North, then were lucky enough to fly to the southern Egypt/Sudan border. We learned a little Arabic, I overcame my extreme fear of claustrophobia by actually entering and crawling through the great pyramid, and we met the most genuine and kind people I’ve ever met. I knew before I left that I wanted to come back one day, and I hope I will get the chance.
While on a Nile cruise at the beginning of our trip, our guide asked us why more Americans don’t come to Egypt. I told him that I think a lot of people are scared to come to this part of the world, and he stretched his arms out wide and smiled really big and said, “Why?!”
And by the end of the trip I knew exactly what he meant.
Anyone who knows me, knows I battle claustrophobia. I went all the way to Egypt saying there’s NO WAY I was going to go INSIDE the pyramids because of this fear. Well, a little nudge from Josh and a little peer pressure from my guide…I decided to go for it. It was extremely small, often times Josh and I couldn’t even stand up straight. And it was HOT inside with no moving air. Did I mention there were tourists in there with us, so we all had to cram to the side walls to either go farther in or out?! The neatest part of this experience was the picture on the right (above). When you make it to the middle of the pyramid, there’s an open room where the burial site was. The feeling of accomplishment I felt to actually BREAK my claustrophobia was on of the best moments of my life! After decades of fear, I haven’t struggled with it since!
Muhammed Ali’s Mosque. I had to cover my hair and take my shoes off before entering. I was supposed to cover up my forearms too, but I forgot the correct shirt in the car.
This is a church where it is believed the Holy Family stayed. To be in the same room and to see the well that Jesus could have drank from was so incredibly moving.
Southern boarder by Sudan where the Nile starts in Egypt. Below is a gas station in the middle of the Sahara Desert.
Sunrise over the Sahara Desert…I look tired bc I am! We had to get up before the first call to prayer to drive north to visit The Valley of the Kings to see King Tut’s tomb.
Ever have Egyptian sun-dried tomatoes?! The food in Egypt was AMAZING….We had lunch above a factory where they make Egyptian cotton linens–I’m kicking myself for not buying them while I was there!
We hired private guides/drivers from Getyourguide.com for our entire trip. They picked us up each day and toured us the entire day, teaching us all of the history at each location. They have to go to extensive schooling to become “Egyptologists”. The wealth of knowledge they had made each location come to life.
Even though this guide couldn’t speak English and we couldn’t understand his Arabic, it was incredible to see how a friendship could form from handing the phone back and forth enjoying each other’s music while we drove or with a translation app to communicate.
On our last day, we drove up to the Mediterranean city of Alexandria. Alexander the Great founded this city in 332 BC.
If you ever desire to go to Egypt……. GO. Don’t let fear or the unknown stop you. It was a magnificent adventure, and I felt safer there than I did in Mexico! The people are beyond friendly and welcoming, and you will be surrounded by the most unbelievable history every where you look! If you ever want to go–reach out! I’d love to chat!
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