Egypt Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
Pics were posted already, but I had to dig up some stories and details about my first trip outside Europe. The original plan was to visit Morroco for an active holiday. But I was one of the three people who signed up for the trip, so the organisation cancelled the trip. Instead I went to Egypt. That was a great adventure too!
28th of April 2006, at Schiphol Airport I met my fellow travellers. I was by far the youngest, but that didn't matter. I had fun! We arrived at 3 am at the airport of Cairo with a temperature of 29/84 degrees. There was a mini van to bring us to the hotel in Cairo, Indiana Hotel. At the door a guard with a machine gun... Never seen that before, but then it was my first time outside Europe.
By 5am the mosks started the prayers. It was a really short night. By 8am we had breakfast and our tour guide gave us a tour in Cairo. I was surprised! Every thing was amazing: armed guards at every corner, absolutely crazy traffic, chaos, prayers and so on! Whoohoo!
We visited the citadel of Salah al Din, the traditional muslim market, some other important buildings and a mosk. Together with two girls we tried out the taxi. The advice we got was: first talk about the price, pay when you're there and all of you are out of the car and then walk away in the other direction... Oke... No problems. It was all fine and most taxi drivers are really friendly. Don't be in rush, traffic is amazing! Less then half a meter in between the car in the front and the car in the back as well the car next to you while driving!!! A two lane road become a three lane road.
At night we went to a great show: Soufi dancing. Only men do this. They make music and some of them get in trance when they dance. One guy kept on spinning around for almost and hour and he didn't fell... How is that possible???
Next we went to the to the pyramids of Giza, close to Cairo. Three huged pyramids and some small buildings for other important people of the Faraos, like the wifes and doctors. It was possible to go in the pyramid! I bought a ticket for the 'second pyramid' and went in.
After we discovered these amazing things, illegally taking pics of the police and being harashed by guys who want you to drive their camel and get money for it, we went back to Cairo to visit the National Egyptian Museum. I don't really like museums, it's not my thing.
After dinner that night we went to the train station of Cairo. We had to take the night train to Aswan, all the way in the south of Egypt.
In the train we had a room to sleep. All night we saw the river Nile and had some stops. We arrived in the morning in Aswan. A mini van picked us up and drove us to the hotel, Sara Hotel. The hotel had an amazing view: the Nile. In the swimming pool we relax for a couple of hours. In the afternoon we explored Aswan by taking a shuttle from the hotel to the city centre and the souk, local market. So busy and crowded! All the shop owners wanted us to come in their shops and I had to argue about all the prices of things I wanted to buy.
Next day we had a boattrip on the Nile, with two locals. We visited Elephantine Island. I saw a football field!!!! I love playing soccer and now I got the chance to play soccer with a few kids! It was so much fun! After this sportive event the local guide and I visit his house and hooked up with my fellow travellers. We had dinner at the house of a local family. I tried a lot of food I'd never seen before and had a delicious meal.
Next day, we relaxed some more in the pool, and in the afternoon we took the hotel shuttle to the centre. We walked around and visited the souk again. We had dinner in a cheap restaurant. The rest of the group wanted to go back to the hotel, but I wanted to visit the souk again and do some shoppings for the boattrip next day.
In the afternoon our tour guide, an 65 year old Dutch lady who spoke Arabic, introduced us to a guy at the souk. If we needed any help he would help us. So I went looking for him and found him. He helped me with buying fruits and some other stuff for a good price and good quality. He was really friendly and helpful! Just great! I was on time at the spot where the shuttle came. In the afternoon it was bus with the logo of the hotel. The van that wanted to pick me up hadn't and only Arabic men where sitting inside. What would you do??? I decided to take the risk and sat next to the door. I recognized where we drove and it was the way to the hotel...
From Aswan we went to Abu Simbel under army protection.
At a sail ship, called a felluka. But some of us, including myself, had a problem. Dinner of last night hadn't been so good... Diarrhea!! No fun at all... And then you have to go on a ship.... That made it even worse. We took a lot of stuff to make us stop running and finally it worked. The felluka trip was great. Beautiful view over the Nile area. The boatsmen prepared lunch, dinner and breakfast and played music before we went to bed. That will see, take our sleepingbag and sleep on the felluka. I was afraid for the musquitos but they weren't that much of them. Maybe because it was cold at night.
In the morning we arrived at Edfu. Here we got a new mini van. We visited some more temples, but I was sort of done with it. Seen so much of temples by then. Same day we drove to Luxor. I liked that city. A lot of space, not so crowded as Cairo and more relax. I visited the temple of Luxor by my self. At midnight we went to a place where there would be belly dancing. It was a in dark alley, somewhere under a restaurant in an area where nobody was on the streets... Kinda creepy. But our tour guide, knew this place. We went in and there were only men. They looked surprised when a Dutch group came in, but they allowed us to stay.
We stayed for an hour or so. Belly dancing is really difficult and special to see.
When you're in Luxor it's great to visit also the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens. A few of us rented a bike in Luxor. The quality of the bikes was not so good, but good enough for us. I had to help the owner of the bikes to repair the bike he wanted to rent me... Funny. With the ferry we crossed the Nile and started biking up to the Valley of the Kings. We bought a ticket and were allowed to go into three tombs/graves of King who where burried here in the old days. Archeologist still recover new tombs every year. We also biked to the Vally of the Queens to see the temple of Hatsjeput.
After two days in Luxor it was time for back to basic.
Unfortunately to every trip comes an end. After three amazing days in the White desert we had to go back to Cairo. We had one more night in a small hotel before we arrived in Cairo again. After a long shower some of us went to the Nile Hilton Hotel to have a cocktail at the roof with view over Cairo. The sky is always dusty or polluted by the cars. I don't think they see often a blue sky in the Egyptian capital... The last night we spend in an exclusive restaurant of Cairo. On the rich and famous come here to have dinner and party afterwards. The most expensive cars were parked behind the gate. We ordered steak and fish and vegetables and had beers, smoked a water pipe (I had to try it once.
At midnight we walked back to the hotel, packed our stuff and at 1am we left to go to the Airport of Cairo, to go back home.
Some things really surprised me at this trip. Well, actually a lot did. But some things more than others. Like this, the people are really poor if you look at finances. But most of the young people have cell phones and in every home is a TV and fan at the ceiling. Even in the dessert! People are extremely friendly, want to help you, but also want to rip off your money...
Egypt was definitely a great travel experience!