Winter holidays in sunny Egypt!

January 3, 2011 at 8:48 pm (Travel)

Egypt has been top of my travel list for as long as I can remember (well after Germany at least).   I was devastated a couple of years ago when my mother beat me here, but I can now finally add Egypt to the list of places travelled to.  It has definitely been an interesting experience.  I have never been stared at so openly before, been called lovely or had people stop traffic for me.  I even had some guy ask Ash how many camels were needed to part with me.  (Luckily he declined, although sometimes I think he regrets this decision)  Apparently all blondes look like Shakira, Ash and I have been mistaken for husband and wife on numerous occasions and he has even been told he is a lucky man for having up to four wives as we walked through the markets.  Not sure how lucky that is… surely one is enough trouble?

We started the trip in the capital Cairo, which is the biggest city in Africa and the second most populated city in the world with over 23 million inhabitants.  The first thing we noticed about Cairo was the amount of rubbish.  It’s appalling and unfortunately was a problem everywhere we went in the country.  Rubbish is everywhere; swept up in the middle of the street, strewn along the coastline, floating down the Nile.  I’m not sure if they know what a rubbish bin is, actually come to think of it, I’m not sure I have even seen one.  We actually saw a dead horse floating down the Nile in the middle of Cairo… need I say more.

Driving in Cairo was also an experience.  The city is in the state of constant traffic jam no matter what time you venture out.  They drive like maniacs, packing people into cars, taxis and buses and using their horns more often than not.  There doesn’t seem to be any road rules or if there are, they’re non existent.  Worse than the drivers in Rome and that’s saying something.

In Cairo we started with a sunset camel ride with the awe inspiring pyramids as a backdrop.  The next day we met up with our tour group and spent our first day together visiting the pyramids of Giza and the Egyptian museum.  The museum was quite amazing.  It’s FULL of relics and set up like you imagined museums to be in the dinosaur age.  There was no information so you were often left wondering at what the hell you were admiring.  The highlights for me were seeing the gold mask of Tutankhamen (Year 7 history eat your heart out) and a mummified crocodile.  The crocodile was really something.  You could still see all the scales, the texture, right down to the fingernails.  Crazy!

The pyramids are just as breathtaking as you always imagine them to be.  Set against the back drop of the desert on one side and unfinished buildings and city metropolis on the other they pop out at you and simply make you wonder.  They are the only one of the seven wonders of the ancient world still standing and are made out of approximately 2.5 million limestone rocks.  Seeing them and also the Sphinx was one of those travel moments, where you simply stand back and think ‘WOW’!

Bear at Abu Simbel

After Cairo we travelled down to Aswan via overnight train.  We relaxed by the pool, enjoyed the market and had an early night before travelling to Abu Simbel early the next morning via police escorted bus convoy.  (There was actually a crash the day after we were there which hit home a bit!)  Abu Simbel was simply breathtaking.  The temple is literally in the middle of nowhere and is even more amazing when one considers that the whole structure was relocated in 1968 due to the making of the Aswan High Dam.  Originally built during the 13th century by Pharaoh Ramses II the temple is flanked by four humungous statues of him and inside every spare piece of wall are intricate carvings depicting offerings to the Gods and himself.  Definitely a highlight!

That afternoon we boarded our felucca for a sail down the river Nile.  Feluccas use only wind power so they zigzag slowly and this meant for a wonderful relaxing couple of days.  We sun baked, read and slept.  A nice change from the hectic temple/sightseeing regime we had been getting used to.

All too soon we were back in the bus and back on the temple bandwagon… Temple of Kom Obo, Luxor Temple, Temple of Edfu and Karnak Temple.  These were all amazing and each had their own special things to offer.  What amazed me the most though, was how the Egyptians went above and beyond in their quest to cover every inch of the temples.  Every pillar, roof space, part of the wall was used, and this in every temple.  Ridiculous!

Christmas day was a bit of a letdown for me because I was quite sick.  The plan was to go to the Valley of the Kings… I however was too sick to get out of bed.  Absolutely guttered, but these things happen and Ash wouldn’t have let me go anyhow.  😦  In the afternoon I did manage to make it out to the Karnak Temple Complex so the day wasn’t completely lost.

Another overnight train later and we were back in Cairo.  We visited a perfumery and then the famous Khan el Khaelili market.  Can’t say that was Ash’s cup of tea so we didn’t really venture far into the market.  Instead we went and visited a nearby mosque complete in gnome outfit to ensure that I was suitably attired.

Sutibly attired with the lovely Bec

Finally we were on our way to Dhab and greeted with beautiful sunshine and the promise of a couple of days of relaxation.  The first day was wonderful… warm and clear blue skies.  We went snorkelling at the famous Blue Hole, which is definitely the best underwater scenery I have ever seen.  The red sea was like a lukewarm bath and the amount of salt in the water meant you floated easily.  I had lots of fun spotting all the different types of fish from Finding Nemo and am also quite proud that in 2010 I swam in the North Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, Darmstadt’s Wog, Port Phillip Bay, the Nile and the Red Sea!

Unfortunately, that’s where our good weather ended.  It actually rained for the first proper time in five years while we were there.  It was quite funny watching the locals who obviously didn’t know how to deal with the downpour though.  So we spent our time reading, sleeping, playing Phase 10 and listening to the terribly loud techno music the hotel just had to play from 8:30am onwards.

I was quite boring for New Years.  I’ve never really thought much of the celebration… we had another all day bus ride leaving at 8am on New Year’s Day so I couldn’t really be bothered going out.  Instead I simply went to bed and welcomed the New Year in when I woke up.  I’ll celebrate my New Years sometime when I am back in Darmstadt.

So it has simply been an amazing trip and I have seen some absolutely beautiful and breathtaking monuments and temples.  I do need to send out a massive thank-you to Ash though for looking after me and more importantly for putting up with me.  Seriously, Ash it has been fantastic travelling with you and I really do appreciate the way you took all my annoyances in your stride.  I love you husband.

2010 has been simply amazing.  I travelled to four different continents, got promoted at hockey, met some wonderful people and had some absolutely unbelievable experiences.  God knows where 2011 will take me.  All I know is that bear will be right there beside me to share in the adventure.


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