Egypt!

This series of posts have taken me a long time to start writing – not because I didn’t want too, but because I have so much to share about my trip to Egypt. The good, the bad, and everything in between. In fact, I’m still not sure where to begin so instead of just offering a chronological travelogue of my trip lets start with a summary and go from their. By the way, you may want to review my earlier posts on trip preparation if you haven’t already (Trip Prep: Egypt parts one and part two).

The Good

Abu Simbel
  • The historical sites – you want old structures? Egypt has some of, if not THE, oldest in the world.
  • The people – on the whole everyone we encountered was friendly and enjoyed meeting Americans.
  • The Nile – cruising on the Nile and watching life along the banks was a highlight of my life for sure.
  • The culture – it was fascinating to see how people lived. So similar, yet so different.
  • Road Scholar – the trip was well organized and we had no major issues.
  • Our guide – knowledgeable and friendly.

The Bad

Me at the Sphinx
  • The vendors – I was warned about how aggressive vendors could be but nothing really prepared me for the onslaught everywhere we went.
  • Traffic in Cairo – I will never complain about driving in the USA or Canada again. I’ve driven in some of the worst traffic North America has and it doesn’t hold a candle to Cairo. Sorry LA and NY but as long as your drivers at least nominally pay attention to the stripes on the road Cairo is worse!
  • The food – too many places we stayed tried, and I emphasize tried, to replicate North American food. I think it would have been better if they just made what they were used to and stay away from the “chicken Kentucky” and the oddly bright pink lunchmeat. Plus, there is a world of sausage that they are missing out on. I get that you aren’t really going to find pork in a nation which is 90% or more Islamic, but there’s turkey, chicken, and all sorts of delicious alternatives. Mini-all beef hotdogs really aren’t “breakfast links.”
  • COVID – this is sort of a gimme I suppose. But travel with COVID is a little more difficult. Especially by air. However, I followed all precautions and came home without getting sick.

Favorites

The crowds and columns at Karnak.

Here, in no particular order, are the favorite things I did:

  • Rode a camel at the Giza Pyramids.  Cliché and touristy but still an experience I enjoyed. Did you know that they stand with their hind legs first? Be sure to hang on!
  • Went inside two pyramids – and lived to tell the tale. The first was very hot and stuffy and the lights didn’t work. It turned into a real “Indiana Jones” type adventure.
  • Cruising the Nile (see above).
  • Abu Simbel – I have wanted to see this since I was a kid. I literally wept when I first lay eyes on this both ancient and modern marvel.
  • Discovering sites that I didn’t even know existed.
  • Karnak – simply amazing.
  • Discovering that graffiti is as old as tourism. And that it was a popular thing to date your signature when you defaced an ancient temple.

Over Hyped

The Great Pyramid of Giza. The only wonder of the ancient world still standing!
  • The Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx – Vendors nearly ruined this for me with their aggressive sales tactics. I’m trying to enjoy and take in the majesty of the site and they want to sell me trinkets. My feelings on this are complicated because I know that most Egyptians are relatively poor compared to the average North American and everyone has to make a living. But still…
  • King Tut’s Tomb – everything in it, except Tutankhamun himself, has been removed to museums. The tomb itself is unremarkable as far as royal tombs go.

Biggest Concerns

  • Finding a clean toilet when I needed one – to be fair this is one of my biggest concerns anywhere. It comes with having Crohn’s.

Biggest Surprises

  • No Diet Coke – I learned to drink Coke Zero, tea and coffee.
  • Germany has more choices in McMuffins than we do in the United States!

So that’ it the first of I think several posts on this trip. Have you been to Egypt? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

No Diet Coke, only Coke Zero!
Breakfast in Germany

All photos by David P. Wahr unless otherwise noted in which case the original artist retains all rights. Otherwise photos and words @copyright by David P. Wahr

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