Egypt: Recap Part 1

As we head tomorrow from Egypt to Jordan, and I’ve spent most of this morning working on Trip Advisor reviews (… 15 of them, with at least another 20 to go at least!), I needed to take a break, and decided writing a long-awaited update here was worth it!

We left for Egypt on 4 June and will, on the 25th, hop the borders. 21 days in Egypt is not nearly long enough, even for 7 of those days having been snorkelling on a beach where we can see Saudi Arabia across the gulf. Ideally, we’d do this again with 7 days in Cairo, 7 in Luxor, 3 in Aswan, and then figure out how to see some of the other Nile Valley sites that we missed this time… and *then* head out to the beach and compare the coast (such as around Hurghada) and the out to the Sinai for the snorkelling/diving and sites here.

The people in Egypt have been amazing – hands-down the friendliest and most helpful people I have ever encountered. All of the warnings from various government entities were… overkill, to say the least, and the Egyptians we encountered throughout the country are desperate to see tourists back. They’re genuinely concerned about external perception of the country and disappointed to hear that they are so negatively perceived: things haven’t gone well here for tourism since the revolution. We were warmly welcomed, barely hassled by touts, and offered assistance on a level that doesn’t compare with India, the US, or Canada.

The historical sites around Egypt are simply amazing, and it’s genuinely disappointing to see how much desecration, defacing and violation the Coptic Christians did when they used Egyptian temples as shelters. Some sites, such as Kom Ombo, were used as quarries by the Copts for their own construction; some tombs in the Valley of the Kings were used as homes, as were other temples, leaving soot on roofs that endures to this day. You can almost play “spot the Coptic cross!” when visiting temples.

Favourites:

  • Temple of Karnak (Luxor)
  • Temple of Abydos (north of Luxor)
  • Temple of Dandarah (north of Luxor)
  • the Giza Plateau (Giza/Cairo) with the pyramids and sphinx
  • Ras Mohammed National Park (Sinai Peninsula; near Sharm-el-Sheikh)

Overrated:

  • Abu Simbel, mostly because of cost and travel to it (Adam is more fond than I – I think the other sites do it all, and do it better)
  • The Blue Hole in Dahab (all we saw of note was one octopus, in the day; the associated site called Bells was much better)
  • Royal Mummies exhibit in the Egyptian Antiquities Museum (cost not commensurate with the value – neat, but… not really worthwhile, hit the internet instead).

The only downside to Egypt is the mosquitoes, who are nearly invisible and absolutely vicious. The heat isn’t bad, the humidity is tolerable, but the mosquitoes one and all must be eliminated. We wake up with half a dozen bites, easily, every morning; toothpaste does, in fact, work to take the stinging and itch away. I’m not going to ask how or why, but just be happy we brought an extra travel-sized tube to work as Afterbite!

I’m hoping to do a post later on (once I have my journal, and all my ticket stubs) as a reference for costs; we saved all our ticket stubs from sites so we can see just how much we spent on them, since costs on internet searches fluctuated enough we could only guess, and we didn’t have accurate costs for some sites that were spontaneous, or included in tours (e.g. Ras Mohammed National Park here on the Sinai has a LE40 fee, but included in our day snorkel trip’s cost). We spent more than we expected to, certainly – but they were experiences rather than Tangible Stuff, and we’d rather spend money for those experiences and memories. Though we have, I confess, had a few Thing purchases, including knocking a few Christmas presents off our list.

(Though you’re going to have to pry my LE30 pair-of-camels painting out of my cold, dead hands. And last night’s LE40 burger that Adam and I split was worth every piastre – especially since he ate the lettuce and tomato! And glared at me when I sniped a pickle.)

One Comment on “Egypt: Recap Part 1

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