Egypt, oh Egypt! This country was unforgettable for many personal reasons. Do you want to know the weaknesses and mistakes of this perpetual traveler?
My first time to Egypt was also one of my first trips out of my country. Together with my boyfriend and business partner at that time, we booked a tour with a big group, guide and all. Airplanes took us to Aswan and back from Cairo. We had nice hotel rooms along the way and a good cabin on a boat on the Nile during the eight day tour. Yet, I was in my early twenties and the arguments between the two of us made some parts of the trip unpleasant and my stupidity at the time got me to miss on Luxor, one of the main stops along the way.
Years later, the memory feels disconnected, like that of some old movie I watched long ago. It does not feel like it was even me back then, the way you look at your own baby pictures and know it was you but do not relate. I felt strongly that I had to go back to Egypt once again, see all I previously missed, and revisit all that I did back then.
With a relationship of almost three years freshly “halas”-ed (Arabic for ended, finished) I took my broken heart to heal trough the ancient sites. Life on the road is a good doctor.
So it was December again, one of the best months to visit, as the weather is perfect then. I began the adventure in Cairo. The bus from the airport to the center of the city took a long ride in the night. I luckily met a friendly airline employee in the bus and he helped me further. He found for me the hostel I booked, which at the time I would have had a hard time locating, and helped me cross the busy streets of Cairo. That is a skill one learns fast out of necessity but hardly feels comfortable with. I performed an awkward and strange dance between cars on the move, backpack slowing me down and my new friend pulling me forward.
The National Museum in Cairo was a grand experience. Strange feelings invaded me out of the blue near a black marble coffin, fully carved in hieroglyphics, and sent tears streaming down my face. Emotion surfaced again by two somehow bigger than life size statues of two young girls sitting down with bent legs under their body. What was going on? I am not going to speculate here. The Museum is impressive and certainly not to be missed. Maybe you will get emotional, too.
The Sphinx and the Pyramids I visited with a group of backpackers from all over the world. Two friendly, nice local guys, part of thecouch surfing group, offered to be our guides and helped us all to get there and back, gave us information about the city, and bargained rides on the camels between the monuments. They asked nor expected nothing in return. I was certainly pleased to meet so many nice Egyptians along my way.
Flying later to Aswan I also met a Nubian cab driver that was the only one to accept taking me to the city for the price I offered. We could hardly communicate in a mixture of English and French, yet he invited me to have dinner with his family. A bit worried to go with a stranger, I left notes in my hotel room as to where I was going and with whom, but I am so glad I conquered my fear. They were wonderful people. His sister cooked a traditional meal that we ate in the first room as you enter their small house, which also serves as a living room. Her two kids were happy to join us and practice their English, and friends and relatives came by to say hello and took me to show me their small but spotlessly clean homes.
This is what I want more of in my travels. To interact with locals and see how they live, how they think, what they eat, what they like and dislike and what they believe in. Such a great visit that was.
The Abu Simbel Temple was the reason I went to Aswan, and it did not disappoint. The Great Temple of Ramses II has four seated colossal statues of Ramses II carved into the mountain and it is dedicated to the three state deities of the time. Sunrise there is a must. The smaller temple at Abu Simbel, Temple of Nefertari, is dedicated to the goddess Hathor (personified Ramesses’s most beloved wife Nefertari).
Another grand temple to see is Luxor. It is close to the Nile and it was built by King Amenhotep III and dedicated to Amon-Re (king of the gods), his wife Mut, and their son Khons.
The hostel I stayed at in Luxor had a rooftop terrace with mattresses on the floor, a hammock, and good music. I met cool people and had such a great time there. Great memories while healing a broken heart.