When I was younger, one of the more memorable lines I said was in response to the ‘what is your favourite subject at school?’ question. With gusto I would reply ‘recess and lunch time’. I enjoyed school, but I much preferred playing with my mates between classes! However, one subject I did take a keen interest in was the Egyptians. There was something about the pyramids and the hieroglyphics that drew me in, and I was always fascinated with the mummification process. So, after hanging out in Morocco for a while, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to fly across the north of Africa and explore the ancient cities of Egypt.
Before you ask, the answer is relatively. The country is relatively safe. Whether you were going to ask or not, safety is always brought up once I tell people I went to Egypt. I use the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s travel warnings to judge whether I should go to a country or not, mainly due to travel insurance reasons, and although the warning said to only go if you had to, I felt like it would be OK. I took precautions like only travelling in taxis or private cars, which were fairly inexpensive. Even so, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little worried. Everything worked out fine, except for my hiking boots, which were stolen on a night train from Luxor to Cairo.
I was in Egypt by myself for the first part, where I travelled by bus to Sinai and relaxed in Dahab. This small town on the Red Sea had clearly been affected by the downturn following the 2011 revolution. It was great though, I went for my first-ever scuba dive and undertook the nighttime pilgrimage of hiking Mount Sinai – the landmark where Moses received the Ten Commandments from God. Watching sunrise from atop Mount Sinai was incredible and a very humbling experience. I felt very blessed.
I returned to Cairo and met up with Lise, a friend from Paris who I met and travelled with in Brazil and together, we visited the best parts of Egypt. The pyramids and sphinx in Giza, Aswan, Abu Simbel, Luxor and Carnac Temples, Valley of the Kings, the River Nile, the Egyptian Museum and many other famous sites.
The Five Senses of Egypt
Egypt looks like sites. Egypt is a country where you have to, and should, visit all of the famous sites that are scattered throughout the country. They were all definitely better than what I had seen in pictures and could have ever imagined.
Egypt smells like smoke. Everyone seemingly smoked in Egypt, whether it was cigarettes or shisha. The shisha in Egypt was by far the best I’ve ever had, and would highly recommend it.
Egypt feels like there are no tourists. When taking photos I always wait until there isn’t anyone in my shot, but in Egypt there wasn’t any waiting and it felt as if Lise and I were the only tourists in the country. At one stage we even had the Great Pyramid of Giza to ourselves!
Egypt tastes like kebabs. We found a really good restaurant that did these takeaway kebabs in Cairo and must have eaten there at least five or six times…
Egypt sounds like ‘lucky man’. Most of the locals thought Lise and I were a couple, and they told me very often that I was a lucky man. Following that, they would ask how many camels I’d trade her for..!
Country number 52 – Egypt… Check!