As a tourist we get to see and experience a culture rich in history, exotic food and stunning monuments that have lasted for thousands of years. Underneath the surface of this grandeur and beauty is a country that is trying hard to get back on it’s feet. Those who depend on the tourist trade have been hit hard, their lively hood has been impacted by revolutions and continues to be threatened. Tourist numbers are down which is sad because this is an amazing country to visit.
During my time in Egypt I always felt safe, it’s hard to feel unsafe when you have a wonderful guide and such a strong military and police presence at every hotel, tourist attraction and numerous check points. Scary at first to see so many armed people, not just armed with a pistol but machine guns and tanks at the petrol station. You will never see any pictures because you are not allowed to photograph the army, but they are everywhere. However I didn’t find them intimidating, we were always greeted with a smile and friendly “welcome to Egypt” when visiting tourist sites that had an army presence, which certainly helped take the edge off.
The tombs in the valley of the kings were absolutely stunning, I never imagined that they would be so beautiful. The white alabaster walls decorated with funeral scenes painted in rich blues, yellows, and reds that looked as though they had been painted 100 years ago not thousands.
Abu Simbel a magnificent temple built by the great Pharaoh Rameses II is a sight to behold. You are greeted by giant statues carved into the side of a mountain of the man himself. Once you entered the temple you are treated once again with the beautiful, reds, yellow and blues except this time they tell you stories of epic battles and offerings to the gods.
Cruising the Nile river was one of my favorite experiences, no better way to appreciate this beautiful river than on one of the many boats that offer 5 star accommodation and plunge pool to cool off. As you cruise along the river the landscape is stunning, green fields and yellow and browns of the desert mountains against a bright blue sky. My favorite time was at sunset, red and gold sky with the call to prayer echoing out across the valley from the many Mosques along the shore line.
The people are friendly and make you feel very welcome, they can be persistent when trying to sell you something or talk you to coming into their uncles perfumery. They will also offer you something double the price of what it’s worth, no need to get annoyed at the end of the day they are just trying to make a living especially during a tough economy, negotiate, it’s expected.
Eating in Egypt was a real treat, lots of little dishes of delicious bbq meat, salad and vegetables served with pita bread fresh from the oven and tahini, yummy. My guide Mohamed always knew the best eating places where ever we went and always encouraged us to give something new a try. He also loved shisha and made sure we gave it a go, it was so much fun. The best food he recommended to eat after a long day out exploring temples in 45 degree heat was spicy hot food as it helps regulate your body temperature, he was so right. If you love coffee then Egypt is the place for you, arabic and turkish coffee a thick brew of delicious coffee, it goes well with an apple shisha.
I have very fond memories of my time in Egypt and learnt so much about the people, culture and Islam. As a tourist you will experience amazing things and will also feel thankful for the life you have. Take the time to talk the people and you will learn about their lives and have a better understanding of why the revolution in their country happened. Millions of people uniting together to instigate change. Is it change for the better? Time will tell, it’s only been 2 years. Don’t always believe what you read in the media which are often dramatized versions of events to improve ratings. Go find out for yourself and don’t worry you will be safe.
There is so much that I can tell you about this remarkable country but it is not possible to do so in just one post. Keep a look out for more amazing stories about Egypt on my blog.