Africa

Porcelain Box from Egypt

This box is from Egypt. It’s of my favorite scene. Isis is leading Nefertari. The box is covered with glyphs. There’s nothing inside this box. 😦 I bought it for about $10. Ignore my Louvre pen in the pictures, I was using it to prop up the box.

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Categories: Africa, Egypt, Egypt, Mish Mash, Porcelain Boxes, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Postcards from Egypt

Here are my postcards from Egypt. There are a lot so it took some time to get them all uploaded. Hope you enjoy them! You can read about my trip to Egypt here.

To view some of my other postcards click here

Categories: Africa, Egypt, Egypt, History, Postcards, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reflection on my Trip to Egypt

I’ve been dreaming about going to Egypt since I was about 7 and read my first King Tut article. I’ve been obsessed with Egypt ever since. I own at least 40 books on the subject and am even going to school to become a certified Egyptologist just for the fun of it. Going into this trip I had no idea what to expect. My friend had backed out because of the revolution so I was technically going alone. I had “met” Alexis, Janelle, Megan, and Sonja through Facebook months prior to the trip. This was also my first time flying by myself and my first layover. So I was anxious and excited all at the same time.

Though my luggage was lost and I had to deal with the stress and lack of clothing and toiletries it was still the best trip of my life. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. Contiki, Spring Tours, Sherif (my tour guide), and my tour mates made the trip unforgettable. I honestly wish the trip was longer and covered Alexandria and Abydos.

Despite what was going in Egypt while I was there, I felt completely safe. We were kept informed about what was going on and Sherif kept us out of harms way. In southern Egypt it was completely calm and that’s where we spent the majority of our time. The locals we interacted with were all friendly. They all appreciated the little Arabic I knew and all of them were genuinely upset over my missing suitcase. So many of them wanted to stop and chat and not in a creepy way.

Egypt is beautiful! Words cannot even begin to describe how amazing the tombs, museums, statues, and temples are. You are immediately transported back in time at each site. If I had my way I could have spent hours at each site. There is just so much to see!!! I was like a kid in a candy store. I just couldn’t stop smiling knowing that I was seeing first hand what I have read about and watched on TV. My absolute favorite site was Abu Simbel. I am so glad I decided to take the 45 minute plane ride to see it. It was breathtaking! It is officially my favorite place on earth besides my beloved home city of NYC.

I knew I would be in awe of the history, but I had no idea that the Nile and Red Sea would also bring me joy. Sitting on the top deck cruising down the Nile was literally the most relaxing experience I’ve ever had. You just felt like life couldn’t get any better. The Red Sea is gorgeous and you feel like you are at a Caribbean resort and not in the middle of the Middle East.

I do not regret my trip whatsoever! Best decision I’ve probably made. Would I go back? I want to go back with my family and relive it through their eyes. I want to see places I didn’t go to like Alexandria, Sakkara, and Abydos. Would I go back in the near future? Sadly, no. The area is too volatile. I got lucky with when I went to Egypt and several other countries. There is only so many times you can go to a country during war and revolution and have a safe experience. I wouldn’t want to push my luck. If I had to go back now then I would stick to the south where things are soooo much calmer. It’s a different world down there.

Thanks for reading my Egyptian adventure. I still need to post my postcards from the trip and maybe even some of my souvenirs.

Pictures below aren’t in order. They are just some of my favorite ones from Egypt.

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Categories: Africa, Egypt, History, Travel, Trip with a Tour Group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Learning Local Words

I find that it is important to learn a couple phrases and/or words in the native language of the country you are visiting. They can be used in a pinch in case you are in an area where they don’t speak English and at the very least it makes the locals happy that you are trying. I often see Americans get angry at tourists that don’t know basic words like bathroom, yes, thanks, etc. Yet those same people don’t learn any when they go away. Here are some of the words and phrases I have picked up over my travels.

Egypt (Arabic):

Yalla-Let’s go

Habibi-Good friend/dear friend

Salam=Hello

Shukran=Thank you

La Shukran=No thank you

Ma batkalemsh Arabi=I don’t speak Arabic

Insha’allah=G-d Willing

Israel (Hebrew):

Shalom=Hello

Boker Tov=Good morning

Erev Tov=Good evening

Layla Tov=Good night

Toda=Thanks

Ken=Yes

Lo=No

Eyfo=Where

Anglit=English

Mayim=Water

Sherutim=Bathroom

Greece (Greek):

Kali Mera=Good morning

Kali Spera=Good evening

Efharisto=Thanks

Parakalo=Please

Nero=Water

Kafe=Coffee

Xenodohio=Hotel

Tyrí=Cheese

Epidórpio=Dessert


Aruba (Papiamento)

Bon bini=Welcome

Con ta bai?=How are you?

Danki=Thanks

Bon=Good

Dushi=Sweet

Bon dia=Good morning

Bon tardi=Good afternoon

Bon nochi=Good night

Ayo=Bye

Pasa un bon dia=Have a good day

Di nada=You’re welcome

Por fabor=Please

Mi ta bon=I am good

Dushi soño=Sweet dreams

Halo=Hello

Baño=Bathroom

Playa=Beach


France (French)

Merci=Thanks

Bonjour=Good morning/afternoon

Bonsoir=Good evening

Bienvenue=Welcome

Au revoir=Goodbye

Toilettes=Bathroom

Metro=Metro

Fromage=Cheese

Pain=Bread

Avion=Plane

Aéroport=Airport

Billet=Ticket

Musée=Museum

Pharaons=Pharaohs

Advertisements in other languages of movies or products that you have back home also help you pick up on words. Like the one below.

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Categories: Africa, Aruba, Asia, Caribbean, Egypt, Europe, Greece, Israel, Mish Mash, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cairo to Paris

8/6/11

5 am. So tired!! Less than 4 hours of sleep. I get up and I feel awful. I feel so sick! All I want to do is stay in bed, but I have a ride and a flight to catch. I get to the lobby and my 6am ride is ready. The driver and Spring Tours representative are nice. The airport is chaos! My representative and a family argue back and forth in Arabic about security. Thank goodness I have the representative guiding me. He helps me change my seats to aisle seats. He also helps me fill out my forms. I tip him $5 and go through security. I see the men with the dark spots on their heads from praying too much. Sherif had told us about them. The dirt smudge from putting your head on the ground is considered a good thing.

I find a place to buy a water bottle, which was pretty expensive. I also find the lounge only to find out that they have free water bottles. They also have wifi. Yeah I get to do a 4sq Egypt check in. I use the restroom and don’t tip the lady. She’s mad at me. I figured I would use the restroom one more time before I boarded and would tip her then. However, not too long after the guy who runs the lounge runs over to me and tells me my flight is boarding. What! So early? Thank goodness he told me since the announcement was made in garbled Arabic. There is more security at the gate. Goodbye water bottles. We wait for the tram to take us to the plane.

My seat on the plane is small. Lovely. I have an Egyptian American teenage girl next to me. She’s working on history homework. I offer to help her and we spend some time chatting. She goes to school in California with her brother (who is sitting behind us). I watch Water for Elephants. I also watch No Strings Attached. I spill water all over myself, which is quite fun. I soak the blanket and my pants. We finally land at Charles de Gaulle Airport.

All my entrance tickets

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Watching the Sun Set as we Head to Cairo

8/5/11

We stopped at a grocery store so we could stock up on items for our 5-6hr bus ride. I didn’t get off the bus. Paul, Michael, Sonia, and I played hangman and created a story for a bit. Then I watched movies on my iPod. We made a rest stop in Zafarana where we bought a ticket for the bathroom. There was also food at the restroom stop, but none of us got anything. The place really didn’t seem that clean. I wanted to buy Red Sea postcards from them, but they were dirty.

We got back on the bus and Sherif put on Evan Almighty for us to watch. I wanted to see the Prince of Egypt instead. O well. We watched the sun go down as we drove. The drivers and Sherif ate their meal at the front of the bus. Sherif told me that his Swiss Army knife was taken from him when they had to unexpectedly fly to Aswan during the train strike. He peeled some fruit for the sick kids to eat.

We headed back to the Victoria Hotel in Cairo. I got stuck in the elevator with the porter and he had to carry my bag to my room. I had no money to tip him. It was also his fault we got stuck in the first place. I had the same room as the last time I was here. I went to the goodbye dinner, but didn’t eat anything. We filled out our surveys. I gave Sherif his tip. I wound up giving him more than the $36 I expected. I think I wound up giving him $50 or $60. Well worth the money. I took a picture with Sherif and realized I forgot his gift in my room. It was too late. He had to leave for Alexandria. It was sad to say goodbye.

I used the internet to check my email and deal with my flight. They changed my seats and I was not happy. I went back to my room and unpacked everything so I could repack properly. I stopped by Sonja and Lexi’s room to say goodbye, give them extra food, and drop off Paul’s burn gel. They had my Isis Nefertari painting in their room. It was almost 1am. Time to sleep. Last time in Egypt.

Categories: Africa, Egypt, Travel, Trip with a Tour Group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Red Sea Fun on El Prince Shady

8/5/11

Last full day in Egypt.

I woke up feeling much better. I guess I was just exhausted. I headed out to the lobby shop only to find out that it was closed. I went back to my room and got my belongings. I had to leave them with the front desk, which I was not happy about. I got my towel and ate my breakfast. I ran into the twins who said they weren’t coming on the boat. A part of me wished I wasn’t going either. I was worried I would be ill.

Sherif walked us to the boat and most people signed out equipment. The boat was called El Prince Shady. We sat on the top of the boat and it was beautiful. Sherif and the boat owner joked about pushing me into the water in Arabic. Somehow I understood them and told them to not even think about it. This made them laugh. I decided to change into my bathing suit and at least dangle my feet over the side of the boat. The water felt nice. Sherif made me hold onto the ladder and go into the water up to my chest. The schools of fish were really cool to look at. The boys jumped off of the roof of the boat. The staff on the boat cooked us lunch, though it looked appealing it didn’t smell that way when they were making it. I ate my animal crackers. Sherif had never heard of them. I put a cover up on and sat on the top as we sailed back. The water was perfect and we had a wonderful breeze.

We went back to the hotel and the girls all changed in one room. I realized I burnt my shoulders on the boat despite the sunscreen. The bed in the room we changed in had a canopy which was cool. I gave in my towel and the guy gave me a hard time about getting my card back. He didn’t believe I had the right room number. After that I went to the lobby shop, which was finally open. I bought some mirrors. The shop guy was really freaky. He read my name off of my cartouche and wanted me to sit with him. I didn’t. He wound up giving me a hair scrunchie. I used the bathroom and got on the bus.

Categories: Africa, Egypt, Travel, Trip with a Tour Group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Learning How to Make Paper Out of Papyrus

8/4/11

Our next stop was going to be the papyrus museum on the East Bank. We passed Carter’s house and the Temple of Luxor. Everyone was running short on cash and we all owed Sherif money for our optionals. So we were going to drive to an ATM and pick up the twins. On our drive we find out that now Janelle is sick and they are calling a doctor for her. So we won’t be picking up the girls. We stop at the ATM and I tease with Sherif that it is the oldest ATM because everything else we have stopped at has been the oldest or the first of something. I pay Sherif what I owe him while I wait for everyone to use the ATM. Paul pays me back for his Valley of the Kings tickets.

Sherif drops us off at the papyrus museum. He then heads back to the boat to pick up the twins. We walk around the museum, which is really just a store, for a minute or two before we are led to the back. I immediately saw the papyrus painting I wanted. It was of Isis leading Nefertari through the afterlife. Our demonstration was in the back of the museum/store. I found the guy super fascinating and funny. I never knew how they turned the plant into paper. I filmed the whole thing. See below. The guy liked me because I knew the answers to his questions. He asked if Josh was my boyfriend and if I hit him over the head with a rolling pin. He had me explain the famous Osiris judgement scene.

Then we broke into pairs. One sales person per Contiki person. The guy from the demonstration shooed my sales person away because he wanted to personally wait on me. I showed him the picture I wanted and that the picture seemed to have two prices. He gave it to me for the lower price and I had my name added to it. You can see the one I purchased in this picture (it is the one in the blue frame). The twins arrived. Meg looked better and Janelle looked awful. Janelle got a seat and had the garbage can with her. Meg ran around to pick out pictures. We all attempted to get the free wifi, but it didn’t work. We used the bathroom and we were off.

Before we left Luxor Sherif had us stop at a grocery store. They had everything and were so cheap!! I bought water, M&M’s, Twix, and a Kit Kat. Now we were officially off to Hurghada. Janelle decided to lay down on the floor. Most people slept or listened to their headphones. I listened to music and watched the scenery. I took lots of pictures of people sleeping and all the narrow roads we were on. We eventually stopped to use the restroom. We paid and entered into a huge clean restroom. It was awesome! We even took a picture. The bathroom guards asked us where we were from. The Aussies said Australia so I just went with it. Australians are preferred over Americans.

When we got to Safaga we were able to see the Red Sea. It looked beautiful. We arrived at the Safir Hotel. We were supposed to be staying at the Triton Empire Hotel. We got our room numbers and realized we were all in different parts of the building. I was alone on the main floor. I struggled to get my door to lock, but eventually succeeded. The room wasn’t much, but it was only one night. I had a view of the pool. I took pictures of the group in the pool and set about settling into the room. I started not to feel well and decided I should lie down.  However, it was about time to meet Sherif in the lobby for dinner. Dinner and shopping was the last thing on my mind. Josh was the only one in the lobby when I arrived. I tried to kill time by looking at the gift shop, but it was closed. I gave up and I told Josh to tell Sherif I wasn’t going to dinner.

I went back to the room and collapsed on my bed. Next thing I knew it was a couple hours later. I got up, changed, got my stuff ready for the next day, put stuff in the fridge, read a bit, and then went back to bed.

Categories: Africa, Egypt, Travel, Trip with a Tour Group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Valley of the Kings

Sorry that I haven’t written in a while. Just needed a break this week. Let me get back to my adventure in Egypt. Last time I left you I was in Luxor visiting the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut.

8/4/11

We got off the bus and walked through the vendors. I saw a shirt I wanted and made a mental note that I would try to get it on the way back to the bus. We went to a big  room, which had a model of all the tombs in the valley. Sherif spoke to us for a bit there. I paid to use the bathroom and then went outside to join the group. We had to catch a tram to the tombs. However, some of the vendors got on the tram, which they aren’t allowed to do. So we stopped and had to wait for them to get off. Sherif handed us our 3 tomb ticket. Michael, Paul, and I purchased tickets to see King Tut’s tomb and Ramesses VI’s tomb. Sherif wasn’t allowed in the tombs so he showed us which ones to go into and gave his speeches outside of the tombs.

The first tomb we went into was KV 2, which belongs to Ramesses IV. The tomb has a red granite sarcophagus and has many smaller side rooms. The images of Nut on the ceiling were incredible. Paul and I noticed a decoration on one of the walls that I thought looked like papyrus. Sherif didn’t know what it was, but in the end we found out I was right. The entrance to this particular tomb seemed very long. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to take pictures in the tombs. The Theban Mapping Project provides images, descriptions, and diagrams of the tombs. They are definitely worth looking at.

Next was KV 11, which belongs to Ramesses III. Sonja decided to pay the tomb guy to guide her. I didn’t need that, so I left them. When they were building this tomb they actually hit KV 10 and had to shift the tomb over a bit. This tomb had a lot of cobras in it. It also had a wonderful scene of Ramesses offering Maat to Osiris.

The next tomb was KV 16, which belongs to Ramesses I. This one was very deep and had a lot of steps to get in. The tomb guard wanted to show me around, but I kept shooing him off. I didn’t want to pay. The scenes in this tomb were so vivid! There were beautiful images of Horus, Osiris, Atum Ra Khepri, Maat, and more. All of these images were on a blue background. There was even a sarcophagus that filled up almost the entire room. It was so dusty and Michael put his hand prints on it. The guard came over and started talking to us and at this point I decided to leave. I wasn’t paying him. At the top of the steps I didn’t feel well. The heat, the depth, and the stairs were starting to get to me. No wonder Alli got sick when she came out of this tomb. I started to walk away and got harassed by a vendor. For once my Arabic wasn’t working on him. I didn’t have the energy to fight with him. He eventually gives me a book as a gift and refuses to take it back. At that moment Paul and Michael come out of the tomb with the guard. I could tell right away that something was wrong. The guard wants to get paid and the boys don’t have money. I’m forced to pay him. I’m not happy. Now the vendor sees I have money and demands to be paid for the book he shoved in my hands. I was eventually going to buy the book anyway so I look through my wallet for money. The smallest note I have is 20LE, but the book is 5LE. The vendor takes the 20LE out of my hand and refuses to give me change. I cause a scene. He gives me another book. Now he owes me 10LE. I want my change and he claims he doesn’t have any. I’m not letting him get away with my money. So I demand he at least give me more merchandise. He gives me two postcard books. I’m pissed at the whole situation.

We go into KV 9 and I am beyond agitated. This tomb belongs to Ramesses VI and was never finished because he died before it was completed. The ceiling was incredible and showed Nut swallowing Ra. There was also very colorful cartouches. The room at the end was quite large and there was a piece of a granite sarcophagus. Sherif had told us there would be images of strange guys on the ceiling, He said they looked like aliens or Buddha. He was completely right! There was a great double image of Osiris. There was also a memorable image of Meretseger.  There was just so much to see.

Last but not least was the long awaited tomb of King Tut otherwise known as KV 62. It was only fitting that the last historical thing we will be doing in Egypt would be Tut’s tomb. The tomb had a short staircase entrance. On the right of the tomb was the room Tut was originally buried in. His gold sarcophagus was in the middle of the room under the glass. On the back wall there was an image of Nut greeting Tut, the opening mouth ceremony, and finally Osiris, Tut, and his ka. On the other side wall was a scene with 6 baboons. Tut’s mummy was in the antechamber. Thank goodness I had my flashlight otherwise you wouldn’t be able to see it. I couldn’t believe I was staring at Tut after all this time. I was surprised more of the group didn’t want to see this tomb. After all, this probably the most famous tomb in Egypt.

We headed back to the “visitor center.” I wish I could have seen more tombs. I easily could have spent the whole day there. I used the bathroom. I then went to that t-shirt vendor. He wanted 170LE ($34) for the t-shirt. I got him down to 25LE ($5). The funny thing is I walked away and he followed me all the way to the bus. I wound up buying the shirt right as I got on the bus.

Categories: Africa, Egypt, History, Travel, Trip with a Tour Group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Colossally Good Time in Luxor’s West Bank

8/4/11

5am wake up! Oy. I got ready and made sure I didn’t leave anything in the room. I was going to miss my room and the boat. I went down the hall to return Paul’s burn gel, but he told me to keep it for awhile. I bumped into Janelle who told me the doctor came and gave Meg a shot. They were going to stay on the boat all day. We were told to leave our suitcases in front of our doors. I was really nervous about this, but had no choice.

I met the group on the lobby sofas. I had no idea how Sherif was functioning on no sleep. Everyone was commenting on my burns. I ate my cereal and waited for the rest of us to join us. We said our goodbyes to the boat staff and left the boat.

I was so glad to see my suitcase by the bus. I’m super protective of it now. Time to drive from the east bank to the west bank of the Nile. Sherif talked to us and we drove. I was looking at all the farms. They were perfect examples of what I teach. We finally stopped at the Colossos of Memnon. I was excited to see them! Surprisingly, only a couple of us left the bus to check them out. They really were huge. I had seen so many pictures of them and now I was standing next to them. Very cool. We boarded the bus again. Off to see the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut. Sherif teasingly calls her Hot Chicken Soup.

We passed a lot of houses on a hill, which Sherif explained belonged to archeologists. We also passed a lot of stores that were beautifully decorated with images from the tombs. Sherif said these Egyptians have been living here for thousands of years. We also passed a rich family’s house that was decorated to show they made Hajj to Mecca. We also passed Ramesseum. I kind of wish we could have seen it.

We got off the bus and Sherif handed us our tickets to the temple, which is also known as Deir al-Bahri. We took a little tram to get to the front of the temple. It was so beautiful to look at. Sherif starts talking to us and I notice the biggest bee ever. I start dodging it for the next 10mins praying Sherif will stop talking so we can move. Even though he tells me it is harmless I don’t believe him. As soon as he stops talking I run to the front of the temple.

On the lower terrace we explore the Birth Colonnade, the Chapel of Anubis, and the reliefs from the Punt expedition. The scenes and the ceiling were incredible. The colors were so vivid. You could clearly understand the story it was telling.

The upper terrace has statues of Hatshepsut, which Sonja and I took pictures with. We went into the Sanctuary of Amun. Sherif showed us an image of exotic dancers. We also went into the Chapel of Hathor. I wanted Sherif to show me the image of Hatshepsut and the architect, which is hidden in the temple. However, he forgot. As we were leaving the temple the bee started to follow our little tram. I wasn’t happy about that. Back on the bus I downed my water. I got my stuff prepared for the Valley of the Kings.

Categories: Africa, Egypt, History, Travel, Trip with a Tour Group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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