Posts Tagged With: Cairo

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

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

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

The Pyramids of Giza

7/31/13
Next stop Giza! On our way out of Cairo we saw a man on a motorcycle with cages of chicken. We also saw a bunch of women with an infant in the back of a pickup truck. As we crossed over from Cairo to Giza we stopped to take pictures.

As we drove we passed a lot of rundown areas. Sonja and I eventually decided to use the restroom on the bus, which was an experience to say the least. We struggled to find the light and the flusher. We survived though!

Sherif had the bus make a stop at a clothing store so Nicole and I could pick up some items. I thought he wanted us to be quick about it so I tried to just pick up easy stuff. I picked out 2 Egypt t-shirts at 75 LE each and a pair of socks. The socks were 40 LE when I could buy them at home for 5LE ($1). I had no other choice. I didn’t buy anything else because I thought we were in a rush, it was expensive, and I hoped my suitcase would be arriving soon. Nicole wound up taking at least 30 minutes in the store. Sherif and I chatted while we waited for her. He asked me about my scarab necklace and laughed when I explained I won it at the Luxor in Las Vegas. I got some free postcards and Sherif told the owner of the store something about me so I got a free bottle of pretty sand.

After we finally left the shop we continued on to the pyramids. We got to catch glimpses of them as we got closer. I was so excited! We pulled up to them and had to get out of the bus to go through security. Then we re-boarded the bus. Sherif gave us each 20LE to tip our camel drivers. I took my epipen, camera, the tip, extra cash, and a water bottle with me. We got off the bus and were immediately hounded by vendors. I navigated my way through them and went to the camels, while most of the group purchased headdresses for 15LE. The camels only had one hump. The ones in Israel had two. The guy put my water bottle in the camel’s side pocket because he said I would need my hands to hold on. Thus, I put my camera bag around my neck. This camel was a lot taller than the one in Israel and way more uncomfortable. When the camels got up almost everyone freaked out a bit, but I was already used to it from Israel. My camel was led by a little boy, which scared me a bit.

We had a long ride to get to the best spot for pictures. The ride was not comfortable and though I was looking at the pyramids my mind was distracted by the camel. The boy told me his name was Abraham and he was 10. He also told me the camel’s name, which I don’t remember. Halfway through our journey the camel handlers got into a fight. From what I could make out between Arabic and gestures, one of the small boys was leading a camel and they deemed him to be too young to help out. At this point Abraham took some pictures of me and we rode on. I kept trying to focus on the pyramids and their beauty, but something related to the camel always seemed to distract me. I also kept wishing I had on the jeans I packed instead of the sweatpants which caused me to feel everything. My butt and legs were killing me!

On the way back Abraham was now in charge of the little boy’s camels as well. Sonja’s money blew away, but Abraham got it. When we got back it was time for the tip and the group picture. I gave Abraham the 20LE, but then he had a sad look on his face. I felt bad and he reminded me of the poor children in Chichen Itza, so I gave him an extra 5LE. His whole face lit up and he looked like he wanted to hug me. He shook my hand and hid the money. That was the best $1 I have spent in a while. His reaction was priceless. I had to get back on the camel for the group picture.

Then we headed off to a ramp for more pictures with the pyramids. The vendors of course followed. I saw the postcards I wanted and spent either 5LE or 10LE for 10 postcards. We took more pictures and boarded the bus to drive right up to the pyramids.

The pyramids looked less impressive up close because you really couldn’t see high they were. We were able to climb on the pyramids and take pics. I wish I could have spent every moment of down time looking at the pyramids instead of talking to people. I really needed more time to soak them in. Then Sherif took us to a pyramid that we could go into. At that point I was feeling way too hot to go in. I knew there was nothing inside, it would be super hot, and very clastrophic. We headed back to the bus and there were no vendors in sight.

I asked Sherif for an update about my bag since it was after 2pm. I also texted my mom. Sherif tells me that the plane is late so it will be closer to 3pm. He gives us our tickets to the Sphinx. My mom calls me and tells me that my bag wasn’t put on the plane. My head starts spinning. What now? When will I get my bag? I had to hang up because we were at the Sphinx. I get halfway down the block and realize I left my ticket on the bus. I turn around, but the bus is gone. I run to Sherif and tell him about my bag and ticket. I’m completely out of it and he can tell. He tries to calm me down and tells me they’ll have the bag flown to the cruise. He also tells me not to let this ruin my trip. He’s right. I have spent my whole life dreaming about this trip and I can’t let KLM screw it up. He shakes me a bit and I realize that I am in front of the Sphinx! He tells the guard about my ticket situation. He lets me go in.

I walk in and it just doesn’t seem real. We are immediately hounded by kids who want 5LE to take our pics. All I want to do is be left alone and I tell them no, which was a super big mistake. Sherif feels bad for me and convinces me to take some pics with him. I eventually just sit with him and stare at the Sphinx. We talk about Zahi Hawass for a bit. He points out the dream stone. I never realized it was between the paws. I knew the story though. So Sherif has me tell the story to whoever was listening.

On our way back to the bus a guy offers Mat 100 camels and 1000 chickens to buy Lexi. I buy 10 Papyrus bookmarks for 5LE. (In hindsight I should have bought more). We board the bus and I fill everyone in on the news about my bag. We drive to Felfela. Sherif gets a call from Heather at AMEX. They are trying to get me my bag in Aswan or Luxor. Aswan would mean Monday or Tuesday. Luxor would mean Wednesday or Thursday. Oy! I decide not to eat in the restaurant. I use their restroom and then sit with Paul and Michael at the table. We recreate the pyramids with 3 water bottles and flan. Sherif tried to get me to eat. The guys then offered me clothes out of their suitcases. Aww!

After they finished eating, we went and sat in the restaurant’s garden area. Nicole smoked Shaseesh (the water pipe). We went around and formally introduced ourselves and said a bit about ourselves. All Australians except for Paul, Nicole, and me.

Lamps for Ramadan

Solar Boat Pit

Categories: Africa, Egypt, History, Travel, Trip with a Tour Group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Egyptian Museum in Cairo

7/31/11
I wake up, put on the clothes from yesterday and a pair of airplane socks. I wash my socks from the day before and blow dry them. I head down to the lobby and no one is there. I check the bar, restaurant, and the street. Where is everyone? There’s a girl I don’t recognize in the lounge and after 20 minutes I go and talk to her. Turns out she’s on our Contiki and missed last night’s meeting. So we now have 7 guys and 7 girls. Each girl gets 1 husband. The girl’s name is Nicole and her bag is lost as well. She’s also American. It turns out that my cell phone alarm messed up and set itself to an hour earlier then we were supposed to get up. So instead of 7am I woke up at 6am. Lovely.

The Contiki group eventually comes down. I pay for my optionals (tip, Luxor/Karnak, Light and Sound, Abu Simbel, and Edfu). I also give the girls the stuff I got them in NYC. I sit with them while they have breakfast. I take some bread for later though I doubt I’ll eat it.

We board our bus, which is nice and roomy! We each get our own row, which will be perfect for the rides to and from Hurghada. Next stop the Egyptian Museum! I knew the museum wouldn’t have AC, I had prepared for that. No, I had packed for that. My plane clothes made the museum very uncomfortable. However, I sucked it up and didn’t complain outside of my head.

Sherif ushered us past the gates for the museum because across the street was Tahrir Square. There was a mini fire by the gates and Sherif told someone to put it out. Sherif collected our cameras and checked them in. A lot of groups tried to get into the museum at the same time and one group cut in front of us. Sherif argued with that tour guide. After that we went through security.

When we walked into the museum I thought I had stepped into one of my TV programs. How many times had I seen Zahi and other Egyptologists on TV in this place? It was like I had been here a million times before. Sherif took us to the King Tut floor first. After seeing hundreds if not thousands of pictures of these items it was strange to think they were now right in front of me. The condition of everything was fantastic! Everything had his cartouche on it and the detail was incredible. I loved his gold throne that showed him and his wife sharing a pair of sandals. I was amazed at how many shawabti he had in his tomb. There must have been 2 full walls of them. We saw his fold up beds, some statues, and alabaster items. We also got to see his canopic jars, which were beautiful. They were also made of alabaster. Next we looked at the solid gold encasings that housed the sarcophagi. They were enormous and the work on them was mind blowing. I have no idea how they got them out of the tomb. Many of them featured Isis with her wings spread out.

Onto the big moment, King Tut’s golden mask. The mask, jewelry, and two sarcophagi were in a separate air-conditioned room. We walked in and I immediately went to his mask. I must have stood there for 2 minutes before moving. It was mesmerizing. I eventually moved around the room to look at the jewelry, the crook and flail, and the 2 sarcophagi. After walking around the entire room and be amazed at everything, I decided to go back to the mask. I made a point to stand there and stare into Tut’s eyes. After a minute or so, I closed my eyes and tried to make a mental image of the mask. After another minute I said farewell to the mask and joined Sherif outside.

On our way downstairs Sherif showed us some papyrus pictures. Many of them dealt with the sun rising. He also showed us a famous one of the heart being weighed against a feather. Next we stopped at a large tablet and the cartouche was broken and only setepenre remained, which would be half of Ramesses II’s name. I muttered his name and Sherif heard me. He asked if I could read it and I said I could. The next statue we went to was of Ramesses II and Horus behind his head. Sherif showed us many other statues and as we turned into a room I spotted Ankhnaten. It was the Amarna room. There was a mini bust of Nefertiti. Later we saw a lot of statues of scribes and we saw Rahotep and Nofret with their amazing glass eyes. We also got to see organs in canopic jars, statues of Hatshepsut (with her false beard), a wooden statue of Cheikh El Beced, scenes from the Book of the Dead, a seated statue of Tuthmosis III, and the palette of Narmer.

After Sherif finished with our guided tour he took me over to the image of the Rosetta Stone. We discussed it for a while and then I went to the small gift shop. I purchased a pack of King Tut postcards for 10LE and when I went to say thank you in Abrabic the guy freaked out on me. He insisted I was an Arab and that my pronunciation was perfect. He offered to teach me more Arabic words, but I wanted to catch up with the girls.

I caught up with the girls going into the mummy room. After I paid and said thank you this guy also insisted that I was an Arab. Strange. The mummies were amazing! I loved the idea of being able to look into the face of a man or woman who ruled thousands of years ago. You could make out every detail of their nose, mouth, and eyes. Some of them even had hair and eyelashes. The mummy I was most excited to see was Hatshepsut’s. In her case was the box they found her liver and tooth in. After watching that particular episode on Discovery and National Geographic a million times I couldn’t believe that I actually got to see the mummy and the box. VERY COOL!

Then we went into the jewelry room, which had AC. The room was kind of boring and we spent most of the time discussing the cartouche we wanted to buy on the boat. Then Janelle and Megan wanted to leave, so we started to look for an exit. We went to the bathroom, which wasn’t awful and then found the exit. We were all very hot and thirsty so we stopped at an outdoor café area. We spent a lot of money on overpriced water and snacks. Supply and demand at its best. We met Sherif and got our cameras back. Then we waited for everyone to come back. I spoke to Sherif about his education and the different languages he could speak and read. He has a very fascinating background! There were a couple of bees that were freaking me out and I just wanted to go at that point, but we were still waiting for Paul. Sherif sends us to the bus and there’s Paul. Where’s Paul? became our bus joke after that.

Only two pictures because we weren’t allowed to bring our cameras inside.

 

Categories: Africa, Egypt, History, Travel, Trip with a Tour Group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Losing my Luggage in Amsterdam

7/30/11
We land in Amsterdam. A woman waits for the 8 of us heading to Cairo. She takes us to our next gate where we are instructed to throw out our water bottles. BOO! When I ask the woman about my bag I get a rude answer. Then at the gate, I ask again and they tell me that they do not know anything about it. When the woman goes to check me in she tells me that my reservation doesn’t exist and I can’t board the plane. After me arguing with her she makes a phone call and magically I turn up in the system. After getting groped by the gate agent for security, I finally board the plane. We are delayed, which is a mixed blessing. My luggage now has 1 hour to make the plane. New question/worry: will my Contiki rep wait for me? I’m in the 2nd row of the plane next to some British guy.

They serve my meal and I have no idea what it is. It looks disgusting! I eat the 3 spoonfuls of white rice and a piece of bread. The bread tastes like sawdust. I’m given one Belgian chocolate and I put on the movie Sucker Punch. About 15 mins in and I feel ill. I feel like I am running a fever, have chills, and am extremely nauseous. I am informed that there are no pillows or blankets on the plane. Not even for first class. What the hell? I turn off the movie and put on Glee, but even that doesn’t help. I try to review some hieroglyphics, which helps for a while. I try to sleep, but cannot. I can’t stop thinking about my suitcase. The stewardess comes around and offers each of us a blue delft house, which was the best part of the flight. Then I’m given a waffle, which looks and smells amazing. However, I am too sick to eat it.

We land in Egypt and take a shuttle to the airport. I see a Contiki sign and I couldn’t be happier! Yeah Muhammad did wait for me! He points me to the passport line. However, I decide to use my first Egyptian toilet before dealing with the passport line. Not bad. The passport thing was easy since I already had my visa. Next it was time for luggage. I stood there praying that I would see a hint of lime green, which would indicate my bag was coming. The crowd started to get thinner and thinner. The 8 of us were standing there and no one had their bag. Now what? Muhammad and I go to file a claim as he explains to them we leave Cairo tomorrow. He asks me if I have any other clothes and I reply that I do not. I’m praying Janelle, Megan, Lexi, and Sonja will take pity on me. I exchange $220 American and check out the only shop in hopes of deodorant. No luck.

We drive through Cairo in the Spring Tours van. The roads are smooth at first and I read my hieroglyphics book. Then we encounter Cairo traffic. There are absolutely no rules! From the time I landed it takes 2 hrs to get to the hotel. I pick up my room key and am shown to my room. The room looks just like the pictures on the web. Within minutes I have a mosquito bite on my ear. I check the bed for bed bugs and then dump my stuff on the floor. I take inventory of what I have and don’t have. Thank goodness for first class amenity kits. I now have 2 pairs of airplane socks, ear plugs, toothbrushes, tooth paste, and scented cream (to act as deodorant for now).

I go downstairs for the meeting and I don’t see anyone, but then I hear someone call my name. Turns out Sonja and Lexi were in the bar. I fill them in and am introduced to some of the guys. Next I run into the twins. It’s so crazy to finally meet all the girls after talking for months. We sit down in the lounge and Sherif comes in. What a relief to see him! After all the Contiki research I had done, I felt like I knew him. He explained the trip and then I explained my suitcase situation to him. He told me not to worry and that it happens all the time.

The hotel informed us that fighting was going on outside so we convinced the boys to join us in a walk to the gas station for stuff. I desperately wanted water, food, and deodorant. Luckily I found all 3. I debated about buying flip flops, but they were expensive (16LE) and I hoped my suitcase would just be a day late. Besides the lack of traffic lights, it wasn’t so bad outside. I’m glad we didn’t see the fighting that was happening nearby.

After the gas station we went back to the restaurant in the hotel. Everyone got food, but me. Found out Mike is Greek, Alli had a strange situation with a guy from the previous Contiki tour, and that the special price for Contiki guests was actually more expensive then the menu prices. I ate the chocolate I bought in the gas station while everyone else ate food from the restaurant. My goal is to barely put any Egyptian food in my mouth while here.

I borrowed a night shirt from Janelle and turned my jacket into a skirt. That will have to do as PJ’s. I killed the mosquito and used my headphones from Delta with my earplugs to drown out the traffic noises.

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

Egypt

I went to Egypt with Contiki, a tour company for people age 18-35. My friends had gone to Egypt with Contiki and had an amazing time. I booked the trip in October of 2010. In January of 2011 the Egyptian Revolution occurred. The friend I was going with had second thoughts and decided not to join me. However, some of the Australian girls I met through Facebook were still going so I kept my plans. Plus I have been dreaming about going to Egypt since I was 5. I went at the end of July. Not only was there no government, but it was the hottest time of the year to visit and it was also Ramadan. There were also no tourists, which was a plus. I loved experiencing Egypt during Ramadan. For more information about Contiki, Contiki’s Egypt tour, the revolution, and Ramadan see below. You can also see my videos from Egypt below. Please be patient as I slowly post my Egypt entries.

Contiki

Contiki-Egypt and the Nile

Postcards from Egypt

Reflection on my Trip

Revolution

Ramadan

My Videos from Egypt

Egypt Map

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

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