Egypt 2001
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Trip to Egypt

June 19th to July 9 2001

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It was quite an interesting trip, a dream since the 4th grade when we talked about the great pyramids, history and the kings of Egypt. Finally, after so many years, I had the chance to visit those sites that once I had just seen on textbooks.

The first 5 days I was on my own and I had the chance to visit almost every corner of Cairo. Luckily, I did not get run over, the drivers are even crazier than in Brazil. For some reason they do not care, even though the go to jail if they hit someone. So, I would spend hours watching people crossing the street, I saw two car accidents, but no run overs.

Egyptians are very hospitable people, very friendly. I did have a chance to talk to a lot of the local and see their perspective of life. Most speak very limited English, I met some kids at a mall and spend a couple of hours talking about teenager life, being a Muslim I believe had its advantages, kids do not get drunk and go wild riding their hot wheels, they enjoy life without being drunk! what a concept! Also, dating is also more selective, most times the girl you choose, is the one you marry, but arranged marriages are still existent in other smaller towns/villages. In Cairo most are very westernized but most woman still cover their hairs with a scarf. Although the minimum monthly wage for an Egyptian is only around U$70, they manage to have fun and be very happy people. 

A lot of times I found myself trying to draw the line between friendliness and "let's  take advantage of this tourist". People approach you on the streets and start talking as if they are very curious where you are from, etc. etc.. and they end up persistently trying to make you go visit their stores, or some relative's store just down the corner. The vendors on bazaars speak almost any language to draw you in to their store, the best policy was just to ignore them completely, but just answering "La shukran" (no thank you) is already a response to the vendors to start a conversation. Although many  things are very inexpensive, like $3 buck for good cotton t-shit, $2 for papyrus pictures, if you end up visiting all those stores, you would go broke. Some were truely happy that you were visiting their county by just saying "Welcome to Egypt" or "Welcome to Alaska", specially when I mentioned that was from Brazil, then prices dropped and they were overfriendly, as one mentioned they have a likeneness to Brazil due to soccer and the close relationship with music and some African  background.

I was a bit overwhelmed with the tipping (baksheesh). Everywhere and for almost any reason it was a reason to give a baksheesh. Just $1 Egyptian pound ($0.25) in most cases was enough. The most interesting place to tip, to me, was in the restroom in a restaurant near the hotel in Cairo. Usually, kids work at those places and that is their living. These kids did not let you do anything, they would open the faucet, rub your hands for you and at the time of drying they would rub the paper towel and your face for you, a bit discomforting, but that was their living. In most other restrooms they either had someone inside, or outside handing out a couple pieces of paper and charging you a pound to get in.

Another interesting fact was the amount of police found around the sites and just on the street, almost every block had  a couple police officers with rifles, apparently bored to death since nothing goes on. Crime is very rare. Even on our boat trip on the Nile we had  two armed guards for 3 days with us.

Something else that you have to be prepared to pay is when you take your camera to almost any site. Tombs, usually, you are not allowed to take a video camera, and a photo camera usually you pay $3 to use it. If a video camera is allowed, like in the Egyptian museum, it will cost you $25 to take it in, and most places do not let you use tripods.

The next 14 days of the trip I joined a group of 10 and we visited many places from Cairo to Aswan, in the south of Egypt:

Day 1, Cairo - Arrival day. No meals.
Day 2, Cairo - See the treasures in the Egyptian Museum and visit the Citadel and Khan El Khalili bazaars.
Day 3, Cairo - We start our day with a guided tour to see the great Pyramids & Sphinx at Giza. Free afternoon. Overnight sleeper train to Aswan.
Day 4, Aswan - This afternoon we sail around the islands of Aswan by traditional felucca sailboat.
Day 5, Aswan - Free day in Aswan.
Day 6, Nile Cruise - Board MS Amy in time for Lunch, and begin our cruise to Luxor.
Days 7-8, Nile Cruise - Our cruise takes us to the riverside temple of Kom Ombo and the temple of Horus at Edfu.
Day 9, Luxor - Disembark in Luxor and transfer to the hotel. This afternoon we ride in horse drawn carriages to the amazing Karnak temple complex.
Day 10, Luxor - We get up before the sunrise to ride sturdy donkeys to the Valley of the Kings. Our route back offers magnificent views of the Nile Valley and passes the Colossi of Memnon. The afternoon is free.
Day 11, Luxor - Red Sea - Travel by air-conditioned coach to the Red Sea resort of Hurghada.
Day 12, Red Sea - Cruise in local boats to nearby coral reefs for a day of snorkelling.
Day 13, Red Sea - Cairo - We drive via the Red Sea coast on our return journey to Cairo.
Day 14, Cairo - Tour ends after breakfast.

Many more pictures can be found here:

Egypt 2
Egypt 3

Egypt 6 (image station)



Founded on the site of Babylon, near the ruins of ancient Memphis, Cairo has been the largest city in Africa for centuries. Modern Cairo encompasses many former cities and their monuments: the pyramids of the pharaohs; early Christian monasteries and churches; Salah al-din's Citadel; mosques of the Mamluke and Ottoman sultans Five thousand years of culture are concentrated here, at the center of three continents.
Travel through time in a city that is a living index to civilization. Enjoy the comforts of a cosmopolitan twentieth-century capital. Cairo, a microcosm of the greater world.

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Super Muslim woman The Citadel
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Cairo from the Cairo Tower The bazaars
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Dynasty IV, 2680-2565 B.C.
The three great pyramids at Giza. The largest, the pyramid of King Cheops. To build it required over two million large limestone blocks. The pyramid of King Chephren  and the pyramid of King Mycerinus. The three small pyramids are of Mycerinus's queens. These monumental pyramids are precisely oriented to the four cardinal points. Cheops' pyramid is a square, 756 feet on each side. Its height is over 481 feet and the slope of the sides is 552'.

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Valley of the Kings Colossi of Memnon Luxor Temple
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Philae Temple Temple of Horus Kom-ombo temple
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Egyptian Museum

The greatest collection of Egyptian antiquities is, without doubt, that of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. It is a place of true discovery and, even after many visits, I continue to make new and delightful discoveries every time I venture into its many galleries.

To be sure, the museum can be daunting in the sheer numbers of its antiquities on show, but there is an order within its layout and it is a dream come true for anyone wanting to study Egyptian antiquities.

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Walter Morales PAGES- 2012