Memories + Pics from my Egypt Travels

I kept a diary while on my Ancient Encounters tour. I knew that with two weeks of solid travelling little details would get lost in my memory. Of course the big things, like riding a camel to see the Pyramids of Giza up close (!!), will be there forever, diary or no diary. But I wanted to share the little details, the amusing side notes that made the country and its people one of the most astounding and moving places I have encountered.

Kom Ombo Temple

We travelled to Egypt in November 2015, so this post has spent a long time kicking around in my drafts page, mainly because we had so many photos to sort through (as always!). I have a few more posts to follow this about the tour itself and some travel reading. Spoiler – I read Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile while on the Nile.

Here are the little moments:

Upon arrival in Cairo, us three Kiwis quickly found Wi-Fi access and checked the Rugby World Cup final score. The All Blacks won! Most important business sorted we started our holiday on a high. Note: We had the game on record at home to watch when we returned – great game, even knowing the outcome I was on the edge of my seat.

Kom Ombo TempleOur tour guide Aboudi, who has a tour guide pedigree – his grandfather wrote one of the earliest Egypt travel guides in English and his family has been running a foreign book store in Luxor since 1909.

The Great PyamidsThe great pyramids of Giza early on our first morning in Cairo. It was so surreal to have basically just come from work on Friday to be waking up in front of one of the wonders of the world. Cairo was just waking up too and the early morning haze shrouding the pyramids gave them an airy, secretive quality that looks beautiful in the pictures.

Of course we just had to give them a pinch.

The Great PyamidsMy first camel ride! We went from the lookout right down to the planes in front of the pyramids. I can’t say I was super relaxed perched on top of the gangly beast, but as we got closer to the pyramids I got used to it.

Seeing King Tutankhamun’s tomb at the Cairo museum was a highlight for me. We spent so long studying Tutankhamun in primary school that it was almost nostalgic for me to wander past all the many tombs and artifacts the young prince had been buried with.

Our group was joined by an armoured guard in Cairo who rode with us and presumably kept watch on our surroundings. He wore a nice suit, sunglasses and his visible glock generally added some swag to our motley crew tour group. That is until his phone rang and his ring tone, Celine Dion’s classic My Heart Will Go On, instantly crushed that bad boy image he was cultivating. At the back of the bus we were in hysterics every time it rang.

Philae TempleMagic Hour at the temple of love, Philae temple in Aswan.

Wandering through the markets in Aswan, famous for spices and teas. I bought some saffron which I have barely use since. Ben was called “lucky man” by all the market sellers as he wandered around with three ladies in tow, me, Brooke and Bethany, another girl from our tour group.

Night Market in AswanI also found a horribly perfect Christmas decoration for our collection at the Aswan markets. Sooo kitsch, I can’t wait to use it.

Feluccca Trip on The Nile in AswanSailing down the Nile on a traditional felucca boat. Unfortunately the support boat with a rowdy and smelly generator ruined the ambience way too often. Our “traditional” cruise was not without some creature comforts. You had to laugh.

Feluccca Trip on The Nile in AswanWe had a lovely dinner on board; vegetable stew, lentil soup and chicken wings. Traditional Nubian entertainment followed after dinner with us all having a sing song and dance around a bonfire on the Nile banks. All watched over by a nearby donkey.

Feluccca Trip on The Nile in AswanSleeping under the stars (nearly) on the felucca boat.

Kom Ombo Temple

Having the temples mostly to ourselves. The unrest in and around Egypt has kept most tourists away. It’s awful for those whose livelyhood relies on tourism. It was very jarring to read a 2013 edition of Lonely planet Egypt telling you tricks on how to avoid crowds when the biggest crowd you had seen in the temples were classes of local school children. It was a treat for the tourists who had come though as we had the run of the place.

Being harassed by some seriously desperate vendors outside Kom-Ombo temple. One man actually put a scarf on me to try to get me to buy, but I felt too vulnerable to get out my wallet in the area with that sort of treatment.

On Egypt Roads –

  • Traffic in Egypt is like nothing I have even seen before. I was fascinated.
  • Private vans acting as buses. Many with no doors and way over crowded.
  • Mechanics stalls and shops everywhere
  • Donkeys with grass over their bodies and the drivers sitting on top of the grass.
  • Water stations made up of ‘zeer’ clay pots and communal cups. These were the communities drinking water supply and were filled by hand.
  • Fruit shops
  • Rubbish piles and building debris and stacks of new bricks. Construction and demolition were happening everywhere.
  • Military check points

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  • Three layers of parked cars on normal sized streets.
  • No adherence to lane systems
  • Horns! Horns! Horns! This is the backdrop to any travel through Egypt. Drivers use the horn like an indicator.
  • Lovely pastel coloured houses; the ‘Nubian Colours’ of turquoise, blue, yellow and purple.
  • Waving school children, teenagers pulling the fingers, adults gawking.
  • Watching Egyptian life go by. Life is lived on the streets here, there were so many people outside meeting friends, shopping at street-side markets eating, farming, commuting and just passing the time.

The Great Pyamids“Take your time but hurry up!” – Aboudi’s catch phrase, one that we heard often while he hustled us on to the next site.

Meeting our tour guide’s brother at the foreign book store in Luxor town and picking up some sweet postcards and a copy of Death on the Nile which I read for the rest of the tour.

Staying in a very fancy 5* hotel in Luxor with views of the Nile and a luxurious swimming pool and pancakes made to order for breakfast. I really could have moved in.

Driving through the desert to Hurghada, vast expanses of sand dunes stretching out forever.

Surprising our Hurghada tour guide with our local catch phrase ‘fil mesh mesh’ Arabic for ‘in your dreams’.

Eating all the seafood in Starfish restaurant and having the biggest meal imaginable at Gad an Egyptian chain restaurant. All the meat…! We took doggy bags home to the hotel, and then left them there as our stomachs got upset during the night. Fail!

Grand Seas Resort HostmarkLaughable evening entertainment at the Russian resort hotel we were staying at.

Hurgharda diving_BrookeDiving in the red sea and seeing a black and white sea snake.

IMG_5506Empty and half-finished property developments, Hurghada is what I imagine Las Vegas is like, glossy and shiny on the surface but not quite right underneath.

After our slightly unsettling stay in Hurghada we flew on to Jordan to start the next part of our tour. You can see the pics of our trip here.

Egypt is a country of so many wonders and I’m really glad we took the chance to visit when we did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hiking The White Cliffs of Dover

20160325_Easter_In_Dover_Day2_0001I have a stock standard screensaver on my laptop, it’s called United Kingdom and it cycles through images of the UK in all its glory; Stonehenge, Tower Bridge, the Giant’s Causeway etc.

They’re all pretty inspiring images, but the one that always makes me pause and go ‘Wow!’ is the image of the White Cliffs of Dover. Sparkly white and rising majestically out of the churning sea, I knew I had to see them for myself while in England.

They didn’t disappoint! A wander along this coastline really is a top experience in England.

20160325_Easter_In_Dover_Day2_0043Here is a little guide with an olfactory twist for this month’s travel link up challenge. I’m using smell as my cue to take you with me.

The White Cliffs path is maintained by The National Trust and you will pay a small fee to use the carpark at the start of the walk.

20160325_Easter_In_Dover_Day2_0083Unfortunately your first smell with be industrial. Diesel fumes waft from the busy port of Dover. But don’t worry you will soon leave that behind.

Although don’t forget to look back as you hurry on. The views of Dover Castle from here are pretty special.

20160325_Easter_In_Dover_Day2_0250_StylizedSigns of wildlife reach your nose as you walk through the headlands and we soon found the culprits. British native Exmoor ponies! So cute! They’re shy though, we didn’t see many on our journey.

20160325_Easter_In_Dover_Day2_0015Fresh coastal winds blowing the city funk away. It was so nice to be in the bracing fresh air.

20160325_Easter_In_Dover_Day2_0039I’d love to say we caught the scent of cheese and baguettes as we meandered so close to the lands of France, but although we could see it, the coastal wind wasn’t bringing us any olfactory treasures today.

20160325_Easter_In_Dover_Day2_0082Ben didn’t mind, he was head over heels to be out in the fresh air.

20160325_Easter_In_Dover_Day2_0072We passed perfumed gardens on our way around to St Margarets Bay. Spring buds are just coming through and they smelled so sweet.

20160325_Easter_In_Dover_Day2_0096We rounded a corner into the bay and were hit with the salty sea breeze. A storm was brewing and the sea churned at the cliffs. This is the launching beach for many a Channel swim, but it did not look inviting today.

We found a sheltered spot to crack open the Thermos for a piping hot brew. 20160325_Easter_In_Dover_Day2_0229_B&WThe earthy smell of English Breakfast will make you feel at home wherever you are. We snuck some Easter Chocolate into our back backs too which totally hit the spot on our little tea break.

20160325_Easter_In_Dover_Day2_0231I climbed the banks of the bay to explore the war time caves along the shore. It was a hands and knees scramble down though and the chalky smell lingered on my hands for the walk home.

20160325_Easter_In_Dover_Day2_0243The winds were so strong by then we were walking like drunkards fighting to stay upright. It’s ok though, we had each other for support.

20160325_Easter_In_Dover_Day2_0246Before we knew it, we were back at the National Trust restaurant for sweet smelling scones and decadent hot chocolate. Oops, gone before we even snapped a pic…

Have you hiked the White Cliffs? How was the weather? I hope you were treated to the famous British weather as we were 😉

What other walks should I attempt while living in England?

I hope you liked the pics in this post, Ben kindly edited them for me. For more of our travels follow Ben and I on Instagram @andieinspired @benjamin_e_parry