Our trip began at Tri-Cities Airport. The flight to Atlanta was short and then we were off on another quick flight to JFK (or John F. Kennedy International Airport). The flight to Cairo was 12 hours and not very comfortable.
Upon arrival, we spent one night in Cairo and then flew to Luxor where we boarded the MS Queen of Hansa to make our way down the Nile River, stopping at different cities along the way. We ended up in Aswan, south of Luxor, and flew back to Cairo. Our accommodations on this Gate 1 Tour were great. You could not drink the water, but we never ran out of bottled water and were given water (as often as we wanted it) at our hotel and on the tour.
The people of Egypt were very friendly, and we never felt unsafe despite the armed military and police everywhere. The attractions are endless with temples over 6,000 years old, cities, stone structures and ancient artifacts in the museums.
We toured the Valley of Kings, and entered several king/pharaoh tombs, including that of King Tut. The boy king was encased in a controlled temperature casket, but his famous golden mask was in the Cairo museum. The tombs we visited had carvings, many still colored, that told stories which our tour guide interpreted.
The Temple of Hatsheput and Colossi of Memnon (two massive stone statues) were incredible to say the least. The Temple of Karnak – actually a temple complex – dates back more than 3,000 years. How people back then built these temples and structures without modern-day tools nobody truly knows. Seeing the Great Pyramid of Giza topped off our amazing trip.
Egypt has 101 pyramids that are known and more yet to be uncovered, as well as countless tombs yet to be discovered. There were diggings underway almost everywhere we went.
Our tour of cities showed how packed with people the (urban areas) are. The traffic was terrible. We learned the government plans to build a new capital outside of Cairo and take around 8 million people with it. This plan is an effort to reduce the crowded conditions in Cairo. We did notice the country was dirty with trash just about everywhere.
Many of the tall apartment buildings were empty and the top floor unfinished. We learned this was because the owners have to pay higher taxes if the buildings are finished.
As usual, we overpacked so we recommend limiting what you take to save a lot of grief later. Also, be sure to take a lot of single bills for tips. Some of the public restrooms have people inside handing out hand towels and expecting tips. Our tour guide, a native Egyptian, discouraged tipping in these situations as the country is trying to eliminate this practice.
Tourism, which was big several years ago, has been hurt by political issues throughout the country. With improved leadership, they are working to build it back up. We would highly recommend visiting Egypt to enjoy the history of this country and its people.
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