A Travellerspoint blog

April 2009

Falafels and Sheeshas

overcast 37 °C

Salam! We have now had a minute or two to breathe today even though we started out early this morning. Our balloon trip was cancelled so we got to sleep in until 5 AM! After a lovely breakfast that included bacon (which is very rare here in Egypt because of the Muslim religion) we were off to visit three tombs of kings in the Valley of the Kings. There was lots of walking and steps up and down to visit the innermost part of these ancient tombs. This is best done during the early morning because of the intense heat.

Now, let's talk a bit more about the food of Egypt. We have never seen so much bread (mostly all white) in our lives. Buns, bread, puff pastry, pitas, croissants, baguettes - you name it the Egyptians will make it. While it is all delicious it is a pit of a shock to those who aren't used to so many carbs.

I have mentioned that very little bacon or pork is served. We dined at our hotle in Luxor last night - a four course meal for 60 Egyptian pounds - about 12 dollars. Mulligatawny soup, feta salad, steak in mushroom sauce and not one, but three pieces of baklava! Top that off with a local beer Stella and you have a full meal for under $20.00.

Egyptians also love their cheeses. What we are missing which isn't served in any great quantity is fresh fruit. We have had fresh dates which taste nothing like the dates you buy in the Canadian grocery stores. Delicious!

Today we had the most authentic experience. Rafik, our tour guide, took us to his favorite sheesha bar. He ordered everyone street coked falafels. I was totally satisfied with my mint tea - a new favorite! And, in keeping with Egyptian tradition, we finished off the meal with the sheesa pipe. Egyptian men spend hours on the streets watching the world go by and smoking their sheesa pipes.


From the restaurant we went to the local market. Everywhere we travel in Egypt there are several very aggressive sales people, adults and children, trying to get you to buy. You get to the point of not wanting to even slow down when you reach them. Today, though, we went to the market where they wanted you to come in and look. Don't get me wrong - they are excellent sales people but we didn't have the same pressure to buy. Of course, wanting to help the Egyptian economy we bought and bought and bought some more! There are many people coming home with scarves, pashminas, silver jewlery, cartouche rings with our names engraved in hieroglyphics. Here are two of our expert barterers!


We are off to the Sound and Light show at Karnak Temple tonight and then heading to the Red Sea and the city of Hurghada for a few days of ATVing, snorkeling and relaxation - I believe we have deserved a bit of a rest! Everyone has proven to be excellent travellers - up for any adventure and not complaining about the early mornings and the time on the tour bus. What a group.

Till next time.....

Posted by jonaway 05:07 Comments (0)

A Picture for everyone at home!

sunny 40 °C

Hello everyone - it is now almost midnight and we are trying to get to bed for a few hours. Our wake up call tomorrow is at 5:00 AM so we can visit the Valley of the Kings and Queens before it gets scorching hot. Today we visited Karnak Temple and the temperature was 40 degrees at 5:00 PM. A bit hot and a contrast from Canadian weather.

Here is a photo of our group in from of our hotel in Aswan. Hope you enjoy seeing your loved one in the picture.


Our hot air balloon adventure has been cancelled due to an accident here in Luxor. There is a lot to the story - I won't bore you with the details right now. The Aviation Department has shut down all balloon rides - so for those of you wondering about your traveller know that we will not be going in the balloons.

The post today will be short so we can get some sleep! I need to correct some of my facts and figures. It seems our fellow instructor in Calgary (the Geography teacher) is reading the blog. Egypt has a population on 80 million with 20 million of them living in Cairo.

Posted by jonaway 13:33 Comments (1)

Un 'freaking' believable

Abu Simbel and so much more.....

sunny 35 °C

Thanks for all of you that have commented on our trip. Sorry again for the typing. I must not have been awake yesterday - lots of typos and spelling issues. I will try better - although our morning started today with a 2:30 AM wake-up call. We left in a convoy to Abu Simbel - nothing to be concerned about for you parents. The convoy is for the safety of the tourists - if the bus doesn't check in by a specific time the police will come looking for us. Not to worry though - everyone feels extremely safe in the country!

Last might we fulfilled some of the group's "bucket list" by swimming in the Nile and riding a camel. Our 2 km. trek on the camel couldn't end soon enough for some and took us to Sohill Village - a typical Nubian Village. After a history lesson on the Nubians we were treated to a delicious Nubian meal cooked and made by the local family. The Nubians have a very interesting history which you must ask your traveller about when they return.


Abu Simbel - another temple that is so hard to put into words. This monument to Rames II (and a second for his wife Nefretari is carved out the sandstone. What makes the site so special is that the entire temple was disassembled and moved 100 meters to higher ground when the Aswan High Dam was built. 15 temples in all were moved to various locations along the Nile.


Some of the group also visited Philae Temple today in Aswan. While the temple itself was phenomenal our tour guide, Fareg was totally entertaining and charming to say the least! I even got a marriage proposal and the gentleman's e-mail address and his phone number and address. All the young ones were jealous! Did I mention he is about 75 years old and married - they don't seem to have a problem with multiple wives here?

We are doing our best to stimulate the Egyptian economy - yesterday a visit to the papyrus factory to see them making paper. Many people bought paper with hieroglyphics. Today we stopped at a perfume factory to purchase a variety of perfume essences and perfume bottles. The most popular item so far though are the array of scarves - all locally made and in every color imaginable - place your orders ladies!

Our food and drink have been interesting - lots of hibiscus tea offered but I haven't had any mint tea yet! We have tasted fresh dates, lots of fresh chicken and, oh how they like their bread. The local beer, Stella, is pretty tasty, too.
Not bad for a Muslim country. We continue to be astounded with the Egyptian people who are kind, friendly (the vendors maybe a bit too overwhelming) and so willing to converse with us.

Signing off now - we do finally get to sleep in tomorrow and perhaps enjoy one last dip in the pool here at the Basma Hotel. Post your comments and I will pass them on to the recipient! We are off to Luxor tomorrow for two more days of temples and tombs.

Now, for those of you asking I will try and post some photos! Nite all.....

Posted by jonaway 11:36 Comments (3)

The Pyramids are real!

Yes Mary-Ann - the geography lesson has sunk in!

sunny 30 °C

Hello everyone! We are now in Aswan and I have a much better computer to type on so let's begin.

We were met on Sunday morning at the Egyptian Museum by our new friend Hala. She has studied for four years to be an Egyptologist tour guide and she is fabulous in bringing Egyptian history to life! She calls us her little pharaohs and she is Mama Pharaoh! We followed her through most of the museum - seeing all of the King Tut items, including the oh so incredible jewlerry - oh to have just one piece!

Hala is having great fun with Miguel (our only male on the trip) comparing him to Rames II who had 46 wives!

Let me tell you that there does not seem to be a recession in Egypt when it comes to tourism. Group and group and tour bus after tour bus stream in to all of the sites. It is one of the most international groups of travellers I have ever encountered.

After the history lesson in the museum we headed out to Giza for our first sighting of the pyramids and the Sphinx. I asked the students for some words to describe them and most of them found it hard to put in to words such an incredible ancient enginering feat! I, too, am at a loss for words - perhaps our pictures will help to show you when we get home.


The best sales line we heard today was when the vendor started with offering scarves "Buy one get one free" and ended with "buy one - get me free". I am not sure if that was his sales pitch or a pick up line!

We got to experience an Egyptian supermarket last night (like Wal-Mart on Egyptian steroids I think!) This was in preparation for our 12 hour bus trip to Aswan. Everyone was challenged by the length of the trip but upon arrival in Aswan and our hotel where we all have rooms overlooking the pool they ran to change for a quick swim before our next outing - to ride a felucca (boat) swim in the Nile, a ride on a camel and trip to an authentic Nubiam village for dinner.

Egypt is an incredibly friendly place. We have encountered warm smiling faces, people trying to speak English and the most adorable children anywhere. The Muslim belief that everything happens for a reason "inshallah (spelling?)" keep a remarkable peace - if God wishes it to be so then it will be - even car acciidents! Everyday I fall more in love with this country of contrasts!

Off to Abu Simbel tomorrow - more then.

Posted by jonaway 04:31 Comments (3)

A country of contrasts!

We're here....


First I will apologize for the bad typing that might occur. This is the funniest keyboard to type on - especially the space bar.

We are here so for all those parents following us (mine included) you can rest easy! The flights were long but enjoyable- international flights are so different from North American flights-they actually feed you and give you drinks! Quite a change.

Now to my observations- Egypt is a contry of vast contrasts. Flying in you can see the fertile lands of the Nile delta- just like on any map. It looks more like a prairie farm land than Egypt. Then you see the desert- right beside it- nothing but sand for as far as the eye can see.

We were met by our Top Deck guide and lead through customs-an interesting activity in any country!

Now to the trip to the hotel- Cairo has some amazing buildings-huge ornate mosques and then mud huts right beside them, huge hotels beside local markets. Right down the street from our hotel are vendors selling coffee, food and fruit and beside them are their herds of sheep and goats. It is hard to describe.

Cario has no traffic lights-three lanes of traffic that somehow become five when they drive. We say only one policeman directing traffic - 20 million people in Cairo and seemingly less traffic ties ups than on the DeerfootTrail in Calgary!


I now know where all the recycled satelitte dishes are sent - to the apartments of Cairo. It seems like every apartment has a dish on the roof and a huge air conditioning unit. Most have some awnings that need major repair (Marty - I will bring pictures)

Our hotel overlooks the Nile River and has a roof top pool (albeit we have to look over the water treatment plant to see the river!) Today we are off to the Egyptian Museum and the Pyramids. We have an overnight bus trip tonight taking us to the very south of Egypt - Aswan. Lots more is planned- stay tuned!

Posted by jonaway 20:25 Comments (3)

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