Egypt Adventures!

Egypt Adventures!

Hi Friends!

After our “underwhelming” experiences (as a fellow traveler so eloquently put it) with our visits to the Valley of the Kings and Queens, I didn’t expect too much from the remaining sights in Egypt… but I was wrong!

Our final day in Luxor (Wednesday), however, I had a great time. Ryan and I decided to rent bikes in the early afternoon and rode along the Nile to Karnak at the recommendation of some other people at our hotel. It was a nice ride and the breeze was wonderful since it was about 100 degrees there.

I wasn’t sure if we’d be able to see Karnak from the outside, so we tried riding around it. We ended up riding through a residential village. At one point, I went to put my camera in the side pocket of my backpack and dropped it. I stopped my bike to get it, and a group of guys working on a building got our attention and asked me to take a picture of them. They were so fun… posing for the camera:

Ryan didn’t want to go into Karnak. I thought it looked cool from the outside and felt like I should see it since we were there already, so I went in alone. I am soooo glad I did — it is one of my favorite things I’ve ever seen!

(My attempt to “walk like an Egyptian”)

Karnak is a fantastic temple built over the reign of many Pharaohs and more than a thousand years (I think). And it was AMAZING. I was in for about an hour and didn’t see the whole thing… and I was moving pretty quickly. You walk in through a row of statues, and into this room with hundreds (again, I think) of enormous pillars all covered in pictures and hieroglyphics. Then there are rooms and rooms off of the sides, all different and interesting… With pictures like in The Prince of Egypt. From the pictures you could probably get a gist of the story being told even without being an Egyptologist. I was moving too quickly to come up with too many stories, but could have been entertained for a long time.  I like places where you can just explore, and it was like that:-).

While I was there, the cutest group of pre-teens came up and asked to take pictures with me. They practiced their English (What is your name?, Where are you from?, etc). And waved and said hi every time I saw them afterwards. I was continually impressed wih the gracious openness and kindness of every Egyptian I interacted with who was not trying to sell something, and even many who were. Apparently while I was in Karnack Ryan was getting his picture taken with 30 Cairo University students in the visitor center area:-).

After riding our bikes back, we went to buy train tickets — intending to take an overnight train for the 11 hour trip back to Cairo. However, we found that there were no tickets on any train that evening, and foreigners were having trouble buying tickets for the next few days of travel, also. We went to the Tourist Information Center where an extraordinarily helpful man there tried pulling strings, and called the bus companies to see if we could take a bus back. Ultimately, we had two choices. The first was to take a bus to another city and then another bus to Cairo. The second “adventurous” (according to the guy helping) option was to get on the train and buy tickets en route. The risk with that option was that we wouldn’t have assigned seats, so we might end up standing or on the floor. Neither of those options sounded good (especially knowing what the train was like)… but we opted for the train anyway since at least train travel was familiar, and because the guy called it the adventurous option (haha, if you know me that will make sense) :-).

I am soooo thankful that, by the grace of God, things worked perfectly on the train. We had to move a few times, but were in seats the whole time, and slept pretty much the whole way. Turns out trains lull me to sleep no matter how awake I am when I get on… what a blessing!!! We got to Cairo about 8:30 yesterday morning and easily found a good hostel with rooms. We were able to check in early, eat some breakfast, and shower before beginning our Cairo sightseeing. So nice!!!

Everyone kept warning us against high expectations for the pyramids, and we ultimately decided to see them more because it seems criminal not to go once you are in Egypt. I had lowered my expectations more than necessary… I thought they were really cool. They are absolutely huge!!! 

 (I’m the little pink and black person in the middle)

We decided to go in the smaller of the two large pyramids. I didn’t expect this, but you have to walk waaayyyy down through a steep tunnel, crouched over because it is only about 4 feet high, and probably 4 feet wide also.

Once we started going in (with many people in front and behind us, and with no end of the tunnel in sight) I realized that I might have a problem with claustrophobia:-). I realized I was starting to panic… and then started imagining what would happen if I did lose it completely (which seemed quite possible at the time). Realizing how irrational my panic was but not sure if I was going to make it I started thinking of scenerios where people had to sedate me to get me out. Haha! Praise God that He gave me calm long enough to see the room in the middle and get back out. I was SO glad to see the sunlight again!

It was a perfect day and we enjoyed walking to a lookout point before seeing the Sphinx and leaving.

Finally, we took a taxi to the biggest mall in Cairo to meet Sherin, an Egyptian friend of Cara’s, for a late lunch. She was so sweet and it was a wonderful finale for our time in Egypt!

Now I’m on a plane headed for Morocco, and look forward to seeing Kevin and Keely today! Hopefully I can get this posted this afternoon.



Hi Everyone!

I hope you are well today! I’m sitting on the rooftop of my hotel in Luxor, Egypt, and am SO hot! It is now 95 degrees (but feels like 98, according to I was prepared for warm weather but WOW!!! This heat wave is quite the opposite of what has been going on in my homeland!

Ryan and I have covered a lot of ground over the last few days. We flew into Egypt on Friday and after finding a potential hostel decided to opt for a sleeper train and head south to Aswan immediately, and then work our way back to Cairo for our last day. I think I wrote something about that in my last post… the sleeper train was a no-go but we made it anyway.

Aswan was nice — a fairly large city on the Nile with several islands. On our second day we took a ferry to the main island and decided to walk around rather than take the recommended (by boat captains) course of sailing around and between the islands. We started walking and were soon climbing some stair-like rocks, suddenly finding ourselves in what seemed to be the island’s Egyptian ruins. We kept walking and came upon a poor village, with trash and animals around everywhere. We wound through some streets trying to get back to the ferry, and eventually made it onto a small street (about eight feet rather than the former four feet wide).

As we walked we met some other Americans who are traveling through Egypt. The girl has been traveling for about 11 months all through this region as a couch surfer, and her boyfriend met up with her for a few weeks of vacation. She seems to have had many interesting experiences! It was fun to hear stories and connect a little with others on the road.

Yesterday (Monday) we got up at 5am to go to the train station. We traveled for about 4 hours, during which we were moved to different seats in the train twice, and arrived in Luxor in the late morning. We came to our first-choice hotel and had to negotiate for two rooms, and then hung out on the rooftop for a while while they decided if they would let us stay. This hotel is not very nice, but has wifi and a nice rooftop where they serve cheap food and many travelers hang out. It is where I am now

We went to a western-style cafe for lunch and walked around to see the city for much of the day. At sunset we joined the other guests on the rooftop for a “sunset tea” included in our stay, and used the internet more.

Today we went on a tour to see most of the main sites in Luxor’s West Bank. We had a guide and about 15 others on our tour, and saw the Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens, and the temple of one of the few women who reigned in Egypt “as a man.” It was interesting. Haha, I admit one tomb looks like the next to me. I guess I’m not cultured enough for Egypt:-).

During lunch we ran into our friends from Aswan again, which was fun. There seems to be quite an international backpacking community, and it makes sense that you’d run into each other fairly frequently.

Tomorrow we plan to rent some bikes and see more of the city, and then take an overnight train back to Cairo tomorrow night. Thursday we plan to see the pyramids, and Cara and Luke have an Egyptian friend who now lives in Cairo who we hope to meet up with. Friday morning we will go to Morocco to see Kevin and Keely. I’m really excited for that!!!

Thank you so much, again, for following my trip, for your prayers and for your encouragement even from a distance. I have needed it this week and I have been really blessed through you.


PS: In case you were worried… the henna tattoo is not permanent:-)
PPS: I’m having trouble uploading pictures right now, but will do it when I have a better connection (possibly soon)

Pictures to correspond with the last post…

Pictures to correspond with the last post…

 Hi everyone,
Here are some pictures to go along with my last post.
These are from the desert safari:

 I thought it was SO beautiful!
These guys were crazy… the driving was so fun. You can’t tell, but that is a REALLY steep hill.
Desert sunset.
We got to dress up as locals.
I liked hanging out with the camels. They were actually pretty sweet:-).
I also got a henna tattoo on the safari.
 This is today — my first Egyptian ruins!

Traveling to Egypt

Hi Friends,

I hope you are all well.

Today I am in Aswan, Egypt. Here is the update:

Thursday Luke, Cara, Ryan and I went on a “Desert Safari” in the desert near Dubai. It was awesome. A local man drove us in a land rover from their house to the desert where we did some great off-roading on the way to the desert camp. We saw camels and experienced many local traditions in one shot, which was great. I’ll post pictures when I can.

On Friday Luke and Cara took Ryan and me to the airpot early, and we flew to Kuwait and then to Egypt. When we got to Cairo, we decided to hop on a train for Aswan (way south) and then work our way north, ultimately seeing the pyramids in Cairo on Thursday. We tried to get on a sleeper train, but there were no spots available, so we got “first class” seats and decided to travel all night anyway.

It ended up being a six-person room — not exactly the most cumfortable place — but was an OK trip for being 15.5 hours long — at least for me — since I slept (uncomfortably) about 14 of those hours (I didn’t really sleep the night before we left Dubai). I don’t think Ryan slept much so I felt bad about that.

Yesterday we arrived in Aswan in the afternoon. After unsuccessfully trying several hotels we finally found one with a few rooms available, and I was SOOO thankful to get a shower! Then we made our way to McDonalds, which was supposed to be the best place for wifi in the city. Sadly, it wasn’t working, but we did at least get some food. McDonalds ice cream and various types of bread have been the majority of my diet these last few days. We hired a falucca (sailboat) and went out onto the Nile around sunset, which was nice. Well, it was nice until our captain changed the price at the end of our ride. I’ll post the pictures… it really is beautiful here.

We walked through a bizaar in the early evening and then tried to find a resturant, and were amazed that everything was closed at 9pm — even though there were TONS of people out! The only resturant we could find open was… McDonalds:-). Apparently it is the place to be… it was packed with local people!

This morning has been good so far. Our hotel served breakfast, which was OK, and then we came across the street to an internet cafe. We plan to see the rest of the sights in Aswan today before heading north to Luxor tomorrow.

I appreciate your prayers. I have been feeling pretty homesick the last few days, and am realizing that I enjoy traveling to see people rather than sights quite a bit more. I want to enjoy this trip and need to have a better attitude to do that. Thanks for reading my blog and for your friendship. And have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!