Sunday, October 10, 2021

Walked Like an Egyptian


Semi-apologies for not posting more from our big trip to Egypt. Damian runs a tight ship -- some days we flew and traveled three-plus hours on a train to get where we were going -- so I was usually too exhausted by the end of the day to even think about blogging. You can find the few Instagram posts that I did manage to post -- and a more details about our first vacation in two years -- BELOW

Damian and I returned late Friday afternoon and have been slowly recovering from our jet-lag etc. (We were so lucky that his sister Marci made herself available to take care of Harvey after our sitter flaked at the 11th hour.) The trip was an absolute whirlwind, with a day excursion (by plane) from Aswan to Abu Simbel being the pinnacle of it all. How something so spectacular built in 1244 B.C. is still standing -- much less having been relocated(!) to make room for a dam -- must be seen to be believed.  

If you scroll through these Instagram posts, you can see it and other highlights from the trip -- including Karnak Temple, Valley of the Kings (featuring King Tutankhamun), Luxor Temple, the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Step pyramid of Djoser -- plus a quick jaunt to Alexander the Great Land where we stayed in the Elvis Presley suite of the fabulous Cecil Hotel overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

Justified and ancient

Via my social-media posts, I became aware that Egypt is on many of my friends' and readers' so-called bucket lists, with many asking questions about safety and logistics. What I can say is this: Ancient Egypt is part of everyone's history, so the ruins are more than worth the effort and money it takes to see them in person. That said, Egypt is definitely not for everyone. We knowingly picked pricier-than-normal-for-us accommodations because we knew that the country is a challenge, and here's why: When we were staying at places like the Mena House and Movenpick Aswan, and sailing the Oberoi Zahra cruise along the Nile, it was heaven on earth. (These are much nicer places than I am used to!) 

But the second we stepped away from these rarified settings, it was like a scene out of "A Hard Day's Night," with locals aggressively pouncing on us as potential sources of income. (Everyone has something to sell you or wants to give you an "inside tour.") Although this may sound like other poor places you've visited -- a huge percentage of Egyptians live on less than $2 a day -- trust me when I say it isn't. For example, Damian and I literally could not even speak to one another during what should have been a 10-minute walk from our hotel to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo's infamous Tahrir Square because we were constantly approached and propositioned, from everyone from people on the street to all the cars driving by. We never felt particularly threatened by what was going on. But it sure gave me a better appreciation for celebrities who say they "can't leave the house." Sure, brief interactions may seem harmless. But it takes its toll on you when every single person you encounter wants something from you. 

Marlo Thomas is really old!

(And God forbid you actually WANT to buy something. People say Egyptians like to haggle, but this isn't haggling. They refuse to tell you the price of something -- "it's free if you ..." -- or they start at a price that is 400 times what they really expect. All of this is a long-winded way of saying if you go, be sure to book proper tour guides in advance for each place you intend to visit. (Every guide we hired was an absolute mensch, thrilled to be sharing his country with interested tourists. And they weren't shy about saying how much they love Americans and despise Russians!) We mostly did things right, but made the mistake of thinking that by staying in a hotel near the Pyramids that we could just walk over and have a look. Ha! We were swept up by the locals in what we both later described as a quasi hostage situation, neither of us really sure what was going to happen next. And don't even get me started on "visiting" the "Alabaster Factory" or the "Papyrus Museum." But suffice to say that Damian inadvertently endowed the papyrus outfit our captor Kareem is in cahoots with!

You’re looking at a very happy boy, although he’s not quite sure what to make of his new brother!

1 comment:

j said...

Welcome back it looks like you had a fabulous trip