Walk like an Egyptian (Cairo, Luxor & Aswan)

So, it's a bit late but here it is guys.  Egypt has been a dream of mine since I was 11 years old, let's just say "The Mummy" had a lot to do with it but it was also heavily influenced by a class project I was assigned.  I had to do extensive research, which in those days, google wasn't readily available.  So, that meant I had to make many trips to the library and local bookstores, from then on I was hooked.  I loved everything about the culture and history, plus, they loved cats, talk about love at first read lol  Since then it was my goal to one day visit this amazing place and in the summer of 2015 I booked my tickets.  I was FINALLY on my way to Egypt, the place I read, watched documentaries and obsessed about was becoming a reality.  I don't want to admit it but I shed a tear or two after hitting that "confirm purchase" button.  

The day finally came, It was the middle of September and it literally took a whole day to get there. Plane after plane, lots of jet lag and little sleep but we finally made it.   

***You will need to purchase an Egyptian visa, luckily they sold them at the airport when we arrived and cost about $25.  To get more info click here Cairo Airport***

Hotels:  

Mercure Cairo Le Sphinx Hotel:  1 Alexandria Desert Road, 16 Pyramids, Giza, 12556, Egypt (This hotel was my least favorite, the bathroom was horrible but the view was amazing, not any good restaurants inside either)

Sheraton Luxor Resort: Al Awameya, Luxor 83951 (My favorite, very clean and in a great location.  Our room had a view on the nile river and there were a lot of wild kittens)

Moevenpick Resort Aswan: Elephantine Island, Aswan 81111 (Cool location, but you had to cross the nile to get to it.  Other than that it was great, very clean but the city was a bit boring) 

Language: Arabic is the main language but they also speak many others, including english.  

Currency: Egyptian pounds 

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Here is our awesome driver/photographer Ali =)

Transportation: You can easily find a taxi or carriage to take you around, ask your hotel concierge as well.  They can call you a cab.  Also, beware of the driving, lanes are none existent to them lol Cairo is the busiest and worst for driving. 

Weather: I went in mid-September and it was hot but bearable.  There were some days the were hotter than others but not humid or anything.  If your from California then it's basically like our weather in the summer, very dry.  

Food: I enjoyed the food, lots of chicken kabobs, lentil soup (AMAZING), roasted tomatoes, potatoes, freshly squeezed lemonade and hibiscus tea. 

Clothing: I've read many blogs about dressing "modest" but I went ahead and dressed how I felt comfortable, which meant shorts and t-shirts lol I was completely fine and no one was bugging me. Plus, I couldn't picture wearing anything else in that type of heat lol 

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View from the pool of our hotel (Mercure). Pyramids in the background. 

Cairo Location: Unfortunately, the area we stayed at wasn't walking friendly, and what I mean by that is, cars don't use lanes.  They make up they're own, I thought we were gonna die a few times, no joke.  There will be 2 cars in a 1 car lane and they don't care about pedestrian crossings.  Probably some of the worst traffic I've ever seen.  So that's definitely something to keep in mind when visiting.  Try and take taxi's or possibly stay in a less traffic heavy location.  The one time we did venture out it was very risky and all we did was cross over to the neighboring hotel, I wouldn't recommend it unless your quick on your feet and can easily dodge cars lol  The Location of our hotel, besides the traffic, was pretty cool.  We stayed right across the street from the Pyramids and could actually see them from our hotel pool.  

Luxor Location:  I like the location of Luxor, it wasn't busy and you were able to walk around.  The streets were very clean and it was probably one of our favorite cities while on the trip.  

Aswan Location: This area was kind of dead, not a lot of things to explore but there were a few stores and a couple good restaurants. The main reason people stop there is to visit the Nubian village and Abu Simbel (didn't get to go but now that means we have to go back lol)

Tour Guide: On day one we went to see the Pyramids, thankfully we had booked a tour guide to help us locate things and translate.  I had never had a guide before but highly recommend it if traveling to Egypt.  Many people speak english and other languages but it just makes venturing out easier.  Plus, they are obviously highly knowledgable and can take you to some of the best places to shop and eat.  We found our guide through viator and purchased a package that included entry into each place visited in Cairo.   Side note: They will try and make some money off of you by taking you to shops and restaurants that they're friends own.  Which means they will spike up the prices so that they can break them off a piece.  You just gotta stick to your guns are only pay what your willing.  So be weary and don't get suckered. Other than that, it was a great experience and we tried some of the best Egyptian cuisine and bought some great souvenirs.  Lets just say your girl went a little crazy and bought an absurd amount of scarabs lol 

Helpful Tips:

-Be weary of the men who wait inside the temples or near the major sightseeing areas, they will try and show you around the sights and ask for money.  Do it if you want, but to be honest, I didn't want to be bothered and sometimes they will charge a crazy amount.

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Here is the photo that cost us 5 Egyptian Pounds.  Let's just say he shouldn't quit his day job lol

-Also, if you go inside the pyramids they do NOT allow photos, lesson learned after having to pay 5 Egyptian pounds lol not much but still, if you do take pictures make sure your phone is on silent and there is no flash.  Even if you get caught all you got to do is give them a few bucks, hence the 5 EGP I had to pay.  

-Another thing, you will be flagged down by every vendor you pass.  Since tourism is not as high they are just trying to make a living but it can be a bit of an annoyance when you are trying to sight see.  My advice, kindly say "La Shukraan," (La Shoo-kran) which simply means "No thank you," or if you want go ahead and buy something.  

-I would try and find a local carriage or taxi driver to navigate you around if your not into the tour guide. It's not hard to locate one since they are so willing to help out.  We found Ali in Luxor and he was great.  Paid him about 60EGP and he toured us around to all the major sites for half the day. 

Sightseeing (Cairo):

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Pyramids:

One of the BEST experiences I've had.  I was just in awe and couldn't believe I was finally there.  It looked like a Hollywood backdrop, it was surreal.  The only downside was my damn tour guide wouldn't let us leave him to explore without giving us "A 5 min history lesson," which turned into 20! I know that doesn't sound too bad, but when you've been waiting as long as I did to get there it feels like a lifetime.  So I finally snuck away as he was finishing up and went wild lol We were able to climb them and just explore, it was amazing.  

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Here we are hanging out on the pyramid. Thanks to the good ol' GoPro for this shot.  

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Sphinx: 

The next most popular is obviously the Sphinx, couldn't go to Egypt without a visit, plus she's located a very short distance from the pyramids.  It was awesome but your only allowed to be within a certain distance so not as magical but definitely worth it.  I was really hoping to be able to at least sit on her arms or something.  I know I keep using female references but thats just what I assume the sphinx is. According to history, it has the head of a male, but others say it was female. Who knows lol

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Step Pyramid

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Djoser: 

Another location that wasn't too far from the Pyramids or Sphinx.  As you can tell by my clothing, we were able to visit all locations in one day, I swear I'm not re-wearing anything lol Plus, with the weather and how hot it was, I wouldn't even give it a try. 

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Sakkara:

This was a cool place to visit it  was mostly statues and relics. If I had to miss this place on my tour I wouldn't be too sad but don't get me wrong, it was worth the trip. 

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The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities: 

This place was awesome, if you're into museums its a must.  It has tons of artifacts that can only be seen there.  Also, if you love cats you will see a ton of them in and around the museum and if anyone knows me then you'd know  I was in heaven.  

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I found them everywhere and they even looked Egyptian lol They had an exotic look about them.

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Nile River Cruise:

In this picture we are trying out some traditional Egyptian clothing in preparation for our nile cruise.  We didn't end up going with these exact outfits but it was fun trying them on lol If you want to have a nice dinner and a show while cruising the nile, go for it but to be honest we were so jet lagged that it was hard to enjoy.  It was memorable though.  

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Mosque of Muhammad Ali

We also had the privilege of visiting a mosque in Cairo, it had a beautiful view of the whole city.  You had to rent a long robe to cover up ( I was wearing shorts) and take off your shoes, it didn't cost much.  I think maybe a dollar or two.  There is a clock there that was gifted to Egypt by France, which is funny because while visiting Paris we took a photo in front of the big obelisk which was gifted to France from Egypt.  Pretty cool to see both. 

Sightseeing (Luxor):

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Luxor Temple

This place was located in the center of town, small fee to pay for entry but not much.  Lot's of columns and hieroglyphics everywhere, plus tons of statues.  Definitely do not miss this.    

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Here is the main entrance to Luxor temple, or at least where we entered. 

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Karnak Temple:

Wow, this was probably the biggest location we visited.  We didn't even venture out through the rest of it, plus that day was unbelievably hot.  Make sure to drink lots of water.

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Taken right outside  Karnak temple.  

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Hatshepsut Temple

I loved this place, it's carved off the side of a mountain and was made for a female pharaoh. #girlsrule

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This is a close up of some of the columns

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Medinet Habu

We visited this spot right after, Hatshepsuts temple. It was pretty awesome, small but a cool place to visit.  

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Further inside were these cool stacks of columns. 

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Valley of the Kings

It was located in the mountains and was cool but not as much as I thought it would be.  Definitely go see it though, there are many tombs of various pharaohs you can enter.  

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This is me at the Valley of the kings showing off my Scarab ring and necklace. Told you I went a little crazy lol

Sightseeing (Aswan): 

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Nubian Village

Luckily, I had done my research and seen this place on Pinterest and I just knew I had to add this to my travel itinerary.  We had to take a boat ride down the nile to get here.  All the buildings were painted with tons of colors, it felt like i was in a Dr. Seuss movie lol Everything was very ornate.

 

 

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Another colorful entry way to one of the villagers homes. 

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The Nubian Dream

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Cairo, Egypt from above

Literally, looks like stacks of legos and most buildings are abandoned. From what I was told, the locals do this as a way of saving they're money.  So instead of putting it in a bank, they buy buildings. .