TRIP REPORT: Egypt Adventure

Apr 12th, 2018, 07:37 AM
  #1  
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TRIP REPORT: Egypt Adventure

It's all happening.

After 20 + years of dreaming, months of planning and a few sleepless nights, we'll be wheels-up and on our way to Egypt in just under 48 hours.

It's been a long time coming. We've talked and dreamed of this trip for over 20 years - the sites/sights to see, places to stay, things to do, and, of course a cruise up the Nile.

It's all happening.

We've made our plans, set our itinerary, clothes, shots, money, camera, walking shoes and sticks. We're good to go.

We booked through Memphis Tours and the've been awesome so far.

We'll have three days in Cairo - Giza, Saqqara, Egyptian Museum, Hanging Church, Alabaster Mosque, Kahn el-Khalili, staying at the Meridien Pyramids ....
Three days in Luxor - Karnak, Luxor Temple, Valley of the Kings Hapshesut's Temple, staying at the Winter Palace
4 days on the Merit Dabahiya from Luxor to Aswan. Edfu, Phillae Abu Simbel
and whatever else we can jam in.

We're excited.

I'm a bit nervous as this will be the first time I've left the country. Yes, I've been to Canada, but that hardly counts. We're going to a place that is far different in almost every way to our home in the Carolinas or anywhere else we've been. I don't really know what to expect.

Just the same it will be frikkin awesome!

It's all happening. I can hardly wait.
idlechater is offline  
Apr 12th, 2018, 07:45 AM
  #2  
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Interesting Connections

One of wife's besties arranged a dinner meeting with an Egyptian couple she knows. Sam and Hannah We got together at a Panera Bread and talked about ins and outs, lay of the land, dos and donts and so on.

They talked about having been to Egypt for their daughter's wedding back in July. They had arranged their trip through Memphis Tours as we have. As it turned out, they had the same guide we're having - a fellow named Ossama. Amazing coincidence. It just so happened that Sam had Ossama's cell number and called him. It was 1 am but Ossama answered and they talked for a while, in Arabic. The gist was that Sam said we'd be way cool client and that Ossama should take particular care.

That was cool.

Hannah and I both work for the same bank in Charlotte.

Very cool.

The next morning at work, I was describing the evening to one of the crew and it turns out that his wife had gone though massage therapy school with Sam and Hannah's daughter.

Amazing

I'm taking it as a Good Omen.

Last edited by idlechater; Apr 12th, 2018 at 08:02 AM.
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Apr 12th, 2018, 08:00 AM
  #3  
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ONE LET-DOWN

Our original plan was to work with a travel agent friend in Colorado. We had discussed our intentions with her on a few occassions, and she seemed excited to work with us. So, when we decided it was time to pull the trigger on the trip, we quite naturally contacted our friend to get the ball rolling. We gave her a bucket list and she promised to get back to us in a couple days. That was back around Christmastime. We haven't heard a word from her, since.

My wife called and left a message or two but nothing. By the end of January we decided we weren't going to hear from her so we made other arrangements. I'm glad we did as Memphis Tours has been excellent, but I still feel a little let down. I prefer to keep my money as "close to home" as I can. I spend money with friends or local businesses whenever and wherever possible. Not being able to work with out friend has been a disappointment and has soured the relationship a little.

So, to date, if there has been a down-side to this adveture, it's that.
idlechater is offline  
Apr 12th, 2018, 08:41 AM
  #4  
 
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Looking forward to following along on your adventures.
tripplanner001 is offline  
Apr 13th, 2018, 06:35 AM
  #5  
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T-24HRS: GASTRO-INTESTINAL COMPLAINTS, NEEDLES, AND DELAYS

My stomache has been upset for the last day or so. I blame this on nerves - stress of impending travel to a strange land. I'm not puking.......yet.

My lovely wife called Egypt Air for policy info regarding knitting needles carried on. Looks like there won't be much knitting before we get to Cairo.

We're gonna try to upgrade to biz class.

EA told us that our flight has been delayed two hours. This is great. I LOVE hanging out in airports all day. Everything is really expensive. People are so friendly, laid back, and chill. now, if pot was legal like it is in more civilized parts of the country, like Colorado .........
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Apr 13th, 2018, 10:18 AM
  #6  
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T-18hrs Scolded - Too Wierd For Egypt

I was told I was wierd in a separate thread, because I sit cross-legged in a resaurant and lean up to a bar and talk to people.

Granted, I am kinda wierd, but not because of how I sit and stand. My wierdness is rooted firmly in 60s pop culture. I like Peter Max's artwork, and David Lynch films. I like being comfortable and don't believe standing straight up while drinking is good for your health.

I was also told that Egyptian men don't respect western/American women.

Ok. That's enough.

I asked if I should consider canceling the trip. That was an attempt at humor, irony. I'm not cancelling the trip. My wife would frikkin beat me to death. I don't mean figuratively, either, I would be beaten to the point of appoplexy and soiling myself before death.

OK, I'm wierd. I get it. I'm going to Egypt anyway.
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Apr 13th, 2018, 10:36 AM
  #7  
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T-18 hrs Redux High Stress and Fire

I work as a consulting software engineer. I'm a hired gun.

It can be high stress at times.

Yesterday afternoon I got pinged by my boss to look into an apparent problem with an application I wrote. I got in the code and at first blush, things looked grim.

Stress levels went through the roof.

In my industry the process of recovery from these things is called "Putting Out Fires". It's an all-hand-on-deck, battle stations, klaxon ringing situatu=ion. The app is facing the public. It can't be broken. It must be fixed as soon as possible. Period.

And I have 48 hours before wheels up.

I was not happy, and I was not surprised.

It's common in my business for the proverbian shit to hit the fan at times like this. Pick the worst possible time for something to break and that's when it will happen.

That's what was happening.

So I'm freaking out. I've got to get this fixed and I'm rapidly running out of daylight. I don't know if I can get it fixed befor close-of-business today. I'm not canceling plans and I'm not taking work with me to Egypt. My contract is on the line.

Can't eat. Can't sleep. My guts are already tied in knots over the trip and now this.

Order take-out pour a beer and get to work.

I've been stressed out to the point of an axietyu attack over work a time or two and it ain't pretty. Anything I can do to calm things down will incapacitate me. There's nothing to do be soldier on and chew rolaids.

God, I do NOT want to have to bring my work with me this time ...

And it always happens like this. I'm getting ready for a vay cay and then something comes up and I have to cancel Last time it was a trip to Yellowstone NP.

Not this time.

Anyway, buy 1000 hrs this morning we were fixed and back up and running. As of this writing I'm still calming down. Just a few things to pack at home..

​​​​​​​It's all happening!
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Apr 14th, 2018, 08:23 AM
  #8  
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JFK - 2 Hours IN

Just got off the plane at JFK. Flew Jet Blue in an Embraer E190. Never been on one before. Comfy. Staff good. Flight smooth. T5 is nearly empty, but headed for T4 to wait for our Cairo flight. 8 hour layover.

I liked flying Blue. The seats were roomy and comfortable. Each seat-back has a small monitor for TV, etc. I opted for the map to watch progress. Napped for 30 minutes.

I expected JFK to be packed, but it ain't so. I'm not complaining. I hate crowded airports. T4 may be different. Hope not.

I was a little worried at the news out of Washington that we have attacked Syria over the alledged gassing of civilians. Russia isn't happy. It could mean more trouble coming. Hope that cooler Heads than our's prevail.
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Apr 18th, 2018, 01:32 PM
  #9  
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Day 2 - Giza, Camels, Memphis and Saqqara

A very Busy day, but first, ......

We finally made it to the Meridien Pyramids around 6pm. Our flight was about 3 hours late and our guide was nowhere to be seen. He showed up about 45 minutes later, thoroughly embarrassed for being so late, but Memphis tours was unaware that the flight had been changed, several times from it's original schedule. To be honest, I thought of calling our guy at MT, Mohammed, to give them a heads up, but didn't. So, the best thing to do, was the thing I failed at, so I will gladly share the blame for the delay in Cairo

We had time for a quick shower and change before we went to the Light & Sound show at Giza. It was kinda fun. Afterwards, we went to a restaraunt nearby for dinner, which was very good. The real high point was a refreshing drink made with lemon, mint and milk that was really good.

Today we started at 0730 when we met our guide for the day, Maha. We drove up to the Great Pyramid. I've seen many documentaries, and photographs of this area, but none of them really do justice to the size, scale and setting of these structures. Words like amazing, breathtaking, and awesome don't cover it either

We got a ticket to go in the Great Pyramid. This was pretty cool. Anyway it was cool intill we stepped out into the Grand Gallery, when it went from cool, to OMFG. The king's chamber was as cool as it was empty. We weren't allowed to bring a camera.

At Giza we were met with a phemnomena that would follow us for the rest of the day. There are vendors selling cheap, made-in-china, crap. To say they were aggressive would be a bit of an understatement. Maha told me to simply ignore them - don't look at them or speak to them. That seemed to work most of the time, but at Sakara an armed gaurd intervened when a particularly aggressive guy on a donkey wouldn't let up or back off. Anyway, .......

After the Great Pyramid we went around to the "Panoramic View" And took pictures - silly things like lining up with the Great Pyramid with goofy poses. Then we took a cammel ride!

The camel ride was a blast! We rode around the Pyramids and ended at the Sphinx. Once you get the knack of riding one, the Camel is steady and comfortable. It was a lot of fun, and while not cheap (~$50 for 2) it was still worth every penny.

We stayed at the Sphinx long enough for a short lecture by our guide and a few pictures and then headed off towards Sakara.

First we stopped a Papyrus shop. This was the real stuff, the the cheap crap made from banannas. We had a quick lesson in how paper was made from papyrus and then escorted around their showroom. Picked a few nice pieces and headed down the road to our next stop.

Next was at a small open-air museum in the area of Memphis - the captial of the Old Kingdom Lower Egypt. This museum had an amazing colossus of Ramses II, the 2nd largest Sphinx, and a number of other stone artifacts

After Memphis we stopped at a rug weaving school. My wife is a fiber artist and so she really got into the process the students were using. Again we picked out a couple pieces and moved on.

We had lunch in a little family place, kind of like the "theme restaraunts" we find in the US, but on a smaller scale. Very "Egytian" according to Maha. Chicken and sausage on a small grill, rice and a vegetable. More of that lemon and mint drink - yum! Really excellent stuff.

I find I'm really starting to like Egyptian food.

Then to Sakara. This is an important site. It contains the first stone pyramid ever made - the Step-Pyramid . There are also a number of other pyramids as well, but we stuck to the the Step Pyramid's courtyard. A very interesting site that could stand a longer visit.

That made the day. We had a great time. Our guide was excellent as was our driver. We were entertained, educated and fed. There were bucket-list sites and activities. Great company and great times. It was a day we won't soon forget and we still have tem days to go.
idlechater is offline  
Apr 19th, 2018, 04:11 AM
  #10  
 
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How hot is it in Egypt at this time of year? Were there crowds at any of the places you visited?
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Apr 20th, 2018, 09:41 AM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by tripplanner001 View Post
How hot is it in Egypt at this time of year? Were there crowds at any of the places you visited?
We're in Luxor right now. Our guide told us it was 120* F while we were in the Valley of the Kings yesterday. I'm told that's a bit hot for this time of year. It seems to have been cooler today, say, 100.

As far as crowds go, I'm told that numbers are down by more than 50% since the Arab Spring revolution. While we've been visiting all the major sites - Giza, Saqqara, VotKs, Hatshepsut, Karnak, Luxor, it's not what I'd call crowded. There are people in these places, but not in numbers that would spoil the experience in anyway. We were in Kahn el Khalili souk the other day and it was quite pleasant.

The reason the crowds are so low, is that Americans are afraid to travel in this part of the world. Home of the brave, right? This is really sad. At no time have I felt anything less than safe. I got a ScottEVest in part for it's anti-pickpocket features and I have yet to feel I was in an area where that was needed. The people are friendly, and welcoming. Vendors can get a little pushy, but that's managable.

Crowds are low, and the USD goes a LONG way here. We're about a week in and I've over-dosed on wonder. The place is magic.
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Apr 20th, 2018, 10:52 AM
  #12  
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Days 4 & 5: Luxor

Days 4 & 5 have been spent in Luxor.

We got into town around dinnertime. The flight into Luxor via an Egypt Air Emabraer 170 was fast and smooth. We flew Business class which is fine, but I must say that I found the service to be adequate only and as another review said it, the attendants were a bit surley.

Our guide was right on time and got us to the Winter Palace Hotel in short order. We were immediately struck by the contrast between Cairo and Luoxor. Cairo is loud, dirty (read: filthy) and chaotic. Luxor was much much quieter, clean and relaxed. A much needed change. While wonderful in it's own way, Cairo is also exhausting.

Anyway the Winter Palace is wonderful. While our guide was checking is in, I went out on the back porch to take in the gardens. There was a scent of smoke from the cane fields in the aor as well as jasmine from the gardens. It was time for Maghrib (sunset) prayer and the call to prayer was being sung from three different mosques. The atmosphere was marvelous. The building is old - the winter home of King Farouk. It's a short walk from the river, with many faluccas, dahabiyas, water taxis and cruise ships tied up along the Corniche el Nile.

Our guide suggested we get together for a carriage ride after dinner. He employed a carraige owned by Ali and pulled by his horse named Rambo. Yeah. Rambo. Anyway, we rode around Luxor, checking out a bustling little city. Even though it was late, the town was very busy and alive - probbly because of the opprossively hot daylight temps. We stopped at a shop for some fresh sugar tea (fresh local sugar cane). After that we rode through the local souk. It wasn't as pretty as more touristy souks like the Kahn el Khalili in Cairo. This was a place for locals. Spices, fruits, vegetables, meats, hardware, clothing and so on. Not much for the average tourist interested in statues, pyramids, fake papyrus and other such novelties. But utterly facsinating.

After that we stopped a coffee shop across the street from the recently excavated Avenue of the Sphinxes.

The next day we visited the Valley of the Kings, the Temple of Hatshepsut, and Howard Carter's home. We also passed the Collossi of Memnon and the Ramesseum. Enough has been said about these, and much better than I could write, but I would say this..... we were the only people visiting the Howard Carter home and it's a neat place. The frosting on the cake here is an exact replica of Tut Ankh Amun's tomb. We saw the actual tomb i the VotKs, but this replica had much better interpretation. Again the only people there.

Today we visited Karnak and Luxor temples. Again, volumns have been written already, but one thing stood out. There is a mosque called Abu Haggag (after a muslim saint) built into the old temple of Luxor. It sits about 12' above the floor level where the street level was before the temple excavations began. It's still in that spot and very much in use. Some years back the people doing the excavation (not Egyptians) wanted to destroy the mosque in order to uncover more of the pharonic temple. This didn't happen. This is a Good Thing, but more important to me was the level of hubris demonstrated. Early Christians used both Luxor and Karnak for places of worship and noone suggested removing those traces, and they are many. Yet it seems they had no qualms about destroying an artifact every bit as historic as the old temple itself. The difference is it's muslim.

Enough of the soapbox.

Luxor is incredible. we still have a day or two left and will revisit the VotK, Hatshepsit, Luxor and Karnak. Looking forward to the repeats.
idlechater is offline  
Apr 20th, 2018, 03:29 PM
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Thank you for your response. Egypt is one of those fascinating places that we see in travel magazines and TV programs. I've been to that part of the world a few times but haven't made it to Egypt yet. I would probably go during the North American winter when it's cooler though.
tripplanner001 is offline  
Apr 20th, 2018, 04:56 PM
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We visited Egypt in early March this year and felt the temps were perfect: Low to mid 70s.
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Apr 20th, 2018, 11:24 PM
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Hi Idle Chatter,

Thanks for sharing your experiences. I have travelled to 15 African countries and am a fairly relaxed traveller but yet to make it to Egypt, heading there in July with a girlfriend of 38 years - super excited.

How was the Meridien Pyramids? I am not expecting too much, just curious.

Happy travels and thanks again for sharing.
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Apr 22nd, 2018, 08:03 PM
  #16  
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Originally Posted by Bwino View Post
Hi Idle Chatter,

Thanks for sharing your experiences. I have travelled to 15 African countries and am a fairly relaxed traveller but yet to make it to Egypt, heading there in July with a girlfriend of 38 years - super excited.

How was the Meridien Pyramids? I am not expecting too much, just curious.

Happy travels and thanks again for sharing.
The MP was just fine. Only one complaint. The hotel's electricity didn't play nice with our power converter, making the charging of phones, etc unreliable. Otherwise the hotel was quite good.

July? That's brave! It will be wicked hot by then.

Have you arranged for a guide?

Last edited by idlechater; Apr 22nd, 2018 at 08:54 PM.
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Apr 24th, 2018, 02:12 AM
  #17  
 
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Thanks, my power cables are for 220 volt so should be fine.

July - because that is when my friend has long service leave and she organised the trip, I am just tagging along, first time travelling when I have not done any of the planning. It will be hot but I live in a hot and very humid climate so wont be too different for me.

Trust your trip is going well.
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Apr 24th, 2018, 09:29 AM
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Thanks our trip has gone really well. We just pulled into Aswan City and will spending our last night on the Merit Dabahiya.

Our trip has been a smashing success. More in a bit.
idlechater is offline  
Apr 25th, 2018, 09:42 AM
  #19  
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A little remiss ...

We've spen the last 4 nights aboard the Merit Dahabyia. Making passage from Luxor to Aswan we made a second visit to Luxor Temple - this time after dark, stopped for the temples at Edfu and Kom Ombo and finally the Philae Temple in Aswan. Having started to OD on wonder, I find it difficult to describe my impressions of these sites. Yes they are marvelous. Yes, they are breath-taking. Yes, they are magnificant. They are all those things and more, but when you.ve seen all the sites we have, stringing words together only to sound trite and repetitive doesn't inspire the writing. Add to that, physical, emotional, spiritual and intelectual exhaustion, mixed with a touch of Ramses' Revenge and now a cold, and writing about it does not come eas.

But lets say this.....

Our experience aboard the Merit was first rate. Excellent crew and excellent service. The food was marvelous - delicious, well-presented and generous. Bring an appetite. Our room was small, but comfortable. We never had enough wind to set sail, but our tender/tugboat was quiet. The boat was solid, steady and quiet. There was plenty of time for relaxation on deck or in our room. And then there was Egypt. Mile after mile of Egypt. It is a shame it had to end.

Tonitght we're in Aswan at the Movenpick on Elephantine Island . Very nice.

Tomorrow we fly to Abu Simbel, and then to Cairo. Friday we fly to JFK and then home to South Carolina.

Last edited by idlechater; Apr 25th, 2018 at 09:45 AM.
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Apr 25th, 2018, 09:58 AM
  #20  
 
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Sorry to hear that you are dealing with an illness at the end of the trip, although it seems to not have taken away from it. Is the vessel you were on large? How many passengers?
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