"Egypt - Like Coming Home" NilePrincess's Profile
It seems so long ago now, the way it all began. I don't remember sitting, pining away for a sight of the pyramids or longing to sail the Nile. It all happened quite accidentally. My travel buddy and I had planned to go to Morocco and, considering we'd already be in Africa, we decided to hop across to Egypt.
That was three years ago. I've been back five times since then....and is March of this year I took a group of 7 friends!
Egypt is intoxicating. The chaos of Cairo, the overwhelming history of Luxor, the beauty of Aswan...it all assaulted my senses and captured my soul. There is something magical about Egypt and, while I always say it's not for everyone, once you've been bitten by the bug you might as well surrender and go gracefully. Last year, I met an English couple who's been there 52 times! Crazy to some people, completely understandable to me.
I have to say that the first time I visited Cairo I was ready to get the heck out of there after two days. Both of my travel buddies have hated it. It's not really one of those places that you either love or hate; it's one that you need time to understand and appreciate. Having been back again, I find its insane chaos growing on me.
Luxor is one of my favorite places in Egypt. It is the largest open air museum in the world and you'll be hard pressed to find yourself more in the thick of the Egyptian culture than in Luxor. Having said that, it's not for everyone. Because Luxor is totally dependent on tourism, the hassle for business can intimidate some people ( I will offer tips on my page on how to deal with this), but for some of us it's a love affair that only seems to intensify as time goes by.
The East Bank is a bustle of activity and businesses. Cross the Nile to the West Bank and you leave the hassle behind. Staying on the West Bank presents tourists with the perfect opportunity to experience rural Egyptian life and bond with their local neighbors. I always rent a flat on the West Bank and have no desire to change it anytime soon....even if (especially because?) I have a camel chorus that starts promptly at 10am every morning in the yard behind mine. :-)
My #1 love! Friends in Luxor hate it when I say this. :-) Aswan and Luxor are worlds apart in feel and vibe, even though only 3 1/2hrs drive separate them. Aswan is home to the Nubians and has a much more African vibe to it. It is more laid back and the Nile in Aswan is BEEYOOOTEEEFULLL. A felucca ride there is always the highlight of my trip. Watch the children bathing on the banks of the Nile as you drift by, the women doing their washing and if you are even remotely brown, be welcomed with calls of "Hello, my sister!" There is a warmth from the Nubian people that is so welcoming you never want to leave. If I ever moved to Egypt I would definitely live here....well in the Winter at least. Good lawd it's hot there in the summer.
Sharm is my guilty pleasure. For the 'true culture seekers', Sharm is an abomination. It is a man made resort that could be anywhere in the world and has ZERO of the culture Egypt is famous for. It's an overpriced, hassle filled, self contained nucleus and many of the tourists there are barely aware they are in Egypt. Very often, they are the people you see on day trips wandering around the pyramids in shorts and high heels or beach wear. Still, after weeks of pyramids, camels, temples and felucca rides even we 'serious culture seekers' :-) welcome a slow, luxurious glide into the sparkling waters of the Red Sea. There, we are transported into the world of wonders hidden beneath its surface. You can stay on your hotel beach or take a trip out to Ras Mohamed. Either way, the snorkelling is out of this world and the sun shines 365 days a year.
Dahab is more laid back and 'authentic' than its sister coastal town. It's home to the hippies, divers, mature folk and people who want to 'just chill'. Basically, the people who want to go to the Red Sea but wouldn't be caught dead in the cheasy 'compound' that is Sharm El Sheikh. :-). Have a drink in a bar, dinner with the Bedouins or spend the night star gazing. For the more adventurous there are trips to Mt. Sinai (Moses Mountain) and the Monsastery of St. Catherine.
I myself prefer to find a hammock a stone's throw from the beach and curl up with a good book and a mango juice. Complimentary enhancements are a nice wafting breeze and the sound of waves breaking on the shore. What more could a girl want?
Siwa was unlike anywhere I've ever visited. People talk about being transported back in time; if a place ever truly fit the bill, this would be it. It's not just that it's a 10-hr ride through the desert from Cairo, or that the main transportation is donkey carts often driven by small boys, it's the distinct feeling that you're somehow not in Egypt anymore. The Berber culture is distinctly different from Egyptian culture. Siwans speak their own language and consider anyone who is not Siwan a foreigner. Egyptians are tourists! :-) It was so funny to hear Egyptians comment on that.
Siwa epitomizes the term 'laid back'. There is NO hassle in Siwa. No one calls you into their shops. If you've ever visited Egypt you will appreciate this. There is no haggling. All prices are set . The sand dunes are breathtaking as are the sunsets. You can pick your own olives from trees or take a dip in Cleopatra's bath. You can stay in an extremely modern hotel or you can rent a flat from a local. But most of all, you can experience life as it was thousands of years ago...albeit with more modern amenities.
Tip: The word is getting out and Siwa is starting to make its way onto tour itineraries. I was dismayed to see tour buses there on my last visit, so GO NOW!
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- 28 Reviews
- 56 Photos
- 1 Countries
- 7 Cities
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- NilePrincess and aadil are now friends.
- Posted in Travel Egypt Forum "Re: Cairo, Luxor and Petra (Jordan)"
- Commented on GrantBoone's profile page
- Wrote a Review Best Food in Luxor! in Egypt Restaurants
- Uploaded a Photo to "Hot, Fresh Fast Food in Egypt"
updated their Profile Page "Egypt - Like Coming Home"
- updated a Temple of Abu Simbel Travel Page "All Hail Ramesses!"
Top 5 Pages
- Egypt Intro, 12 reviews, 10 photos, 1 travelogue
- Aswan Intro, 3 reviews, 16 photos
- Luxor 3 reviews, 10 photos
- Siwa Intro, 2 reviews, 8 photos
- Temple of Abu Simbel Intro, 2 reviews, 3 photos
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