7 May 2017 - An Egyptian Welcome Feast
I arrived in Cairo, Egypt today - and wow, what a day! At the airport to greet me was Fayrouz - one of my best friends during my time studying at Cambridge University in England nearly three years ago. Since then we have been planning for years to get together in Cairo, where I could reunite with all my “Egypt Girls” who had become such good friends of mine during my studies in England. Fayrouz’s welcome was nothing less than extravagant! When I arrived at the airport late in the evening she was there to greet me with a big hug, after which she swept me of to her family mansion, where they had prepared an Egyptian Feast - complete will all the members of their extended family. I was showered with flowers, kisses, hugs, desserts, smiles, and of course - lots of laughs. After dinner we continued with an evening of Hooka & Belly Dancing… Let’s just say that my first Night in Egypt will definitely be one to remember!
8 March 2017 - Cairo, Egypt,
I thought yesterday couldn’t get better - until today happened! After a late morning wake-up call (as last night’s events kept my eyes open until around 3am) I was invited to join Fayrouz’s family once again around the breakfast table. Set out in front of me was a variety of different Egyptian cheeses (Roumy & Mish) , honeys, teas, breads, and other assorted items. I tried it all - including the sweet Halawa spread… After a delicious brunch (as it was nearly noon by the time we finished) we departed for Old Town Cairo. We spent the afternoon exploring Cairo’s local scene including the Citadel’s Ancient Mosques, Kan el Khalili Market, and the famous Kushari Restaurant (think delicious Egyptian Spaghetti). We saw Old Cairo from one of the best viewpoints, were dazzled by traditional Egyptian Architecture, and wandered one of Cairo’s Top Souks (Markets) where I learned that I have a fetish for Arabic Lanterns… In the evening Fayrouz surprised me with a visit to one of the top restaurants in the City for the most famous Egyptian dishes - Kushari, or what I like to call Spicy Egyptian Spaghetti. See Recipe Below:
Kushari Recipe: Macaroni noodles, spaghetti noodles, white rice, hummus (known as garbanzo beans), black lentils, crispy fried onions, garlic-infused oil, tomato sauce, and hot chile paste - all thrown together to create an unexpected yet delicious outcome!
As we made our way from place to place I was constantly mesmerized by Fayrouz’s dedication to stop and pray during every prayer call, giving me the opportunity to visit many beautiful mosques throughout the day. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to have such great friends - of all different backgrounds, races, and religions.
Still on the agenda - more Egyptian Deserts tonight, Ful & Falafel for Breakfast, and the PYRAMIDS OF GIZA tomorrow. I am so EXCITED!
9 March 2017 - Pyramids of Giza & Cairo
Today my dreams came true - as I got to stand in front of the only Ancient Wonder of the World still standing, The Great Pyramids of Giza. I woke up this morning to traditional Egyptian Ful (Fava Bean Dish) & Egyptian Falafel sizzling on the stovetop. Fayrouz’s mother Hannah woke up extra early to help prepare this delicious dish for me to try before I set off for the start of my tour! We sat down and ate breakfast as a family, which was a real treat - making my goodbyes even harder. In the late morning (10:00am) I set off to meet with my group at the Cairo International Airport for the start of our tour. Of my 5 travel travel companions, I met Isabella, Patricia, & Andrew for the first time as we set out on our journey together to the Middle East. First we went to the Egyptian Museum in downtown Cairo - a museum that holds all the Ancient Relics from the time of the Pharaohs (including all of King Tut’s Treasures). It was amazing to see the amount of treasures, mummies, and other items that come out of excavated Egyptian Tombs 0 and I learned a lot about the ancient history of the Middle East. After we spent the morning at the Museum, we set off to see the real purpose of our visit to Egypt, a visit to the Great Pyramids of Giza. These Pyramids are located just outside the City of Cairo in a place known as Giza. Most people do not realize that the Pyramids are located right near a city, which adds for a really dynamic contrast of ancient verses modern. We were able to visit the three Pyramids, the Sphinx, and even dine at a restaurant overlooking the Pyramids during the evening light show. Since I was a little girl I have always dreamed of seeing the Pyramids, and today that dream came true! They were built over 5,000 years ago in 2800bc for the King Cheops and his family, and are expected to hold the largest Egyptian Treasures of any other King (which or course are yet to be found). The history here is so rich and the culture so vibrant - it really makes every day quite amazing. As souvenirs, I purchased a Papyrus Paper Painting as well as some Queen of Egypt (otherwise known as Gucci) Perfume, as Egypt is one of the top essential oil & perfume suppliers to French Perfume Brands.
10 March 2017 - Nile Cruise (Aswan to Luxor) Philae Temple, High Dam, & Flueka Ride
Can you believe we are cruising down the Nile right now? It is hard for me to actually grasp the idea - I am in Egypt, soaring down the legendary Nile River, with ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman Ruins all around me. Our guide has been wonderful and we have learned so much (too much) about the thousands of years of Egyptian History. We started our day with a boat ride to the beautiful island of Philae, home of the ancient Egyptian God of Isis. This Temple has some of the best-preserved Hieroglyphics in all of Egypt, and is absolutely stunning. We learned about Pharaoh Ramsey II, King Tut, Cleopatra, Cheops, and so many other great Egyptian Pharaohs. Tombs, temples, and pyramids filled our day with secrets & marvelous wonders. In the afternoon we continued on the High Dam where we learned more about the Nile River. The Nile is the only river in the world that flows from South to North (opposite from all other Rivers). It starts near Victoria Lake in Uganda and flows all the way through Kenya, Ethiopia, and Sudan before reaching Egypt and emptying into the mediterranean Sea. Currently we are in Aswan, which is only several hundred miles from the Sudan Border - quite incredible if you actually think about it… Aswan and Luxor (where we will be traveling tomorrow) are both located in upper Egypt, with Cairo located in Lower Egypt. After a delicious lunch a traditional Egyptian & Western Fare, we continued on for a traditional Flueka Ride down the Nile River. A Flueka is a traditional Nubian Boat that only uses sails and wind to maneuver down the river. We sailed past Nubian Homes (traditional Egyptian People), botanical gardens, beautiful tombs, ancient temples, and much, much more… By the time we got back to our boat we were all exhausted and excited for some rest. I took a lovely nap and woke up just in time for dinner! The food was amazing - Tameya (Falafel), Ful (Fava Beans), Kushari (Egyptian Spaghetti), Mulukhiyah (Curry made with a local Green Vegetable), Kebabs (Grilled Meat), Baladi (Egyptian Pita Bread), Basbousa 7 Kanafeh (sweet pastries), Dolma (stuffed grape leaves, dates, Mango juice, and many, many more… Tomorrow we are going to have a big Traditional Egyptian Feast on the boat - and I am so excited! Right now I am about to head to a Nubian Dance Performance - so Catch you after!
March 11 - Nile Cruise (Aswan to Luxor)
What an in credible day! At 3:00am our boat left the dock - heading North towards the beautiful city of Luxor. between Aswan & Luxor we had several stops planned to see some of the most impressive Egyptian Temples - Ordu Temple and Edfu Temple/ Early in the morning we awoke to a delicious breakfast of falafel, ful, and other Middle Eastern Breakfast dishes… After our breakfast we had our first stop at Ordu Temple - a beautiful temple just off the banks of the Nile. We learned about Egyptian Hieroglyphics, Ancient Gods, Pharaohs, and more… It was quite the educational experience and we were all very excited to learn so much about Egypt in such a short amount of time. We continued on to our next stop another beautiful temple at Edfu (also along the banks of the Nile) before returning to our ship to enjoy a traditional Egyptian lunch. Cruising along the Nile has been so fun to share it with incredible friends. This evening we enjoyed a traditional Egyptian Welcome Dinner and Dancing before settling in for the evening.
12 March 2017 - Luxor, Egypt
We arrived in Luxor! Did you know that this city is home to more than 30% of all the archeological ruins found in Egypt? Our day started early (7am) and did not finish until we were dropped off at the airport to catch our flights back to Cairo. We spent the day touring the Valley of the Kings (my favorite spot in all of Egypt), Hatshepsut Temple, The Luxor Museum, Karnak Temple, Luxor Temple, and even had time to visit a famous Alabaster shop in route…. It was a good day & we are very sad to be leaving Egypt Tomorrow!