I never really got to share my experience visiting Egypt with you. Life got busy. January flew by. A trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras came and went. And I realized, I completely passed up tales about my excursion to Egypt – the place I kept getting warned about, advised not to visit and stared at with wide eyes when I mentioned heading there myself. Luckily, I jotted down plenty of notes while I was there. So let’s go…
There were very few women on my flight but I was fortunately seated next to a friendly (and curious) young woman that was moving to Egypt from Libya via Istanbul to have her first child while her husband works at a foreign embassy. She cozied up to me right away, asking for a selfie together and promising to find me on Facebook. When she was uncomfortable during the flight, she even rested her head on my side and used me as a pillow. Fast friends, you could say.
Upon landing I headed towards passport control. It can easily be missed, so it’s worth a reminder to purchase an entry visa for $25 (USD) at one of the bank counters before trying to exit customs. Currently $1 will get you roughly 7 Egyptian pounds.
An escort met me at the airport and led me to a car. The first thing I noticed was the incessant amounts of dust floating all around.
Driving on the highway is an experience of its own in Egypt. Much like Southeast Asia, the lanes seem to be mere recommendations rather than actual rules of the road. Drivers weave in and out of each others’ paths, honking the occasional warning when another car gets dangerously close, as pedestrians play a real life game of frogger, dodging across the highway lane by lane. Children and men ride in the back of pickup trucks if they aren’t already filled with loads of fruit. All the while the continuous swirl of dust fills the air making the edges of everything hazy… So hazy, in fact, I hardly believed it when I first caught a glimpse of the pyramids in the distant skyline.
As we got closer to the hotel, the roads got smaller and rather than large trucks they became populated with tuktuks and carts filled with what looked like radishes, cauliflower and oranges pulled by mules until they stopped to become roadside market stands. Passing the dusty, old Pyramid Poultry Co. made me happy to be a vegetarian in this country and the canal running between the roads was occasionally overflowing with garbage instead of water.
When we turned down a side street the driver had to honk, pushing his way through hawkers and busy intersections without a single traffic signal. We got up to my room and Abdullah, my escort from the airport, laughed as I struggled to keep the door open as the wind blew forcefully past. “It’s a sandstorm,” he said, “a very nice welcome to Egypt.”
Even if Egypt isn’t quite the beauty I expected, I have a feeling I’m going to like the family running our inn and the view of the pyramids from our bedroom window is unobstructed – so close we are practically staying on the pyramids compound.
Planning your own trip to Egypt and looking for suggestions? Check out my itinerary for one week in Israel plus a second week to visit Jordan and Egypt.
Wondering why I’m in Egypt? Read this post here.