As far back as I can remember I have always been fascinated by the Pyramids, Pharaohs, and all the fascinating things associated with Egypt. I did many reports, built sandcastles shaped like pyramids and pretended my pony was a camel. So, it was no question that among all my travels, this was going to be one of the greatest adventures of my life.
I found myself traveling to Cairo by way of Dubai. After an amazing trip with friends in Dubai, I jumped on Emirates Airlines and headed to Cairo to meet two additional friends who were meeting us from the states. Do not feel sad for the friends that I left in Dubai, they decided to head on to the Maldives. (Insert beautiful sand, sun, and fun here.)
The journey included an awesome flight attendant who gave my partner and I all the awesome experiences to take in while in Egypt. From traveling to Luxor, and the Nile cruise to being prepared to crawl through the narrow passages of the pyramids. We took her suggestions as an insider since she was born and raised in Alexandria, the original capital of Egypt. I could barely contain myself!
Upon landing I felt a feeling I have only felt a few times in my life. It felt like I was at my mom’s house on a warm summer day, with all the family over. It felt like HOME! We were met with the nicest driver who took us to our stay at the Conrad Cairo. He seemed to be just as excited as us, kept calling us his brothers and we returned the favor. Out the corner of my eyes I saw this water way, it was large, somewhat like a river but hidden behind buildings as we continued toward our hotel. As we got closer it got even more visible. I took a deep breath and prepared to ask a question I have wanted to ask all my life. Is that the Nile? He looked at me square in my face, took a deep breath and responded “Yes, my brother, that is the mighty Nile”. I instantly started to well up. He gently pats my shoulder as we pulled into the hotel.
The Conrad Cairo is something out of an Egyptian fairy tale! It sat overlooking the mighty Nile River. From the doormen, to the bag attendants to the front desk they were smiling, welcoming and acknowledge my melanin with that Egyptian glow that I had needed to feel all my life. My room was facing the Nile and I had a moment where I needed to take it all in. God was showing me what he had put in me as a child was real, he was faithful I was overwhelmed with joy. The room was amazing!
My friends, I almost forget I was meeting them. We met in the lobby; they were just as excited as me as we were headed to our first stop. Giza, home of the Great Pyramids. We met Sybil, our tour guide for Cairo, little did I know she would become our friend, then our sister. She was classy, fun and super engaging, and did I say knowledgeable. You could see these mighty structures in the distance, the closer you got the more you felt them in your spirit, the more they spoke to you. After stopping and getting out at the first one, the four of us, four grown men were overwhelmed with emotion. Not only at their size, but we immediately envisioned thousands of slaves, or underpaid workers- working day in/out to lift these huge stones. They were the size of some small NYC buildings, but they had no machinery, no cranes, no industrial equipment. Whew! Inside them lay one body. ONE BODY! Hidden down small passageways that you literally had to squat, crawl and pull your way up/down. All my friends except one are husky, after one we were done. But we wanted more! We were ready. And visited the next one. The third was closed due to renovations. Here we were at the graves of a Mighty rulers, Cheops, Chephren, and Mykerinus. After coming back down we visited the Great Sphinx- its real! I looked at him, he looked at me and we connected. Later that week we came back at dust to ride quad bikes in the dessert with the pyramids in the background as the sun lowered behind them. OMG! GOALS!
Early one morning before the sun rose, we were on Egyptian Air heading from Cairo to Luxor. Upon landing we met Romany. A brother! An Egyptian brother who was excited to meet and embrace us and take us on a journey of the mighty city of Luxor. It was hot. HOT! He had waters, big ones, we had snacks, big ones. We were good. Again, the Nile met us -whew! Since the Nile flows from the south to the north, Luxor is considered Upper Egypt, although on a map its south of Cairo. While in Luxor we visited the Valley of the Kings the burial place of many kings, we went to the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut – the only female to reign in ancient Egypt. We visited the Karnak Temples, the colossi of Memnon and the temple of Luxor- breathtaking! We walked, down flights and flights and flights of stairs! It was hot, but worth it. Hydrate! Its not a game. After visiting a few shops and lunch and dinner we were back at the airport heading back to Cairo. Romany is amazing and we still stay in contact.
After breakfast, the sun met us along with the smiling face of Sybil. She was ready to show us more of her beautiful city. As we entered the Egyptian Museum, we had one thing on the brain, like visiting the Louvre searching to the Mona Lisa, here in Egypt I had to find him: King Tutankhamen! She started on the bottom floor and we saw beautiful artifacts, from the Pharaonic period. There were 5,000 years of artifacts in front of us. As we walked upstairs, we saw the exhibit, the one dedicated to King Tut- the king who took the throne at only nine years old. No cameras were allowed, even though there was no body you could feel him there. His jewelry, his weapons, his bowls –we were in pure amazement. After leaving the exhibit there were mummies after mummies so many of them! They were everywhere. After each one I became more fascinated, more curious, and prouder, that Africa had called me home.
Our trip continued with visiting Salah El Din Citadel and 2 beautiful mosques of Sultan Hassan and El Refai. Absolutely breathtaking and so unexpected. But the feeling came back from when we first touched down. As we traveled to visit the Hanging Church and then Saints Sergius and Bacchus Church. Sybil introduced us to her pastor and began to tell us the significance of her church. Here, in this place is where its believed that Joseph, Mary, and infant Jesus were hidden while in Egypt. As a lifelong believer there are moments that I feel the Holy Spirit. As she took us in a back room, and I looked down into a hole that was covered with a thick glass with a metal plate surrounding it, she told us this is where they drank from the well. I instantly started to cry. It was unavoidable. Once again, my faith led me to Jesus, I felt him usher me into this holy place to be able to share that experience with others. To tell his story. Sybil rubbed my back as I pulled myself back to be able to finish the tour. I remember the towers inside being named and decorated after the disciples all except one, the bare one belonged to Judas. As we exited, I began to feel the need to travel more than ever before. We spent a beautiful night cruising the Nile with other tourist and enjoying authentic Egyptian cuisine and the belly dancers – they danced!
Egypt left me numb, excited, humbled, and more grateful than I have ever felt in my entire life. I’ll never forget the smell of the pyramids, the beauty of the arts in the tombs or the smile of the Egyptians who opened their smile up for me and my friends. If you’re looking for a historic adventure, a lesson on fact vs fiction and the ability to put your finger on history – Egypt is definitely the place for you!
Over Egypt Tour company booked my tours, and flight from Cairo to Luxor. The tour guides all speak fluent English as well as the drivers in both Cairo and Luxor. The vehicles have a/c and Wi-Fi. Samir the owner is amazing! We had lunch with him and Sybil. Tour Guides: Sybil (Cairo), and Romany (Luxor).
www.overegypttours.com Facebook: Samir MrEgypt
I booked my hotel accommodations directly with the Conrad Cairo www.hilton.com