Spring 2012 - Our Journey Through Egypt

After summer in Germany and a few weeks back in the USA, we began to plan the next journey. We envisioned a visit to Egypt to savor the mild winter and then follow the spring to Jordan and on to Turkey. We planned to leave in early December.

At the end of November, Egypt's parliamentary elections began and soon there were more protesters filling Tahrir Square. Demonstrations grew and people were killed and injured. We decided to wait until after the elections were finished in early January and then reconsider this journey.

But where to go instead? Spain was a logical choice. The mild sunny Spanish winter would offer a welcoming alternative, we'd celebrate Christmas and New Year's Eve, our 26th anniversary, there and then reconsider Egypt.
Click here to read about our time in Spain (opens in a new window).

By early January, 2012, news from Egypt indicated things were now quiet, the US State Department had no new warnings, and reviewers of hostels in Cairo wrote that they felt safe and were enjoying the smaller tourist crowds. We decided to go.

We quickly made plans to fly from Spain to Cairo for our introduction to this new and different place. We spent three days exploring this a chaotic, bustling, congested, exotic, dusty, polluted, noisy, but friendly and safe megacity. Then we traveled by overnight Sleeper Train south to Aswan.

The next morning, we were in another world - green fields of sugar cane and other crops, palm trees and small villages, the blue Nile not far away, with the brown sandstone desert in the distance, where the water had not reached.

In Aswan, we began to adjust to being in a developing country after living for so long in highly developed ones. We admit it was more difficult than we had anticipated.

Over the next month, we:

  • visited the amazing Ramses II Temple in Abu Simbel;
  • cruised the Nile by felucca and cruise ship;
  • saw more amazing temples and tombs at Luxor;
  • slept in a range of hotels - some acceptable, some not;
  • and learned what Egyptian foods we enjoy and those we don't.

    We then flew down to Cairo to continue our visit to this megacity, including the obligatory visit to the Giza Pyramids, the views from the Cairo Tower, a visit to the Citadel in the Islamic area of the city and the Coptic Museum and Hanging Church in the Coptic area. Conditions were less settled around Tahrir Square so we skipped a return visit to the nearby Egyptian Museum.

    A bus ride then took us north to the coast to visit Alexandria, to visit this more European, but still quite Egyptian city. The Alexandria Library, the Koum Al-Shalkafe Catacombs and a wonderful Roman era amphitheatre were highlights.

    From Alexandria, we left Egypt and returned to the US. While we enjoyed visiting the many classic sites in Egypt, we decided that being there ceased to be fun. We grew tired of the combination of extremely bad air quality (especially in Cairo), the colder than usual weather in hotels with no heat, the less than pleasant surroundings in most every city we've visited, and most importantly, the constant possibility of problems due to the unsettled political situation. We have seen and done most of what we wanted and were ready to move on.

    Below are links to our stories and Flickr photo albums.

  • Where from? Welcome! - Our Experiences Meeting Egyptians

  • Egypt's People Made Our Visit Pleasurable!

  • Aswan - City at the First Cataract of the Nile and the Edge of Nubia

  • Abu Simbel and the Temple to Ramses II

  • Cruisin' Down the Nile (With a stop at Kom Ombo Temple)

  • Modern Day Luxor, Once the Ancient Egyptian Capitol of Thebes
       - Luxor Temple (Flickr photo album)
       - Karnak Temple (Flickr photo album)
       - Temple of Medinet Habu (Flickr photo album)
       - Temple of Hatchepsut (Flickr photo album)

  • People Friendly Cairo?
       - Sights of the City and the Coptic Area (Flickr photo album)
       - Citadel and the Pyramids at Giza (Flickr photo album)

  • Alexandria - 'Most European' of Egyptian Cities
       - Our Flickr Photo Album

    Click here to return to our 'Searching the World for People Friendly Cities' page