All my life, Egypt has been on my list of places I MUST visit. My husband and I had the opportunity to go before he moved here. The country was tense at that time and the last few weeks, I have been catching bits and pieces on the BBC of the continuing unrest all over that country and an increasing death toll. It is a complicated situation that will be difficult to sort out-I would not know where to begin! Our time there, (despite being involved directly or indirectly in the following: protests and unrest in Tahrir Square starting to get out of control, gunshots in our street at night that brought back war memories for my husband, anti-western sentiments on the looong train ride to Luxor, and a riot on Christmas Eve right below our balcony that included rock throwing through windows and machetes just as my husband stepped out to grab some cold drinks for us), was wonderful (and almost free of other tourists since tourists from all over the world were cancelling trips left right and center due to the unrest!).
Anyways, I am in no way qualified to comment or make sense of Egypt’s political situation and do not intend to in this post. Rather, I have been reflecting on our trip and this particular time in my life. We were madly in love and in a country where expressing it publicly is taboo. My husband is Muslim although he is not very religious. Georgian Muslims also have a whole different religious style in themselves which I will get into at another time. Having traveled only to Turkey, he was surprised (and a bit disappointed) at how conservative Egypt is. He thought he understood conservatism but realized Georgia is not as conservative as he thought compared to other regions.
During our visit, we spent time in Alexandria, along the Red Sea coast, in Luxor, in Hurghada, and in Cairo, of course. I have included some pictures in this post to better share some of the trip and my thoughts. There were challenges along the way but Egypt is a fabulous place to visit. The pyramids were amazing, of course! We made a point to make a day out of our time in Giza and we made sure to visit the Indian restaurant for dinner at the beautiful Meena House Hotel after our pyramid camel ride and before going to the evening laser light show (despite knowing it would be cheesy). Giza was one of our most memorable days during that trip.
Egypt has some very wealthy citizens. They exist in a sub-culture of their own and it is complicated. We met many of them during our New Year’s Eve celebrations. There is also extreme poverty and many people dependent on the tourist industry-who were out of jobs at that time. We knew Hurghada had been attracting many Russian visitors so we made a point to visit as my husband speaks Russian. Russians seem to be less deterred than many others by unrest so Hurghada was one of the places that was still booming. It was interesting to see how some locals despise the Russian visitors and others, due to the particular lack of other tourists, were doing all they could to welcome them and attract them to their businesses. Hurghada is along the Red Sea so there are many diving and water sport opportunities. We also did some desert ATV-ing that my husband enjoyed a lot. Hurghada has a main drag with many shops etc. The goods sold in the shop reflect the tastes of the Russian tourists which was amusing (and signs are in Cyrillic!). I hear Hurghada is the largest tourist spot in Egypt these days and I am guessing it is due to increasing numbers of Russian visitors who are not worried about political unrest and are able to travel to Egypt visa-free.
Luxor is a natural spot for tourists and the government has done a lot to develop it for this purpose. We had to check it out. During our time there, we hired a private felucca and had a picnic as we cruised down the Nile. Thebes is across the river where one can check out the Valley of the Kings or Queens. Interesting stuff but I felt overwhelmingly ill during this particular part of our journey so did not have the chance to enjoy it as much as I would have liked. Alexandria was another stop. A charming city where I would have loved to spend more time. I think, of all the places we visited, if I had to live in one of them for a year or so, Alexandria would be my choice.
Lately, I have been thinking of my time in Egypt and how much fun my husband and I had there so I was inspired to write a post. Since it has been more than a year, I cannot be bothered to give a lot of tourist info and a detailed account but I enjoyed reflecting a bit. The Middle East is an interesting and culturally rich part of the world. I look forward to future trips to places like Beirut and Tehran. Getting a Georgian passport will be helpful as there is now visa free travel between the two countries. Such travels are a bit of a ways off, however, as for the next while, I have a lot to take care of here. But, I suppose I can reflect on old journeys and dream of new ones while I wait for my vacation time to kick in!