Today’s guest post comes from my friend Irene. Irene and I were friends in high school but we lost touch during college days. Thanks to Facebook, we were able to reconnect again. I love her positive outlook in life and her energy, and I always enjoy the quotes she shares daily. We have a few passions in common, we both share our love for life and the adventures that comes with traveling.
Irene here :) I was flattered when Lea asked me to write a guest post, but more than flattered I was excited! I am not a writer, but I do love writing. I guess I just enjoy using words to express an experience, a feeling, a passion- anything that comes from the depth of my being and begs to be shared with the world.
Lea suggested I write about a travel experience I loved, so right away I thought of Egypt. I was blessed to be able to experience Egypt in 2006, before the heightened turmoil and political unrest. I am sad to know not many people will have the opportunity to experience it, at least not for some time, so I thought it appropriate to share a glimpse of my wonderful vacation to Cairo and Sharm El Sheikh.
I’ve always been a little adventurous, so when my sister Anabel suggested a trip to Egypt I was totally on board. We then recruited one of our best friends, Adriana, to come along for the adventure. We were confident that it would be an interesting & exciting trip, and we were right.
Upon landing in Cairo we were in awe of the difference between American and Middle Eastern culture. Being the liberal woman that I am it was hard for me to see the obvious differences in the societal roles of men and women. But I decided to embrace the culture with an open mind, play by their rules, and experience the city and its people with an unbiased perspective.
We met up with a couple of Lebanese friends in Cairo, so we had the whole language issue covered ;) They knew their way around, so all we had to do was show up. Now it was time to take on the city and its wonders!
Of course we had to visit the Pyramids of Giza and The Sphinx.
It was incredible to stand before them! I’m not sure what I expected it to feel like, but they made me feel so small, powerless even. It was humbling to stand before such historical archeological masterpieces.
Cameras were not allowed inside, but we were able to walk deep into one of the pyramids. It felt mystical, dangerous and claustrophobic. I kept imagining an earthquake was going to hit, and we would have to run towards the one tiny entrance and climb as fast as we could before the tons of stones came crumbling over us! Yes, I did watch too much Indiana Jones as a kid! :-p But as you can see, we survived my overactive imagination. And although it felt insanely unsafe in there, I took the time to stop, take a deep breath, and just enjoy the mysticism. I knew I would remember that moment for the rest of my life, so I wanted to capture it fully in order to tell my grandchildren about it decades from now.
The rest of our Cairo stay was much less dramatic, but just as captivating. We visited the Egyptian Museum, which was huge and filled with amazing artifacts (no pictures allowed inside L).
Much of our trip was dominated by eating, drinking, & being merry.
We visited many restaurants during our stay. Some were small family restaurants; others were fancy and beautifully decorated. One of my favorites was the Blue Nile. If you are ever in Cairo you absolutely have to go to this place! It is a stationary boat on The Nile that holds many different restaurants. We had dinner there our very first night. We enjoyed an endless amount of delicious food on The Moon Deck. Everything was perfect: the weather, the food, the ambiance, the drinks, the music…everything.
After several days in Cairo we took a short flight to Sharm El Sheikh. I could not believe I had never heard of this place before! Sharm is located on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, along the Red Sea. It is a vacation haven for European and Middle Eastern tourists.
My amazement of Egypt grew by the day. The food, drinks, music and hookah continued! Except now we were in bathing suits and swimming in the Red Sea.
I was also blessed to have my first snorkeling experience in the Mediterranean Sea. How I wish I had an underwater camera for that!! It was by far the most beautiful and humbling experience of the entire trip! That day I promised myself that I would tell everyone I knew about Sharm, because it was just too amazing to be a secret.
One day before flying back home we landed in Cairo to say our goodbyes to a country that treated us well and taught us plenty about its culture. We decided to spend our last night on The Moon Deck of the Blue Nile, where our journey began less than two weeks before. That night as I overlooked The Nile river with a full moon baring witness to the absolute perfection of the moment, I sat with two of my best friends, sipped on my Johnny Walker, and couldn’t believe how unbelievably blessed I felt for the opportunity to experience Egypt in such a magical way.