My Trip to Egypt!

6 Feb

The Great Pyramids of Giza

All right, y’all! I’m home, I’m settled, my fabric has been pre-washed (oh yes, I bought fabric) and I’ve sorted through the mounds of photos I took during the 10 days I spent in Egypt. Now it’s time to post about it! To be honest, when I originally planned and booked this trip, I wasn’t intending on writing a blog post about it at all – like when I went to Peru, I was anticipating a personal trip that would basically only be beneficial to me (and also, this is SO not a travel blog. As you know!). However, I have gotten a lot of questions about the trip – what I did, how I planned it, did I feel safe, etc etc – while posting about it on Instagram, not to mention dozens of requests for a post. So, here you go. My trip to Egypt, 2017!

In an effort to keep this blog sewing-related, this will be the ONLY post I write about traveling to Egypt. That being said, it’s a looong one. Grab a cup of coffee and maybe a snack, you’re gonna be knee-deep in this one for a while! Those of y’all who don’t give a flying fuck about this content, great. This is the only post you have to skip over πŸ˜‰

Camel + Great Pyramids :D

FIRST: MY ITINERARY

This is my confession: When I travel, I generally like to plan as little as I can possibly get away with. I’ll book my plane ticket and figure out the lodging, and make sure there aren’t any major events / tours / museums / things that I need to buy a ticket in advance for. I will make a loose list of things that I may like to check out while I’m gone, but that’s it. I’ve never been the sort of person who plans their travels down to the minute – I want to have the flexibility to change plans at my whim. In general, I aim to schedule 1-2 things per day that potentially only take half my day. That way, I don’t feel bad if I have jet lag and need to sleep half the day, or decide to stay an extra 3 hours in whatever museum and ooh maybe get some lunch in that cool restaurant I just discovered while walking by. The way you plan your trips might be different, but this is what works for me. So with that being said – I planned one event each day while I was in town, and left a couple days open as well, just in case I discovered something else wonderful and interesting to do.

The Khan at sunset

Day 1: First day in Cairo! I flew in the day before and landed around 10pm that night at the Cairo airport. All flights combined ended up being around 20 hours of travel time – I flew from Nashville to Chicago to Istanbul to Cairo, on United Airlines for the domestic trip and Turkish Airlines for the international legs. Honestly, the transatlantic flight – you know, the one that lasted 11 hours – was pretty shitty. I asked before I got on the plane if there were empty seats so that I could get a little space, and they assured me that the flight was only half full and I could move after take-off, no problem. Well, not only was I seated with 2 other people (squished into 3 seats, that is)- but they refused to let us move for the duration of the flight. The entire back half of the plane was nearly empty, too! So, that was uncomfortable, but I slept through most of it so whatever. Lesson learned – actually get your seat changed on the ticket. Moving on!

Anyway, I wasn’t sure if I’d be jet-lagged or not that first day, so I took it easy and tried not to plan too much. My friend who I was staying with, Marsha, took me to Nagada, which is a little shop in Cairo that sells the most beauuuutiful handmade gifts and clothes – and fabric! While we were there, we met with another friend (and blog reader!), Michele, who took me into downtown Cairo and to the souk by the Khan for fabric shopping. I ended up buying a few pieces while I was there – several different cotton/viscose prints and one stretch knit print. Fabric shopping is a bit different over there, at least in the shop I went to – it’s all behind a counter, and you have to ask to see it. After pulling down several bolts, the guy told us we could just go back there ourselves and pull down what we wanted, and that’s when I found all the cool prints that I eventually ended up buying. Fabric is also suuuuper cheap – all the stuff I got in the souk cost me a grand total of about $25. The fabric I bought at Nagada was a little more expensive, but arguably much better quality. Even then, I think I spent less than $40. Which is significantly less than I spend on a regular trip to Mood when I’m in NYC haha. Anyway, you can see the fabrics I bought here on Instagram.

Temple at the Step Pyramids

Day 2: This was my super touristy day! I started out at 9AM to see the Great Pyramids of Giza. My tour guide, Mrs. Sherine, picked me up and drove me around all day, as well as told me everything I wanted to know about all the places we visited. I went to the pyramids (and yes, I went inside the big one!) (and yes, I put my hands ALL OVER THAT THING EVERY CHANCE I GOT) (and yes it was as amazing as I’d expected it to be), the Solar Boat museum, the Sphinx, and the Step Pyramids. I also rode a camel in the Sahara Desert, a bit away from the pyramids (my guide called this the panoramic view and I think it ended up being considerably better than if I’d hopped on a camel by the pyramids – my photos turned out absolutely beautiful).

Watching the weaving at Wissa Wassef

I also visited Wissa Wassef, on the suggestion of Marsha, although I had no idea what exactly it was when we drove up. Basically, it is the most intricate and amazing weaving I have ever seen. I have never seen weaving like this – honestly, didn’t even realize it was possible to get that kind of detail on a loom. Some of which are woven sideways, and none of which are sketched out beforehand. It was absolutely mind-boggling. They let me go in the workshops and watch the weavers – above, you can see me creeping on a cotton tapestry. I didn’t buy any tapestries (bc lol budget) but I did get a beautiful batik tapestry to cover my bed. Cos, you know, they do that too.

Eating lunch at the restaurant across from the Sphinx

And, I totally had lunch while staring at the Sphinx. This was something I specifically asked my tour guide for us to do. There’s actually a Pizza Hut in the same building across from the Sphinx, which I had originally planned on eating at because it was just so fucking ridiculous. But once I got there, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I don’t even eat Pizza Hut here in America. Couldn’t do it in Egypt, just couldn’t. So we went to the kebob place next door, and it was great. And I got to look at the Sphinx the whole time, and that was great too.

Traffic in Cairo

Traffic in Cairo is no joke, by the way! From where I was staying in Ma’adi, to downtown Cairo, could take anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour, depending on whether or not it was rush hour (it’s usually rush hour there). I didn’t mind at all since I’m not the one driving and I love looking out the window. It’s interesting to watch because its basically pure anarchy on the roads – the cars don’t stay in any particular lane (as in, those white lines don’t exist as far as they are concerned), they pass each other REAL CLOSE (like a couple inches, max. Seriously!) get right up on each other’s bumpers, and they drive super fast whenever they have the opportunity. And there is constant honking. It’s not even angry honking – they honk to alert other drivers of where they are, to tell the drivers to get out of the way (that made me lol, cos here in the US if you try to pull that shit ain’t no one gonna move out of your way – they’ll just go even slower haha), and I dunno, maybe just to say hello. And then there are pedestrians everywhere – cos there are barely any sidewalks – and the occasional donkey cart on the freaking highway. It’s interesting, to say the least, and very different than traffic here in the US. I was prepared for the crazy driving – they do that in Peru, too, and I came to peace with it when I was there 2 years ago haha – but not so much the gridlock traffic. Again, I ain’t driving, don’t really care too much.

Fancy ass door by the Egyptian Textile Museum

Day 3: Back downtown! Marsha had a friend, Kim, who wanted to take us to some of her favorite spots. We went to the Egyptian Textile Museum, which was incredibly fascinating and nicely laid out. The photo above is just a cool door that was around the corner from the museum (no idea who that kid was, sorry, kid). We also went to the Khan el Khalili, which is a major souk/series of shops in Cairo. Like any giant shopping district, the stuff you find can be real hit or miss (in this case, I didn’t want to buy, like, cheap China-made souvenirs or anything, you know?). Kim had a few merchants who she brought us to, including one who sold really beautiful carvings made from camel bone! That dude was awesome.

Visiting the Tent Makers

Definitely the highlight of the day was visiting the Khayamiya, or the Tentmakers, which was the first thing on our agenda. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I was really pleasantly surprised! Essentially, the tentmakers do this crazy intricate applique and create these beautiful pieces. The designs are drawn on a heavy cotton, and then appliqued directly on by hand. The fabric pieces are not cut to shape – they are turned under as they are sewn down. The quality of a piece is determined by how tight/small the applique stitches are, how sharp the points are, and how curved the curves are. The cost will vary depending on how intricate a piece is, with pieces with more points costing more. The guy in the picture above is the first one we visited – Fatooh Sons – and ultimately, one of the best (in terms of both quality and the designs, at least in my opinion!). There’s another dude who does this who is actually famous for it – his pieces incorporate a lot of birds and have embroidery in addition to the applique – and I saw his stuff too, but I like dude #1 the best! I ended up buying that piece that he is holding. It is even more gorgeous in real life. And just look at the all the points! πŸ™‚

Here is a video of the process if you’d like to see more (obviously that’s not my video, it’s just on YouTube haha). The guy starts sewing about 8 1/2 minutes in.

The Egyptian Museum

Inside the Egyptian Museum

Day 4: I went back downtown (again) by myself this time, to see the Egyptian Museum. This place has been on my list of “must visit” museums for ages, and I’m so glad I got to go! It’s a fabulous museum with loads (and loads and LOADS) of Egyptian antiquities. You can hire a guide for the museum, or brave it alone. I went with the former- just popped in my headphones and played some weird music while I strolled around and looked at old shit. AKA, the perfect afternoon. Be warned, though – if you’re the kind of person who reads every little card at the museum, this place will drive you crazy so maybe get a guided tour or even just a good guidebook. Half the displays didn’t have anything saying what they were – and the ones that did, generally had maybe a sentence or two typed on an index card. The museum is chaotically laid out – so much stuff was just straight up on the floor. It was really really really hard not to touch everything since it wasn’t under a glass box (ok, fine, I touched one stone coffin but only one!!!). Again, I didn’t mind this at all – but it’s something to consider if you are planning a trip here.

I also went to the Papyrus Museum, at the suggestion of my driver while en route to the Egyptian Museum. We actually detoured on our way, turned around, and made a pit stop because he was insistent that I needed the experience haha. It was a fun place to visit – they give you a demo on how the papyrus is made, show you the difference between real and fake papyrus, and explain some of the more common designs. Disclaimer – it’s not a museum in the sense that you will look at displays of old and antique papyruses. All the stuff on display is new, and it is all for sale. They will also give you a real hard sale, but, they are open to haggling. Just FYI. The woman who showed me around was especially intent on me getting a papyrus that would give me “lots of sexies” (her words). Eventually I agreed to buy it because she was cracking me up so much. That papyrus better give me what is promised!

Smoking shisha in Cairo :P

After the museum, I met up with Michele again and we smoked shisha and then walked around Cairo. I haven’t smoked a hookah in agessss (basically since I quit smoking tobacco in general), but it was on my list of things to do in Egypt! She took me a traditional little place where you sit outside and smoke and drink tea. It was perfect. It was also cheap as shit (I think about $1.50 USD).

My digs on the Nile River Cruise. I got upgraded to the Presidential Suite!

Day 5: Had to get up at the buttcrack of dawn so I could go back to the airport for my flight to Aswan. Part of my trip included a Nile River cruise – since a most of the ancient stuff is outside of Cairo, taking a cruise is a great (and swanky) way to see all of it. You can also take a bus down to Aswan, I guess, but I was warned that they are terrible and honestly my round trip flights were not much more expensive than the bus. Plus, they were faster.

The cruise line I took was the Nile Goddess. I originally booked the Star Goddess line (only cos it’s cheaper haha), but was upgraded right before I left to the Nile Goddess line, which is nicer, and they also stuck me in a Presidential Suite. Pretty fancy! My guess is the original Star Goddess probably didn’t fill up enough to sail, so they combined the two ships and upgraded the people who had to move. At any rate, I was the only solo person on the boat – and ended up in one of the biggest rooms! So that was nice!! The cruise line is advertised as being 5 Star… I think that may be a little bit of a stretch, but it was still really nice. My suite had a separate sitting room, huge windows, and a private balcony (super private, as in, I couldn’t see anyone from my balcony woohoo). The ship featured a dining room, lounge/bar, rooftop deck (with tables, some shade, a pool, a bar, and a bunch of lounge chairs) and lots of couches scattered everywhere. Everything was inclusive except alcohol and (strangely) bottled water, but it was cheap, at least by American standards. My bill at the end of the week was about $22 USD, and you know I drank my weight in wine while I was there πŸ˜› The staff was supremely helpful to the point of not letting you carry anything, and most of them spoke enough English to at least communicate. One of the bartenders was able to have a conversation with me, which was nice as I couldn’t really talk to anyone on the ship due to the language barrier. I had anticipated this, but it still surprised me a little! I was the only American on the cruise – which was reasonably full, and consisted of mostly Chinese, Egyptian, and a handful of Russians – and the only native English speaker. Some of the Egyptians and Russians could communicate with me, but again, not enough to really have a conversation. I don’t mind being alone as I’m my very favorite person in the world to hang out with, so I was ok with all of this – but again, something to keep in mind if you are planning a trip like this! Either bring a buddy, or be SUPER ok with hanging out by yourself all week!

View from the top of the cruise ship

I got on the ship quite early, so I had plenty of time to settle into my suite and take a nice nap, as well as eat lunch (which was served buffet-style, as all the meals were. The food wasn’t spectacular, but it wasn’t terrible either. It’s a cruise ship, they aren’t known for their culinary masterpieces haha). For the first day, we set off with a tour guide and bus to explore Aswan. Our group was a small segment of what the ship consisted of – mostly Egyptians, and meeeee haha – and our guide was an Egyptian who, bless his heart, had to repeat everything he said just for me because I was the only English speaker in that group! What a trooper.

Temple of Philae

On the first day, we visited the High Dam, the Temple of Philae, and sailed the Nile by Felucca.

Kom Ombo Temple

Day 6: Woke up to find that we had set sail at night and I had a pretty sweet view out my windows now. We ported in Kom Ombo and took an early morning excursion to Kom Ombo Temple. Which, I should mention – if you are not a morning person, this is NOT the type of cruise for you. Our tours started at 7-8 am, which meant we had to get up pretty early. This is because we were in the desert, and the sun gets unbearable at the day progresses (seeing as we were visiting in winter, the heat wasn’t super terrible – I think the highest it got was mid-80s, and that’s which a nice, dry heat), so you have to start early. Very early. Just an FYI! I’m a huge dork who wakes up at 6AM anyway (yes, even now that I work from home!) so that didn’t bother me one bit.

Edfu Temple

After Kom Ombo, we boarded back on the ship for lunch, and sailed to Edfu. Once we ported, our guide took us to Edfu Temple – specifically, we rode horses and carriages (2-3 people per carriage). I don’t know why I don’t have a photo of this, but here’s a video I posted on Instagram. I was incredibly excited that they let me sit in the front next to the driver hahaha.

Anyway, Edfu Temple was definitely my favorite out of all the temples we visited. The inside was so peaceful, even with the hoards of tourists surrounding everything (don’t be fooled by my photos – there were TONS of tourists everywhere we went. Which is great for the economy, Egypt certainly needs it right now! But I didn’t want a bunch of randos in my photos, so I made it a point to try to take shots without people in them, for the most part). Honestly, I could have wandered around that temple all day if given the chance.

Edfu Temple
Look at these beautiful hieroglyphics!

Edfu Temple
Look at this gorgeous fucking ceiling!

Edfu Temple
Look at this majestic sanctuary!

Once we got back on the ship, we were supposed to sail to Esna, stop for the evening, and then move on to Luxor for our last day. I was excitedly anticipating this, as I wanted to lay on that rooftop deck and get some good star-watching in (I’ve been told the stars in Africa are crazy amazing, and I was prepared to nerd the fuck out with my binoculars). The cities we’d been in previously had too much light pollution to really see much, so Esna (or even just the unpopulated route) was gonna be my jam. Unfortunately, that did not happen as some of the other tour groups didn’t get back on board until hours after our scheduled departure time. The bartender I chatted with was complaining about them messing up the schedule (we ended up skipping Esna and going straight to Luxor), but honestly, they made up over half the people on the ship so what can you do? Oh well! Don’t get me wrong, I still laid the fuck out on that deck and got my star-watch on, I just saw less of them. Which means I am just gonna need to go back to Africa and try again πŸ™‚

Day 7: I woke up in Luxor. I also woke up feeling sick. I’d been staving this off for days – I think all the combined flights I’d taken (including to/from NYC at the beginning of the month) was a big part of the culprit – but then I ran out of the magical essential oil cough drops I’d been taking. Ugh, whatever, I took one for the team and struggled through that 7AM tour start because dammit I was not going to miss seeing the West Bank!

Luxor

We took a bus to the Valley of the Kings. Unfortunately, photos are forbidden there – both inside and outside the tombs. Which is a shame, because that was definitely my very very favorite part of the cruise. The geography of the area is fucking amazing and mind-blowing, and the inside of the tombs actually made me tear up. It was an incredible experience that I can’t really put into words, but I’m so thankful that I got to see it.

The terrain in Luxor was really interesting, and the bus ride was a great opportunity for creeping out the window. Half of the land was lush and fertile, with miles of gorgeous green clover fields, then the desert looms in the background.

Hatshepsut Temple

Next stop was Hatshepsut Temple, another favorite. This was dug out of the side of a mountain, and the views were insane. This was one of the few temples we went to that still had paint in places.

Hatshepsut Temple

We got back to the ship in time for lunch, I ate as much as my appetite allowed me (which was diminishing at this point) and then I just hardcore crashed for the rest of the evening. My body just gave out. We didn’t have anything planned for the rest of the day – just dinner, and a Bellydance show (which I’m a little sorry I missed, but I was having fever-dream borderline hallucinations at that point) and I think my body knew it was time to force a rest. I slept from 1pm that afternoon until 7 the following morning, only waking up to call the bar and have them bring me juice and a cup of hot lemon/honey water.

Karnak Temple

Day 8: After all that rest, I felt MUCH better! We were disembarking that day, so I had to pack up my suitcase before breakfast as it was coming on the tour bus with me (my driver would be picking me up from the last stop and taking me straight to the Luxor airport). Our first stop was Karnak Temple, which was by far the most overrun with tourists out of all of them. Brilliantly, I discovered that walking around the perimeter of the temples (which these is still PLENTY to see) was completely empty, and actually quite peaceful. So that was nice.

Luxor Temple

Our final stop was Luxor Temple, which I had all of 5 minutes to see haha. Our guide gave me a rundown in the bus en route, then I ran ahead of everyone to look and take photos, then run back out to meet my driver and catch my plane. I’m so glad they were able to accommodate that for me, as the other option would have been waiting on the ship for my pick-up and missing both temples that morning.

I was still feeling the effects from my sleep hangover, so I took it easy the rest of the day – I stayed in Ma’adi and did a little shopping. My favorite place I went to was Fair Trade Egypt – they had lots of beautiful things, made locally in Egypt, at fair prices (that were still incredibly cheap for this American – like, the wool rug I bought was maaaybe $12 haha). The guy who rang me up told me that he was feeling sick, and while I commiserated, he then mentioned that basically his sinuses got messed up from the tear gas at a protest during the Revolution, oh, and the guy in front of him had his head blown off. And here I am, with my whiny baby cold where I was gonna go back and sleep it off. Really puts things in perspective, huh?

Saints Sergius and Bacchus Church

Day 9: Last day in Egypt! I had originally left this day wide open, but after seeing the pyramids the week before, I booked another full day tour with my guide, Mrs. Sherine. She picked me up at 9AM (btw I went to bed real early the night before and was back to 100% by that morning) and took me to see Coptic Cairo. I originally had no interest in seeing a bunch of old churches and mosques – borrrring! – but she convinced me that it was absolutely not to be missed. And she was totally right – I’m so glad I went. The churches were beautiful, the mosques were incredibly peaceful, and I learned so much about a side of Egypt that I never really studied as I always focused on the ancient Egyptians.

The Greek Church of St George

The Hanging Church

Mosque of Amr

Mosque of Ibn Tulun

We also went to the Gayer-Anderson museum, which is a suuuuper old Turkish house adjacent to the Mosque of Ibn Tulun. This was one of our spur-of-the-moment changes to the agenda, and it was soooo cool! The house was incredibly beautiful and full of really neat collections of all kind of old shit.

Garbage City

Sherine also took me to Manshiyat Naser, or “Garbage City,” which was a really interesting detour! This area’s economy revolves around the collection and recycling of the city’s garbage. It’s a huge area, with super narrow streets, and piles of garbage (and piles of bags of sorted garbage) everywhere. It’s crazy and definitely an experience to see. A lot of the garbage gets upcycled into handmade goods that are sold in their giftshops and also at places like Fair Trade Egypt.

Cave Church of Zabbaleen

We also visited the Cave Church of Zabbaleen, which is the church where the “garbage people” (for lack of a better word) go to as over 90% of them are Coptic Christians.

Perception

I also saw this COOL AS SHIT graffiti, viewed from the 2nd floor of a nearby restaurant. The art is by eL Seed, titled “Perception,” and it can only be seen from a certain vantage point. I love this about it:
“The piece of art uses the words of Saint Athanasius of Alexandria, a Coptic Bishop from the 3rd century, that said: β€˜Anyone who wants to see the sunlight clearly needs to wipe his eye first.’”

Flying back to America!

Day 10: I had an early flight home, and about 20 hours of travel. The trip from Cairo to Istanbul was kind of terrible – our flight was full, crammed, and everyone was stressed (oh, and we got delayed an hour so half the people missed their connecting flight). Once I got to Istanbul, I asked to have my seat changed to an empty row which they happily did for me. Y’all, I ended up sitting in one of those full middle rows of 4 seats by myself it ruled so hard. The flight was maybe half full, and everyone was so happy and relaxed. I drank 2 bottles of wine (yay for free drinks on international flights! haha!) and watched a shit load of movies. Also did not sleep. No idea how that happened – I generally can sleep on planes like a champion – but by the time I got home, I’d been awake for 26 consecutive hours and my sleep-deprived self thought it could feel my apartment swaying in the wind. Uhhhhhh.

Let me say that I am so so so thankful I made it home before all this shit happened with the immigration ban. I missed it by a couple of days. Not that it would have affected me – I am a natural born US citizen – but the airports would have been mayhem. Also, I don’t like to share my political views on this blog bc I really just don’t thing this is the place for them, but let me just say that I am NOT ok with what’s happening.

PLANNING MY TRIP

I have gotten a lot of questions about how I planned my trip, so I thought I’d go over that in this post too! I will say – I have traveled a lot in the past couple of years, but was a complete n00b about all that shit prior. Before I went to London in 2014, I hadn’t left the country in so long, my passport wasn’t even eligible for renewal (and back then, it was when I was young enough that I traveled only with my parents, so they handled all those logistics… I just followed them, you know?). So while I have some experience with this sort of thing, I’m still reasonably new at it!

I booked my entire trip through a travel agency – specifically, I went with Travel Choice (the Apache branch, but I believe they operate worldwide), on the recommendation of a friend who has used them previously. I’ve never used a travel agent before, but I wasn’t sure at all how to navigate a trip like this so I gladly paid for the help (and since Egypt is so cheap, it wasn’t expensive at all – and some of the stuff, like my cruise, I actually paid less for than the website lists it as!). I was a little concerned at first to book with an Egyptian travel agency, rather than a US one (I have AAA so I could have used them), but ultimately, I’m glad I went with locals because they were able to get me the best tour guide, drivers, and also it was easy to change my agenda via email or phone call while I was actually in Egypt. I primarily communicated with them via email, and they were always very prompt to respond.

One really nice perk of using a travel agent is that they will arrange a meet and greet for when you arrive and depart. When I landed in Cairo, someone was waiting for me at the gate with a sign with my name on it (yay I’ve always wanted someone to do that haha) – he took my passport and customs form and had me sit down while he waited in line for my Visa. That only took maybe 10 minutes, then we breezed right through immigration, grabbed my bags (he carried them) and there was a car waiting for me outside. From landing to leaving the airport, I don’t think the whole process took 20 minutes. Same thing when I left Cairo to go home – I had a driver pick me up and take me to the airport, then another guy carried my bag and got me through security, checked my bag and collected my ticket, and dealt with customs. That alone was worth booking through a travel agent, seriously.

The travel agent also arranged all my drivers, so that was primarily how I got around in Cairo. I’m not even entirely sure how much I paid for the drivers, but I know they were cheap. They pick you up at your appointed time, and either drop you off or wait for you (depending on if you book them for the day or not). I also had a driver for my flights in Cairo to take the cruise – both to drop off and pick up. The last driver, who picked me up in Luxor to get me to the airport to go back to Cairo, was able to communicate with my tour guide so that he could meet us at the last temple and take me to the airport from there. That was really nice!

My travel agent also found and booked my tour guide, and they really matched me with the best one! Mrs. Sherine Ramadan was a fantastic guide – she was very knowledgeable and I learned so much from her. She’s local, but also speaks fluent English so there was no language barrier at all. I also felt really safe with her, which I should point out because I was initially thinking I’d have a male tour guide. Honestly, though, Mrs. Sherine is the kind of woman who doesn’t take shit from anyone, and we had no problems whatsoever in the two days we spent together. She was also just really fun to chat with, which I think is important if you’re going to spend several hours with someone! Like I said, I booked her through the travel agency but she is also available for private bookings if you are visiting Cairo and just need a day guide. Her email address is sharonefertiti@gmail.com if you are visiting Cairo and looking for a private tour guide – I absolutely recommend her!

Finally, my travel agent is also responsible for choosing the cruise line that I went with (and probably also responsible for that upgrade haha). When I emailed them, I just said I wanted to fly in mid-January, spend 10 days in Egypt, and also take one of the Nile cruises. They got everything together and had a quote for me within 24 hours. I booked the day tours and drivers at a later date. I can’t tell you how much each thing cost specifically since it was all lumped into one sum, but it was much more reasonably priced than I had been expecting. The airfare was by far the most expensive part, and that’s mostly because I wanted to fly a nicer airline – I went Turkish Airlines – and not have 40 hours of travel. That cost me probably about $200 more than compared to the very cheapest flight, but honestly, 100% worth it no regrets.

OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER

Getting around: While I primarily had hired drivers, I did take a couple of Ubers! Uber does work in Cairo, and it’s sooooo cheap (like, my 1 hour drive in rush hour traffic was like $2.40 haha). This is the best option if you don’t have a driver, because you can just input your destination on the app and there is no issue with language barrier. I rode a lot of cabs with Michele, and those were even cheaper (like, pennies), but the issue with the cab is that most of them don’t speak English *and* a lot of them also need directions, which I just couldn’t give. So I stuck with Uber.

Money: The currency is Egyptian Pounds, or LE. The majority of Egypt is pretty cash-heavy – some shops will take cards, but most people prefer cash. Depending on where you go, you may be able to pay with USD, but I paid for everything in LE (except for places that did take cards, and then, I used my Visa). Haggling is acceptable, if not encouraged. I personally LOVE haggling so I got really into it. Keep in mind that if you look super western (like, me with my lily-white skin and red hair – you know, obviously not Egyptian), they may over charge you for stuff, so go get your haggle on (or pay full price, cos, you probably have more money than they do tbh). Also, you pretty much tip everybody here. Drivers, tour guides, the bathroom attendant, the guy who takes your shoes at the mosque. Egypt is a very poor country right now, and Americans are especially rich with the current currency exchange (when I was there, it was nearly 20 LE to $1 USD). Don’t be stingy, that 50LE tip is still only like $2.50 in USD. And the 1LE you give the bathroom attendant? Dude, just give her 5LE.

Cell Service: I have T-Mobile, and my plan includes free international data and texting. I was able to use it all over Egypt, except at Luxor inside the Valley of the Kings (where – surprise – I had no service). The data is very slow there – mostly 2G with the occasional 3G randomly popping up – so I didn’t use it much but I was able to post on Instagram. I did get my phone unlocked prior to my trip, in case I wanted to swap my SIM out for an Egyptian one and possibly have faster data, but ultimately I decided to keep my US SIM so that I could text my friends back at home. The only downside to having slower data was that I needed to be on wifi when calling an Uber – otherwise, my phone didn’t pick up enough data to pin my location.

What to wear: I did a lot of googling, travel blog reading, and chatting with friends who had been there before. Figuring out my wardrobe was a somewhat daunting task, as I wanted to be respectful of the culture and dress appropriately, but I also didn’t want to end up with a bunch of clothes I would never wear again. From what I was told, the most important things to keep covered are your shoulders, chest (not just the obvious cleavage – most people wear their shirts up to their collarbone), knees, and lower back/stomach. Shoulders and knees were not an issue with this trip, as it was pretty chilly when I went (not super chilly, but winter for Egypt – highs in the 70s in Cairo). I wore a tank under all my shirts to cover my abdomen, and brought only shirts with necklines that came up to my collarbone. I also brought a couple of scarves with me – these are great for wearing around your neck to keep your chest covered, cover your head if you need to (such as when entering a mosque) and can double as a blanket if the plane gets too cold. I also brought very little clothing – 5 shirts, 3 pairs of paints, 1 knit maxi skirt, and 3 tank tops (plus a decent number of underwear and socks, because, well obviously) – and just mixed and matched it while I was there. Since I was traveling alone, I didn’t see any reason why I couldn’t wear the same outfits repeatedly. I also brought a cotton twill anorak, which I wore every day (it was especially useful in the desert, to stay warm in the chilly mornings and protect me from the sun in the afternoon), and a lightweight sweater, which was nice to lounge around in during the evening.

Staying safe: Honestly, I felt very safe the entire time I was there! I never once encountered a situation where I was concerned about my own safety, or had any incidents that were even a little bit shady. I had been warned over and over and over again by people (almost entirely people who had never actually been to Egypt. My friends who had visited and/or lived there were very supportive of my trip and assured me that it was perfectly safe to visit) that it was going to be sooo bad and told stories of someone who knew someone who was groped / kidnapped / had a scary situation / etc etc. I can’t speak for every person who visits Egypt and what they might encounter, but I can say with 100% honesty that I never had anything remotely bad happen to me in the 10 days I was there. All the Egyptians that I interacted with – including, yes, the men – were nothing but respectful, eager to help, and genuinely kind. Perhaps my experience was such because of the way I was dressed. I did wear a fake wedding ring, which may have also helped. And I walked with confidence. Even the people hawking goods at the major touristy sites – such as the pyramids – were not nearly as cutthroat as I’d been told. A simple, “No, thank you” (or “la shukraan” in Arabic) was usually enough to get them to leave you alone. There was one guy who did not listen to my no thank you, so I told him “mesh ayza” (that’s not the correct spelling, just the phonetic spelling… it means “I don’t want it” in Arabic) and he responded by laughing SO HARD. Even came up to me later and said, “This girl knows mesh ayza! ha ha ha!” So at least I gave him something to laugh at later I guess, ha! And yes, the only 2 things I learned how to say in Arabic were ‘no thank you’ and ‘I don’t want it’ haha. That alone will get you pretty far!

Another thing to point out regarding safety is theft. I am always aware of my surroundings when I travel, and I carry a small crossbody purse with multiple zippered pockets that I can hold in front of my body when I’m moving through crowds or in areas where there are pickpockets. While you should always be aware of what’s going on around you, Egypt isn’t really a hotspot for theft, at least not in my experience. So many of the people there are devout Muslims, and stealing is against their religion. They might try to pull a fast one and get you to pay 3x as much for that alabaster cat statue (and again, can you blame them? Their economy sucks so bad right now), but they won’t steal your wallet out of your pocket. Honestly, in terms of petty theft – places like Paris and Barcelona are much more dangerous.

Despite all the political unrest that is currently happening in the country, this might actually be the safest time to visit Egypt (I felt this way, and every person I spoke with about it in Egypt – whether they were Egyptian or American – said the same thing). Security is at an all-time high, and the police are everywhere. No one is trying to pull any shit right now, even the airport makes you go through security 3 times before you board a plane. Plus, their currency is so weak right now, financially, it is an AWESOME time to visit. Bring those tourist dollars cos this country absolutely, desperately needs them right now.

Other things to note: No one drinks in the water in Egypt, so be prepared to go through a lot of bottles of water (I carried a reusable water bottle that clipped to my purse, so I could have it with me – especially nice while in the desert! Also, I felt a lot better about all the plastic water bottle garbage I was producing after visiting Garbage City). Bring your own tissues, as most bathrooms don’t have any. Tissues are sort of a weird currency there; you see people everywhere selling them on the street. They also don’t flush TP down the toilet – it goes in the trash can. And the nights can get VERY chilly there, especially in winter – warm pajamas (for me, flannel bottoms and a long sleeved top) are good to have! Also, trip insurance! I don’t normally opt-in for that, but I did for this trip. With the state of the country being how it is, and also my dad’s current health situation, it made the most sense to protect my monetary investment with insurance coverage. I ended up not needing it, but isn’t that the best case scenario?

Expectations: I had really high expectations for this trip – honestly, I’ve wanted to visit Egypt and see the pyramids since I was a little kid. I’m happy to report that not only did this trip live up to every expectation I had for it – it even surpassed them. I had an amazing time and I simply cannot say enough good things about Egypt and the people who live there.

Sphinx

Ok, whew, that was a lot of information and a LOT of blog post, but I think that about covers it! If you stuck this out until the end – thank you so much for reading and sharing my journey with me! If you’d like to see more about my trip, you can view my #lladybirdinegypt Instagram hashtag here, and my Egypt album on Flickr here. If you have any questions about my trip that was not covered in this post, or have visited Egypt and have tips of your own to offer, feel free to unload in the comments!

Next question: Where should I go next???

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107 Responses to “My Trip to Egypt!”

  1. Michelle February 6, 2017 at 10:17 am #

    I loved reading about your trip to Egypt (and it totally fits with your blog because you included fabric shopping)! The applique section was especially interesting to me, and the piece you bought is absolutely gorgeous. Thanks for such a fascinating and detailed post. It’s unlikely I will ever make it to Egypt, so it was fun to go there virtually.

    • LLADYBIRD February 6, 2017 at 11:54 am #

      Thank you! I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed the post πŸ™‚

  2. RLL February 6, 2017 at 10:33 am #

    I have no desire to see Egypt but you really made it sound interesting. And I typically hate hearing about others vacations, but I read every single word you wrote. Kudos to you to not only embark on this adventure but to do it alone. You only live once!

    • LLADYBIRD February 6, 2017 at 11:54 am #

      Thank you! Truly, this was my YOLO trip for sure πŸ™‚

  3. Ann February 6, 2017 at 10:39 am #

    Thanks for a wonderful report!

  4. Jane February 6, 2017 at 10:43 am #

    That looks like such an amazing trip. I love all the fabric/textile tourism you did. I’m not much of a traveler but I can recommend South Korea (not cheap at all but Seoul is a ton of a fun and there’s so much history there, and the food is amazing). And it’s not hard to combine a trip to Korea with one to Japan and/or mainland China. And if you wanted to break up the flights a bit Hawaii is about halfway across the Pacific. Just saying.

    • LLADYBIRD February 6, 2017 at 11:58 am #

      Ooh, that is a good idea! I’ve always wanted to go to Japan, just have to psyche myself up for that helluva flight haha πŸ™‚

      • Aubrey (@alwaysaubrey) February 7, 2017 at 9:32 am #

        You know that I’d help you out with Korea! It’s actually less travel than your Egypt trip, I’d say. You can get direct flights to Seoul from ATL that are like 15 hours total.

        • LLADYBIRD February 7, 2017 at 5:31 pm #

          Oh, you are totally right! I am gonna hit you up SO HARD when I’m ready to plan that one!!

  5. Lodi Srygley February 6, 2017 at 11:06 am #

    The trip of a lifetime! What books/sources did you find particularly helpful/insightful (art, architecture, crafts, culture…)? Hem. Must be more than one!

    • LLADYBIRD February 6, 2017 at 12:00 pm #

      I actually don’t like reading guidebooks when I’m planning a trip… I find them really boring! So I don’t have any I can personally recommend to you, but I know a lot of people like Lonely Planet. Source-wise, I got a lot of great tips from friends and strangers who had been to Egypt, and also my travel agents.

  6. Kelly February 6, 2017 at 11:12 am #

    Honestly, I was just going to skim and look at photos, but I got sucked in and read every word! What an amazing trip. I totally forgot that travel agents exist. International travel with language barriers often seems too overwhelming for me, but of course a travel agent is the answer! You’re inspiring πŸ™‚

    • LLADYBIRD February 6, 2017 at 12:03 pm #

      Haha same! I always forget about travel agents, since the internet makes it really easy to plan everything yourself. But there’s definitely some big perks to using one – and in some ways, they made my trip cheaper than if I had planned it myself. I don’t know if I would use a travel agent for every trip I plan, but it was really nice for one when there’s a big language barrier!

  7. Rose February 6, 2017 at 11:43 am #

    Thank you for the detailed post of your trip to Egypt. I read every word! It brought back fond memories of my trip many years ago. I traveled with a group of Americans. I was nervous only because of things I heard from people who had never been there ( like your experience). I had no problem and felt safer than many other cities I visited in the world. I even went out on my own one afternoon. I was approached by a man who I think wanted to be a tour guide. I shook my head and he left me alone. You did have a trip to remember!!

    • LLADYBIRD February 6, 2017 at 12:04 pm #

      I’m glad you enjoyed it! I agree with you, I felt very safe while I was there and had nothing but great experiences with every person I interacted with!

  8. Erika February 6, 2017 at 11:58 am #

    Awesome post, and awesome trip! Thanks for sharing all of it. I really enjoyed reading about it.

    • LLADYBIRD February 6, 2017 at 12:05 pm #

      I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed it! πŸ˜€

  9. liz-o-matic February 6, 2017 at 12:11 pm #

    I’m so jealous!! My grandmother was born and grew up in Egypt (seriously the first time she came “home” to America was when she went to college). I’ve always wanted to visit the places she would tell me stories about growing up.

    • LLADYBIRD February 7, 2017 at 5:32 pm #

      If you get to a point when you can justify the time/cost, I absolutely recommend that you do it! It was such a wonderful place to see and experience

  10. vinthillvintage February 6, 2017 at 1:46 pm #

    I absolutely loved reliving my time in Egypt through reading your post. I visited every place you talked about except the garbage city. I only got to glimpse that through a window as I was riding a bus. I’m so glad you had an awesome trip. It’s really an amazing place.

    • LLADYBIRD February 7, 2017 at 5:33 pm #

      Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I aaaaaaaalmost didn’t make it to Garbage City, but my tour guide said it was worth visiting and it was my last day, so… fuck it! I’m glad I went!

  11. Lisa February 6, 2017 at 2:39 pm #

    What an amazing post. Your trip sounds brilliant. Next, I can recommend Japan, Ireland and Denmark.

    • LLADYBIRD February 7, 2017 at 5:33 pm #

      Great suggestions, thank you!! Have definitely thought about visiting all 3 at some point or another πŸ™‚

  12. Denise February 6, 2017 at 3:24 pm #

    I was hoping for an Egypt post! A trip to Egypt is on my list of things I’ve wanted since I was a little girl. I’m happy for you! Also, the fabric is beautiful πŸ™‚

    • LLADYBIRD February 7, 2017 at 5:34 pm #

      Thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed the post πŸ˜€

  13. Angelle February 6, 2017 at 3:30 pm #

    I really enjoyed this post! You have such a strong narrative voice.

    • LLADYBIRD February 7, 2017 at 5:34 pm #

      Wow, thank you so much! I don’t really consider myself a writer at all, so that is quite a nice compliment!

  14. Rae February 6, 2017 at 3:42 pm #

    Thank you so much for posting this! I have always wanted to go to Egypt but everyone kept telling me it was too dangerous. As soon as my kid is old enough we are so going!

    • LLADYBIRD February 7, 2017 at 5:35 pm #

      Yeah, that was my same experience! I think every city has its dangerous areas, sure, but that place is not nearly as awful as some people were making it out to be! I’m so glad I went. And you should totally go too!

  15. Cherie February 6, 2017 at 3:53 pm #

    So glad you enjoyed your trip, and did such great planning! I am impressed! We saw everything you did on our trip, plus more, as this was a 16-person educational tour for archaeologists (my husband and some others) or Egypto-philes! It was also a grueling 18-day tour, starting very early as you did! I would have liked to spend more time in Cairo, but our Egyptian guide was an archaeologist also and couldn’t bear for us to miss anything! I did finally get him to find me a fabric store in Aswan, as well as a good jeweler (had to have some Egyptian gold!). I would love to go back!

    • LLADYBIRD February 7, 2017 at 5:37 pm #

      Wow, thank you! I feel like I barely planned it at all, but I do feel good about how it went (not over or under planned, which is what I wanted to avoid). I wasn’t sure if I’d love Cairo so much as I wasn’t a huge fan of Lima (I was afraid I’d experience another boring big city – sorry, Lima!), but i REALLY loved it. It’s such a neat place! I am jealous that you got an archaeologist guide, that sounds like such an amazing experience!

  16. zilredloh February 6, 2017 at 3:59 pm #

    Your trip sounds and looks like it was amazing Lauren. πŸ˜€ Thanks so much for sharing your adventures.

    • LLADYBIRD February 7, 2017 at 5:38 pm #

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it! πŸ™‚

  17. Anonymous February 6, 2017 at 4:02 pm #

    Love your pictures! The detail is spectacular. I have always wanted to visit Egypt and your post reinforces that wish. Thank you for taking the time to go through your visit, I don’t know about anyone else, but I appreciated it. Now I am going to go through the links you posted, to get the rest of the detail. Again, the pictures are fantastic.

    • LLADYBIRD February 7, 2017 at 5:38 pm #

      Thank you so much! I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed the post πŸ™‚

  18. girlintheflammableskirt February 6, 2017 at 4:09 pm #

    Love the pictures and stories! Glad you had such an awesome trip. It’s always been a dream of mine to go to Egypt as well.

    • LLADYBIRD February 7, 2017 at 5:39 pm #

      The trip was definitely a dream come true for me! Now I’m going to root that you should go, too πŸ™‚

  19. Kaitlyn February 6, 2017 at 4:25 pm #

    Your trip looks great! I loved seeing the photos of the Cairo museum. I work part time in an ancient history museum in Sydney, with a lot of mummies and sarcophagus etc, so Egypt is certainly on my visiting list for some day.

    • LLADYBIRD February 7, 2017 at 5:40 pm #

      You will probably be horrified at how poorly the displays are laid out, but, the displays are pretty incredible even without their descriptions! πŸ™‚

  20. Shirley February 6, 2017 at 5:17 pm #

    What an amazing trip!! I hung onto every word. I have always wanted to go to Egypt, so it was refreshing to read about your experience. I had to laugh when you mentioned petty theft is probably worse in Paris….The last time I was in Paris, on a subway, people tried to pick pocket both me and my husband! I had a zippered cross body bag with my sweater hanging over it and darned if they didn’t get it unzipped without me being aware–crazy! Thankfully I had nothing it in other than my cheapo camera and lipstick and I guess they weren’t interested in it. My husband actually caught them in the act and they moved on when they tried to get in his pants pocket. Your photos are fabulous and this looks like it was a trip of a lifetime. I hope you keep traveling and having wonderful experiences. The world we live in is an incredible place to experience.

    • LLADYBIRD February 7, 2017 at 5:41 pm #

      I was warned about Paris and literally walked around with my hand around the top of my zipped bag! It’s really stressful to be that “on” for so long! And thank you! I had an amazing trip and I hope there are more of these in my future πŸ˜€

  21. Lusty February 6, 2017 at 5:32 pm #

    Thanks for such a great post, and particularly all your comments about using a travel agent. I’ve used a travel agent before and experienced all the little extras they can set up for you. That was so long ago I’d completely forgotten all about it. I’ve been wanting to do more–any–traveling, but am pretty much stuck with doing it alone or not at all because everyone has such busy schedules these days, so I was glad you touched on some of the aspects around being on your own. I would have been perfectly happy with a book on that cruise. In fact, last time I went on a cruise with people I found myself wishing I had more time to myself πŸ™‚ Unlike you I tend to be a planner–I did a motorcycle trip from California to Georgia and back, on a bike with only about a 100-mile gas tank range, so I had to plan my route meticulously! I did end up in Colorado at one point where I coasted 8 miles downhill into town, giggling to myself the whole way. Especially when I passed the dump truck. But, anyway, I love your approach. I’ve also found that I enjoy trips more when I do things that are not exactly on the beaten path. I stayed with an old boyfriend at his family’s ceiling fan factory in Bangkok, and when I got married (different guy) we spent our honeymoon digging in a Roman fort. One of my favorite memories of Paris is hanging out in a park on the west bank, eating a picnic lunch and floating boats in the fountain.

    • LLADYBIRD February 7, 2017 at 5:43 pm #

      Yes, I love doing stuff off the beaten path! I think that’s my favorite part about traveling alone – you can do all the weird stuff that your travel mates might not necessarily find as interesting (although, a good travel mate will want their own solo time as well. Well, MY idea of a good travel mate, anyway haha)

  22. Katie r February 6, 2017 at 5:35 pm #

    Loved your write up. Wanted to go to Egypt but couldn’t swing it with 2 small children in tow. I highly recommend going to India if you haven’t yet been. I was there exactly a year ago with my husband and (at the time) 2 year old daughter. We took the Palace on Wheels (private, luxury) train through Rajasthan and it was epic. We added on a visit to Varinasi and the Ganges at the end of our journey and it was life altering. We then spent a week in Goa in a hut on the beach. Loved every minute of it and can forward you details of our travel agent if you are interested.

    • LLADYBIRD February 7, 2017 at 5:44 pm #

      That sounds amazing! India is definitely on my list of places that I’d eventually like to see.

  23. Miss Celie February 6, 2017 at 6:24 pm #

    Wow. What an incredible recap. You had an amazing trip. And, I’m glad you went alone and had a great time too. Aren’t blog readers also amazing?! You also gave terrific travel advice too.

    • LLADYBIRD February 7, 2017 at 5:45 pm #

      Blog readers are THE BEST!! I feel like every trip I’ve taken since I started blogging has been made better by a blog reader, somehow! And thank you! β™₯

      • Miss Celie February 7, 2017 at 7:54 pm #

        Right? It makes me want to re-take trips pre blog. Especially when I went to Australia. Because, odds are I’m not ever going that far away again πŸ˜€

  24. Angie February 6, 2017 at 6:27 pm #

    Thanks for posting about your trip, I’ve always wanted to visit Egypt and now I feel like I’ve done it vicariously through you, haha. All the details and links you included were great. I absolutely love and look forward to your sewing posts, but I love these kinds of posts too!

    • LLADYBIRD February 7, 2017 at 5:46 pm #

      Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post πŸ˜€ I promise a real sewing post is coming next, ha! πŸ™‚

  25. Rebecca February 6, 2017 at 6:32 pm #

    Come to Australia!!! And while you’re here, can you run a pants making workshop?

    • LLADYBIRD February 7, 2017 at 5:47 pm #

      Believe me, the second I can find a way to justify the cost of that plane ticket, I will be heading down under! That’s definitely on my short list of places that are too massively expensive but I reeeally want to go to. Right after Antarctica HAHA

  26. Catherine Burbank February 6, 2017 at 6:59 pm #

    Yah, I thought you were my hero because of the sewing/style, all that stuff. (you make jeans? bras?) But now I know you are my hero. So many memories of traveling alone, back in the day. So brave, to travel mostly alone, in an unfamiliar culture. I bet it didn’t hurt that you are a beautiful young woman, and I am sure you came across as not one to brook shit. I wonder how that would work with an old woman…? Anyways, INSpired! Thanks for the post!

    • LLADYBIRD February 7, 2017 at 5:49 pm #

      Thank you so much! I do love traveling alone; its just a completely different and enriching experience than when you’re with someone (which is also generally a pretty great experience, as long as you’re not stuck with a shitty travel partner haha). I feel like an older woman would have an even easier time? Mostly because at that point, you’re not gonna take any shit and you don’t even have to prove it to anyone haha

  27. Sue @ A Colourful Canvas February 6, 2017 at 7:50 pm #

    OH WOW…what an awesome trip! Thanks so much for sharing. Egypt has always intrigued me…I’m a big fan of the Amelia Peabody mysteries and other mysteries set on cruise ships on the Nile, LOL. I think it would be really neat to go there. Are vaccinations recommended or required for Egypt?

    Loved your line about hanging out with your favourite person…yourself! Yah-uh!!!!

    And sorry to read that you were under the weather for a day or so. It always sucks to feel ill while on holiday. At least your suite was super ah-mazing…not a shabby place to hang out for a day at all!

    • LLADYBIRD February 7, 2017 at 5:52 pm #

      Thank you so much! It was such an awesome trip and I’m so glad I got to experience – I’m even ok with getting sick. At least it only lasted a day haha!

      Good question about the vaccinations! I forgot to mention that in my post. There are no required vaccinations, but it is recommended that you get Typhoid and Hepatitis A, both of which I got prior to my trip (I didn’t want to deal with getting sick via contaminated food – didn’t seem worth it to me!). A tip if you need to get the vaccines and your insurance sucks – if you’re on an ACA plan that covers preventative care, get the dr or pharmacy to file it as preventative (instead of travel related) and it gets covered 100%. Surprisingly, it was a very helpful rep at Blue Cross who shared that with me. Saved me about $200!

  28. Robin Rodgers February 6, 2017 at 9:17 pm #

    First of all, I’m so glad you took care of yourself. Sleep is so healing! Second, OMG! I LOVE anything Egypt! I’m like you, I love ancient Egypt. I have a strong belief that I’ve had at least one life there. THANK YOU for all the pictures and write-up. Impressive. I’ll go back and click on some links to see more. Good for you!

    • LLADYBIRD February 7, 2017 at 5:54 pm #

      Thank you so much! I think I must have had a past life there, too, I just feel so very strongly connected to it! It was so incredible to actually get to see it all for myself πŸ™‚

  29. Naomi February 6, 2017 at 9:34 pm #

    Fab post – travelling vicariously through others at the moment!

    • LLADYBIRD February 7, 2017 at 5:54 pm #

      I know that feeling! β™₯

  30. elizabeth February 6, 2017 at 10:28 pm #

    I loved reading your post. I lived in Egypt for 18 months, just before the Revolution, in Ma’adi. This brought back lots of memories and your read on the country is spot-on. You were raised well, girl…all your research on how to dress and be respectful to the people and culture of the country. I cannot tell you how many westerners I would see in the skimpiest outfits, totally clueless as to their impact on the people around them.

    About the driving: Towards the end of my stay, I was taking a friend around Cairo, using a taxi driver I often called upon and this friend was totally freaked out…I realized I had adjusted to living there because I was completely comfortable with the crazy.

    The people are truly suffering now with the economy and they need any tourist dollars coming their way. I have to say – though there can be genuine danger – I always felt safe while I was there and would go out and about, day or night, by myself. Of course, as in any city, you have to know which neighborhoods to avoid and to be mindful of your surroundings.

    Thank you for sharing!

    • LLADYBIRD February 7, 2017 at 5:57 pm #

      Thank you so much! I have never understood why people who visit another country and not try to at least be a little respectful to the culture they’re impacting. Why not just stay home if that’s the case? Drives me crazy!

      Absolutely agree with you about there being danger wherever you area, and knowing what areas to avoid and being mindful of your surroundings. But I definitely felt very safe the entire time I was there, more safe than a lot of American cities I’ve been in.

  31. qplourde February 7, 2017 at 8:08 am #

    What an amazing trip! I personally love to read about travel, even on a non-travel blog. It’s interesting to see where people go and I’m a big traveler myself so it gives me ideas. Changes of scenery provide so much inspiration and can spark creativity. I think it’s a nice change and I love all the pictures.

    • LLADYBIRD February 7, 2017 at 5:58 pm #

      I completely agree with you! A change of scenery can be a pretty amazing tool for creating more inspiration and creativity! I’m glad you liked the post πŸ˜€

  32. Aubrey (@alwaysaubrey) February 7, 2017 at 9:37 am #

    This post was amazing! I had kind of written Egypt off my list because I heard Cairo was dirty and unsafe, but now I realize I’ve been listening to people who haven’t been there. We loved Peru and Machu Picchu, because we love history and old shit. Looks like Egypt is back on the list with Jordan for me!

    • LLADYBIRD February 7, 2017 at 5:59 pm #

      Oh yeah dude, you would nerd out SO HARD in Egypt. You need to plan a trip there because I know you would absolutely love it!

  33. Rosie February 7, 2017 at 9:53 am #

    Thank you for this post. We went to Alexandria and Cairo back in 2008 while doing a Mediterranean cruise. It was one of my fav destinations of all time. It really changed how I viewed the whole world and the people in it. It has a very special place in my heart. I love seeing all the off the tourist trail things you got to see and do. I’m so jealous! Hmmm maybe you should try Moscow next. That was another very cool experience but the pickpocketing is heavy there. They tried 3 times with us but it’s an amazing city.

    • LLADYBIRD February 7, 2017 at 6:00 pm #

      Ahhh I’m so jealous!! I really wanted to go to Alexandria but I just couldn’t fit it in with my schedule. Guess I just need to go back πŸ™‚ and OMG I would love to go to Moscow! I know pretty much nothing about it but the photos I see are just insanely beautiful. Great suggestion!

  34. Ann Marshall February 7, 2017 at 11:29 am #

    Loved reading about your trip to Egypt. Your descriptions and photographs made me feel as if I had been there myself.So glad you took the time and trouble to write about it.

    • LLADYBIRD February 7, 2017 at 6:01 pm #

      Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post πŸ˜€

  35. Alison February 7, 2017 at 11:43 am #

    Thanks for the armchair tourism, because that is the only way I’ll ever see Egypt!

    • LLADYBIRD February 7, 2017 at 6:01 pm #

      You are so welcome! β™₯

  36. Inclement February 7, 2017 at 2:58 pm #

    To echo everyone else, this was fantastic, you are a fabulous writer (I’m jealous!), I read every word, and now I feel like I’ve been somewhere! Thank you!

    • LLADYBIRD February 7, 2017 at 6:02 pm #

      Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed it πŸ˜€

  37. Deborah Penner February 7, 2017 at 5:13 pm #

    Thanks for this, Lauren. I had to wait a day to read this when I had time. The Nile cruise sounds like a wonderful idea. I had never thought about the possibility of that before. Thanks for the tips on using a travel agent. We used to use travel agents all the time just to book a flight to California or the East Coast. With all the online booking that we do for ourselves these days, it reminded me of the benefits of an agent. Will definitely do that if we choose to travel abroad some day.

    • LLADYBIRD February 7, 2017 at 6:04 pm #

      The Nile Cruise was such a fantastic highlight and way to see so much, I definitely recommend it! And yeah, I remember my parents using travel agents for pretty much every flying they did. I will admit I was a little surprised to find that it was still even a viable business, since it’s so easy to book everything online, but there’s definitely a lot of perks that come with booking a trip through someone who literally does that for a job. I may be spoiled at this point haha. That meet and greet alone was just super nice!!

  38. Megan February 7, 2017 at 7:27 pm #

    Sounds fantastic. We had a great time in 1993, felt safe and welcomed by the people. Everyone was so friendly. A colleague said they are only nice to your face, I said better than some parts of Europe where they are rude to your face. I loved it and the people, I’d recommend it. We did find the new influx of Eastern Europeans very disturbing, they were very scantily clad refused to remove their shoes and where pretty obnoxious, hopefully they have now been educated in travel etiquette. The Egyptians were always very polite. Safer than many parts of Europe and America… just saying.

  39. Ann February 8, 2017 at 1:28 am #

    Oh my, that appliquΓ© tapestry is stunning! And the technique sounds very similar to Hawaiian appliquΓ© quilting I saw and bought in Kauai. What a wonderful trip!

  40. Becky Thompson February 8, 2017 at 5:31 am #

    Well I’m glad you’re back, safe and sound. I related to my hubs about you being the only American on the cruise and he said, “That’s because everyone else knows better. That place is one bomb blast away from headlining on Fox News”. I have to agree. Working for the DoD, I’d have to give a debrief of the trip upon return to The Man. Isn’t it funny how our daily lives give a different perspective on the things we do? But I’m also SO envious of your experience. Read every word. Ever since watching old black & white movies about Egypt on TV as a girl I have wanted to see the pyramids and ride a camel. I’d be looking for Elizabeth Taylor all dolled up as an Egyptian queen around every corner. And I had to laugh at you eating lunch in a modern restaurant and staring at the Sphynx. When people visit San Antonio they get all wierded out that the Alamo is surrounded by high rises vs. off in desert West Texas somewhere with tumbleweeds blowing around. Loved the vicarious experience! Great post! And of course, glad you got some FABRIC!

  41. Rebecca February 8, 2017 at 9:12 am #

    Thanks so much for taking the time to write up your trip! I was very curious and delighted to hear more about it.

  42. Deborah February 8, 2017 at 11:18 am #

    I really enjoyed reading about this fascinating country. I have wanted to go there since before I started school. I am 66 yrs old and it is still my dream to someday go there. I loved all the pics and your commentary about this beautiful ancient country. I felt like I was there with you. Thank you

  43. feelingstitchyblog February 9, 2017 at 2:42 pm #

    That gal with a girl crush on you over here! I hate you – in a jealous, but loving way. I’d never hate on another woman; it’s not in my DNA, but that’s besides the point.

    How. Fucking. Cool. Is that?!? I’m jelly, but then again, I do smoke tobacco. If I stopped, I could go anywhere (mine are $10 a pack where I live, but I’m moving back south soon, so they’ll be cheaper.)

    I have an old friend that lives in Bermuda, so I get to go there. Hahaha neener neener 😜. And since I work hard on my bikini body, why not go where I can wear a bikini ALL DAY LONG?!

  44. Sz February 9, 2017 at 4:02 pm #

    Where should you go next?

    China! I spent 2 weeks there on a bicycle tour when I graduated college.
    It was truly a the trip of a lifetime.

  45. heather February 10, 2017 at 12:58 pm #

    can i just say Thank You for sharing your trip!?! you rock! how amazing & i appreciate all your insights & pictures. super cool!! makes me want to visit egypt some day… πŸ™‚

  46. MelissaPurls February 10, 2017 at 1:01 pm #

    Thanks for sharing about your trip! The applique quilters were here in Paducah several years ago at the Quilt Show and it was soo amazing watching them work.

  47. Nokes February 10, 2017 at 9:45 pm #

    So glad to hear you had such an amazing time!! Love the photography btw – and can’t wait to see what you make out of all that crazy printed fabric?! xx

  48. Aless February 12, 2017 at 8:53 pm #

    Coming from Australia and having done 3 very long trips elsewhere in the world in the last 11 years, I had to tell you that your ‘report’ of your Egypt trip has been bookmarked ! What a wonderful resource! Turkey has been one of our fave places -so happy to have been there before it all went to pieces…How about Hong Kong? We went there in 2012 for 8 days when ‘Life’ conspired against re. the trip we had actually planned to do. We LOVED it !! Would break our ‘never go there twice’ rule (too much to see for one lifetime!) and go again! Also adored Scandinavia, and esp. Finland/Lapland !! (When it comes to time spent in planes, Aussies are experts!! We LOVE to travel! )Your photos are amazing- so non-touristy!! Thanks!!

  49. Kayse February 12, 2017 at 11:57 pm #

    This sounds like it was such an amazing trip! The photos are amazing. I’m so glad you chose to share about it despite it not fitting your blog theme!

  50. wvanda February 14, 2017 at 6:40 pm #

    I just wanted to say dear readers deciding if something is dangerous or not based on anecdotal or one-off experience is just bad science. I am glad you, Lauren, had a great and safe trip. I don’t know the stats for visiting Egypt or anywhere else but I have no trips planned in the foreseeable future, if I did I would be doing my research. I didn’t have any preconceived ideas about Egypt’s safety before reading your post and It sounds like you did a good job setting your self up for success while also not being young or naive. I did take a trip when I was young and naive to a not disreputable out of country location and my bff was raped by someone from the USA. Be smart dear readers and travelers even if somethings only goes wrong for a small percentage of the travelers, you are vulnerable when you travel, the difficulty of navigating the justice system in a non home country in a foreign language being just one of many soft dangers.

    • LLADYBIRD February 15, 2017 at 9:45 am #

      Oh, I completely agree. One should always do their own research from a large variety of sources before making any assumptions about safety. I just wanted to offer my anecdotal experience to add to the pile, as there’s not a lot of information about visiting Egypt and some of what I was told completely contradicted what I actually experienced. I definitely, absolutely 100% suggest that people do their own research beyond reading about one experience – to not do that is just incredibly naive and very dangerous.

  51. Beads and Barnacles February 15, 2017 at 11:33 am #

    Ok so I should def have stopped and got myself tea before that. What a crazy informative post. You have made me want to go travelling again now. I keep wanting to go to Morocco but haven’t got round to it yet.
    I am planning to organise a trip to Iceland later this year because well you only turn 30 once right…

  52. lsaspacey February 24, 2017 at 7:35 pm #

    Thank you for this! I now want you to go first to every place I’ve ever thought of going so you can write about it for me. So, Scotland/Wales, Barcelona, Vienna, Japan, and Montreal next?

  53. Nilzeitung May 3, 2017 at 10:07 am #

    This is a coincidence which is very rare, does not come every day in my blog before.
    not and none asked me about Egypt, I gave even more tips and much more… cordially wish luck to the serve I travel’s hope that they one or because other bright spot got uber I’m everyday life of Egyptian cult that stunned go and so proud on it to their courage and your genuine article from my birth place * Cairo * they maintain in a street where I came to this world, chan alchaliliy * Bazar ,(erste foto{ there are very many distribution where gluck bin won not true / unfortunately no single photo from nil, I so by an andre Hall become good luck in the future and if they ask have about Egypt I am each time available, their se/nz from berlin

  54. El-Shaarawy May 24, 2017 at 9:02 pm #

    I really really enjoyed this beautiful article! But there’s one wrong info here which i kindly feel that i should correct. The Gayer-Anderson Museum building is not Turkish, it’s an Old Cairo themed building and is full of the wooden work of Egyptian Mashrabias that dates back to the Coptic era actually. It has several diverse rooms within it, like the Ancient Egyptian room, the Coptic Egyptian roof, the Persian and Damascus rooms πŸ™‚ Finally i really enjoyed your beautiful writing ❀

    • LLADYBIRD May 25, 2017 at 8:48 am #

      Thank you so much for the correction! πŸ™‚ I was going off what my tour guide told me, but I was so dazzled by the entire place that it’s likely I missed some important points. Might have been a good idea to do some additional research before I started talking about it on the internet πŸ˜‰ Thank you!!

  55. markmhamann June 6, 2017 at 9:07 am #

    We went there in 2012 for 8 days when ‘Life’ conspired against re. I just wanted to offer my anecdotal experience to add to the pile, as there’s not a lot of information about visiting Egypt and some of what I was told completely contradicted what I actually experienced.

  56. gumersindo July 4, 2017 at 6:23 am #

    We went there in 2012 for 8 days when ‘Life’ conspired against re. We went there in 2012 for 8 days when ‘Life’ conspired against re.

  57. maxlcrepeau July 11, 2017 at 8:48 am #

    ), and I had just as good of an experience with this […] I didn’t have any preconceived ideas about Egypt’s safety before reading your post and It sounds like you did a good job setting your self up for success while also not being young or naive.

  58. Ahmed Fayed @ JakadaToursEgypt July 16, 2017 at 2:54 am #

    Hello,
    Thanks for sharing the experience. Keep it up!

    I’ve been organizing trips and private guided tours to Egypt for so long time. I see you’ve covered great points in your article that’s making it a good itinerary for better trip.

    Thanks for sharing..
    Ahmed

  59. aristobulonietoalcaraz July 17, 2017 at 6:49 am #

    . ), and I had just as good of an experience with this […]

  60. timothyjcharles August 9, 2017 at 9:05 am #

    . It’s very soft and a little translucent, so I knew it would be really lovely to wear in the […]

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