Cruise: Egypt

First stop: EGYPT!

Going to Egypt was pretty much the primary reason the 4 of us picked this particular cruise…and we almost didn’t get to go! Because of all the uprisings and political riots going on in the country, the same cruise the week before us didn’t get to stop in Egypt! Luckily everything calmed down just enough for us to be allowed off the ship. A bit of a miracle!

Cruising to Egypt was initially Kolie’s idea. She thought it would be a great way to see a fairly intimidating place like Egypt from the safety and security of a cruise ship and tour guides. I would definitely have to agree. As adventurous and daring as I like to think we are, stepping fresh off the plane and trying to figure out how to get to a hotel with all the signs in Arabic and few people speaking English would have been flat out terrifying! The wisdom of this idea was solidified when we got on our excursion bus to head from the boat in Alexandria to Giza and armed guards with automatic rifles got on the bus with us. So if you feel intimidated by a particular location, but really want to travel there, I definitely think cruising is the way to go!

The port of Alexandria

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Chris and I walked away from this experience with a love/hate relationship with Egypt. On one hand, we got to see the Great Pyramids, the Sphinx, some amazing architecture, the Sakara Cemetery, plow through the dessert in jeeps, and ride some camels as well as experience yummy new foods and a brand new culture:

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On the other hand though, we discovered that while all this was the picturesque, magical side of Egypt that everyone expects:

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THIS is the actual reality of Egypt (viewed from the opposite side of the previous picture):

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Egypt underneath the breathtaking tourist layer was incredibly filthy. Steaming trash piled up everywhere you turned, freaky mangy dogs roaming the streets, and canals that looked like they were breeding the catalyst for the next major plague. It was quite a bit of a culture shock (especially since this was my first experience in a third world country. Definitely an eye-opener!). The worst part for us though were the peddlers. We thought we had done enough research and heard enough warnings to be prepared for it, but we weren’t. They would get up in our faces, touching our clothes and our hair, jumping in front of our cameras while we tried to take photos, following right behind us until we stopped walking for even a brief second, and shoving their goods into our hands as we walked by all to get us to buy something or tip them for some un-asked-for service. And when we didn’t, they would give us the nastiest, crustiest, hateful looks a human face can muster. And no matter where we went we were targets because we looked obviously and undeniably like the tourists we were.

 

Not cool Egyptians, not cool.

 

While I fully recognize that our touristy experience was not representative of the entire country and culture and that most non-peddling Egyptians are very likely incredibly nice and interesting… it made for a rough two days. Although, looking back on it, I’m glad we got to experience what we did. I feel like even though we were in Egypt for only 2 days, we were able to get a decently well-rounded look at what the country is like. We discovered there is a beauty even in the trash piles if you look with open minds and open hearts.

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Photo by Kolie Sheehan

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Next stop: Israel!

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