20 May

Memories Of Egypt – Part 1

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I sat on the roof of our hotel to catch the last sunrise.

In the distance, three small triangles stood out in stark contrast to the multitudes of busy markets, chaotic streets and unfinished buildings the people of Cairo call home.

I tried to think back to the start of my trip, driving through the streets after midnight en route to my hotel in Giza. I couldn’t help feel there should be throngs of people lining the street. “If there are 85 million people in Egypt, where are they?” I asked my driver.

Well, after 9 days and as many cities I had well and truly found them.

Nothing can really prepare you for the first time you lay eyes on the Great Pyramids of Giza. As I looked around the bus at the expressions of the 28 strangers I’d share these experiences with, I couldn’t help but feel I already knew them all a little better.

This is why we do this, I thought. This is why we travel.

As I walked towards the pyramids in amazement a voice came from my right hand side: “You a lucky man.” Ready with a retort, I looked over my shoulder at a pair of hooves. Further inspection revealed these were attached to a camel, atop the camel a toothless grin looked down on me. I couldn’t help but crack a smile, which was returned 10 fold.

I realised the statement was directed at my travel buddy Brett. “Three hundred camels for lovely lady,” the toothless man suggested.

That’s a pretty good deal,” joked Brett, “I could do a lot with 300 camels, it would be a shame not to consider it.”

This was my first glimpse into the Egyptian sense of humour. This, chants of ‘Aussie Aussie Aussie’, the not so traditional ‘Kiwi, Kiwi, Kiwi’ and ‘maybe later’ would become common place over the next week and a bit.

I could tell you all the specs for the pyramids and theories of how they were built by the ancients when most other civilizations were still whacking each other on the heads with cave sticks, but you have Google. Besides, I’d rather leave that to Sam, our tour guide.

With a degree in Egyptology and over 10 years tour guiding this guy knows his stuff. I’m embarrassed to say a lot of the things I thought I knew about ancient Egypt turned out to be inaccurate. Sam patiently explained the facts, often with interesting stories to accompany them. He also patiently addressed all our misinformation. Just don’t try to tell him the pyramids were built by ‘bloody aliens’.

We were headed to see the Sphinx. It wasn’t my first time riding a camel and as Brett looked back at me overshadowed by the pyramids, behind him a line of our travel companions stretched out across this small corner of the Sahara. I took a mental picture I’m sure I will never forget.

After giving the Sphinx a quick kiss and grabbing a bite, I was headed for Hurghada, the only place on the itinerary I had never really heard of. What’s the deal here, I wondered. As those of us who chose a sleep-in over a snorkelling trip emerged from the rooms of our all-inclusive hotel the next day, we figured it out.

“Do you reckon if we all agreed we could just boycott the rest and spend the next 6 days here?” Brett asked, sprawled across a deck chair positioned between the hotel pool and the Red Sea, lid off, beer in hand. I had to admit, it would have been nice, but the wonders of Southern Egypt beckoned.

“Plenty of time for this on the felucca. Down it. We have to be in the Lobby in 10 minutes.”

Enjoying Naomi’s story of adventure in Egypt? Of course you are! Well make sure you come back to our blog on Thursday to find out more about her experiences, including details of Luxor and a Nile River cruise.

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