Egypt with On the Go Tours – May 7th to 17th 2011

Here’s a report from one of our passengers – David Burton – who took the Egypt Unplugged tour with us last month. Thanks for writing in David!

Travel Tip #1: Do not, under any circumstances buy a ham and cheese sandwich at the Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris. I’m not great at math but what I think was $86CAD later, I was only marginally less hungry then when I started. That one life lesson down and behind me, I was boarding an Air France flight at 4:10pm May 7th to land at 9:10pm in Cairo, one of the largest cities in the world and capital of one of the most historical countries in the world.

Landing in Cairo, I was met by my first On the Go Tours representative and instantly knew I was travelling with the right company. After getting through customs (a breeze) we hopped in our ride to the hotel (Travel Tip #Two: Under no circumstances drive yourself anywhere; their driving is to our driving as plutonium is to a candle). Forget about jet-lag; watching people cross the street as you fly by them is enough to keep you wide awake and grinning.

I love Europe for its history and thousand year-old streets, but Egypt floored me. The apartment buildings alone are 120 – 180 years old and still look in better shape and design than my 1960’s mess back in Toronto. Even those paled in comparison to our first full day’s visit to the step pyramid and later Giza and the Sphinx. From the oldest man made structure on Earth to three of the most iconic.

Cairo was brought to life by Waleed, our On the Go guide, Egyptologist and, honestly, friend. He really placed the 5000 year history of Egypt in a clear context throughout the whole trip and was there to share every experience we had.

Hot-air balloon ride: Valley of the Kings

A lot more of the history came out in Luxor (Travel Tip#3: the sleeper train from Cairo to Luxor is the way to go). Visits to the valleys of the Kings and Queens, walking through elaborate tombs carved out of the sides of a mountain 4000 years ago and decorated from top to bottom in hieroglyphs, a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the life giver of the country, the Nile River, everything was so gripping and only helped along by the amazingly friendly people of Egypt.

Dahab was really a welcome bit of R&R. (Travel Tip #4: absolutely take the flight from Luxor to Dahab; save yourself the 18 hour bus ride). With the ironically rich-blue Red Sea reaching away to Saudi Arabia, Dahab offers travellers a chance to relax for a few days on the beach, visit smaller coastal towns, get souvenirs for a far better price than some of the larger cities and forget everything else in the world for a while. That being said, this is where we got the amazing chance to snorkel in the Blue Hole (a world-renowned diving spot), quad-bike in the desert, visit a Bedouin village and climb Mount Sinai in the middle of the night to arrive just in time to witness the same sunrise that Moses may have had. A day out on the Red Sea on a diving boat also affords some once in a lifetime landscape photography shots.

The Temple of Hatshepsut, Egypt

After a few days it was back to Cairo for a visit to the Egyptian museum, home to some of the most amazing artefacts this history nut has ever seen and a visit to the lively Cairo markets (Travel Tip #5: ladies, cover your knees and shoulders, these are real Egyptian markets and the locals will appreciate your modesty).

After a final dinner with my On the Go family it was time to think about the history I’d taken in, the life in the eyes of the passionate locals I’d met, and the jet lag I’d forgotten all about.

(Travel Tip #6: Sleep on the flight home; believe me)

– David Burton


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