I know, I know a travel blog post now? Well, yes, I never finished it and we could virtually travel to the great motherland Egypt. This trip was truly a life-changing event in so many ways and I'm grateful to have made this journey to the birthplace of civilization.
Traveling to Ancient Egypt has always been #1 on my personal bucket list, but what I'm super thankful about is that I had the unbelievable opportunity to travel to Egypt this past November and returned back home in early December just in time before all the travel restrictions hit the world. The pandemic has put a big damper on all our travel plans but here's one to put on your bucket list once we can get back to traveling around the world! I don't know about you but I can't wait to get back to traveling.
I'm so grateful for this amazing journey to Egypt. I've been working on this blog post for months and months but because I've been trying to include almost everything we did, it has taken me forever to finish and the night I was finishing this up, the pandemic hit and all travel ceased. Then I felt it wasn't in good taste to post about my journey because none of us are able to travel at the moment and we really don't have any idea when travel will return or how it will change. But then it dawned on me 🤔 that maybe we all could use a little virtual traveling, at the moment. So let's GO!
Kissing the Sphinx
Egypt is a destination that many of us only dream of visiting. It is honestly one of the most spectacular places I have ever been. The 10 days I spent in Egypt allowed me to connect with the past and see many of the top destinations. This post is long and filled with almost every stop we made so I decided to break it up into a blog post per day on our journey.
Come join me on our journey through Egypt with our host Amy & Kyle Webb. Amy & Kyle Webb invited over 100 people to Egypt to celebrate their wedding and I wasn't necessarily one of them, Lol! Actually I was a wedding crasher...The beautiful couple invited my cousin Toni Patillo and I was her guest. I was the guest that was totally geeked out to be tagging along for Amy's amazing insights in Egypt.
Here's our passport to Egypt...And trust as soon as it's feasibly possible I will be returning back to Egypt to take my family to the birthplace of our civilization because I did miss a few spots and I want to go again to revisit because it's too much to absorb all at once!
Passport to Egypt was our schedule itinerary for our epic trip. Here is our day by day travel log with hot tips on the best historical sites to visit! I retraced where our group of 100 plus travelers went during our stay in Egypt all put together by my new sister Amy Webb. Amy's travel company website is www.bucketlisteg.com
We called it "Travel Bootcamp" but for me, it was the perfect Egypt Itinerary. When it's feasible to get back to traveling and if Egypt is on your bucket list look no further than Amy Webb to hook you up. Oh, and by the way, her family is from Egypt and she has this place dialed in and which isn't an easy task! 😅
MAP OF EGYPT
I grew up learning about ancient Egypt, the pharaohs, Cleopatra, the Egyptian pyramids, the flooding cycle of the Nile, all of it. My journey to Egypt wasn't completely a planned adventure even though Egypt has always been my number one bucket list destination but I happened on this trip by a little magic and pure luck.
When my cousin Toni Patillo had been invited to the wedding celebration in Egypt I knew the first time she told me about this amazing opportunity I was determined to be on this trip, even though Toni had no idea! 🤣 The bride Amy is American-born but her parents are from Egypt and she wanted her family and friends to experience her country of origin from her eyes and I knew there is no better way to see a country but through the eyes of someone that knows the lay of the land!
Amy & Kyle Webb
So as months progressed closer to the journey I asked my cousin if I could be her travel companion. As it turned out, I've been going through my own personal turn of events and needed to take a break to do some serious thinking on what, where and why laid ahead and my future moves. There isn't a better way to think... than getting away from your usual setting to see a new perspective and ponder what's next. So after I was approved for the Egyptian "bootcamp" journey by Amy and Kyle, I was ecstatic to be part of this amazing opportunity. I officially became a "wedding crasher"!
(Picture from our room @ Sheraton of the Nile and Pyramids)
With the current climate, Egypt isn't the most popular place to visit but it's definitely a must-see if you love adventure, travel, and antiquities. All my life I looked forward to visiting the land of the pharaohs. I could not wait to get out into the frenetic city of Cairo and start exploring. The country was definitely full of my bucket list items, and I couldn’t wait to get started checking out all the historical places in and all the best places to go, finding the ultimate list of things to do in Egypt.
I feel so blessed that I have traveled to the birthplace of civilization. Egypt has one of the longest histories of any country, tracing its heritage back to the 6th–4th millennia BCE. Considered a cradle of civilization, Ancient Egypt saw some of the earliest developments of writing, agriculture, urbanization, organized religion and central government. Iconic monuments such as the Giza Necropolis and its Great Sphinx, as well the ruins of Memphis, Thebes, Karnak, and the Valley of the Kings and Queens, reflect this legacy and remain a significant focus of scientific and popular interest.
Egypt's long and rich cultural heritage is an integral part of its national identity, which has endured and often assimilated, various foreign influences, including Greek, Persian, Roman, Arab, Ottoman Turkish, and Nubian. Egypt was an early and important center of Christianity, but was largely Islamised in the seventh century and remains a predominantly Muslim country, albeit with a significant Christian minority.
My cus Toni and I began our journey from Los Angeles to London (10 hours) flight then we had a few hours layover in London Heathrow airport had lunch before we took off again for another (5 hours) to Cairo where we met up with the entire party of 100 plus people celebrating the wedding of Amy & Kyle.
Day Zero: Arrival Friday, 11/22/19
WELCOME TO EGYPT
We finally arrived at Cairo airport and our tour company met us as we deplaned to walk us thru getting our visas at the Egypt airport which cost $25.00 us dollars. Then off to check-in to Cairo Marriott Hotel & Omar Khayyam Casino. It's go time, our itinerary started early in that morning and I was determined not to miss one excursion. We landed early that morning in Cario and didn't get to our hotel until 2am and by then were in definite need of some sleep. But I didn't care because I was so excited to be here. Let's Go!
Cairo Marriott Hotel & Omar Khayyam Casino: This hotel actually used to be a palace and the architecture and beautiful interiors really make you feel like royalty. The nice courtyard outside is actually really tranquil and you would never guess you were in the middle of a bustling city.
The megacity Cairo is huge, loud, chaotic and can definitely be overwhelming for some people. Egypt is such a mystical place with culture depth like no other place in the world. It was one of the first established civilizations, dating back to around 3,000 BCE.
Cairo is a lot...let's start with the fact that it is a 3rd world country that's majority Muslim, over-crowed and is very intense, like on steroids but it's also magical, rich and has so much culture. It's either your cup of tea or not? Personally, I loved it!
Day 1: Cairo
First, we embarked on a journey to Mokattam Mountain in southeastern Cairo to serve in an orphanage and experience the Cave Church. Our party brought donations for the orphanage/children. This was such a humbling experience and the children were so happy to meet us. This was an awesome way to start our journey to give back to the community before we experience the birth place of civilization. Let's experience the presence of God and the gift of life as we give thanks for all we are blessed with this day and every day while serving others in need.
The Monastery of Saint Simon, also known as the Cave Church, is located in the Mokattam mountain in southeastern Cairo, Egypt. In an area that is known as ‘garbage city' because of the large population of garbage collectors or Zabbaleen that live there. The Zabbaleen are descendants of farmers who started migrating from Upper Egypt to Cairo in the 1940s. Fleeing poor harvests and poverty they came to the city looking for work and set-up makeshift settlements around the city. Initially, they stuck to their tradition of raising pigs, goats, chickens, and other animals, but eventually found collecting and sorting of waste produced by the city residents more profitable. The Zabbaleen would sort through household garbage salvaging and selling things of value, while the organic waste provided an excellent source of food for their animals. In fact, this arrangement worked so well, that successive waves of migrants came from Upper Egypt to live and work in the newly founded garbage villages of Cairo.
Day Two: Sunday, 11/24/19
Day two we celebrated the value of Legacy and began our day visiting the Pyramids of Egypt and the Great Sphinx. We entered the Pyramid of Chephren/Khafre and visit a Papyrus museum then lunch had at the Mena House.
Great Sphinx of Giza
THE GREAT PYRAMIDS OF GIZA & THE SPHINX
Do I even need to say it? You cannot go all the way to Egypt and not see the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx. It is breathtaking!
The Great Sphinx of Giza, commonly referred to as the Sphinx of Giza or just the Sphinx, is a limestone statue of a reclining sphinx, a mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head of a human. Facing directly from West to East, it stands on the Giza Plateau on the west bank of the Nile in Giza, Egypt. The face of the Sphinx is believed to represent the pharaoh Khafre.
(Toni and I with our tour guide in route to the pyramids)
Number one on anyone's bucket list should be the Giza pyramids. One of the seven wonders of the world. Reaching as high as 146.7 meters (481 ft.) and each side being 230.4 meters (755.9 ft.) long, it is one of the biggest monuments in the world. And all for the purpose of honoring the pharaohs and queens – by building them tombs, they created a sacred place for their afterlife.
The pyramids are definitely something you need to cross off your bucket list.
In general, it’s a fantastic time to visit the pyramids, they’re almost empty these days because most people are afraid to travel to Egypt (which you absolutely shouldn’t be!) and you can get some great shots without other tourists in the picture, like this one I took:
I would definitely recommend you book a guide for a trip to the pyramids for two reasons. One is that the pyramids are 10x more impressive if you hear about how they were built and all the crazy facts around it rather than just looking at them. The other one, maybe even more important, is that you will have a lot of hassle if you come by yourself because everyone is going to try to sell you their services. It’s a pain in the a** to be completely honest! Getting a guide will make the pyramids a much more relaxed experience for you.
For an extra 300 EGP, we walked into the Pyramid of Chephren/Khafre , the second largest pyramid at Giza. The pyramid is named for Khafre, the third pharaoh of the 4th Dynasty during the Old Kingdom Period of Ancient Egypt around 2540 BC, whose funeral temples were built around the causeway leading to the pyramid. For me, this was well worth it. However, it can be a little bit cramped, claustrophobic and hard on the knees but if you can handle it jump inside.
I had no idea that you can actually stand on the Great Pyramids of Giza. It is only the first few steps but still. I love my photo opp, it’s definitely a must-do to say you’ve stood on something that was built over 3000 years ago.
After you go inside and take in the vastness of the pyramids you can ride a horse or camel as well, though I don’t want to promote that as a lot of the animals are not in a good condition and not being treated well. I was a little uneasy on the camel but I felt that since I came this far I should at least try it but in hindsight I'm not sure if I should have. Lesson learned!