One year ago yesterday I married my amazing wife! One year ago today my wife and I left for what would become the most amazing travel experience we have ever had. Both of us grew up traveling, we have both been to all 50 US States, and multiple countries but neither of us had ever been to Egypt. Ever since I was a kid I wanted to see Egypt with my own eyes. If you ever watch TV or the History Channel, there is a good chance that you will see something on Egypt. Its a country with a vast amount of history, extremely old and preserved artifacts and is home to 2 of the world’s 7 wonders. The Great Pyramids of Giza and the Lighthouse of Alexandria, both places we were able to visit. Not only is Egypt a country full of history, but its also a country that fell into a revolution starting in January 2011, just a few short months before my wife and I were supposed to leave for Cairo.
One month before our plane was to leave Seattle to Cairo we had to make a decision to either go on our honeymoon or to cancel the trip entirely. For both of us, it was an easy decision and so we kept the trip alive. We decided we would go to Egypt no matter what happened over there, besides the country can’t really survive without tourism and we were now a hot commodity. For a country that survives on tourism, it felt like we were protected based on that one fact. Bad press or bad publicity about tourist being injured would further threaten their economy, in fact tourism made up 11 percent of the Egyptian economy before 2011.
One of our first stops was Alexandria. After a long flight from Seattle to Germany to Cairo we took a 2 hour drive from the airport to our Four Seasons hotel in Alexandria. Our first full day in Egypt we spent relaxing and catching up with sleep. Since we only had three days in Alexandria we tried to get as much sight seeing as possible. One of the places our tour guide took us to was a waterfront restaurant where we ate fish and fried rice. The fish was amazing along with the scenery of the waterfront of the great city of Alexandria.
One of the sad things about the Egyptian Revolution was the lack of tourist. Everywhere we went, it was like we were the only ones there! We were always first in line, or always the only ones at restaurants. We noticed it the first few days were were in Egypt. Here in Alexandria we ate at a place that is normally full of tourist and yet we were the only ones here. Looking out over the water you can see all of the fishing boats just sitting there. No one has work because no one has need of their services. As we sat and ate our fish and rice you could see the occasional boat come in or leave the port. Across the backside of the restaurant was a fort built near where the Lighthouse of Alexandria used to sit. An earthquake destroyed the original building which is now buried in the water just off the shore.
The location of the Lighthouse of Alexandria, which was just off shore here. You can only imagine how awesome of a structure it would have been.
On our way back to our hotel I took a few pictures of the graffiti from the Revolution.
Everywhere we went there was some type of graffiti. Every post was painted, red, white and black. Our tour guides where very friendly and we never felt in danger. You could never have noticed that there was a huge riot in this city except for all of the graffiti and stories you heard from the people who lived here.
On our way back to our hotel, I snapped this picture. The tall building with green windows is the Four Seasons Alexandria. Notice the post near the road painted?
Sharm el Sheikh
After our three short days in Alexandria we were off to the amazing resort town of Sharm el Sheikh. During our stay here, the ex-Egyptian President was staying in a hospital down the road. The security was light and we never really saw any kind of action, except everyone knew the President was staying just down the road.
My wife and I spent a week here and it was paradise! Anyone traveling to Egypt should stop here and stay for at least a week. We stayed in the Four Seasons Hotel and I cannot believe how amazing this place is. This is why I cannot believe people would go cruising for every vacation! If I had to save up for 3 years just to go on a two week vacation here, it would be well worth it! If I never went cruising again just so I could go to Egypt, it would be worth every single dollar saved!
The beauty of Sharm el Sheikh is breath taking. During our week here, we went snorkeling in the Red Sea (which is shown in the picture above), we hiked up Mount Sinai and saw Saint Catherine’s Monastery, a 1500 year old monastery. The current monastery is about 1,500 years old but the original monastery is outlined and roped off. No one really pays attention to it, but it was interesting to see where the old walls used to be.
We left our hotel around midnight for the two hour drive to the base of Mount Sinai. From there we started hiking around 3am so we would be on top of the mountain for the sun rise. Even though tourism is down, this mountain still draws hundreds of visitors every morning. I was amazed to see how many people were on top as soon as the sun rose. It was a long hike and really took a lot out of us. We were extremely hungry and wish we had brought food with us! There are small shops along the way and if you go with a guided tour, your guide will usually make sure you are taken care of. On the hike up, I was amazed to see all types of people, young and old, fit and overweight, all walking up the dirt path towards the top of Mt Sinai. I thought if they could make it up, then most anyone could. If you cannot hike, there are camels you can pay to take you to the base of the steps, which then takes you to the very top. As long as you can hike up 750 steps, then you can make it to the top of Mount Sinai. This was one of the highlights of our trip to Egypt and we were glad to be there!
Part 2 Coming…