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A Spring Break Like No Other!

This spring break, I had the opportunity to visit Egypt with a group of 12 members of my church. It was an absolutely incredible experience. The trip was a combination of touring as well as learning all about a ministry that we support in the area. I wanted to do a recap of my trip – what I saw, where I stayed, what I ate and just an informational blog in case you want to tour Egypt as well.

This was a really short trip. We left our home town on Sunday afternoon. We had a long layover in Paris, so we decided to do an airport layover tour. We used a tour company called Paris Magical Tours. They were amazing! They came and picked us up at our terminal, took us to see several sites to take pictures, took us to a local cafe for pastries and coffee, and then returned us to the airport. This was a shorter tour of just 3 hours, but they also have a 5-hour tour. 

Then we headed to Egypt Monday evening. We arrived in Cairo on Tuesday morning just after midnight to check in to our hotel. We stayed at the Renaissance Cairo, and it was nice. We were unable to get all of the correct room types we had booked. I’m not sure if that had to do with the late arrival, but there was another large group in front of us so it might be. The hotel had a great breakfast buffet. I am not sure of the price, as they gave us that at no charge to compensate for the room issues. Overall it was great, and I would stay there again.

Day 1 

Tuesday was a touring day. We visited The Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx. The pyramids are HUGE! The Sphinx, however, was smaller than I had imagined. Both were very cool and we got tons of great pictures. There is so much history in Egypt, and it was pretty surreal just being here. We were able to climb down into one of the smaller pyramids, which was really cool! There were so many different things to see and learn, such as the area where they would prepare and mummify the bodies, and where they would perform the funerals and services. The architecture is amazing!

We also got to ride camels through the desert! We rode for what seemed like about an hour. It was interesting at times…We heard “lean forward,” “lean back” alot. Some camels got irritated with others at times and tried to cause trouble, but overall it was a great experience!

After this part of the tour, we took a lunch break where our guide had set up a lunch. I am not sure what it was called, but we had what seemed to be a traditional egyptian meal. It was a rice bowl with beans, meat, corn, fried onion strips and tomato sauce on top. It was really good!

After lunch that day, we visited the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization. It was fascinating. I have watched documentaries about this museum and all of the mummies of the ancient Egyptian kings. Photos weren’t allowed in the tombs but I got some general photos around the museum. It was amazing. There was so much history and culture, and I never would have thought I would see it with my own eyes.

Ok… let’s talk traffic and driving habits… This was absolutely insane and it kept us laughing all week long! There are really no traffic rules in Egypt. There are lines dividing lanes but no one stays in their lane. It’s pretty much just find an empty space and go. There were cars everywhere, people everywhere, motorcycles, and tuk-tuks (3 wheeled vehicles used as taxis). I was amazed there weren’t more accidents! Using the car horn and flashing the lights are like a language, as if they are talking to one another. We saw lots of other interesting things like refrigerators being transported on tops of cars, as well as sinks, pallets, rolled carpets and so much more. It really was a sight to see. Their alleyways through town are so small, and cars park along the street. It was amazing how our bus driver was able to maneuver these streets. 

We got to go into the market to look around and shop. This was interesting as well. Definitely watch your belongings as pick-pockets are all around. Our guide directed us straight back to a unique shop with souvenirs that were hand-made out of camel bone! This is super unique so I definitely had to get a few pieces. Then we went to another shop that had items made out of Alabaster and gypsum. I picked up a couple things there as well. It was so great to have some unique out-of-the-ordinary souvenirs.

The market is unbelievable. The number of people in this area is insane. There are 25 million people living in Cairo and it definitely shows! Most of their housing is tall apartment buildings housing hundreds of people. The traffic is crazy, and it never stops. It is just as busy at 2 am as it is earlier in the evening. We did notice it was a little less busy on Friday as Friday is like a Sunday to them.

That first night, we got to do a women’s event which was incredible. There are really no words to describe it. A bunch of women gathered together outdoors. All were of different backgrounds, problems, circumstances and from across the world with cultural divides and language barriers… but that didn’t matter. We connected on a deeper level with the ladies there, and it was so special just sharing our stories with one another.

Day 2

On our second day, we did some more looking around. We visited the McDonalds for a McFlurry… well, because the ice cream machines in the U.S. have been broken forever and we just wanted one! This Mcdonald’s was definitely a step above ours. There was even a case with fancy desserts like red velvet cake, chocolate cookie cake, brownies and more.

Driving through the city, we saw so many interesting things such as the “City of Death,” which is basically a cemetery, but they are family tombs. There are three of these around Egypt and this one stretches for about four miles. There are actually inhabitants known as “tomb-dwellers” who have taken residence in some of them.

We visited an area called “Garbage City.” This is a slum settlement within Cairo with a population of around 60,000. This area gets its name from the piles of garbage that litter the area. This is due to the fact that there was never an efficient garbage collection service, so residents, mostly Coptic Christians, have created a collection system, where they charge a fee and collect garbage door-to-door and then transport it back to their homes where they sort through it for recyclable materials. Generally, the men pick up the trash and the women and children sort through it. Some of them are actually quite wealthy as they also have shops where they have created products made out of the recyclable materials. 

We also visited Cave Church, a large church within Garbage City. This is the largest cave church in the Middle East. The hills are riddled with very impressive carvings depicting biblical stories and scriptures. Its auditorium seats 20,000 people!  It is so beautiful and definitely a must-see while visiting Cairo.

We ended the touring day with a Nile River Cruise. It was truly remarkable just being on the Nile River where miracles were performed, Baby Moses was placed in a basket, and where Mary and Joseph were thought to have taken Jesus to flee King Herod. It was much wider than I expected! This was a great time and was so peaceful. 

That evening, we had more ministry events, which were absolutely incredible. What the ministry, TC Egypt, does for their community and the people, is amazing.

That evening, we checked into the Sheraton Montazah Hotel in Alexandria. This hotel was not as we expected. It was old and hadn’t been updated. The pool was under refurbishment, the fridge in the room didn’t work, the outlets were not tight so my charger wouldn’t stay in, and it just seemed run down. The manager stated they were in line for renovations but it would take 3 years. All-in-all, we were disappointed in this property as a Marriott Hotel. We moved over to the Four Seasons for our last night, which was absolutely incredible. It’s probably the nicest hotel I have ever stayed in! The view of the sea from the balcony was so beautiful!

Our last day was spent visiting The Catacombs, a series of underground tombs. The architecture and carvings are incredible. It seems like it goes on forever with the tunnels, stairs and burial chambers. There is also an area where it is thought that the early church mentioned in Acts would meet to avoid persecution. Pretty amazing to think about! We visited the Ancient Roman Theater and Ancient Alexandria ruins and finished at the Citadel, a 15th-century fortress located on the Mediterranean Sea coast. Built from 1477 to 1479 AD, it has taken damage over the years and has been restored several times, but it was so breathtakingly beautiful and so much to see and look at. 

After leaving the Citadel, we grabbed some ice cream from a local spot called Ice Cream AZZA. This was sooo good! It had a texture like gelato but a lot more flavor. We had a mix of strawberry, vanilla, lemon and mango. We had lunch at an amazing seafood place and finished up our mission work with teens and womens events.

After the events, we had to head back to Cairo for dinner and to the airport as our flight was leaving at 2am. We ended up with a low tire, which our driver discovered after getting gas. He quickly drove us to a tire shop for a replacement, but we lost an hour. We still made it to dinner at St. Regis Steakhouse located in the St. Regis Cairo Hotel on the Nile River. This restaurant was so good! And this was a Friday evening. We didn’t have reservations; however, our guide was able to get us in and we had a great last dinner in Cairo before heading home.

I was so incredibly blessed by this opportunity to go on this trip. There is so much to see and do, and after reading, learning and watching so many things over the years about the history in Egypt, it was unbelievable to actually be there! It was a whirlwind of a trip as we visited Paris one day and were in Egypt the next. We saw so many things, ate so much food, and ministered to the people. We had an amazing tour guide that got us into anything we wanted to do and made it so easy. We felt so safe and secure as well.

I cannot wait to go back and visit again! Egypt is a great vacation spot to take your family. There are so many things to see and learn about. It’s so educational as well. If you are interested in planning a vacation to Egypt, let me know! I would love to help, especially now that I know all of the things to see, and the best places to stay! We stayed in 3 hotels in 4 days! I would love to help you plan your next Egyptian vacation!

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