Mez and I are having dinner with Lars and a few friends who are planning a trip to Egypt later this summer. They want advice and conveniently, both Mez and I have been before. I made my own trip to Egypt in 2004 while dating Samer… a born and raised Egyptian who came to the US for grad school and Canada for his PhD. Mez, like Samer, is also Egyptian. While he moved to the States as a child and grew up mostly in the US, he still has lots of family in Egypt and has made many trips to Egypt with his family over the years. So, we’ll both be doing dinner with Lars, Anna, Luke, and Brooks this week to offer advice and answer questions. Their upcoming travels have encouraged me revisit my other blog to form notes on the basics of my trip. I’m not sure if I’ll import blog posts and photos, but for now here’s the basics. Can’t believe that trip with Samer was more than four years ago! Also hard to believe my next boyfriend after Samer was another Egyptian. Life never ceases to entertain me. :)
By APNWLNS payday loans
Dec 18, 2004: Leave Seattle
Layover in Amsterdam (hang out with Wouter)
Luxor (and my birthday!)
Aswan (and xmas!)
Cairo (Samer arrives!)
Camping in Sinai mountains (for new years!)
Jan 6, 2005: Return to Seattle
• Eating lots of fuul and fallafel (it’s like 1/2 Egyptian pound = 10 cents).
• Kushari – noodles, rice, lentils, yummy goodness
• Tahrir Square – stayed in the New Sun Hotel – in the heart of action, cheap, friendly, dorms
• Khan el-Khalili – giant market for jewelry, tea, people watching, dessert, smoking hookah, spices, souvenirs, etc
• Birqash Camel Market – graphic
• Islamic Cairo
o Mosque of Ahmed Ibn Tulun
o Sultan Hassan Mosque
• Egyptian Museum
• Pyramids and sphinx
• City of 4,000 minarets – all doing the call to prayer 5 times a day. Kinda fantastic.
• Sufi dancing (the famous Whirling Dervishes)
• Nubian Oasis Hotel, breakfast on their rooftop deck, cheap and friendly
• It goes without saying, but skip the light shows. Dumb.
• Donkey ride through the Valley of the Kings with an 11 year old school girl, Kareema, and her neighbor Ibrahim, a 23 year (who also sells felucca rides).
• Tombs of the Nobles
• the Ramesseum Temple
• Valley of the Kings
• Aswan was lovely, but very brief. It’s not really the southern most city, but it’s the largest southern most city.
• I actually got up one morning at 3am to take a bus 240 km south to Abu Simbel… an amazing temple that has been moved to a new location on the Nile. (The original location flooded when they built a dam a while back). If you have free time, look for the story online… it’s the largest rescue project even undertaken by the global community with the help of UNESCO. Very impressive.
Al-Karm Eco Resort
• For reservations, costs and hiking arrangements out of Al-Karm, call Amm Gamil at +02 010 132 4693.
• Samer & I made a day trip to Mt Sinai and did an overnight hike to see sunrise from the top.
“AlKarm offers a fantastic lodging in the local style and yet with all the facilities modern man needs like bathrooms and toilets and a decent kitchen. It has no electricity and mobile phones don’t have coverage there…. Manager is the amazing Jamil Atteya who not only is familiar with all the trails and forms names but is a walking encyclopedia of Bedouin-culture who doubles for a poet.” -SaharaSafaris
“Inaugurated in 2002, the mountainous retreat was built on the ruins of original Bedouin houses in Wadi Araba. It acquired its name “Al-Karm” meaning the “Grapes Garden” in Arabic, from the fact that this area was known for grape cultivation, but that was back in the heydays when rain was not as scarce as today…. Amm Gamil, a local Bedouin who is in charge of Al-Karm, is a reverent man who literally radiates peace and serenity. He, as the majority of the Bedouins living in the area round St Catherine Monastery, is from the Gebeliya Tribe… In contrast to the majority of Bedouin tribes of the Sinai and Negev deserts, the Gebeliya tribe is not descendant of Arab origin, but rather of, oddly enough, eastern European. It is believed that the Roman Emperor Justinian I, who ordered the building of St Catherine Monastery during the sixth century, had sent a hundred or so guards to protect and serve the monastery. They later intermarried with the locals and formed a separate tribe. Though they converted to Islam with the Arab conquest in the seventh century, the Gebeliya maintained a symbiotic relationship with the monastery’s monks. No one can ascertain for sure the guards’ origin. Some claim they were Romanian while others go for Macedonians or even Balkans. Mohamed El-Hebeishy” -Ahram Weekly
“Apart from running what are probably sinai’s only composting toilets, al karm is providing the Bedouin experience par excellence. The lodge is efficiently run and the simple food is excellent – frankly, better than many multi-starred hotels in sharm al sheikh. The local staff take care of their guests very well, and provide a host of hiking and trekking opportunities in the area. Marketing, however, is lacking and for the time being the lodge remains if not a completely undiscovered jewel, at least an under-discovered one.” Matthew Carrington – AmCham
“For reservations, costs and hiking arrangements out of Al-Karm, call Amm Gamil at +02 010 132 4693. As there is no mobile network in Al-Karm, your call to the above number will be automatically diverted to a voice mail. Leave a message with all the details and Amm Gamil will get back to you. Don’t worry; his replies are prompt.” Mohamed El-Hebeishy- Ahram Weekly