Europe Trip 2008 Day #15: Experiencing Egypt Like Never Before

As I mentioned not to long ago, one of the main reasons we chose this cruise over the countless other Mediterranean cruises available was really due to the fact that this was the only cruise stopping in Alexandria, Egypt. Why would we care that much about going to Egypt? Good question, and my exact answer would be why the heck not? It holds some of the most amazing sights and the last remaining ancient wonder of the world, if that’s not a good reason to go then here was our second reason. Who knows how many chances we will have to go to Egypt, and so without further ado here is a recap of today’s 12+ hour adventure in Egypt.

I have not always been high on my college education, I never really felt that I was gaining knowledge that would be applicable in life, but in my last quarters at UCI I took two classes that both discussed Egypt in great length and there current poverty stricken country and all the social problems that have gone along with it. I woke up at 5:45 AM this morning to make sure I got everything ready including our room service order and all the necessary documentation. What was so interesting about waking up that early was that I got to see the port coming in, and I regret not taking photos I did take video but the port of Alexandria the second largest city in Egypt was truly a trip. What photo I wish I would have taken was of this half sunk ships just sitting in the port. The port was so dirty, and smelled of some of the worst sewage I have ever smelled in my life. If I as going to rate the trip by the entrance to the port, that would have been a bad thing, luckily the rest of the day was truly unforgettable.

When we got into our bus and finally left for Cairo (the largest city in Egypt) we were informed although we all knew this going in that we would be police escorted and had a egyptian officer on board with us for our protection. It was nice to have them, but having them there also told me that we were in at least some potential danger. I have been to third world countries, having taken two Caribbean cruises I have seen poverty, but I have never seen poverty like I saw today in both Alexandria and Cairo. I took countless photographs, none that I feel really grasp what I saw today, but to be honest its one of those things that you see but putting that into words would be impossible. We had a 2 1/2 hour bus drive to just get us to Cairo and Jenn and I talked a lot throughout the journey about how fortunate we were to be born in America, and really it are times like this that help put things in perspective.

Europe Trip 2008: Alexandria, Egypt Day 15

A Picture at the Port of Alexandria, Egypt from my Balcony

The drive down to Cairo really wasn’t all that bad, I have to say we had a really nice bus ride, and a very nice tour guide as well that informed us of a lot of what to expect. Our first stop and really the most important stop was at the Pyramids in Giza, and of course the last remaining Ancient Wonder of the World the Great Pyramid. When we started approaching the pyramids it was such a surreal experience, never have I thought of visiting the pyramids and yet I have spent so much time in school and life looking at pictures of them. Seeing them in person and seeing the gigantic size of each block and truly seeing how perfectly aligned all of the stones are, was truly breathtaking. When you get out of the bus a bit of culture shock happens, you get hassled to by things in a lot of places in Europe and on cruises in general, but the persistence of the Egyptians to get your money is impeccable.

Europe Trip 2008: Alexandria, Egypt Day 15

Close Up View of the Grand Pyramid

I had three gentleman within 2 minutes come up to me, tell me that I looked very Egyptian with my two days without shaven face and that I should buy my pretty lady a necklace, or I should celebrate being in Egypt. Most of the time they want to “give” you something which we are told means they want more money. Whatever the case you can get past them by ignoring them, and then its off to enjoying the pyramids. We had about a half hour to take in the pyramids, and although it was hot you wanted to take so many photographs that the heat was a bit of an afterthought. We took at least 30, maybe more photos at the three pyramids of Giza alone. The place is just so photogenic and was such an amazing place to visit that even to this moment I am having trouble putting it all into words.

Europe Trip 2008: Alexandria, Egypt Day 15

Jenn in front of the Grand Pyramid

Europe Trip 2008: Alexandria, Egypt Day 15

Jenn and I in Front of the Second Pyramid

Europe Trip 2008: Alexandria, Egypt Day 15

Jenn and I Climbing the Great Pyramid

When we got back to the bus we were off just down the road for a minute to get to the Sphinx which also gave a better landscape view of the three pyramids. The sphinx was the only thing on this journey that was a lot different then I expected, mainly it was a lot smaller then I had envisioned, and yet it still was incredible. I still don’t understand how with our modern technology our buildings seem to be falling apart after 50-100 years and yet these pyramids are thousands of years old and they stand in almost full glory showing the world the amazing ingenuity of the ancient Egyptians. We took some pictures of the Sphinx, the landscape view of the three pyramids and then went inside part of the Sphinx. It was here that Jenn and I bought some Egyptian headdresses from one of the really pushy Egyptian sales people. One of them we got for $1 and one we got for $3 (it was from two different vendors) and it was supposed to be a great item to have for our next part of our adventure which was a 4X4 Off Road Adventure followed by a camel ride in the desert.

Europe Trip 2008: Alexandria, Egypt Day 15

There I am on the bus wearing my new head dress

After once again a very short drive to a local country club where we would end up having a buffet lunch we were divided into groups of 6-8 to enter some Toyota style Jeeps where we would go literally off road with a driver through the desert sands to get us to our camel which would take us back to eat lunch. I somehow lucked out and got the front seat, and I figured this will be nothing they will take some easy going path and just leisurely drop us off at the camels. That was not the case not only was the driver just having a great time but I think my favorite two words for the drive was “gun it”. Jenn was sitting right behind me with her mom, and her dad and two others were sitting in the very back. I really had the best seat in the house, we actually got airborne going off a nice size sand dune and every time we would either fishtail, closely miss another vehicle, or go down a steep hill the driver would look over and smile at me like he was a kid in the candy store. When we did manage to get through this incredibly fun off road adventure Jenn and I got linked up on two separate camels and walked through the desert with our camel guide to lunch.

Europe Trip 2008: Alexandria, Egypt Day 15

Driving through the Egyptian Desert, Sitting in Front!!

As I mentioned earlier I never thought I would go see the pyramids, and I really never imagined riding a camel, but both were such an experience that I could go on and on about all of it. Riding the camel was a bit uncomfortable and when they stood up for the first time you really did feel like you might lose your grip. Similar to riding a horse it does get a little soar after riding them for a while but riding the camels through the desert with the Giza pyramids in the background and my fiance on the camel to my side, now that was priceless. When your doing all of this you don’t really put it into perspective but when it was all said and done and we finally got off the camel and I looked at Jenn and I told her that I can’t believe I am in Egypt riding a camel, seeing the pyramids and being able to share it all with her. Sitting here in my stateroom right now, part of me feels like that all didn’t just happen, and then the other half knows it did and feels extremely fortunate to be able to experience all of that.

Europe Trip 2008: Alexandria, Egypt Day 15

Jenn and I Together on the Camel

Europe Trip 2008: Alexandria, Egypt Day 15

Jenn and I Together on the Camel, This Time Kissing for the Camera

Once we got to lunch we were all on an adrenaline high, it was all such a rush that when we finally got to the buffet it was time to let it all sink in. Lunch was actually really good, especially for it being in Egypt. I was a bit skeptical on eating anything in the country, the water is supposed to be extremely dirty, and from what I hear can make you really sick. The food so far has done well with all of us and no side effects yet, knock on wood. I had pasta, with chicken on a skewer, and a tortilla, with an Egyptian Coca Cola which tasted the same as in the States. It wasn’t the best food in the world, but it far exceeded my expectations.

Europe Trip 2008: Alexandria, Egypt Day 15

A Picture of my Lunch at this country club in Cairo, Egypt

After lunch things calmed down a bit, we went to the first ever stone monument, which didn’t necessarily look like the rest of the pyramids but more of the pyramids you see in Mexico. After seeing the pyramids of Giza and how grand and magnificent those were, seeing this pyramid didn’t have the same flare. Following that stop we were off to a Prince’s tomb which was really interesting. Only Kings and Queens were put in the pyramids, but the Prince had a nice burial place to and after another short drive we got to walk into a burial site and saw a lot of the amazing drawings that were put on the wall. The Egyptians were sure into there burial grounds and although this wasn’t inside one of the Pyramids it still was pretty interesting. The only downfall here was that it was so hot and humid in this area that I was literally dripping by the time we got out of there.

Europe Trip 2008: Alexandria, Egypt Day 15

A picture in front of first stone monument

The last stop on the menu was to a papyrus store where they sold some of the only papyrus in Cairo. We loved the exchange rate it was over 5 Egyptian Pounds for 1 Dollar so we got a nice papyrus painting and Jenn got a necklace that with hieroglyphics  spells out her name on front and my name on back, both which were relatively good deals. This was the last stop on the agenda and it did allow for some souvenir shopping and then it was off to take the long trek back to the Legend of the Seas, this drive took closer to 3 hours to get back. Coming back was a bit difficult, at night things actually seemed even more poverty stricken, especially in the heart of Alexandria which looked like it was barely still standing.

We got back to the ship after 8:00 PM and ordered room service, both Jenn and I had the Black Angus Top Sirloin, I had two shrimp cocktails, and an order of there Chicken Wings. This was the first night in a while that I actually ate a lot, but it was nice to just relax in the room, take a much needed shower, and recap on an amazing day. The heat was rough, not as rough as we had imagined it might be, but the heat did wear on all of us today, and having tomorrow as another day at sea comes once again in perfect timing. I hope you all have enjoyed this extremely long overview of our day in Egypt, and although I never have a need to come back here, to be able to visit it just one time is a once and a lifetime experience that I never will forget.