Egypt is finally open to tourism, and now is the right time to go. Tourism is still down, and the crowds are low. A close friend and I decided to head over this past April, and it was amazing.
Covid tests were required 36 hours from the time you arrive at your destination. Down at LAX, it is simple, they have a lab on-site, and you can get results in 6 hours or less. I drove down to LAX, took a test, and got a great deal on a sleep/park package for $170. The hotel printed off my covid test for me; it was super easy
It was not as easy for my travel buddy. The rules changed the night before, and my friend’s test was invalid. She took a new test, but she missed her flight. So she would have to delay her departure 24 hours, and I would arrive in Cairo alone. We were going to meet in Frankfurt, eat sausage and drink a beer.
I always wanted to see the pyramids of Giza. When Google Earth came out, the first place I looked at was Venice, Italy; the second, The Giza Pyramids. Friends told me it was safe, and they introduced me to my guide, Hassan. He assured me many times Egypt was safe, and they had toilet paper. Excited is not how I felt about this trip when I found out about Laura’s flight delay.
I have never been to the middle east, and now I am going alone. I admit to being very nervous. I thought Egypt was unsafe due to the 2011 uprising. I also believed that it would be unsafe for women to travel alone; we needed to be escorted. I put the trip off many times due to my fears. But, boy, was I wrong! (post trip I figured out Egypt is in Africa and NOT associated with the Middle East…LMAO) Everything I assumed about the country and people was so very wrong.
After a long, lonely trip, I arrived in Cairo. Honestly, I was less than thrilled to be there. I was nervous about being in the Middle East, and I was missing my friend. (I still have not been to the Middle East as Egypt is North East AFRICA!) We live at opposite ends of the country, so we do not see each other often. Due to past experiences, I knew what to expect in Europe but not Egypt. I was scared and uncomfortable until I met Amir. I think he saw the look on my face and took pity on me. He took control of the situation and guided me through the Visa process with ease. I felt safe and protected by my tall, handsome travel assistant. He escorted me to the waiting van where Hassan was waiting.
There he was, my private Egyptian guide for the trip, Hassan. We have been talking for months, so I felt I knew him. An enormous smile and hug greeted me. I felt safe and welcome, ready to start my journey. Hassan, Amir, and the driver took me to the hotel.
We had an hour’s drive to the hotel, and it was already dark. Suddenly, the driver pulls over to the side of the freeway. Hassan tells me to look to the left as there were the pyramids. To my surprise, they were not illuminated. I have seen a few other ancient ruins, and all were lit up at night. It was so dark that night, and I struggled to see. I looked low on the horizon as I had no idea how close we were or how big they were.
It took a while, but then I saw them, a shadowy silhouette in the distance. They were massive and took up most of the horizon. It is hard for me to put into words how I felt when I saw them for the first time, but I will try. That moment I saw them will forever be burned into my mind. Shock, amazement, awe, and disbelief all rolled up into one big emotion. I have seen photos, and I knew they existed, but you can never fully comprehend how big they are until you see them in person. So there I was, looking at something I have dreamed of seeing. I have only felt this way one other time in my life, the moment I saw the Grand Canal in Venice for the first time. For the second time in my life. I was speechless.
We arrived at a gated hotel. The guards inspected our vehicle and made sure we were on the guest list. I was unnerved at first by the security. Then, I realized this is standard, and Egypt has a large military and police presence. My guides checked me in and escorted me to my room. They made sure my room was comfortable. I had a view of the new museum and the pyramids. I felt safe, secure, and looked after upon my arrival.
Hassan took care of all the details for Laura’s arrival the next day and assured me she would be cared for by Amir. I finally relaxed. Hassan and I met in the bar a short time later. We had a cocktail and discussed the plans for the next day. We would visit the Red Pyramid, Bent Pyramid, and Step Pyramid before Laura’s early evening arrival.
I headed off to get some much-needed sleep; I felt welcome and safe my first night in Egypt. I knew I was in good hands.