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Early morning. Freshly (?) squeezed mango juice and strawberry juice! Oh. My. Goodness. So yum. It made the 5ish am start to the day bearable. Thank goodness for 5 star hotels!

After our delicious breaky we headed off to the airport and hopped onto our Egyptair plane. Oh dear. Firstly the flight attendants scared me. Smile people! And secondly they had a camera on the bottom of the plane giving us a great view of the dodgy tarmac. Hmmmm. Sounding like a whinging westerner here but whatever!

Up, up, up we went. Then, eventually the scary attendants served us a weird inflight meal: partially frozen muffin (which was actually quite yummy) and a cup-o-tea! It was a shortish trip to Luxor. And after we landed, the whole plane cheered! Fu-neeee. But it was all worth it. This place was incredible. Temples a-go-go! Hardly any tourists.

After a day of temple exploring we headed to our boat. Oh bliss! We had to walk through about six other luxurious floating hotels to get to ours. We found our room – just like the hotel we left in Cairo. This is the way to travel Egypt! (Cocky westerner now? Oh well.). Up to the deck we floated and sat there sipping some kind of drink overlooking the Nile! The Nile!!!!!

That night we headed back to Karak temple for an exciting (yawn) sound and (yawn) light show. Ooo sorry… flashbacks. It was freeeeeezing cold and the first ten minutes was creepy and exciting. But then it went on… and on… and on! And we both nearly fell asleep.

Next day was the flippin’ Valley of the Kings. This place rocked. The tombs were beautiful. The colours of the drawings/paintings were still brightly coloured and well preserved. We headed down into the bowels of the thing and checked out where the poor Egyptian was laid to rest. We heard tales of brains being sucked out the noses, grave robbers and the afterlife. Fascinating… and a bit gross.

Out we popped and off we went to one of my fav places: the temple of Queen Hatshepsut. This giant temple was built into the side of a mountain. It has a sad history. In 1997 62 people were shot by terrorists so it had an eerie feel about it. But it was also magnificent and awesome. For me, Egypt was full of ‘moments’. And this was one of them. Loved it!

After a full morning we headed back to the boat and set sail for Esna. Ah, this was the life. I felt for the poor adventurous tourists in Felucas (small sailing boats) with their lack of toilets or personal space. Imagine if you got the runs on board! Eeeeeeek.

The next few days were filled with Nile-side temples, jewellery purchasing (oh why didn’t I buy more? So cheap and lovely) and various interactions with various locals that made us feel a various range of emotions from annoyance to affection.

After reaching Aswan we went to a perfumery, had a dance on the ship with our tour guides and headed back to the airport to brave the scary flight attendants once again. Smile and nod. Smile and nod.

Hello Cairo with your crazy cars and your millions of people. Hello The Egyptian Museum with your amazing artefacts and floor filled with King Tut stuff. Hello Bazaar and Egyptian Restaurant. Hello taxi driver and hotel again. Hello… where had the Americans got to?

After we went to the restaurant our tour guide put us all in taxis (this was not part of the tour so no bus). We all made it safely and way too swiftly back to the hotel except the car-full of Americans. We feared the worst. It was a bad time to be an American in Egypt. Half an hour went by. One hour. Our tour guide was frothing at the mouth. He was furious.

Finally the little taxi ambled its way back to the giant hotel and everyone started to breathe again! Crazy times.

The tour was over. We said our fondest farewells to our lovely tour guide and prepared ourselves to become our own tour guides in Europe. In countries we had no idea about. In places we couldn’t speak the language. Driving on the wrong side of the road. Um. Yeah. We felt a little apprehensive. But that’s adventure, baby!

See you in Paris! Bye.

 

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One of the best things about travelling (just quietly) is the moment when you can yell out, “I’ve been there!”. You may have visited some random country many moons ago but when a scene comes on tv or film or whatever, you still have boasting rights. Cos you’ve walked on that soil you’ve breathed that air and no amount of time can take that away.

For the untravelled, this can be quite annoying. But for the seasoned globe trotter, this is a moment of triumph. And then it’s gone.

When you are in the throes of travelling, it’s really no big deal. You may be whacking the side of the great pyramid with your foot, or rolling down the green, green hills of Ireland without a care in the world. Or you could be trudging through Canadian snow on the top of a grand mountain. Wherever you are in the world, life goes on. The sun still rises and sets, the moon sometimes shines and occasionally it rains (unless you’re in Ireland and it rains all the time!).

It is only when you are home and you go through all those photos, all that video footage that the importance of your trip rears its beautiful head. Reminiscing is easy because you don’t have rooms to book or maps to follow. You’ve done it. You’ve walked those ancient paths into the bowels of history. And the reward is to sit back in the comfort of your own house (with your own bathroom, no less) and remember those happy moments.

Gone is the fear of pickpockets and accommodation closing hours. Yep, you’re home free. You lived, you survived and then there’s that glow. The annoying flush of the recently returned. Friends may dread the compulsory ‘slide’ night, even if there’s snacks. If you dwell on one photo or story for too long, you are bound to lose your audience. But for you, it’s simply a way of sharing what you’ve learnt with people who love you enough to listen, ever swallowing their yawns!

As the years fly by and you dig deeper into ordinary life, you may once again pull out those yellowing photos of yore. Those daggy clothes (what was I thinking?) and the self-serviced haircuts (with a pair of nail scissors). Oh how you will laugh and sigh and hope that soon, very soon, you’ll be off on another adventure. Then you can again host another post-trip night and annoy your friends once again. In the meantime, you may find that you have to return the ‘slide’ night favour and listen to stories of distant lands from your more recently travelled buddies with shining eyes and season inappropriate tans. For, that’s what friends are for…

 

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