This morning I head to the airport, leaving behind Jordan for my flight to Cairo, Egypt. I chose EgyptAir; they offered a great price and reasonable flight times. It is only a 1-hour flight, but they still serve a meal. Pretty good deal! I’m hoping I can see the pyramids as the plane is landing in Cairo, but no such luck. I’m on the wrong side of the plane!
Egypt is a country located in northern Africa that links Africa to the Middle East. It is one of THE most popular places to visit in the entire world, and shows up on many people’s travel bucket lists. Egypt has one of the longest histories in any country, dating back to 6th-4th millennia BCE. Crazy! Visiting Egypt means you get to see the Pyramids, the Great Sphinx, ancient temples and statues, The Nile, beach resorts and more! Egypt has been plagued with acts of terrorism over the years which has unfortunately deterred at lot of people from visiting this fascinating country. Is there a higher chance of terrorism here than other countries? Probably. But will it affect you in your travels here? Probably not. There is a chance of terrorism anywhere, anytime. The government and tour companies do their absolute best to make sure all visitors are protected. The safest option is to do a tour; we had armed security with us the entire time. So, my advice is to throw any fear out the window and go to Egypt!!
One thing that’s awesome about arriving into Egypt when you’re booked on a tour – there are airport escorts which makes going through customs 100% easier. A nice-looking Egyptian dude in a suit hustles us over, takes our passports and the fee to look after the entry visa. Then he’s back within 10 minutes and takes us through our very own customs line and we get through fast and hassle free. Once we get our baggage, he takes us to the private van that drives us to the hotel.
Pulling up to the Oasis Hotel, there are TONS of tour buses and people everywhere. Turns out this hotel is a major spot for tour groups. There are porters gathering the suitcases and every bag that enters the hotel must be put through a screener like at the airport. My tour is called Egypt Explorer w/Felucca cruise and Red Sea. There are soooo many options when choosing a tour in Egypt. The company I chose is called Timeless Tours; I’d never heard of them before but I scored a wicked black Friday deal and the itinerary was awesome. I was so impressed with this tour; it was such an amazing value for what I paid. This company is fantastic and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to go to Egypt.
Once I arrive into the hotel, I’m greeted by someone from Timeless – seriously they have so many staff members here to look after everyone – it’s really impressive. I am checked in and ready to go; I head to my room, walking through the nice gardens and past this large weird cage full of birds. Haha. I stop to say Hi to the birds of course.
Oasis Hotel is quite large and the rooms are in blocks/sections with outdoor entrances. I open the door to my room, ready to see if my roommate is there. Nope. Room to myself for tonight, as indicated by the 1 bed.
The luggage escorting dude shows me the trick to keep the aircon on when you leave the room. Yessss!! It is hot in there, but that aircon blasts HARD and it’s cool in no time. This is what you need in Egypt! I am excited to finally feel like I’m on vacation and take advantage of an afternoon by the pool; coming from Jordan, there were no pools in any of the hotels.
I saunter over poolside and manage to find Ian, my buddy from the Jordan tour. He is also doing an Egypt tour, but not the same one as me. I haven’t met anyone from my Egypt tour yet, so it’s nice to hang out with him and finally enjoy some beers together since we couldn’t really do that in Jordan (really difficult to find alcohol there).
We soak up the sun, and then have burgers and beer for dinner.
My group meeting is this evening and I finally get to see who I’ll be experiencing Egypt with. There is a large group of Americans traveling together (around 15 of them), and then the remaining 12 of us. And SPOILER ALERT – this ends up being one of the BEST groups I’ve ever traveled with. No drama; we all meshed well and respected one another and had so much fun. There was some drama with the group of Americans, but I’ll get to that later. Basically, they should never have signed up for a group tour…..
Our tour leader, Ramez, explains how the next 10 days are going to go for us and takes payment for all of the entrance fees up front to make everything much easier when we get to the sites. Ramez is a guy who I can tell is a no bullshit kind of guy who will take great care of us. He’s also an Egyptologist, so his knowledge is just phenomenal. We also end up with another guide named Meena; this is also a story for a later date. He is pretty awesome too!
My crew is as follows –
Brittany from California, Libby from Florida, Claudia from Illinois – all solo travelers
Kamali (Hot Tamali) and Dai Ana – friends from New Jersey
Shelby and Aaron – a young married couple from New Jersey
Romana and Paul – a young married couple from Scotland
Marcelo from Mexico, Ryan (Gargoyle) from The Netherlands – both solo travelers
There are also 4 guys from the other group that stayed with us when the group split (more on that later!). I wasn’t as close with them, but they are super cool guys. They are Wendell, Kris, Dimitri, and Geo.
That concludes my first day in Egypt….tomorrow the adventure begins with a visit to the Pyramids of Giza……