Egypt Needs Your Tourist Dollar

I'll be blunt: Egypt needs your tourist dollar. They've had a thriving tourist industry (for good reason!), one on which many people relied, for many many years*. Then, Arab Spring, the downing of that Russian passenger plane, and some pretty rough media coverage of isolated occurrences of violence and tourism all but dried up. That has left the country really hurting and many of the sites that tourist dollars go to help maintain, protect, and further uncover unfunded. In talking with folks here, they ask us, the few Americans they see, to tell people Egypt is worthwhile and good. And that's what I want to do.

Egypt is pretty awesome. Obviously the history can't be overlooked—pyramids, tombs, temples, hieroglyphs, artifacts, that crazy ancient Egyptian art where perspective is a little crazy but so recognizable. It's something we've all seen parodied or copied our whole lives, but this is the real stuff...and it's really really cool. But the history stuff is probably the first thing that people think of when they think of travel in Egypt*. But there's so much more.

There's diving and snorkeling in the Red Sea. There's gorgeous vistas over the River Nile(!). There's culture and food and desert and pleasant weather! And the people are so nice! On the street, it never fails if we have a map out or look confused, someone stops to ask us if we need help. Granted, occasionally it comes with a pitch to use their travel agency, have a look in their shop, or otherwise get an "appreciation". But often not. And even if, when you politely decline, they wish you a happy new year and you're on your way. Really, there's kind of a lot going for this place.

And guess what... it's cheap! Della and I will end up averaging about $30/day each (including meals, hotels, in-country travel, admission fees, etc.). And that's living pretty high. Our current hotel has a pool (Yasmina in Dahab, I highly recommend it!). We eat well. We see all the things we're supposed to see (and even more*). We even take the occasional taxi! All for about what life costs back home.

It feels good knowing that my tourist dollars are going to people that need them. In planning to come here, people warned us off and generally were aghast at the idea. I'm so glad we didn't listen* and came anyway. We've had a wonderful time. Egypt was happy to have us. It's win win! So please consider putting Egypt back on your travel horizon. They will thank you.
Sunday January 3 2016File under: travel, Egypt

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Cheesing It Up at Giza




Instead of booking a tour of the Giza pyramids (like we did for Luxor's Valley of the Kings and surrounding areas (which we were so glad we did!)), Della and I decided to metro*->bus->mini-bus out and spend the day being goofy. It was much better than the quick one hour "look at this, take a picture of this, here's a camel, let's go" we might have otherwise ended up with. And we got to hang out and just take dumb pictures however it struck our fancy. Yeehaw!

Speaking of photos, it turns out Americans, esp. stylish American women like Della are celebrities. We spent about the first hour getting mobbed by kids (and even their teachers!) wanting their picture with us, shaking our hands, and practicing their 2 or 3 English phrases. Della was the perfect ambassador for America, patiently posing and asking each of them their name in response (which can be hard when there are hoards of them). Sometimes the group of photo-seekers is smaller and we can even sit and attempt to chat for a minute.

And it wasn't just kids. Parents would prod their super shy 4-year old to go pose with the American. Or a group of twenty-somethings asking if Della is an actress and the women kissing* her on the cheek as a goodbye* after photos all around. I was roped into my fair share, but I tried to hang back when I could and watch the craziness.

The celebrity photo status thing hasn't just been at the pyramids. Pretty much every where we have gone in Egypt, it's been pointing then giggling then getting up the courage to gesture "Can I get a picture with you?". So crazy, but in a great, flattering way. When they aren't trying to sell you something*, we've found Egyptians to be so incredibly friendly!

We ended up spending over 4 hours wandering around the grounds of the Pyraminds, munching on snacks literally sitting on the immense steps of Khafre's pyramid, taking dumb photos of ourselves, and posing with locals. Afterwards, we relaxed at a restaurant across the street whose name I won't mention but it rhymes with Schmizza Nut. It did have a fabulous view, though. It was an experience that we could have never gotten from a guided tour and one to be remembered!
Wednesday December 30 2015File under: travel, egypt

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