My most amazing place: Egypt
I have travelled to a fair few countries (49 at last count), since I first started travelling in 2007.
One question that people always ask is: "what is the best place you have been to?".
This is not a simple question with an easy answer. There are so many different aspects to travelling which will change the answer considerably. Which place is the most fun? Which place has the best things to see? Which place has the best culture? Which place is easiest to travel? Etc, etc, etc.
I have finally come to a decision in answer to this question: Egypt.
Egypt is not the easiest place to travel, or the safest. It’s hot, it's loud, and it's dirty, but on the whole it is absolutely amazing.
Aside from having the only remaining ancient wonder of the world, there are so many wonderful temples and other structures to see in Egypt, it takes your breath away.
The age, cultures and histories of these constructions must make them second to none.
The food is delicious, the people are friendly (sometimes overly so), and there are so many things to see and do.
I personally would recommend doing a tour through this country, as it makes travelling a lot easier and you get an insight into the history and culture through your tour guide, which means you can leave your inaccurate, heavy, Lonely Planet guide at home.
Cairo is a vast city, huge and daunting when you initially arrive – especially if you are tall, blond-haired and blue eyed, and travelling with a girl who is the same. You will attract a lot of attention, which can be very intimidating until you get used to it.
The city is extremely loud, bustling and dirty, but there is so much culture crammed into it, you just need to take a deep breath and enjoy it. The highlight of the city for me was definitely the Cairo Museum. You could spend days in there wandering around just looking at everything, and going around with a (legitimate) Egyptologist brings these ancient treasures to life. Note: I visited in 2009, before the Arab Spring, and I'm not sure how badly the Museum was sacked by looters during the unrest. Other highlights of the city include visiting the markets, eating, drinking, and smoking shisha in cosy little bars and cafes.
On the edge of Cairo are the remarkable pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx. Dominant and beautiful, these amazing pieces of engineering genius are on the borderline of being underwhelming. This is simply because the sight of them is so common place, from movies to postcards; we have been bombarded with these images so heavily that I felt desensitised to their splendour.
On the other hand, they are still amazing and you must go and see the last wonder of the ancient world and get the obligatory photos. I also recommend climbing inside the pyramid and going into the burial chamber to get a feeling of the amount of work that must have gone into their construction.
Heading away from the hustle and bustle of Cairo is exciting. There is so much more to the country than the pyramids, and so many amazing temples to explore.
I won’t list everything I did while on my tour, however, some of the highlights were the overnight felucca ride down the Nile (beware the food cooked in the river water); all of the temples around Luxor and Aswan (I love temples); the Valley of the Kings (take sun block and plenty of water, it is stiflingly hot); and of course, Abu Simbel.
Abu Simbel, which has been relocated with great care a diligence due to a giant dam being built in its previous resting place, is one of the most impressive temples. Dominated by giant statues of Ramses II - with a smaller temple beside it for his favourite wife - this temple is totally endearing. The history and stories around Abu Simbel are excellent, and one of the great features of the temple is that on two days of the year (apparently Ramses’ birthday and Coronation) sunlight shines directly down the long hall and lights up Ramses' statue inside the temple. I understand that when the temple was relocated, even with modern technologies, they could not exactly recreate this solar phenomenon, and the light shines in one day early in both cases.
Despite all the wonderful countries I have been to and the amazing things I have seen in the last five years of travelling, I think that Egypt has so much to offer.
There is so much history, culture and artefacts that remain to this day, wrapped up in this great country. It is in my opinion the most amazing place in the world.
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