Twenty-twenty-two was my year for checking off bucket list items! I was finally able to take the 3-week tour my family and I had booked for early 2020: Egypt and Jordan. I had always wanted to see the pyramids, and I was so excited to finally visit in July of this year.
After traveling for almost 2 days, we arrived in Cairo. It was nighttime and difficult to see anything out of the tour bus windows. We went to sleep immediately after arriving at our hotel, Steigenberger Cairo Pyramids. In the morning, I woke up, walked to the sliding doors, and pulled back the curtains. There was a pyramid, staring at me In all its morning sun glory! My heart pounded and I ran out to the balcony! It was like a rush! I was finally here, and my first view was of the pyramids! It was truly amazing, and I was awestruck.
Later that day we toured them and had our requisite photo taken with a camel. We dined that night in a rooftop restaurant overlooking Cairo while women baked pita bread in front of us. It was a dream.
After the pyramids, I found myself thinking I had seen everything that I had wanted to see all my life. But then we took a 5-day Nile cruise. It was incredible! We stopped at each temple on the way. Each pharaoh built his own temple, and they were situated on the water. We would stop at each one, disembark, and go visit with our own tour guide. Some we saw during the day and some were lit in the evening. All of them were incredible and truly put the pyramids to shame. It was truly the trip of a lifetime!
Editor’s Note: Considering a Nile River cruise? Don’t miss Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey’s Everything You Need To Know Before Embarking On A Nile River Cruise.
Jordan was so much like Israel: Desert and beautiful with brown houses and hotels built into the
sides of the mountains. Great civilian poverty together with rich ancient wealth. We stayed in The Old Village Resort overlooking the city by Petra. Eager for the next day, we all stood outside and marveled at the twinkling lights, feeling incredibly lucky to be there.
Petra was wonderous and well worth the travel. We felt like we were in the Indiana Jones movies walking through the caverns on dusty paths, twisting and winding for a long time until bam! There was the Treasury! The infamous carved building you remember from the movie. You are not allowed inside, but you can scramble up the opposite side of the mountain and take photos.
Our Jordanian tour guide informed us that it was built from the top of the mountain, down the cliff, like rappelling off the side of a mountain. The artists were hoisted and sat in swings for hours as they carved. It was a marvel and testimony to man to be able to envision and consummate that building.
The city of Petra continued further, and our guide told us of The Monastery, which was built 950 feet high, the furthest building in Petra. We walked through the old city, which is now only inhabited during the day by vendors, who sell souvenirs, food, and water. We ran into other people from our tour and someone said, “Hey let’s try to walk to the top of the Monastery.” Eight of us started off. Not many endeavor to accomplish this rough, hard hike so high. The path was so narrow and switched back and forth. Some tourists paid for a donkey to ride up to the top. This was scary as the path was very precarious. One slip and you would fall very, very far down the mountain, with no hope of surviving.
Incredibly, there were vendors with little shops set up along the terraced side of the mountain! We could purchase water (remember this was July!) and keep walking. We lost only one member of our group, who had to stop hiking and wait for us under a vendor’s cool tarp. We continued up the mountain, stopping to catch our breath several times. The last vendor encouraged us, “You’re almost there.” We turned the corner and stopped. We looked and saw a restaurant far away. We all looked at each other. We really climbed all this way for this?
We walked toward the restaurant, and behold! Immediately to our right around another corner was the magnificent, huge façade of an ancient building with many intricate columns and moldings. This was several times the importance and size of the Treasury. We whooped and hollered that we made it that far, congratulating ourselves and taking photos. It was quite the accomplishment! If you ever get a chance to go, make time and bring good shoes so you can climb to the Monastery!
The last great bucket list item on our trip was a dip in the Dead Sea. We drove there and had a day pass($60 USD) at the Holiday Inn Dead Sea Resort. They have a private beach on the Dead Sea. It was really cool because we could swim in their pool afterward. A day pass is the way to go because you cannot spend more than 10 minutes in the Dead Sea as the salt content is so high.
When we arrived, I could not wait to jump in the water. In deference to their Muslim culture, I had brought a modest swimsuit and I waded out. The water was not cool but it was not hot, either. I laid on my back and could not believe my own buoyancy! You really do float. I had brought my book to show that I could float and read without treading water. This was the end of our 3-week tour with E.F. Tours and our group of tourists had bonded so much, we played in that water like it was a pool party!
Pro Tip: Many people ask if I felt safe during my tour, and I would resoundingly say YES! There is a certain safety in a group tour. I would recommend a tour group because the cultures in these locations are so different from ours. Our tour leader stayed with us and became a friend to all. She lived there and guided us confidently. She was interesting and helpful. To me, this part of the world is so foreign and mysterious. I would encourage you to visit.
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