Rolf and I have always been interested in visiting Egypt but that trip's been postponed for quite a while. But then actually my dear sister Jonna pointed out the possibility of traveling to Egypt now, as with a negative Covid-19 PCR-test you are allowed to enter the country. Rolf had been in Dubai for the past month so we decided to have our reunion in Egypt then.
After some vigorous packing, I set off for the travel from my hometown Rovaniemi and the first leg of the journey was done comfortably by a night train. I arrived early Wednesday morning in Helsinki and headed straight to the express Covid-19 test center. I chose to do the test at this express center in Helsinki, because from there you receive the test results in approximately six hours instead of the 1-3 days they can take in Rovaniemi. It was important for the test results to arrive fast as Germany requires that the test is taken within 48h of arrival for even the transit travelers. The test was as uncomfortable as ever hahaha, and expensive AF, but got it done!! So after running some important errands like getting eyelash extensions it was time to relax at Jonna's place for the rest of the day.
Had to wakey wake at 3.30AM to head to the airport. The first flight was to Frankfurt, then to Cairo, and finally from Cairo to Luxor. Oh la la yes it took a while but the journey was all fine :) The first culture shock hit me in the Cairo airport bathroom when a nice cleaning lady happily welcomed me to Egypt and called me beautiful and I was all just like "wow thank you, how sweet!!" only to get greeted as nicely at the next bathroom but this time the lady asked directly for a tip - making me realize how clueless and rude I had acted earlier... Oh well, you live and learn. At the Luxor airport, I also got helped by some suuuuuper eager worker guy even when I insisted I did not need any help haha and yeah this time I was urged to go get some cash to tip him. So yash be either very persistent in your NOs or keep your pockets full of cash when visiting Egypt!
Rolf picked me up from the airport with a taxi and we headed to Luxor Hilton hotel. The hotel was very nice, with a beautiful view of the Nile and super nice service. We ate at the hotel restaurant the first night and also chilled there at the poolside mostly the next day in order to recover from all the flying :) Only at night, we went out to eat at this very nice local restaurant called Sofra. The food was delicious!! Luvluvluv.
The next day we started the sightseeing by going to Karnak temple. The temple was close by to our hotel and the weather was nice so we decided to walk there. Leaving the hotel grounds by foot was kind of an overwhelming experience as about 10 taxi drivers tried to eagerly offer us rides straight away we walked out of the gate. Even more persistent to the taxi drivers were the horse carriage drivers though... One of them followed us the whole 15min walk to the temple and tried to convince us to take a ride with him. This guy was pretty aggressive in his persuasion and just did not take any no for an answer so he kept following us all the way. I personally disliked the whole idea about supporting any of that horse carriage business as the horses seemed skinny and exhausted from working long hours in the heat :(
Anyways we made it to the temple and wowzer it was hugeeee! Like it looked more like ruins of a bigger village and contained temples, chapels, pylons, statues, and so on. I was just blown away by the size of the place and the whole site was not even open to the public... A magnificent place!! According to the mainstream theory, the oldest buildings are dated back to around 2000–1700 BC. Lot's of the stuff is still in great shape :) We chose not to hire a guide so we wandered happily around by ourselves, and it took us a couple of hours to see the place! It was quite funny that a few Egyptian tourists wanted to take a selfie with us, not sure where they gonna put those piccos but suresuresure - I'm always down for a photoshoot hahaha.
After Karnak, we enjoyed some popsicles in the yard before heading out of the temple area. To our great surprise, the same persistent horse carriage guy was waiting there for us... Jeeez, we still chose a taxi... But it seemed like the taxi driver and horse carriage driver had some kind of deal so I bet they divided the money so hope everyone ended up happy after all. The rest of the night we just relaxed at the hotel.
The next day we headed to another temple site in Luxor, fittingly named the Luxor temple. This temple was quite a bit smaller than Karnak. Still beautiful though and got similar cool structures and the hieroglyphs were nice and even colorful. Obviously everything there was also magnificent AF.
After leaving the temple I hit the first mental breakdown of the trip. We were looking for wifi to contact our taxi guy who had promised to pick us up and therefore we walked on the streets for like 10 minutes and it was enough time for me to get myself all worked up... I just got so overwhelmed when there were like 20 different guys circling us trying to help or sell their services and even some kids begging money and more horse carriage drivers and a guy trying to pretend he is from our hotel and so on... So in order to cope with that overwhelming situation, I shed a few tears while staring to the distance and refused to talk to anybody :)))))) ahhhh, classic. Oh well, no harm done in a lil mental breakdown. It was funny that even some more guys came over then all like "ahh I'm so sorry for all this hassle targeting you tourists..." only to continue with "would you like to buy a Ferrari ride?" hahaha yup, business is business.
Anyways, after the Luxor temple, we relaxed a bit before heading to dinner. This time we went out to this 1886 Restaurant which was located in the oldest hotel in Luxor. It was actually that old-school fancy that you were supposed to wear either a suit jacket or a tie and they had to lend Rolf a tie before they let us in haha. Looks good tho! The cuisine was French and we had a fun evening eating and later checking out this over century-old hotel :)
The next day we headed to the Luxor West Bank, so basically to the other side of the Nile. The west bank at Luxor is said to be one of the most important archaeological sites in the world and there is so much to see! We went first to the Valley of the Kings. To get in you purchase a ticket that allows you to visit three tombs at the site. Btw there is an extra fee if you want to bring the camera - but luckily it was 50 Egyptian pounds which is like 2.65 € so nothing crazy. We chose the tombs we entered randomly, but they were all beautiful and very different from each other! In general, there were not that many tourists so no lines nor big crowds, so we had lots of room and time to explore each tomb :) The tombs were beautiful and the art super precise and gorgeous ommmmg just filled with history. In the end, we had even some extra time so we bribed the door guy to let us in the fourth tomb too... Wasn't that hard so I bet we weren't the only ones doing so...
After spending about two hours at the Valley of the Kings, we had a mandatory stop at the Alabaster shop where they sell souvenirs made out of local rocks. The workers made a full demonstration of how they hand-make their products and how you can tell a fake souvenir sold on the streets from their quality products and all. Dunno how truthful the show was, but it was entertaining and they even offered drinks so obviously we bought a little gift from there :) The next stop was at Deir el-Bahari. This site was a complex of temples and tombs situated beautifully on the side of a little mountain. Way smaller than the other sites we had visited but still worth it for sure! After leaving Deir el-Bahari we were so exhausted from the sun that we started heading back to the hotel. But after seeing some gorgeous statues on the side of the road we made a quick stop so Rolf could take some more pics while I focused on petting a good doggo and enjoyed a popsicle. A good 6-hour-long trip altogether! I would actually recommend maybe two days for the west bank as there would've been so much more to see. Next time then!
After the west bank, we stayed in for the night and chilled hard by watching my fave reality tv-show Are you the one? and eating pizza in bed :) Suuuper chill! But then the next morning I woke up with the feeling that the good old UTI is coming... The urinary tract infection I mean. This happened last time during the trip to Croatia, and here again in a nice holiday setting obviously... Ok, I get it, hanging out in a pool, sitting in wet bikinis, drinking less water, using new soaps, and all other extra action yeayeayea should've seen it coming... Luckily this time the symptoms did not start crazy right away so I was very determined to flush the infection away by drinking tons of water. So I basically stayed in the room all day sleeping and drinking water and affirming myself "my body is healing" and I started feeling better by the night time. Unfortunately though, the next morning I woke up in lots of pain and the peepee had turned all bloody so yup had to start the antibiotics... Bless Egypt and the over-the-counter antibiotics in this case!!
That morning we were scheduled to leave from Luxor and go to Hurghada and luckily the antibiotics started working pretty fast and we were good to go. Ok, it was still a bit awkward to ask the driver to stop all the time for the bathroom on this four-hour drive - but at least I was not in pain anymore. Soooo after all survived the car ride andand even met a cute catto at one of those bathroom-stops so all turned out fine :)
In Hurghada, we stayed at Fort Arabesque Resort, Spa & Villas. Super nice place and we actually had an all-inclusive deal which was pretty fun! I had never been to an all-inclusive hotel so it was all exciting to be able to walk up to a bar or a restaurant and just order whatever your heart desires free of charge huhu!! In addition, we had a lovely villa and the premises of the resort were big and beautiful :) so life was goodeygood.
The first day we spent just wandering around the hotel area and enjoying the relaxed life. Good stuff. Me is big on having chillax days in between and especially now after the UTI, rest was well-needed. There were a few different restaurants in the resort and also some entertainment at night. Oh and we had a lovely couple's massage at the spa too! Luuuuuvd it so muchy. I also had to take the Covid-19 test for the journey back already that night, just to be sure that the results will be back before the departure. The hotel arranged the test at its premises and it cost about 60€.
We were actually in Hurghada because I had insisted that snorkeling is an absolutely must-do-activity. So yup, we booked a Red Sea snorkeling trip on a glass-bottom boat. It was fun to see some fish through the bottom of this yellow submarine boat! We also stopped at a good spot for snorkeling purposes so you could get into the water. The spot was more at the open sea and it was quite windy or maybe I just suck at swimming because I had some serious struggles with snorkeling at this beautiful spot hahahah. I barely could keep the snorkel's mouth-piece in so I was swallowing tons of seawater and then got washed over with the waves while suffocating so yup - not so sure how pretty the fishies were as I was too focused on survival :))) Anyways, I enjoyed the boat trip even when I sucked at snorkeling haha and the group we went with was very nice!
The boat trip was only about three-hours-long so we got time to do some photoshoots later that day as that was my last night in Egypt. This is only worth mentioning because I want to post the piccos somewhere hahah so here you go: Jenny sits, Jenny stands, Jenny from the front and from the back :) ahhh millions of thanks to photographer Rolf who has to deal with this.
We rented also a paddleboard, so we took turns to either hang out at the board or explore the fish with the snorkel on. This full-face snorkel mask was great for me and I had zero problemos with breathing this time nor staying above the water hahah! Therefore, I got to fully enjoy the amazing marine life of the Red Sea. There were some gorgeous colorful corals super close to the beach already!! And sooo many fishyfish with all different shapes and all the colors of the rainbow. Ommmmmgggg so prettyy, sooo fascinating!! We had a GoPro so hopefully there will be a video footage coming out later :) Here is a small screenshot from the video to show a cutie fish. And a snapchat about the full-face snorkeling mask.
After lil snorkeling and paddleboarding, it was time for me to pack up and get ready to leave. It was sad to say goodbye to Rolf as he stayed in Egypt :( But of course, it was also nice to go back to Rovaniemi for Pyni ♥️ My flight was from Hurghada to Munich where I spent a night at the Hilton airport hotel waiting for my flight to Helsinki. The next morning I flew to Helsinki and then finally to Rovaniemi. It was great to notice how spring had arrived in Rovaniemi too while I was gone!! Ok there's still some snow left - but it's sunny and warm :)) And Pyni is here ♥️ so it's good to be back.
All in all the trip was great and it was amazing to see Rolf again and be all loveydovey :) Egypt was beautiful and big and filled with history and beautiful sea life! I would love to go back someday as there is still so much more to see in this great country :) Ok, it's also a bit intense and busy place and the aggressive haggling and selling took me by surprise hahah - but I'll toughen up before the next visit so I won't be crying on the streets then again.