Egypt: Africa

11:05 AM

We embarked to Egypt in Africa the early part of January this 2020.  Recap, for the last four years we have voyaged.  Our little family has become our priority.  All others have fallen away.  Our gift each year is an adventure.  The years are flying by and the memories are adding up.  Each one has a general feel, once we get through, it seems clear.  This one felt big in terms of balance.  Old souls and deep commections.  This one was lovely and so I share it here, hope you enjoy a little peek.

I personally have been trying what seems to be my whole life really to heal old wounds.  Obviously going on a vacation is not a cure-all for any emotional damage but it is a great start!  It is a great start because we get to practice our skills of love and understanding by gaining perhaps a new perspective.  We get to do this for a little over a week without our normal responsibilities and distractions.  With the good of me sharing our experience perhaps with tips that might be helpful, you will also get a little extra personal details (might be good or bad, but I can not share the story without my feelings).  I feel completely blessed to be able to gift our family this and I don’t want to portray that it isn’t tricky and something we have to mindful of all year (we have to sacrifice some little things because they add up).  I try with all my might to accomplish these adventures within the realities of our budget and time. 

This originated on my Instagram @MichelleLeeJensen, here I add the original posts with little extra details.  

NEW YORK: I'm walking here!....

Our trip stared 15 hours early!  Suprise, because.... of a passport snafu.  the kids were just shy of six months validity (passport ain't worth nothing if you don't have the full six months, might as well throw it in the garbage).  So we extended our first leg to 40 hours without a bed taking the red-eye to New York to the passport agency.  It is entirely possible to renew a passport in three hours just not recommended for the heart.  It turned out the agency delivered giving us quite a bit of extra time to tour around the BIG CITY, eat in an Irish Pub, plus that McDonalds next to the passport agency.  Much to my families opposition our trip's theme song officially became Don't Stop Me Now - Queen.  

Now to elaborate on this: Imagine getting ready to check-in the day before you leave to Egypt on your phone all techy and awesome, only to find out that your two kids don't have enough passport validity to travel.  Panic.  Complete Panic.  I don't know how to exactly share a few experiences we had leading up to this problem because it isn't really that important to the story.  Ultimately you come across things, if you had known the challenges you will face, you can think of a million ways you would have avoided it in the first place.  It is so hard to distract your mind from those until the problem is fixed.  You just have to do that and we did our best as we started working the problem.  

Problem realized 1:47 PM, Passport Pics 3:30 PM, Flight Changed at airport 5:30 PM, Flying 11 PM.  

In retrospect it worked out perfectly.  We were really lucky.  We left 15 hours earlier than we had expected, changing our flights to accommodate a visit to the NEW YORK's Passport Agency.  They really saved our trip, what would have been a big mistake, turned into just a mistake.  

NEW YORK:  We had a short time to tour around.  We haven't checked New York off our list just yet, but we felt happy to see a few things while there.  We visited the Friend's Apartment.  It turned out that it was a short 7-minute walk from the Passport Agency.  It was so fun!  We also then added the 9/11 Memorial & Museum.  It was a short subway ride from where we were.  We felt it was a good thing to share with the kids, a stop we valued, plus one that wouldn't feel the time pressure.  It turned out to be a great decision.  

DISCLAIMERS: I am posting this to be an informational guide for families/travelers similar to us with budget/time.  I don't go into detail about the sights by posting about each location.  If you are curious about where we went simply search that (9/11 Memorial & Museum, Colosseum, Egyptian Pyramids, Luxor Temple, Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens, Egyptian Museum, Tahrir Square, Egypt Africa) and you will find plenty of information.  I am just sharing an informational guide about cost/how we navigated/details that I had a hard time finding when searching other travel guides that would have helped me.  I have provided links to our accommodations/tours the best that I could.  I can confidently say that we sampled wonderful parts of Egypt.  I would take the same exact trip if I had to go back and pick all over again except, I would include one extra day in Giza and one less day in Garden City, but that was more just logistics than anything.

So to catch up we boarded the plane in New York to continue on our trip with the kids' updated passports.

When in Rome.....
ROME: Let's talk about the layover in Rome.  That was really fantastic.  Were we tired?  Yep!  Was in included in the 40 hour without bed travel?  Yep!  Was it as pretty as imagined?  Yep!

I have to say that this was one of the highlights this trip for me, seeing how pretty the colosseum is.  The brick was GORGEOUS!  I have not seen prettier brick in my life.  It was aged and moss-covered and my eyes almost hurt from how beautiful it was.  The family enjoyed this visit.  We ate at a yummy little pasta place and saw more sights like the Trevi Fountain and the Vatican Grounds.  It was a very special layover!  Four Hearts! and Five Stars!
Rome is fantastic!!  IT really really is.  I can see why it will be added to my list to stay a little longer one day.  It is very quaint with it's very european small cobblestone street, classy romance.  On the top of my list was to see the Colosseum.  We took a tour bus around the city.  This was a great solution for a short visit because you had the autonomy to get around staying as long/short as you want at each stop.  We hopped off at the Colosseum spending most of our time there.  It isn't just the Colosseum itself, it is surrounded by an enchanting square for more exploring.  We ate and then continued our tour around the city.  We finished by taking the train back to the airport.  We had about 8 hours in Rome.
Don't stop me Now!  We made it to Vaca Destination Cairo in Egypt!

We finally made it 40 hours later.  We arrived in the wee hours of the morning.  We took a taxi to our hotel in Giza.  We crashed.  Because of the extension of the trip we were even more tired that initially intended.  Luckily we could just sleep the whole day.

The second day was my favorite day.  We used our first day to recover with lots of sleep, then day two we emerged.  Alex and I were a little under the weather, despite that... we rallied because it was amazing to see the pyramids up close.  They are crazy awesome!! I can't believe the size, you can see that reflected in pics.  Seriously!!  Wowzers!!  It is completely real!!  Favorite pictures of our family ever!!!! The pyramids are ginormous.  We actually got to climb the pyramids and ride four camels.  So yep, on the list of the best days ever!!  Great experiences including the Sphinx experience.  It was worth it!!

They really are beautiful and no wonder why they are on the list of the seven wonders of the world.  The camel ride is worth it because it gives you extra time to enjoy the pyramids.  Also it is a long way to walk to get out far enough to get a good look at the pyramids, it is much easier to ride.

Camels are a crack up!  They are funny creatures.  A newfound love for them grew.

Sleeper Travel: TRAINS, PLANES, and AUTOMOBILES...

To travel to Luxor we took a night train twice, one going there and once traveling back to Cairo.

This was an exciting experience.  I was super excited/relieved that we made in in time, and found our platform #8, car #2, rooms 3/4 and 5/6.  The sleep was pretty good.  I would absolutely travel via sleeper train because it is kinda like magic travel, you go too sleep in a horizontal position then voila you wake up there, Magic.

Egyptian Automobile Travel I very much approve of, there are not many rules, just guidelines.  No full stops.  No speed limits as far as I can tell, although they aren't fast drivers but it doesn't appear you couldn't be if desired.  No violation tests.  it works pretty good.  It is a little dangerous to cross the street though!

Plane Travel is pretty uncomfortable after all those hours.  Seats just don' feel comfy.  But at Easter there are movies on most of the planes, thank goodness for those.  But awesome nonetheless because they get you there.  This trip I missed the views, being that all the legs were at these crazy times/mostly night.  Till next time clouds.

Almost stopped... in Luxor
These two days were not great.  A lot of things contributed to the demise of the Luxor portion of the trip.  Less than desirable conditions and less than desirable attitudes on our end and a few other people as well, resulted in a less than desirable experience overall.  I can't say all this without giving credit to the hotel staff, the were so sweet, and the nice officials at the train stations, every other smile we met.  they were great!  More than great!


What did we see?  Fantastic stuff!  It was so pretty and amazing!  5000 years old, 4000 years old, 3000 years old.  Just wow!  Such ingenuity.  Such craftsman and artisans.  Still here after all this time.  The hotel was very pretty and so clean, pictures included on stairs.  The food was yummy.  Weston especially liked and appetizer and i wholeheartedly agreed.  The more separation there is, the more I'm able to pick out the amazing things we saw, and the nice moments we had, and forget the not so great.

I will share a little about the hotel.  It was really nice.  We got to each on the rooftop overlooking the Luxor Temple and the Nile river.  The food was very yummy.  It was very enjoyable.  It was so clean and the rooms were very comfortable.  They had little balconies that were so pretty.  It was pretty magical.



The Market that DID NOT STOP...

We have visited the largest market in the world: Khan el-Khalili.  It never ended.  Absolute no joke.  Did not Stop.

I attempted to buy fabric in Egypt... but I couldn't figure out how to get an industrial sized roll back to the hotel.  So no fabric this trip.  However, woven papyrus did, so that is good.

 We also ate on the Nile.  Pictured is the favorite drinks strawberry and mango.  I only want to drink those for the rest of my life.  But then I get back and always fail to incorporate fresh juiced drinks.

Cultural Immersion...

We came back to our third hotel in Garden City.  I literally had no idea that we were staying in Tahrir Square.  It was a shock.  We watched a few documentaries before we made this journey trying to get a little information.  When we opened our hotel drapes I felt hope.  I felt the power-fullness of wanting things better.  It isn't easy to wear a target on your back saying things need improvement.  Equality and Potential will always be a  platform I fully identify with ( Here is a link of a time-lapse of Tahrir Square).  Pretty amazing.  


The Egyptian Museum was fantastic.  I'm so excited for the Grand one to open for them this year.  It will be gorgeous I can see.  In no particular order a few extra pics of Luxor and our return to Cairo pics.
Oh The Places You'll Go!


To wrap up our little vacation I will say that we thoroughly enjoyed this trip to Egypt.  We learned a little more about ourselves and a little more about Africa.  I am always so surprised at how much a person can grow in such a short time.  I look back now that we are back and I know we have changed.  
We hope to share more adventures, check back soon and/or click Travel tab for one's you might have missed.  Loved this adventure and it was a treat to share.  

The Place and The End: It isn’t the end though, it is just a blink.  

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