Ah! Here I am. ‘Shukraan’ for visiting the blog.
‘Shukraan’ means ‘Thank you’ in Arabic. The word is such an integral part of Egyptian culture that you find people using it so frequently. People of Egypt are extremely friendly and soft spoken. They aren’t even loud enough to honk on roads. Yes, there is immense traffic but neither is anyone blowing the horn, nor swearing under their breath. Even if there is somebody at the toll booth to collect a fee, nobody leaves without saying, ‘Shukraan’.
There is a wide variety of choice in food for non-vegetarians. But those who strictly follow the vegetarian diet needn’t be upset. Koshari, a complete carb diet of rice, chick peas and macaroni is absolutely delectable and is available at fine prices for vegetarians. Falafel is your easy substitute for “roti”. However, Indians do look for their “dal and chawal” now and then. We were regular on Indian dinner at the restaurant in Hilton, which had both great ambience and hospitality. The best bit was that my seven-year-old daughter, Sarah, instantly made friends there because of her name which happens to be of Arabic origin and means Princess.
Chatting in the ancient alleys of Coptic Cairo. (picture @A Hundred Quills)
Our visit to Coptic Cairo (Old Cairo) cannot be summed up in one piece of writing. Although being in Egypt itself is like being in a period that existed thousands of years ago, but, Coptic Cairo is truly old and has flavours of ancientness. The alleys and the lanes transport you to a life that existed centuries ago. It is believed that the Holy Family visited and stayed in this area. If you are crazy for antiques, you are sure to spend an entire day here. I picked up a unique piece of chess board where the pawns symbolize the Arabs and the Romans. That is another story how I lost it the very next day but was lucky enough to find it back. But I do believe these adventures are what make your trip worthwhile.
We also bought “Cartouche” Pendants in silver with Egyptian hieroglyphs that spelt our names. I also vouch for picking up some awesome fragrances and oils from Egypt, unless you would want to spend on papyrus craft.
We mostly purchased from Government outlets but you have plenty of shops and vendors. Haggling is common and I suggest it must be done because you may find things highly priced.
Alexandria, found by Alexander the Great, is the scholarly retreat of Egypt with its Great Library (the largest in Ancient World). The city is modern and runs along the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. The Lighthouse of Alexandria was one of the Seven Wonders of the World. But what takes your breath away is Pompey’s Pillar, the ruin of a huge Roman complex. The stupendous structure is a marvel because you are left wondering about the techniques employed thousands of years ago to raise such enormous structures. How did they transport so much raw material, how much manpower was employed? Egypt is proof of the grit, imagination and hard work of man even when resources were limited and science existed but was maybe, unknown. Or, were our ancestors smarter than we can possibly think!
Pompey’s Pillar (picture @ A Hundred Quills)
A brief of Alexandria will be incomplete without a mention of the Catacombs. If you aren’t claustrophobic and if a walk down burial chambers doesn’t scare you, Necropolis is for you to visit. You will be left wondering at the work of human mind in the second or third century!
The desire for power has ruined many a civilization. It would be so nice if we could hold the charm of the world in our eyes than dream of owning it someday.
Egypt’s History cannot be confined into a chapter or two. And it is hard to put in words what your eyes can behold. It is a wonderful tour for young children of ten-years and above. But we had a seven-year-old also with us who was done with so much History, really. So, now it was her turn to call the shots and we headed for Hurghada, a beach resort town stretching along the Red Sea. If you are a “fish”, there is no better place than this to swim in! And yes, if you know Russian, you know what’s written on those bill boards. Sparsely populated, it is a mesmerizing sea experience. The blue-green waters are the exact remedy for sore eyes. There is immense experience for water-babies, but even if you aren’t one you will not regret being in the midst of natural sapphires.
The Red Sea (picture @ A Hundred Quills)
You may visit the Sand City and the Aquarium, if you so desire and also go for a submarine experience. But even if you decide to hold a glass of wine and sit by the azure waters, you will have fulfilled the idea of your holiday.
Water sports in the Red Sea (picture @ A Hundred Quills)
I missed visiting Sharm El Sheikh, which my husband had covered with his friend and which is a highly recommended destination with its untarnished beauty. We also skipped Luxor, which is another walk down the History lane.
As we drove back to the airport, a mix of feelings gripped my heart. As the cliche goes, we made memories- yes. But more than that, I carried home with me the thought that the world is a unique treasure. And, how I wish our treasure hunts were more about preserving it rather than possessing it.
I do hope this virtual tour of Egypt was appetizing, if not fulfilling, for you. As for me, I have only one thing to say,
‘Shukraan Egypt’ and ‘Thankyou’ to you all for reading this piece of my heart!
Sphinx at Alexandria (picture@A Hundred Quills)
This post is a part of #Blogchatter’s AtoZChallenge2019. The other posts in this series may be read here.