The Best of Egypt / by Jessica Ballerstein

Since I came back from Egypt, several friends and family asked "What made you wanna got to Egypt? That's so random!" Which at first made me think really? Random? Who doesn't think of Egypt as a go-to? After sitting on those comments, it made me realize Egypt isn't such a popular hotspot! Well, it should! Egypt was like no other country I've visited before. The time I spent there was enthralling, to say the least. I believe the choices we made abetted the success of our journey to Cairo, Egypt, the largest city in Egypt and Africa.

|Where To Stay|

As usual, we booked our accommodation through Airbnb. We found a cute spot on Airbnb that satisfied all of our needs, including our budget. The place was downtown, so it made it easy for us to get around, granted we didn't walk downtown much, but that's for another blog. The host at this particular space was such a gentleman! He was on top of everything, gave us tips on food, debunked myths, and socialized with us which is always a bonus. I highly recommend this spot.

|What to Do|

Before going to Egypt, Jojo and I did our research in regards to safety. We read as Cairo, Egypt is a relatively safe place; however, it isn't as progressed as Dubai in regards to women's rights. Due to that discovery, we felt it was best to hire a tour guide for at least two of the four days we'll be there.

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Our first day in Egypt we went to Khan Al-Khalili, the local bazaar in Cairo, Egypt. I must admit going there was a bit overwhelming. Between the crowds and being aggressively solicited it was almost too much to bear. If you're not used to that kind of environment, then I would advise avoiding that area. However, if you're up for the experience go for it!

We booked Emo Tours through Viator a website that allows you to book tours, activities, excursions and more. The first tour was an all-day tour, we visited Giza Pyramids, Memphis and Sakkara. I'm glad we did this because we were in our own private car with a highly knowledgable tour guide. Not only he took us to the popular locations, he also showed us unique places such as perfume shops, papyrus museum, and more! It allowed us to bring home more than typical gifts.

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The highlight of that tour was obviously the pyramids. When we approached it, I had goosebumps all over my body. I just couldn't believe I was actually in front of the monuments I've learned so much about. From the time I was introduced to the old testament to my adult years of reading The Achlemist, I always wondered how the experience must feel. I was finally there breathing in the environment and having my own moment of a place I’ve always imagined.

While at the pyramids we rode camels that our tour guide recommended. Due to scams, it is wise to ride camels at the the designated area . Our tour guide informed us of the potential risk of camel riding with an unlicensed camel guide. It is reasonable to err on the side caution; the desert is vast, if the camel guide isn't legit you're putting yourself in a dangerous situation. If you follow where the tour buses are going, you should be in good hands.

Our second tour we explored the Egyptian Museum, Old Cairo and the Cave Church. The Cave Church was definitely my favorite part of that particular tour. The history behind the Cave Church is vibrant and exciting, Whether you're religious or not exploring that church is a must-see!

|Where To Eat|

As for food, unfortunately, we didn't eat out much. If we did the food portion was so big we saved it for dinner. The tours we booked provided lunch one of the places was Cafe Abu Asmaa near Giza. The food was delicious and the staff were friendly. Afterwards, we went next door to see a sweet woman making bread. Fun fact bread is actually a staple in Egyptian meals, not rice, not potatoes, but bread!

The other restaurant we went to is Bonne Soiree Restaurant in Cairo. Both restaurants I left with a food baby. Whichever restaurant you go to you should certainly try their mango juice. Literally, every restaurant we went to their mango juice was on point! I'm even tempted to say it was better than Haitian or Cuban mango juice.

One thing I would like to warn you all about is the driving over there. There is always traffic, Uber isn't reliable and it is not like your usual American or European driving, it disorderly and chaotic, it's something you may or may not get used to. Now should that stop you from visiting Egypt? No! The taxi ride itself is an adventure. In general, our trip was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I am grateful I got to have the experience I had while there, the good and bad.

What else would you like to know about Egypt?

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