What a thrill it is to finally be in Egypt! We have been talking about this place for a year. I made it part of our homeschool studies, we’ve been reading books, and watching National Geographic videos for months.
We all got some much needed solid night’s sleep and awoke around 7am. We woke to a beautiful sunrise over the Nile and some hot air balloons landing.
Breakfast in the hotel was quite a spread. We ate at hotel in Europe once that offered honey comb with their breakfast buffet. That has been the gold standard of breakfast buffets since then. Imagine how excited we all got when we saw honeycomb was offered here! Feel free to laugh at us, it’s the small pleasures in life.
Our guide and driver picked us up at 8:30 and we were off to the West Bank to visit the Valley of the Kings. The drive from our hotel is about 40 minutes. During that time it was nice to talk with our guide about how Egypt is doing with the pandemic, and what life is like living in basically a huge excavation site.
The city had to remove people and their houses from these hills because they built right on top of these ancient burial sites. According to our guide, many families who lived here tunneled into the sites and sold all the treasures. These families are quite wealthy because of this.
The Valley of the Kings is just this barren dirt valley. You would never think there were hundreds of tombs with priceless treasures buried here.
Not all of the tombs are available to enter so our guide chose 3 of the most popular for us to view. This was good and bad. They were beautiful examples, however they were so crowded. Again, nothing like it would have been pre-COVID. Tourism is extremely slow for them still. However, at one point an older man was shoving my children trying to get by them as everyone else was waiting for this family to finish taking their photos. Ugh…
We finished our three tombs and felt like we could see more. But our guide assured us we would see plenty more tombs of the nobles. So we left, hindsight that was probably a mistake…
We left the Valley of the Kings and head to the Temple of Hatshepsut.
This entire valley was filled with sand, which is why the temple was so well preserved. I tried asking our guide where all the sand was moved to but never really got an answer.
What we thought was supposed to be a temperate day, around 50 degrees turned out to be closer to 80s. The kids were melting down from the heat. This temple was incredible but we were limping them along at this point.
From the Temple of Hatshepsut the driver took us for ‘refreshment’ which was code for a stop at an alabaster store. They have us a super rehearsed tourist skit and then tried to press tea and drinks on us while we shopped. It was bad! We asked our guide for no more of those stops. If we want to shop that’s one thing but the tourist traps are not for us.
They then took us to the Nile where we caught a small boat across the river to our lunch restaurant. While we ate our driver drove around to meet us.
After lunch, they took Ty to exchange his Jordanian money for Egyptian, and then we were headed back to the hotel. We were quite surprised how short our day of sightseeing was. We had discussed being out all day, the driver even got us early at 8:30 since it was to be our ‘long day’. The guide tried to get us to take a horse carriage ride through the city but the poor animals looked so abused, and that wasn’t what we came to Egypt to see. After a bit of discussion it turns out they have to set the schedule and get it approved, with the government perhaps, that wasn’t clear. So we couldn’t really do anything more today. However, we discussed what we could do to increase our schedule tomorrow and the next day. The guide said he’d be in contact with us.
If we had known the day was going to be so short we would have spent more time at the Valley of the Kings and entered more tombs. We may see if we can go back and see it again on a later day.
So by 2pm we were back at the hotel with the whole afternoon in front of us. The pool is heated so after some obnoxious kid play/wrestling time we headed to the pool.
You would never know that right outside our hotel looks a bit like a slum. They’ve created quite a lovely little oasis.
I caught up on the blog, while Ty swam with the kids. R finally mastered her diving, and I got in the water for a bit. But the term ‘heated’ was a bit too cool for me. Ty went to check out the adults only spa area while the kids had smoothies and I enjoyed a glass of wine. By the time Ty came back the sun was setting and everyone was getting cold.
We showered and relaxed in the room for a while. Tried to head to dinner at 6 but of course they didn’t open till 6:30. So we hung around till right at 6:30 when we could sit down. Dinner was a bit of a mess. The waiter talked us out of the food we wanted, so we ended up with a miserable little appetizer, and two entrees that were not enough food for all of us. But by this point we were all so tired, we went up to our room and just snuggled in bed watching Klaus for a bit before bedtime at 8pm.
I think we’re learning if we have to wait till 6:30 for dinner, it won’t end well for us. We’ve been traveling for 10 days and jet lag still has us a bit off schedule.