After a few days in Cairo, leaving feels like changing out of bowling shoes into regular ones: it's that refreshing. As much as I loved the energy of the city, the incessant honking and the air pollution makes LA feel like a little town in Kansas.
And the smog... oh man, the smog!
Alexander the Great was a creative man and basically named all of his cities Alexandria - this one being just one of them. After he died, most of them changed their names, but somehow this Alexandria remained.
While I was expecting something of a Mediterranean beach city like Tel Aviv, Alexandria felt more like Cairo's little brother... with more water.
In fact, some places I felt like a tourist attraction myself. Egyptian guys and girls would approach me asking to take a picture with me in the most random places.
On the street? Sure, why not. In an internet cafe? Alright. In the bathroom though, that was a strange one.
A rickety thirteen hours later, I woke up to a bustling town on the southern Nile.
The Lonely Planet guidebook called Aswan a "small city much more relaxed than Cairo or Luxor."
Lonely Planet lied.
A simple "la shukran" didn't cut it in Aswan; street vendors chased me, grabbed me, and yelled at me because I wouldn't buy their stuff.
One night, I couldn't even leave my hostel to buy some water without being mobbed by at least 5 different people. I wasn't the only one with these experiences, of course.
I did, however, meet Yuya and Masato, two Japanese guys who had a great sense of humor!
What I expected to see at the top were some more dusty tombs. Instead, I discovered an impeccable view of the Nile all to myself.
I met Matt from Canada, and we signed up for an overnight Egyptian felucca ride up the Nile to Luxor!
Small, but comfy indeed.
On the way to Luxor, we stopped by two temples: one devoted to the crocodile god, Sobek, and the other to the sun/bird god, Horus.
As for all the things I saw in Luxor, let's just say I did so much I'll let the pictures do the talking.
You might notice I'm wearing the same shirt in all these pictures. Why? Because this is all one day. This was, if I recall correctly, a 21-hour day.
While I did see a lot of desert already from Dubai to Jordan, I decided to squeeze in one last stop: Bahariyya, a little oasis in western Egypt.
Best last-minute decision I've ever made.
While I was gone, they apparently had another protest and burned a bus!
On my way there, I ran into Lara and Geoffrey from France who I had met in Aswan, so we ended up spending the entire day together.
After they flew back to France, my final night in Egypt was spent hanging out with Bruno and Eva from Hong Kong, who treated me to some delicious farewell ice cream downtown.
It was a wonderful way to top off the end of my Egyptian saga.
Juhanna, a college student, not only spent 10 minutes looking for my bus, but when he found it, he even took the one-hour ride to the airport with me! He insisted on paying the bus fare and wanted to make sure I got there!
What a wonderful lasting impression of Egypt. Shukran, Juhanna!
While my 21 days in Egypt did have its corrupt cops and crazy hasslers, my memories of this wonderful place are filled with its history, its culture, and its much-too-often kind strangers.
I'll definitely miss you, Egypt!