“Salam.” Translated to English it means hello. These were the first words that came out of my parents’ mouths when they returned home.
I went to Egypt with my family for the first time this Winter break, which is odd since I am Egyption America. I was born in America, but both my parents and my whole family are from Egypt. For the first time I got to meet over half my family. However, I have always been connected to Egyption culture from the music all the way to the language.
Egypt is full of fun surprises, whether it be seeing the difference between old Egypt or new Egypt, the food, the amount of languages spoken, or driving. The weather in Egypt during the winter varies from city to city, however, most of the time it remains in the high 60’s.
Definitely the most popular locations were the sphinx and the pyramids, mainly because the Great Pyramids in Giza are one of the 7 ancient wonders of the world. Something about the pyramids that not everyone knows is they used to be painted white with a solid gold tip at the top. Over the years this gold tip has been stolen. There are plenty of pyramids in Egypt but these “Great” pyramids are the largest. However, since the pandemic, the entrance to these pyramids was closed due to the pandemic, but they recently allowed people to go inside the pyramids again. When you’re there, I recommend you go camel riding. There are many people who offer camel rides at a low cost near the pyramids. Riding across the desert on a camel with your sight full of pyramids is just awestrucking, definitely one of the highlights of my trip.
These pyramids were built to be graves to the pharaohs, but after countless grave robberies these pharaohs’ graves were moved to the Valley of the Kings, which are underground chambers where the kings were buried. Each cave began excavation when a pharaoh went into power and stopped when the pharaoh died.
An attraction near this monument is the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization. In this museum, they have found many ancient artifacts and the mummies of old pharaohs. In the exhibit they don’t allow photography and much noise to preserve the mummies, which are so preserved that they still have hair, which was an odd sight to see. The museum also features a scavenger hunt that you can access off your phone.
One thing I would definitely say to know if you go is if you have never driven in Egypt before, don’t try. The rules for driving in Egypt are completely different then the ones in America. The lines on the roads don’t really matter to them, and to cross the street as a pedestrian you can either play crossy road in real life (what most people do) or go underground through the stairs. The schools in Egypt are also more rigorous. There are different kinds of schools like French, German, American, and British schools. In each of these schools they learn the language, but at the bare minimum they take English and Arabic. Most kids start their new languages from as little as 3rd grade. So when walking around street vendors I heard so many different languages, especially the tour guides at the temples.
The atmosphere of the culture was really fun to be around, and they had the best food ever. There are many dishes that I love but we don’t have here like shawarma (good shawarma, that is) and balah el sham (this is a dessert.) But overall I had a great time and I can’t wait to go again.