Conventionally, spring break is a week long period for students of all ages to rest and catch up on sleep. Many go to the beach or lake houses to repose. But for me, my spring break was unique. I traveled half way around the globe to a land of rich history – a land where Pharaohs used to rule, and where gargantuan structures known as the pyramids were erected. Egypt, known as The Gift of the Nile, was my destination for spring break 2008.
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I remember the night we arrived clearly. It was dark, but the sand glistened in the moonlight. The airport, naturally, was crowded with Arabs. Most had adopted western garb: jeans and worn, button-down shirts. A select few wore the traditional Arab attire of a bisht (a long robe) and a ghutra (the headdress). This was my first trip to an Islamic nation, so this was all extremely intriguing to me.
We flew in to Cairo, so we spent our first day visiting the pyramids. I’ve experienced many great wonders of the world such as the Coliseum and the Eiffel Tower, but none have come close to the magnificence of the pyramids. The enchantment that surrounds them cannot be explained with mere words. How did the Egyptians perform such an engineering feat?
After Cairo, we journeyed towards Alexandria, and then west, along the Mediterranean coast, through the dry and arid Sahara Desert towards an oasis town called Siwa. I learned a lot about the desert, and about oases from this portion of the trip. Originally, I had pictured an oasis as a lake surrounded by palm trees in the midst of a vast desert. In reality, oases are a lot bigger, but still extremely dry. There are trees, and lush vegetation, but sand still permeates EVERYTHING! I experienced Egyptian culture first hand at this oasis. Because it was so far away from Alexandria, a whole day of traveling through desert, it wasn’t as congested with tourists as Cairo or Alexandria.
From Siwa, we journeyed back to Cairo, where we traveled down to Luxor using a very interesting form of transportation – train. Train?! A train isn’t anything special! But this one was! Because Luxor was about 10 hours south of Cairo, the train we traveled on was a sleeper train. My family (there were 6 of us) shared three compartments. For a third world country, the sleeper cars were incredibly luxurious and spacious. The beds were neatly made, and the compartments were superbly, painstakingly designed. It was my first experience on a sleeper train, so I thoroughly enjoyed the novelty.
Luxor is known as the “world’s greatest open air museum.” You can find more Egyptian history in this city than any other. From the Valley of Kings, to the temple complexes, there is a myriad of historical monuments and structures you can visit. The most memorable part of this trip was the Valley of the Kings. Previously, in school, I had studied Egyptian history in detail, but its significance only became apparent when I visited the tombs in the valley. History truly comes alive when it is experienced first hand!
So what did I learn from this adventure? Well, for one, the beaches in Egypt are outstanding. While my friends were enjoying North Carolina, I was reveling in the sun on beautiful, breath-taking, Mediterranean beaches. I experience Egyptian history for myself, and had the opportunity to travel across the expansive Sahara desert. I sailed on feluccas, Egyptian sailboats, and rode on camels. I think I can safely say that my spring break was quite the adventure.
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