EGYPT

It has always been a dream to visit Egypt. No civilisation of this world could compete with ancient times of the Pharaohs. And with Egypt under my feet I am privileged to have visited all the continents. All the countries I have visited have their own special charm. I have heard and read lots of different stories about experiences from people who have visited Egypt. I think it is all about what expectations you build up for yourself and what you want out of your journey. You have to be aware that Egypt has a completely different culture and religion, and works in many ways very differently to our tidy little Sweden or U.S. To me the history, legends, hieroglyphs and monuments are fascinating, but also the culture, music, religion and customs of the arab people there today.

Egypt is a muslim country and the people are generally conservative. I think it is nice to respect the culture, you don’t have to dress like a nun, but very petite shorts is seen as wearing your underwear on the streets and you will get the attention you probably don’t want. So although they accommodate foreigners being dressed a lot more skimpy, you shouldn’t dress provocative. Bathing suits are ok around the hotel.

I had no unpleasant interactions with men, what so ever. Neither did my fair-skinned and blond daughters. All men where very respectful and kind. Very different from what I have heard.

We had the luxury of travelling with a our friend and photographer Jörgen Lundh and his family. Together we took over 2500 photos that I had to go through and selected what to show here. This has been very time-consuming. To see pictures bigger you need to click on them. Ok… here we go!

First thing that hits you when you step outside the plane is the wonderful warm breeze caressing you. I loved the severe heat from day one, sometimes reaching over 40° Celsius in the shade (104° Farenheit). And then the desert… Sand, sand, sand as far as your eyes can see. Egypt is just that, 95% sand.


Matt overlooking the beautiful desert.


Matt, me and Elizia flying down the hill on the softest of sands.

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Matt smoking water pipe, me eating the delicious vegetarian food, Tim portraying a mummy : D


This bedouin lady took Elizia out on a ride on a dromedary.

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EL GOUNA

We joined up with the Lundh family, friends of ours from Sweden, for this trip. Our apartment was located in El Gouna, a spotless and relaxed little village built up by millionaires in the 90’s to accommodate tourists. It was beautiful of course and lots of sweet little restaurants and wonderful lagoons. But this is far from the real Egypt, and that we knew!

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Tim and I exploring El Gouna


A small but practical taxi – tuk-tuk and a hilarious bus in El Gouna


Beautiful and relaxing lagoon by our apartment. The pic of me by the skeleton parasol is on Zeytuna Beach


Enjoying a nice dinner downtown. Here I am with Elizia and Adina


Elizia and Tim posing with the cutest crocodile ever.


My beautiful kids : ) Happy me!

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CAIRO

Our first adventure was a six hours bus trip to Cairo. Roads had a high degree of caution because of the threat of terrorist attacks. Of course this was on my mind and caused some anxiety from time to time. But we read a whole deal about it to separate facts from speculations and rumors. We took precautions and we did all the trips by ourselves instead on relying on the travel agencies and being packed with other tourists. Being away from other tourists made us feel much safer and the trip also became more interesting, exciting not to mention much cheaper.

Visiting Cairo was overwhelming to say the least. This is Africa’s largest city and about 18 million people live here. It was more or less chaotic. Men dressed in kaftans and women in veils everywhere. Traffic was intense. Exotic smells, dusty, dirty, but beautiful att the same time. We stayed here two days. This is part of the real Egypt!!

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I saw a lot of poor people in Cairo. Perfect time to bring out my two suitcases that were filled with clothes and toys that I had brought from Sweden for this purpose. It is so fulfilling to see how happy someone gets over new clothes and how joyful the children get when receiving a teddy bear. Yeah… I know it doesn’t mend the problems of this world, but it sure feels good to see how appreciated the gesture is.


Three lovely ladies, an Egyptian cat and our good friends Boel and Jörgen.

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THE PYRAMIDS OF GIZA

The great pyramid of Giza, also called the Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops in greek) is the oldest and largest of the pyramids. This was the powerhouse where the mummified pharaoh would attain eternal life. It has the special status among the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World” and the only one to remain intact. It is quite fantastic to think that these pyramids has stood here since 2250 BC. That is over 2000 years before even Jesus supposedly was walking around in his diapers. Nobody knows for certain how over two million giant massive stone blocks with the weight of over two tons each were raised to the height of the rising pyramids (146 m / 480.6 ft). And how could they be so precise… without a compass? Some people even suggest aliens or extinct super humans constructed them. However they were built, the fact remains that the egyptians successfully completed the most massive building projects in all of history. It was truly a marvel to see.

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The dromedary (camel with one hump on it’s back) has been domesticated in Arabia for thousands of years. It felt like the natural way to travel the desert around the pyramids. After two hours on these tall animals we all had enough. Our butts were sore and the temperature was heading towards 50 degrees celsius (122° F). But before we left we had to see the Sphinx.

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THE SPHINX

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This Sphinx is the largest monolith statue in the world (73,5 m long and 20 m tall). Monolith means that the statue is carved from one block of stone. It is thought to be dated 2 500 BC.  This mythological creature has the figure of a lion and the head of a human. Commonly placed outside tombs, pyramids or temples to protect holy locations.

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KHAN EL-KHALILI

The most historical bazar in the world, built in 1382 and responsible for explorers such as Columbus to trade goods from east to west. Described with few words: exotic, intoxicating, friendly, overwhelming and exiting. Seems that time has stood still for centuries when you see all the men dressed in kaftans loudly discussing the price over silver, gold, essential oils, water pipes, exotic spices, colourful scarves, lamps, fruit and vegetables, while the smith next door hammers another brass pot.

This oriental bazaar with its narrow alleyways is crammed with goods. You have to have a great deal of patience for this kind of activity, but if you miss it, you can’t really say you visited Cairo. Luckily I have a black belt in haggling, so the so-called “hassling” of the vendors did not bother me. I simply gave them my price and then walked away. Usually 50 to 70% less than the starting price. It is all part of the game. Was I ever conned or cheated? Of course I was, many times… but you pay what you think the item is worth. I came home with lots of new jewelry, some in real silver and some not. My most precious buy was a beautiful lamp and a silver necklace with big lapis lazuli stones. For the necklace he wanted $ 320 but I ended up buying it for $ 90. After the deal was done he made a last try to cheat me by trying to convince me he had actually said $150. I gave him 90 and thank-youed myself out.

These guys are very tricky. I found myself in several disputes in the two weeks I was in Egypt. It was everything from taxi drivers wanting more money than we had first agreed on or misleading prices on the restaurants menus, to vendors stating that the prize they agreed on was in € and not egyptian pounds or $, or silver turning your skin green. Conveniently enough no one has change either. This part of the “tradition” really sucked. Because it all led to that you could trust no one. This was the case everywhere we went in Egypt. This is the only negative thing I have to say about my visit there.

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Tim checking out some instruments and the smith hammering away


Narrow alleyways crammed with goods. Here I am checking out the jewelry

Our first night in Cairo – Beautifully and majestically lighted up and rising over the City of Cairo, there they were, right outside our window: The Pyramids of Giza. It felt surrealistic and we could not stop staring at them. How were humans 4000 years ago able to build this? Totally amazing!

— • —

THE CITADEL

The Citadel – Is a highly visible medieval landmark on Cairo’s eastern skyline. Built between 1176 and 1183, both as a fortress and royal city for the Sultans. The site provides strategic advantage when it comes to dominate Cairo and to defend from outside attackers.

— • —

THE EGYPTIAN MUSEUM

Rise and shine! Our next destination was the egyptian museum. It is so big and houses over 50 000 antiques and wonderful art and the mummies of the great pharaohs like Ramses II,  Amenhotep III and IV, Nefertiti, Smenkhhare, Tutmose I and II and Queen Hatshepsut.


The Egyptian museum in Cairo. Look how big it is inside

One of the most interesting halls is of course the one of young pharaoh Tutankhamun. The tomb of Tutankhamun, found by archeologist Howard Carter in 1922, where cramped with thousands of objects. We saw the nest of beautiful coffins in which he was buried in and the innermost shrine, the solid beautiful gold mask, with inlays of different precious stones. Tutankhamun’s mummy on the other hand was left to rest where it was found, in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor. Therefor that will be our destination next week.


Tutankhamun was buried inside three anthropoid coffins nested inside a massive coffin of stone. Both the funerary mask found on Tutankhamun’s mummy and the innermost coffin was of solid gold. The outer coffins are made of gilded wood. (Somewhat like the russian dolls).


Tutankhamun’s throne, the scarab (beetle) inside an ear-ring and the name jewel of Tutankhamun


The mummy of Queen Hatshepsut, a shrine of the mortuary god Anubis found in King Tut’s tomb and the mummy of Ramses II who reigned Egypt for 64 years and died when he was about 90 years old

— • —

SNORKELING IN THE RED SEA

The boat took us straight out for an hour before we anchored close to the reef. Crystal clear and turquoise water and once you start snorkeling you barely want to get out of this incredible underwater world with beautiful fish in marvellous shapes and colors. After a couple of hours the captain called us on board again for a delicious buffé. As we were enjoying the warm ocean breeze, we all of a sudden saw a black fin over the surface of the water and soon after, lots of black fins, dolphins?… YES!! Watching these beautiful creatures playing around the boat is close to a religious experience.

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SUPER SAFARI

Super Safari next! We drove quad bikes in the desert, climbed the mountains to overlook the desert landscape, rode camels and had a nice buffé in a “bedouin camp” watching a folklore show with belly dance. Despite a nice day some things this day were a total rip off. The camel ride was only five minutes, the bedouin camp was more like a Disneyland attraction with plastic animals neatly placed here and there, souvenir stands forced upon you and the belly dancer was a disaster. Clean water toilets are appreciated of course, but come on… In the desert? This was supposed to be a genuine bedouin camp? Yes, yes, yes… we had been screwed… again… Oh well… lots of the activities were fun and the kids had a nice time and at least the food was good.

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— • —

EL GOUNA GOCART

We drove go-carts a couple of times. I drove like a crazy person… hell, we all did, ha ha ha, but it was no way to beat Tim and Matt who took turns in the leading position.

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Elizia, Matt & me


In the gocarts… Adina, Matt, Tim and me

— • —

PHOTO SESSIONS

Today I had a very relaxing day just kicking back around the pool and reading “The Golden King”, a book about the world of Tutankhamun written by Zahi Hawas. My son Tim made a delicious feta cheese salad. The best I have ever tasted actually. After sundown me, my friend Boel and Elizia decided it was time for some photo sessions. Jörgen found some neat spots to set up his flashes and equipment but it didn’t take long before a curious bunch of people gathered to peak and soon after the police showed up. They were concerned about the gear. After explaining that it was flashes and that the pictures weren’t for commercial use, they left. I will show more pictures from these sessions later on.

— • —

LUXOR

Luxor has often been called the worlds greatest open museum. It is hard to find anywhere else in the world with this number of monuments preserved. It took us four hours to get to Luxor from El Gouna. We had a private chauffeur and a very talented guide that kept us very well-informed about everything we needed to know. Our first stop was the Valley of the Kings.

THE VALLEY OF THE KINGS – Was long believed  to be nothing but worthless desert, until they by a mere accident realized it was all a 3000 year old cemetery for ancient Kings and queens of Egypt. Stairs took us to these well hidden underground tombs that belonged to Ramses III, VI and Tutankhamun. The royal tombs are decorated with scenes from Egyptian mythology and gives a good clue to the beliefs and funerary rituals of the period. Tutankhamun himself is the only pharaoh to remain here in the valley of the kings. The rest that have been found we saw at the museum in Cairo. Since 1922, and Howard Carter’s discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamun (nr 62), there had been no new discoveries in the valley until February 9, 2006. But as this is an ongoing project, the details are still to be released.

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Howard Carter examining Tutankhamun’s mummy in 1922 (above). It was not displayed to the public until 2007.  He lies in a special case designed to prevent the heightened rate of decomposition caused by the humidity and warmth from people visiting the tomb (below). Entrance to the tomb of Ramses VI. It was amazingly well-preserved and you could see the paint used to color the hieroglyphics.

There we were alone in the tomb. Me, Matt and Tutankhamun. Having heard about the mummys all my life it was almost freakish to be standing next to one. Powerful experience.

— • —

QUEEN HATSHEPSUT’S TEMPLE

Next stop was the Hatshepsut Temple in Luxor. The temple was built for the great Queen Hatshepsut (18th dynasty) to commemorate her achievements and to serve as funerary temple as well as sanctuary of the god, Amun Ra. She ruled for about 15 years until her death in 1458 BC, and left more monuments and works of art than any other Egyptian queen to come.

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Thutmose III (right) presenting an offering to Horus (left). Elizia, Tim & Adina at Queen Hatshepsut’s temple.

— • —

THE NILE

The Nile river is possibly the most famous river in history, 6 670 km (4 160 miles) long. One of the oldest civilizations began here and people since ancient times have always depended on it. Since rainfall is almost non-existent in Egypt the floods provided the only source of moisture to sustain crops. It is full of many different animals, although lions and hippos have not been seen here for over a hundred years, and the crocs were extinct in the 50s. Elizia was asked to take command over the rod and did a good job in getting us safely forward. Now it was time for a buffé… lots of vegetables as usual. Paradise for me… eggplant, tomato, onion, lettuce and a delicious hummus… Yummy, yummy.

— • —

KARNAK TEMPLE

After lunch by the Nile followed a visit to the mighty Karnak Temple. This is the largest temple complex ever built by man, and represents the joint achievements of many generations of ancient builders. Its construction was started by pharaoh Ramses II (1391-1351 BC) to worship the god Amun, and continued into the Greco-Roman period. A construction that lasted 1300 years.

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The Hypostyle Hall with over hundreds of massive columns arranged in 16 rows. All between 10-25 meters tall and with the diameter of over three meters. This created the impression of enormous power. It must have felt the same for all the people from every century that has visited here. The guide took us through every chapter of the buildings and their history. Our brains were boiling from all the information and the sun that was undoubtably striving towards 50° C. The kids were wonderful and showed a great deal of patience… Elizia is only eight years old and did not complain once… although she did set a price to her patience and carefully calculated this day to be worth three big ice creams.

We all sat quietly in the car all the way back to El Gouna, trying to sort out all the different impressions that we had witnessed during this long day…suddenly in the middle of nowhere, a flat tire. We manage to get to a small village to get help. Lots of curious people gathered around us. Women showing their hair was not an everyday experience for them, as in most of the places on country side, outside the tourist facilities.

— • —

This is the end of our journey. We spent a few days relaxing by the lagoon and then it was time to say bye-bye. On the way to the airport everybody was told that it was strictly prohibited to bring any sand, stones or shells out of Egypt. Knowing that Elizia is extremely interested in picking rocks and shells and that her dream is to become a paleontologists, I immediately knew we were in trouble. Elizia became like a turtle, trying to hide her head in her neck, ha ha ha.. guilty as charged. We had no choice but to confess to the guard at the airport, who took us to another entrance and asked how many stones and how much sand and so on. Finally he said he could never leave a child sad, and because Elizia was so cute, they will let us pass with the goods.

— • —

Back in Sweden and back to reality : )

9 Responses to “EGYPT”

  1. Vilket intressant resereportage! Vill också göra en sådan resa. Väldigt inspirerande att läsa och fantastiska bilder. Ni borde göra en fotobok av dessa bilder. Istället för att sätta in i vanligt album. Det finns ju många lab som gör sådant. Populärt för bröllopsfoto etc. Ett minne för livet!

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  2. Querida Tallee:
    Sin duda ha sido una hermosa experiencia para toda tu linda familia. Especialmente los niños jamas olvidaran tan exotico viaje,..lleno de historia,..mitos y aquel especial encanto de Egipto.Ello contribuirá al enriquecimiento de sus espiritus y cultura general de una sociedad que viene desde antes de Cristo con magicos conocimientos sobre el mundo y la humanidad en su conjunto.
    Un saludo cariñoso para Matias e hijhos,..un abrazo.
    Tito.

    Like

  3. Hej Tallee & Co,
    Vilken resa och vilka fina bilder! Och ett så trevligt och inspirerande reportage, det kändes nästan som att man själv var med på resan!
    Kram

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  4. What a beautiful journey,what a beautiful place and what a beautiful family!!:-)
    Absolutely amazing Tallee! I dream to go to Egypt since many years. The mistery and the history of Egypt have always been teasing me. ….but not the warm weather!ahah!LOL!
    very nice pictures!
    You are a special one Tallee…I read about clothes and toys for children….you are truly a very good-hearted one!:)
    kiss
    T:

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  5. Grym blogg du har Talee! Har du Bloglovin? Skulle lätt följa den här bloggen. :D
    Ser ut som att ni hade en fantastisk tid i Egypten. Var där för några år sedan och skulle gärna åka dit igen. :)
    Ha det fint!
    Kram
    // Anna

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  6. Thank you so much for taking the time to check and read about our trip.

    Anna – Vad kul att du gillar min blogg. Den kan hittas på bloglovin under “savage beauty blog”. Men annars kan du ju bara “sign up” här med ditt mail, så får du meddelande varje gång jag lägger upp nytt. Väldigt smidigt : )

    Lots of Love Tallee

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  7. Fantastic photo’s of Cairo,The Pyramids and your whole holiday in general. We were there three years ago and absolutely loved it especially The Valley of the Kings.Hoping to go back sometime in the future to see The Valley of the Nobles.

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