Posted August 28, 2019
From its ancient wonders to its dreamy landscape, Egypt
is on every world traveler’s bucket list. Whether you are excited about sampling the local cuisine, stumbling across breathtaking street art, or visiting awe-inspiring museums, this country has endless delights. When paired with a few days in glamourous, ultra-modern Dubai
, this journey paints a vivid picture of life in this dynamic part of the world.
Cox & Kings, The Americas Destination Special, Danalee May, took her son to explore Egypt and Dubai, during which time they discovered wonder after wonder. She's just back from her trip and sharing the highlights in her own words.
Egypt—the very word conjures up visions of pyramids, the Sphinx, and the Nile River. And, having just spent an unforgettable six nights in Cairo
, I can attest that it certainly lives up to its reputation.
I dreamed for years of taking this trip with my 16-year-old son, the history buff. He also is a huge soccer fan, so when we found out the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) had moved from Cameroon to Egypt, we just had to go.
We flew on Emirates, starting from Los Angeles and stopping through Dubai on the way to Cairo. The flight to Dubai was long—16 hours—and then after a two-hour layover it was another four hours to Cairo. Nevertheless, it was worth it to fly on Emirates. Emirates is one of my top three favorite airlines, thanks to the superior service, food, and entertainment.
On arrival, we were welcomed with VIP service—an absolute must when arriving in Cairo after such a long day of travel. We were whisked through immigration formalities and before we knew it, we were on our way to our hotel. We stayed at the Intercontinental City Stars for three nights and it was excellent. The breakfast was incredible, The days where so hot we had no appetite for lunch or dinner, so we filled up each morning on creamy foul medames (mashed fava beans), rich taameya (falafel), and filling beid bel basterma (eggs cooked in ghee).
We also spent two nights at the Kempinski, and I will never forget its beautiful views of the Nile. The cherry on top was a night at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza–we were in heaven!
The soccer games where fabulous. Egypt was hosting AFCON on very short notice, and they did an excellent job. We had the opportunity to attend two games: Senegal versus Tunisia and Nigeria versus Tunisia. We cheered for Senegal in the first game and Nigeria in the second. Fans congregated in certain areas of the stands depending on who they were supporting, so we headed straight for the cheering sections for Senegal and Nigeria at their respective games. The atmosphere was absolutely electric—we even managed to make the local news!
Drivers and Guides
Everything was well organized, although the traffic was extremely chaotic. I didn’t see a single traffic light in Cairo and crossing the street can make your heart race! The lanes are merely suggestions and horns seem to be the most important piece of equipment on every car. Because of the chaos, self-driving isn’t an option for visitors in Egypt.
Our driver was extremely skilled and our Egyptologist guide was able to give us his full attention while the driver skillfully negotiated the hectic streets around us. He explained how much he depends on the driver in order to give travelers the best possible experience.
Pyramids of Giza
The Pyramids of Giza
were everything I expected them to be. They were absolutely amazing, not to mention interactive. You are able to climb up the Great Pyramid to a certain level, which allows you to literally get your hands on this historic feat of engineering.
The Sphinx is equally awe-inspiring. Viewing this historic monument is best done from a distance so you can take in the full scope of the towering Sphinx and surrounding backdrop. For a more immersive experience, I recommend incorporating the services of a dedicated Egyptologist, both in Giza and throughout your trip. The knowledge and insight you will gain is invaluable.
When it comes to getting around these impressive monuments, the options are almost as exciting as the pyramids and Sphinx themselves. You can take a horse and buggy ride around the pyramids or you can even ride a camel. The animals are all very well cared for.
While we don't usually spend much time in museums when we travel, the Egyptian Museum is an absolute must for first-time visitors to the country. We loved the Mummies Room and we couldn’t get enough of the Jewelry Rooms. As Dylan said, “Those Egyptians knew a thing or two about bling!”
There was another reason I particularly wanted to visit Cairo
: the street art. In Cairo there are some wonderful pieces within easy access. Sadly, others have been painted over and some of the remaining pieces of street art are in an undesirable area. Luckily, our fabulous guide made sure I got to see the piece I was most excited about, Perception by eL Seed.
Garbage City was fascinating to drive through. You have to navigate through this area in order to see the eL Seed mural and to get to the Rock Church. Garbage City has earned its name—we were there when the temperature was 115 degrees and it was odiferous!
We also visited Old Cairo and saw the Citadel. The details are beautiful and I was particularly taken with the onyx carving and the gorgeous ceilings. Finally, we paid a visit to Ben Ezra Synagogue, which dates back to the 9th century and is said to be built on the Nile River site where baby Moses was found.
Last but not least, we visited Khan El Khalil Bazaar. Our guide took us to a "no haggle” shop with very fair prices. After the market we stopped for a snack at GAD and ate the best falafel I have ever tasted. Fresh, hot, and made from fava beans, it just melts in your mouth.
All too soon, we had to bid farewell to Cairo—and our fabulous guide and driver—so that we could head to Dubai
. What a contrast!
Clean, luxurious, and boasting incredible skyline views, the Taj Dubai
was our home during our stay in Dubai. We had a lovely room facing the Burj Khalifa, which is currently the tallest building in Dubai. The city is preparing for Expo 2020, so there is major construction going on everywhere you look.
The Taj Dubai has excellent service. At breakfast, the staff were incredibly attentive—by the second day, they recognized us and remembered our preferences.
Dubai Street Art
We had a fabulous day in Dubai. Our morning was spent exploring the city’s street art. Every well-known street artist from the region has a piece on display.
There are too many areas to explore in a single day, but we gave it a good shot, even with our limited amount of time. We even managed to stop by eL Seed’s Studio, although it was closed as he was on vacation in Cairo.
Later that afternoon we attended a desert safari dinner, complete with good food and entertainment, a short camel ride, and Henna tattoos. I don’t recommend eating before going dune bashing, as it’s like being on a roller coaster for 30 minutes!
Before we knew it, our trip had come to an end. I highly recommend traveling Egypt with children. Dylan and I covered four countries this summer, and Egypt was by far the highlight of our travels. We both expanded our horizons and created treasured memories together.