Thanks to the wonders of technology, I can write blog posts and schedule them to be published at a later date. This is great for maintaining an active blog while also juggling homework and my suddenly colorful social life. Technically, I am writing this at 2:41pm on Tuesday, March 29, but as you read this sometime on Friday, I will be flying over Israel en route to Egypt or I will have already landed and will be exploring Cairo.
As my fellow travelers know, preparing the reservations, itineraries, and visas is half of the battle when visiting a new country. Luckily, Egypt is similar to Jordan where you can simply purchase a short term travel visa at the airport upon arrival. Our accommodations were also made simple due to Caroline’s connections. One of her friends is currently studying abroad in Cairo and is letting us stay with her. Another benefit of this is that we can use her male Egyptian friends to escort us around the city. Cairo is the epicenter of verbal harassment against women in the Middle East. However, before coming to Amman, everyone made it seem like the harassment would be intolerable when, in reality, it is just a slight annoyance. I’m not sure what to expect in Cairo. It is a major tourist destination, so the locals are used to seeing Westerners, but it is also common knowledge that Cairo is still undergoing a major social and political upheaval with women taking the brunt of the oppression. We will be traveling with a guy from our program, Andrew, but he is bleach blond and frequently wears t-shirts promoting his home school of “AMERICAN UNIVERSITY,” so he might draw more attention than repel it.
We are staying in Cairo for two days. On the first day, we plan to see the iconic spots in the city like Tahir Square. On the second day, we are going to travel 30 minutes south to Giza to see the pyramids. I have always wanted to see this world wonder but never thought I would have the opportunity. The pyramids are what I am most excited to see on the entire trip! The next day we are going to go to Sharm el-Sheikh on the Sinai Peninsula. Originally, we were going to take a 12 hour bus ride that was a fraction of the cost of a flight, but after hearing about the numerous bus attacks on the Sinai and lengthy checkpoints, we decided that a flight may be worth it. We are staying at the Hilton Shark’s Bay Resort. We purchased the all-inclusive package per recommendation of CIEE. The Sinai is one of the most volatile regions in the area, so it is best that we stay within the security of the resort. The entire purpose of going to Sharm el-Sheikh (or as we like to call it, Caramel Shake) is to have the stereotypical spring break beach experience. Sharm is one of the biggest resort towns in the Middle East, drawing many vacationers from England, so hopefully we can restore our deteriorating English language skills!
Returning to Amman will probably be where our plans go awry. Flights from Sharm to Amman were 3x as expensive as getting there, so we decided to take the cheaper option of taking a ferry to Aqaba, Jordan and then a bus north to Amman. What CIEE did not tell us, however, was that the ferry leaves from Nuweiba, Egypt…. not Sharm El-Sheikh. Our efforts to avoid taking a bus in the Sinai were rendered futile as the only way to reach Nuweiba is by a two hour bus ride. Oh well, it will make for quite the experience, right?!