We decided to fly straight to Zanzibar instead of bussing back to Dar only to take the ferry. We wanted to avoid that place like the plague.
Zanzibar was a breath of fresh air compared to the rest of Tanzania. We decided to splurge for a few days at a nice resort to help recover from Arusha and put what happened in Dar behind us. The resort was beautiful! The beach was not the best because of lots of sea grass which meant lots of sea irchins but that helped with the snorkeling. We saw sea horses, starfish, an eel, and lots of colorful fish. Also when the tide was low we could sit in the shallow water and enjoy a drink. The food we had at the resort was an absolute treat and an adventure. We tried Marlin, chunga, and grilled octopus and squid which was literally the entire thing, tenticles and all! It was all delicious and affordable. Each plate was only $9. You would never get prices like that in the Midwest for good seafood. It was really nice to actually take a real vacation.
After a few days we moved down to Paje which is further south on the coast. The beach was beautiful but terrible for snorkeling. We spent the next couple of days bumming and walking around. We tightened up on the budget and bought our own food to make at our guesthouse. There was a family of cats that I tried to befriend at the guesthouse with no luck. One did let me touch her but barely.
After a bit of research we decided to take the train from Dar to Zambia so we moved to Stone Town for a couple of days. One day we visited Prison Island to see the giant tortoises and snorkle. The tortoises we’re actually really cool and unbelievably big. The snorkeling was ok but nothing to brag about. We also partook in the nightly grill out in the town square and had some awesome Zanzibar pizza and fresh squeezed juice! They also offered lots of different fish, octopus, and squid kabobs at other booths. The place was covered with cats! I mean there was probably close to 100 there and most relatively healthy looking. It was unreal!
While in Stone Town we attempted to make reservations online. Unfortunately, they don’t use email and had to call only to find out that to train was booked for that week but available for the following Friday… That was 10 days away. We went back and forth about spending the 10 days on the beach or just flying for a much higher cost. Ultimately, the beach won and we made our reservations before heading back to Paje.
Back in Paje I had one goal and that was to befriend the kitten of the family living at the guesthouse and John’s goal was to find snorkling we didn’t have to pay for. First we went to Michamvi which was a bust. We did see some sea slugs and an eels head coming out of the sand… Made me nervous walking just thinking about what’s in the sand. We also saw a monkey running away from us on the beach. On the way back we stopped and observed the famous rock restaurant which was a shack on a big rock barely off shore. Our second attempt was in Dungwe which was a success! We found a reef with tons of beautiful fish and we were able to swim out to where the boats took paying customers. I’m pretty sure they fed the fish because there were schools upon schools of different fish. The coolest thing we saw was a school of 6 squid swim around! I always thought they were deeper but these were swimming just below the surface.
Meanwhile, I was working my way closer to the little kitten and by the time we left it was purring and sleeping on my lap. I thought she was way to skinny so I bought a couple eggs to cook and feed her.
The tide is crazy in Zanzibar! When it was low tide you could literally walk out at least a mile and the water would only be at mid thigh. Night walks were fun during low tide. We got pretty good at catching shrimp. We also spotted an octopus! We tried catching it but it’s suckers would freak us out when they got ahold. It was one of the coolest sea creatures I have ever seen. The instantaneous color change that they are capable of doing is incredible.
Ultimately, it was not a bad way to waste a week. We returned to Stone Town for one night and then left the next morning for Dar. Sadly, we needed a few days there to get things done and make prepreations for the train. Our last night in Stone Town was crazy! We went back to the town square for dinner and the place was BUSY! It was the end of Ramadan and everyone was out celebrating. We got some food and some fresh squeezed sugar cane and people watched for a few hours.
We got back from our Kilimanjaro climb and literally booked our safari that night and left early the next day. We were late arriving to the truck because our driver got lost finding our home stay. But after some waiting around we were finally off to my most anticipated excursion in Africa.
Our first national park was the famous Serengeti. I dreamed of seeing the Great Migration and the vast plains crawling with wildebeest. Unfortunately, we did not have a chance to behold that natural occurance but we did see a ton of wildlife. Just stopping at the gate to sign in introduced me to several wild elephants. One in particular was close to the cars… a guide said it was dangerous and scared it off. As we proceeded into the park we stopped the truck in the road while a couple of lionesses worked their way past marking their territory. We also got an up close look at a beautiful leapord as it laid out in a tree. The day also included buffalo, multiple species of gazelle, zebra, giraffes, ostriches, baboons, eland, topi, kongoni, warthogs, impala, and elephants! It was a great first day. We got to camp and ate dinner before heading to bed. Hyenas were active in the night. One girl from South Korea left her shoes outside the tent only to find it the next morning in the field missing one of her little decorative pieces.
We started early the next morning for another drive through the Serengeti to see many of the same things. Our first encounter was with a few lionesses being followed by a tiny cub that passed right by us. We did add a very close group of hyenas, a family of mongoose, rock hyrax, dik dik (small deer), wildebeest, secretary birds, hippos, and jackals to our animal list. We got very close looks at more lions as they relaxed in the sun. The coolest thing of the day was the giant family of elephants that included a tiny baby that slowly surrounded us as they made their way across the road. The entire experience was awe-inspiring!! It is something that takes your breath away. On the way to Ngorongoro Crater we spotted another leopard… Two in one trip is very lucky. This one was passed out in a tree with a dangling head and all. The last cool thing we saw at the gate was a cheetah!! Grant it we could only see it’s head with binoculars but hey we still saw one. My big cat list was pretty much complete with our first stop minus the serval cat which I had no hope of seeing anyway.
After a night of camping near Ngorongoro Crater we headed into the crater itself. Here the animals were more condensed in a smaller space compared to open space in the ocean of grass of the Serengeti. Right from the get go we saw two lions but surprisingly the only two of this area. We were zipping through massive herds of wildebeest and zebra watching while the wildebeest were having fun running around. We even spotted several hippos taking a stroll in the grass. There were two really cool animals that really stood out in Ngorongoro Crater. The first was what I would assume to be a very old elephant. It’s tusks were so massive they almost reached the ground. The second was the black rhino. Again, it was not the best view even with binoculars but I saw it’s giant horn on it’s face so I think it counts. That means that we had the privilege to see the big five during our safari. The big five includes the rhino, elephant, lion, leapord, and buffalo. The crater itself was beautiful but sadly we had an overcast morning so it was not nearly as beautiful as it could have been. Also our guide seemed to push us through it pretty quick because the other four people in our group were heading back to Arusha that night. Ultimately, we mainly added birds to our animal list such as the grey crowned crane and weavers.
During the last night we ended up staying at a camping lodge and actually got to sleep in a bed. The following morning we headed to Lake Manyara. This part of the safari was full of birds and monkeys. There were countless species of birds including hundreds of yellow-billed storks and pelicans, hornbills, ducks, flamingos, geese, and tons of other waterfowl. The monkeys included huge troops of baboons, blue monkeys, and sky monkeys. The monkeys were a lot of fun to watch especially the baboons. As I was hanging out of the window gawking I actually had one baboons try and punk me out. I realize now that hanging out the window was probably not the best idea. Otherwise there was a lot of what we already seen such as hippos, giraffes, zebra, wildebeest, buffalo, elephants, etc. This day was even more enjoyable due to the fact that it was only us and that our guide was in a more pleasant and talkative mood… He must not have liked the others very much.
All in all, this was a fantastic experience… Zoos will never be the same. To be able to see these animals in their natural habitat is a once in a lifetime experience especially with the constant poaching and habitat destruction. It’s sad that these beautiful creatures could one day no longer exist. It was an honor and blessing to see them as they are!!
We were able to change bus tickets for the next morning for free since we had a police report number. The ride was long and miserable because we didn’t have our phones with games and books to preoccupy us. But we finally arrived! We didn’t spend much time in Arusha before we shopped around and booked a Kilimanjaro climb… We had to keep busy to keep our minds off of recent events. Since we no longer had our money we had to work out a deal to pay for our own park entry with a credit card. Otherwise it would have been 18 trips to the ATM and we are only allowed 4 a day so that was out of the question. See, they charge an arm and a leg for climbs and safaris but don’t take credit cards so we had no choice but to travel with a ton of cash. No wonder people get robbed… We are such easy targets because they know what we are here for!! Grr…
Anyways, we left the next morning for our climb. There were supposed to be two South Koreans with us but it ended up being only us. The first day was pretty easy and pretty short. Four hours after we started walking through the rainforest we arrived at camp one. We settled in and enjoyed a good dinner. Before bed we did happen to see two different types of monkey, the Black and White Colobus and the Blue Monkey, and a tree hydax. The views were not great but they were there.
Day two and three were very similar to the first day in terms of intensity. The hike themselves were pretty easy but much longer. As we progressed from camp to camp the climate change had us starting in a rainforest and ending in a desert. It was crazy how dramatic the altitude altered the scenery. At camp two we decided to hike to Zebra Rock for a bit of acclimatization. It was interesting to see and allowed us to climb another 1000 feet. Every time we sat down for a meal the guide told us to eat as much as we could and then eat more. He also took an O2 (oxygen) reading every night at dinner. My readings were 97%, 91%, and 87%. My reading were higher than John’s. The third day ended with an early dinner and bedtime because we had to get up at 11 pm to start our push to summit… Ugh. The anticipation lead me to only sleep for about half an hour.
Summit day can be summed up with one word… COLD! We we’re able to start without our headlamps because there was a full moon and it was bright enough to see the ground. It did take away from the stars though. I was struggling a bit on getting into my groove and could only focus on the cold so I required short stops to rest. We got to a routine rest point and I pushed myself a bit to get there because the thought of a quick seat was rather enticing. However, I pushed myself to the point of vomiting. It was so sudden and out of nowhere but I felt great afterward!! As we got higher and the hours ticked by, the moon went down which caused us to continue with our headlamps. This allowed me to focus on the ground with every step and my breathing so I was slowly able to work into my rhythm and required less stops.
We finally got to Gilman’s Point!! Unfortunately, this was a false victory. It was the rim of the crater but it was not the highest point in the rim. So we pushed on for another hour in the cold during which John vomited. As we were on the home stretch the sun began to rise. It was a truly magical scene!! We were literally looking out at a sea of clouds watching the sunrise on the top of Africa!! This was a moment I dreamed about and I was finally here! We took our pictures with the summit sign and surrounding area as well as took a summit video. All in all, we climbed for six and a half hours for 10 minutes at summit. The longer you stayed the more the altitude affected you. I was feeling great aside from the exhaustion but John had a slight headache. Our guide pushed us pretty hard on the decent. We were walking back into base camp by 9 o’clock. Ultimately, we summited and returned to base camp in 9 hours. We were permitted an hour and a half of rest before lunch. I literally laid my head on the pillow and an hour and a half later I woke up in the same exact position. John and I both ate very little for lunch. A couple hours later we arrived back at camp 2 for the night. Dinner was good and the night’s sleep was better.
The next day we had an early wake up for breakfast and handed out tips to our cook, 6 Porter’s, and two guide… a lot for the two of us but mandatory except for one of the guides who was a trainee. We also exchanged information with some awesome people we met along the way and then hit the trail down. Again, our guide was pushing us pretty hard… He must of had something going on back at home. Along the way we encountered close ups with both species of monkey in this area. I love monkeys! Finally we made it to the trailhead and ate our lunch boxes. Upon our return to Moshi, we had our certificates laminated by the company. We were then transferred back to Arusha.
The summit was a huge achievement! The experience was like nothing I have had before. I finally got to experience a completely catered mountain climb!! The food was awesome… Way better than hot dogs! I could of carried my own bag but hey the lack of weight was refreshing.
Check out our YouTube channel at jktrekkers for videos from all three camps and summit!!
The story of our robbery…
I landed in Tanzania with the excitement of the safari and Kilimanjaro finally on the itinerary. We got our visas and hurried for baggage claim to find John’s bag waiting. I looked around for mine only to have my heart fall because it was nowhere to be seen. I approached the baggage guy and he sad all bags were there and that I had to go and claim a lost bag at the counter. The lady at the counter was less helpful and just put a form in front of me and told me to fill it out. Since we were heading to Arusha the next day we asked the lady to forward my bag there. She assured me it would be if they found it but there was a lot of confusion so I just crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.
The taxi drivers converged as soon as we exited the airport. But we refused and went to exchange some money. $500 converted into over a million Tanzanian shillings… We were millionaires!! We started walking like we had planned but a couple of motortaxis gave us a good price so we went with them. In the beginning I could see John the whole time but eventually our motortaxis got separated. I sat on the back of the bike I just hoped I was going in the right direction. I was really starting to wonder when I saw John and his motortaxis waiting on the side for us. We paid when we arrived at Ubungo bus terminal and we were instantly surrounded by guys trying to get us to follow them to a bus company… They worked on commission. I was on my last nerve as 10 guys were all talking at once as they followed us around when a guy in a reflective vest asked what we were looking for and pointed us in the direction of Dar Express. After our tickets were bought and I yelled at a guy that was still following us we headed for the hotel. Along the way a guy struck up conversation and informed us about his taxi and the service he provided. He came into the hotel with us and talked to the staff to let them know he would be picking us up at 5:15 the next morning. Not thinking anything about it we agreed to use his service.
The next morning we were up and ready to go and our fully marked taxi showed up on time. The guy we spoke with and the driver were both there. It was strange to have two people pick us up but we loaded up John’s bag and headed for the bus station. The driver took a weird turn and said he had two more to pick up that were also going to the bus station for Arusha. Again not thinking anything of it we sat in silence. After a couple turns and a story not adding up I was feeling uneasy and then two guys jumped in back with us. We drove a little more when one of the guys climbed over us and grabbed John’s hands and told him to squeeze them together. He also grabbed the phone in my pocket and pulled it out. At our bewildered looks, the guy who initially talked to us said, “There are many of us and few of you. We are the Mafia and they were taking all of your money’s.” The guy next to John proceed to go through his bag taking his camera and the money we had for the safaris and Kilimanjaro. At one point the guy next to me was yelling where the American dollars we’re and John said the guy next to him had them in his lap… Appearantly he was trying to hide them. After thoroughly searching John’s bag they turned to mine. We had separated the money out between us and they took what I had as well. Luckily, they were not as thorough with my bag and missed the GoPro at the bottom.
They were shuffling our credit cards around and told us they were going to take us to an ATM so that we could withdraw money off all the cards… Little did they know only one could do that. We protested saying they got enough from us and they seemed to agree. During this entire thing they kept looking at the clock because our bus left at 6 and they wanted us on it. In the end they told us they were taking our phones, don’t tell anyone, and when we got out we are not to turn around and just keep walking. They did give us 10,000 shillings (about $4.50) for a taxi to the bus station. They were sure to tell us not to spend more than 5,000 shillings otherwise we we’re getting taken advantage of… Huh… We got out of the car, John got his bag, we got a motortaxi to the bus station, and went to the police station located there. I refused to leave without a police report! The robbery was terrifing in the beginning but as they divvied out our money right in front of us I got pissed!
The whole process with the cops was weird. First off, no one is in uniform so you don’t know who is who. Secondly, we we’re kind of told off for not fighting… Yeah! Four guys on two… Our lives are more important than money or material items. Anyways, we went back to the hotel with the police for questioning. When we were picked up the guard got the license plate number of the car! They called the phone number and found it to be a fake. Hopefully the hotel was not in on it and took the right plate number down. We proceed to the station where we gave our statement… Which was also a weird process. By midday we were taken back to the bus station to change our bus ticket to the next day. We were then called a trustworthy motortaxi to take us to a new hotel.
The whole day was exhausting, frustrating, and violating!! I did have a little hope for our camera and phones since they got the license plate number but I knew the money was gone. The kicker is that the money was going to be spent the next day… Horrible, horrible timing. Not only did they get our stuff they also got all the pictures from London and Egypt. This was a huge blow and it left us in a pretty bad funk.
On the upside, the airline found my bag and it was going to be delivered to our hostel in Arusha the following day and I was getting compensated $50 for the inconvenience.
After allowing the police to handle the case for two weeks we got the feeling they were doing nothing… It doesn’t take that long to run a plate. We called several times for an update and were finally told they can’t do anything and to come in for a police report. Angered by their lack of determination to bring the men to justice, I contacted the US embassy… Something we should have done in the beginning. They immediately followed up and told us the case is still under investigation. They also provided us with the name of a new detective along with his phone number. They assured us that they will be checking in as much as they can for updates.
Lastly, we recently found out from a review of the hotel that a week or two before we got there another couple from Europe experienced the same exact robbery!! This is something the hotel knew about and they still let us arrange that driver!! It really ruffles my feathers again about the whole thing and makes me wonder if the hotel really was involved.
We showed up in Luxor on a bus and were instantly hassled by taxi drivers to give us a ride. We already knew we were walking to the ferry so it was easy to just write them off. After a short walk and dodging multiple guys telling us the ferry was no good and we should take their private boat, we boarded the ferry and crossed the Nile to find our hotel on the other side. We still had a bit of time and daylight we we decided to cross the river again and get some lunch at McDonald’s… I know sad but it was delicious! Even then there were horse buggy drivers trying to get our attention through the window for a ride. Afterward we started walking to Luxor Temple when a guy approached us and said that entrance was closed… I have heard that before. We took our chances and oddly enough it was open. We wondered around and then started making our way to Karnak Temple. Unfortunately, it was closed when we got there. We had bad information about it being open until 9pm. During the walk back a rock went rolling by us. We didn’t think anything of it until another one bounced and scraped my leg. I quickly turned around and grabbed it but the kid that threw it was already running. I had a fleeting thought of me having better aim or able to out run the little turd but I gritted my teeth and walked away. I can say that this was the first time locals have thrown rocks at us anywhere we have went… Sad.
The next day was dedicated to the Valley of the Kings and the surrounding ruins. We decided to bike between them and partially regretted it when I realized it was 107 degrees and we were biking in the middle of the Sahara… We started with the Valley of the Kings and visited tombs 8, 14, and 34. We also paid a little extra for Ramesses VI. We decided against King Tut’s tomb because we didn’t have enough money with us but it would have been cool because the mummy was still inside. The tombs we did go into were really cool and very well perserved. There was still paint on the walls. It is crazy to think those little tombs we’re stuffed with treasures and a dead body. No photos were allowed in any of the tombs but I tried to sneak some and got caught twice. One of the times the guy took my phone and opened it up to see the last picture… Luckily, he was not good with a smart phone and ended up looking at pictures of birds from South America.
Later we visited Ramesseum Temple, Al-Deir Al-Bahari Temple, Deir al-Madina, and Habu Temple. All the ruins offered something different but they were full of giant statues, detailed and partially painted carving, and endless history! It would have been truly incredible to see them as they were meant to be. Another thing everything offered (even the Valley of the King tombs) were Egyptians trying to play guide (but really bad ones) for a tip. Needless to say we got really good at brushing them off relatively quickly.
We did breeze through Karnak Temple right before we went to the airport. It was full of over a hundred giant pillars made of solid stone and contained detailed carvings from top to bottom. Very impressive work but I feel bad for the slaves that had to lift those stones!
Egypt is just awe-inspiring to behold but also just plain exhausting when it comes to the local people. 5% of the population, if that, is trustworthy. It is terrible when they only see you as a walking money sign and will do anything to get it out of you. For the most part the people are just rude and diceteful. I believe that traveling here takes a lot of patience but it is worth at least one speedy visit.
Sorry for the lack of pictures… The camera got stolen 😦
After showing up at the airport in Cairo 8 hours early, we finally made it to Hurghada. We left the airport and started bartering with some taxi drivers because they were asking for an unreasonable price… I hate taxi drivers! We asked for a certain price and all the taxi drivers would argue and scream at one another every time one would start to consider our price. In the end they unionized against us so we started walking. One guy was going to break the union but he got ripped out pretty bad so changed his mind. In the end the main driver we were talking to drove up as we walked away and took us downtown. He dropped us off on a street downtown and we had to walk to find our hotel. Eventually, we stopped in a shop and the owner called our host to pick us up… I hate taxi drivers!
We came to Hurghada to dive in the Red Sea. We came with no plan but were able to book a dive with Scuba Hurghada Diving Center for the next day. The day cosisted of two separate dives. They were both beautiful! The Red Sea was saltier than I expected. But it was full of colorful fish of all sizes. We saw sting rays, lion fish, crocodile fish, etc. The coolest things were the giant eels. I was able to see one swim out of it’s hole and up the side of a pillar! It was at least 6ft long!! I really wanted to see the sea turtles, dolphins, and octapus but there was no such luck. However, there was a group on the boat that did see an octopus though… Lucky!! Overall, it was awesome to experience a new place to dive and the people were great. The boat was beautiful as well. The crew provided a spectacular lunch that had all sorts of new stuff to try. The Red Sea was beautiful in itself! The water was a teal color with dramatic changes due to different depths. It was awesome to see the Sahara desert bleed directly into the water!!
The last thing to mention about Hurghada was the door man at our apartment. He was definitely over friendly! On our first night he invited us into his place for tea. We sat there drinking as he told us about his wife that lived in Germany… It was not exactly a mail order wedding but it was close enough. He also offered to wash my bikini which was crossing the line. We tried to say goodnight but he wanted to show us the roof. We sat up there for a little bit and then excused ourselves. From then on he always wanted to have tea or talk or help us go somewhere or find something. We found ourselves trying to sneak in and out of the apartment but he was always there. I was happy to leave in the end.
Arriving at Cairo was pretty smooth. We had a car waiting for us to take us to our hostel and he pointed out some sights along the way.
After a good night sleep we took on the Cairo museum first. It was literally across the road from our hostel but crossing the road was an experience in itself. There were two roads separarted by a median and each had 3 lanes. To cross it you simply had to walk out in the heavy traffic like Frogger to work your way across. It was a bit nerve wracking but doable. The museum was huge and really fun to walk through! The work that the Egyptians did on stone was very impressive. The mummies were equally as impressive… perfectly preserved that they still had hair! I had never seen an uncovered mummy before this. Lastly, the King Tut collection was spectacular. The jewelry and amulets that were buried with him we very intracate and detailed. The famous mask that was placed on his head when he was buried and the coffins in which he was buried were beautiful and almost fully intact (the mask had slight blemishes). We were not allowed to take pictures in this section but I did sneak a few… they turned out blurry because of the low light but I got some.
After our time at the museum we made our way toward the pyrimids to go to our second hostel. We started by going down into the metro but it was so overly packed it would have been torture and nearly impossible with our bags so we aborted. Next we tried getting a taxi with the help of a local but then he asked to take the taxi with us since he lived close to where we were going… I’ve seen Taken so again we aborted. His story just didn’t add up which didn’t sit well with us. So we walked a bit when another guy told us the bridge was closed and then asked us to come to his house to see his artwork and to advertise it in the United States. Again, we apologized and kept walking. Finally, we got a cab and headed the right way but our driver was confused on where we were going and stopped to ask someone who spoke English to translate. The guy ended up riding with us to give directions. The hostel was nice and the view from the roof was amazing… it overlooked the pyrimids to the west which allowed us to watch the sunset.
The next day we walked to the pyrimids and the sphinx. Along the way a guy told us the road was closed but we could ride his camal up but then another guy walked up and said it was not closed and we should just keep walking. We thanked him as the other guy started yelling at him. We got our tickets and a guy took them and passed them to another guy that told us he worked for the government and that he was not a guide. Along the way we told him several times that we just wanted to wander on our own but he was a smooth talker and he knew what he was doing so we continued. He rushed us past the sphinx and then stopped and asked for a tip of $20. We argued that we didn’t ask for his services and told him we wanted to go alone. He started getting angry and hit his hands together as we continued to argue. Finally I gave him 6 Egyptian pounds to get ride of him and he walked away grumbling about towelette money. The thing was that he still had our tickets and wouldn’t give them back until he got something. Its ironic that on the whole walk over he went on and on about how they wanted to make a good impression and get more tourists there… Ha!!!
After that fiasco we calmed down and wandered around the pyrimids. They were so big and awe-inspiring. Each brick was so big that I felt bad for the slaves that had to move them. It is unfortunate that the former government removed the smooth top lining of the pyrimids to build other buildings… they would of truely been a masterpiece for us to behold. We decided to go inside the Great Pyramid and see the chamber and tomb. On the way in you had to crouch in a tunnel until you got to a hallway with a high ceiling and then you got to the chamber. It was surprisingly small for how much the pharaohs were buried with. We sat down in the chamber to soak it all in when the guard came rushing in looking panicked. We were startled when he rushed everyone out but had us crouch and hide behind the tomb. We sat there a bit freaked out for about 5 minutes during which other tourist came in to see it and took pictures. Finally, the guy came around and asked if we were ok and asked for a tip… bewildered we ask “Why? For freaking us out?” That was really bizarre. We left the chamber and took one more walk around the pyrimids on a camal. We are in Egypt so why not. The camal’s name was supposedly Micheal Jordan and it was a fun ride. We did tip the camal driver… see what happens when you are nice.
Since it was our anniversary we decided to splurge and go on a Nile cruise for dinner. It was not what we expected. The food was great but the entertainment was questionable. The belly dancer was more provocative than I figured she would be. The tourists on the boat seemed unimpressed but the Egyptians were focused on her with their phones. She honed in on them and jiggled everything she had right in front of them and got tips. It was entertaining enough to watch those guys drool over her!
All in all Cairo was a bit overwhelming but cool enough to visit at least once! According to John it has calmed down substantially since the last time he was there. It is a strangle feeling when you are exploring one of the world’s most famous locations and people want to take pictures with you and of you. We even had a guy trying to sneak a picture on the street. Definitely know your stuff before going so you don’t get taken advantage of.
England was a bit of a whirlwind since we were only there for 4 days and a lot more expensive compared to what we were used too. We also lost our touch a little during our break at home because it cost us a lot just to get to our hostel since we didn’t do proper research and we spent a lot for dinner two nights in a row. So we had to buckle down a bit.
The first two days were used to explore the city. We walked to all the main tourist attractions such as Hyde park, Big Ben, St. James’ Cathedral, London’s eye, London Tower, Tower Bridge, the London Museum, Weschester Palace, Weschester Abbey, Buckingham Palace, etc. By the way, the royal guard (the guys in red) do move sometimes but barely.
Before arriving in London I was listening to the Harry Potter series on audiobook so everything was fresh in my mind. I made John go to King’s Cross Station where we found a huge Harry Potter store and a trolly disappearing into the wall for people to take pictures with for a price. It ended up being a really cool sight to see aside from the Harry Potter stuff.We also walked across Millennium Bridge when I realized that it was in one of the movies… so naturally I had to see the other sights! The third day was walking around seeking out movie sights. In the end we found Diagon Alley, the entrance to the Leaky Culdron, and Piccadilly Circus. Yeah yeah… I know I’m a nerd but I don’t care.
On the walk to our hostel on the third day I found a 50 pound note on the ground which is equivalent to about $65. I was stunned and even felt slightly bad for pocketing it without asking if anyone dropped. However, I did look around for someone but there were very few people around. I even thought that it could have been one of those social experiements that you see on facebook. With our newly found wealth we decided to go to Oxford on our last day in England. There we toured around the famous schools, museums, and some more Harry Potter spots.
All in all, the trip to London was a lot of fun and it seemed like the perfect amount of time for us. London and Oxford are truely beautiful and have an elegance and charm that South America lacks for obvious reasons. The architecture was a combination of new and old with splashes of a gothic flare. It was also geart to be in a place where everyone spoke English. My only complaint is the amount of stuff I got in my eyes. Even if it wasn’t very windy I seemed to manage it.
We were able to squeeze in a quick trip home! The prices for flights straight to Africa were close to the prices home, London, and then Cairo so we figured why not. It was amazing to see family and friends for a week and a half but sadly we didn’t get to see everyone. We also managed to get everything booked for London, Cairo, and tickets to Tanzania. I will say that it was an ongoing feast while we were home. According to family we had to eat some well rounded meals because we were looking a little sickly… grant it we were sick for a week before arriving. Overall, it was nice to see everyone and then off to London we go.