A Postcard from Egypt


Photo courtesy of Shamma

Shamma Al Breiki, Journalist

After returning from our trip to Jordan last spring, our family was committed to discovering more of the Arab World. As Arabs ourselves, it seemed only right to explore the beautiful places from our culture. To travel and discover the hidden gems within them. And so, we embarked on a journey to the land of the pharaohs to discover one of the world’s oldest civilizations: EGYPT!

Our trip began at a two-story building displaying the world’s largest collection of Egyptian artifacts; The Egyptian Museum! What better way to start off our trip then spending the day admiring pieces that were once used thousands of years back. In fact, there were over 120,000 objects displayed for us to admire! After buying our admission tickets we also requested a tour guide; something I would recommend if you really want to get the best out of the experience. We spent almost the whole day exploring the artifacts as our tour guide informed us more on the history of each piece. We even got the opportunity to enter the Royal Mummy Room!

A trip to Egypt is incomplete without a visit to one of the seven wonders of the ancient world; the pyramids of Giza! The mysterious yet extremely impressive man-made structures, whose sheer size only makes you wonder how they were able to move the pieces at a time with not many tools? At the time, kings were believed to have divine power. They held significant and well-respected positions. Thus, enormous pyramid tombs were built for them, so after their passing they would be buried with all the items believed to be necessary in preparation for the afterlife.

Whilst visiting the site, you have the opportunity of entering some of the pyramids, which I thought was an extraordinary adventure! Unfortunately, however, the adventure was cancelled because we had young children with us. The place is described as very narrow with not much air coming in, and so you would have to bend for the first couple of minutes until you reach the main area (not the best idea with young children.)

If you really want to get a sense of historic Cairo, a trip to the market is a must! “Khan el-Khalili” is a vast souk at the heart of Islamic Cairo. As you walk through the narrow alleys to the sights of locals sipping tea at the traditional cozy cafes and the sounds of shop owners calling you to their stores, it really feels as if you have traveled back in time! The vibrant open-air market has been thriving for centuries, and is beloved by both the locals and tourists alike. The souk is especially busy after the “Maghrib” prayer which occurs just after sunset, but the atmosphere is most magical at that time! The colored lanterns stand dazzling from afar and the stores selling everything from antiques, to spices, to souvenirs are so lively and jam-packed with people bargaining among the crowds.

Now, although our trip to Egypt was special in so many different ways there is one important thing you should know prior to your visit. A speed limit, traffic lights and crosswalks simply do not exist. The roads are shared by all; from buses to cars to horse carriages! I won’t forget all the times we had to cross the road to get to our hotel, the fear and adrenaline pumping through all our bodies as we linked hands and ran as fast as we could without looking back. Or the time we took a tuk-tuk on the main road and we all sat tightly squeezed together anxious and praying that we reach our destination safely. But if you ask me, it’s all part of the experience. If you really want to experience the authentic Egyptian lifestyle there’s no better way than doing it like the locals!