Rene and I recently returned from a 2-week Nile River cruise and pre/post tours within the magnificent country of Egypt. Talk about an experience that is absolutely steeped in ancient history dating back over 4500 years. It’s astonishing everywhere you go in Egypt!
This trip was planned back in 2019 and should have taken place in 2020, then was rescheduled to 2021, and finally we made it this year! I’m sure many people have similar experiences with cancelations as we’ve had with this one. We’re fortunate to finally be able to have enjoyed it and have a massive number of memories from this bucket list trip.
Our journey began with a 3-night stay at the fabulous Four Seasons Hotel Nile River Plaza in Cairo. It’s situated on the Nile River, obviously, and we had a magnificent view from our balcony room on the 10th floor.
We enjoyed a late afternoon/early evening dinner overlooking the lovely pool and patio area of this hotel prior to embarking on a long 12 hour tour the following day to the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, northwest of Cairo.
The drive was 3 hours each way on a new 8 lane highway and enabled us to see some of the countryside north of Cairo, which was interesting. Our Egyptologist, Mohamed, was excellent and we were fortunate to have him with us from the beginning of our time in Egypt until the very end. He was very knowledgeable, personable, and a delight to be with throughout our 2 weeks there.
Alexandria was founded in 331 BC and named after Alexander the Great. It has a rich history including the fact that it was believed to be the burial place for Cleopatra VII and Mark Antony although their tomb has yet to be found. Julius Caesar also played a major role in Alexandria with claims that he may have been the one to inadvertently burn down the famous Library of Alexandria, back in 48 BC.
There’s a great deal of Roman influence in Alexandria and we visited 3 interesting sites including the Roman Catacombs constructed in the 1st and 2nd century AD, "Pompey's Pillar" from 300 AD, and the Roman Amphitheatre built in the 4th century AD.
After visiting these 3 Roman sites, we went to the National Museum of Alexandria. The museum had some very interesting pieces, in particular, the ones found submerged in the nearby Eastern Harbour and Abu Qir Gulf.
We also enjoyed a fresh seafood lunch (although Rene had chicken and there was no alcohol served due to Ramadan) overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. We arrived home in time for cocktails and dinner at our delightful hotel on the Nile River again, poolside, with decorative lighting all set up for their Ramadan festivities. A great end to our first very full day of travel in Egypt so far.
The following day, we spent touring Cairo, including the Citadel of Saladin and the Egyptian Museum. Unfortunately, the latter is the old one as opposed to the Grand Museum scheduled to open, hopefully, this November. Both visits were very interesting though since the Citadel dates back to 1176 and affords a fabulous view of the area below, while the museum had an inordinate amount of ancient historical pieces including many artifacts of Tutankhamun’s.
Although the Grand Museum will be opening in the Fall, this museum will remain open. Keeping this space open will allow for a much better presentation of the many artifacts that currently reside in storerooms since there’s not enough space for all 120,000 pieces that exist there.
Our day ended with a Sound and Light Show at the famous Giza Pyramids. It was our first connection with the only ‘Wonder’ that still exists of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World”. A fitting end to our first full day in Cairo, Egypt.