Cairo is the capital and largest city in Egypt. The city’s metropolitan area is the largest in the Middle East and the Arab world and the 15th largest in the world. The city is associated with ancient Egypt, since the Giza pyramids reside close to the city. Cairo has around 10 million people spread over 453 square kilometres. They have their own honking language going on in the cars and the use of street lanes were limited, it’s a very hectic city with lots of people and cars. Unfortunately, you could notice that the city has a huge problem with pollution due to the traffic. This was a bit sad, especially when visiting Giza.
We got to visit the Islamic Cairo which is a part of central Cairo around the old walled city and around the Citadel of Cairo which is characterized by hundreds of mosques, tombs, mansions and fortifications dating from the Islamic era. In 1979, UNESCO proclaimed Historic Cairo a World Cultural Heritage site, as ”one of the world’s oldest Islamic cities, with its famous mosques, madrasas, hammams and fountains” and ”the new centre of the Islamic world, reaching its golden age in the 14th century”.
In the part of Islamic Cairo, you could walk around in narrow streets and enjoy the medieval buildings rising from the ground. We were there early in the morning before most shops opened and I’m quite happy about that, it would be way to crowded during daytime. We got to see the start of a new day and tried a public bathroom (not to recommended).
The Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, is an ancient funerary shrine close to Luxor. Built for the 18th dynasty Pharaoh Hatshepsut, it is located beneath the cliffs at Deir el Bahari, near the Valley of the Kings. It’s considered one of the ”incomparable monuments of ancient Egypt”. The Polish Academy of Science is responsible for the study and restoration of the three levels of the temple and they have a building close by where they work.
The relief sculpture within Hatshepsut’s temple recites the tale of the divine birth of a female pharaoh – the first of its kind. Unfortunately, many of the statues and ornamentation have been stolen or destroyed, the temple once was home to many sculptures of the Queen in different attitudes – standing, sitting, or kneeling. Many of these portraits were destroyed at the order of her stepson Thutmose III after her death.
Hatshepsut lived from 1507 to 1458 BC, she was the fifth pharaoh of the 18th dynasty of Egypt and the second historically confirmed female pharaoh. She is generally regarded by Egyptologists as one of the most successful pharaohs, reigning longer than any other woman of an Egyptian dynasty. She showed persistence in demanding her Godly right to rule as pharaoh even though she was a woman. When in Egypt, she became somewhat of an idol for me and an important person in history claiming the rights of women.
The Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt, is home to an extensive collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities. It has 120,000 items, with a representative amount on display for public. You need an extra ticket to see the mummy room, but otherwise everything else is open for public on a regular ticket. The current museum was built in 1902, placed in the Tahrir Square in the middle of Cairo. There’s a new museum being built in Giza, but the project has been delayed a couple of times and now it’s scheduled to open in May 2018.
The museum has so much impressive content, it’s hard to imagine they have found so much artefacts still intact and in such great shape as they have, it’s remarkable. I bought an extra ticket to be able to photograph in the museum, this was around 100 Egyptian pounds (5 EUR), well worth it! We took a guided tour in the museum, otherwise you can spend a couple of days in the museum. We got shown the most important antiquities, which was really great. The most impressive things we got to see was the burial mask of Tutankhamun and all of the other things found in his intact tomb in Valley of the Kings.
The burial mask of Tutankhamun
The cow cries when her child starves due to the humans taking her milk
The Valley of the Kings is a valley close to Luxor where, for a period of nearly 500 years from the 16th to 11th century BC, rock cut tombs were excavated for the Pharaohs and powerful nobles of the New Kingdom (the 18th to the 20th Dynasties of Ancient Egypt). The valley is known to contain 63 tombs and chambers. The royal tombs are decorated with scenes from Egyptian mythology and give us clues as to the beliefs and funerary rituals of the period. Almost all of the tombs seem to have been opened and robbed in antiquity, but they still give an idea of the great wealth, luxuriousness and power of the Pharaohs during this period in time. The valley has become famous for the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922 and the Valley of the Kings is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. In 1979, it became a UNESCO World heritage site.
Even if the tombs are empty from all artefacts and content it’s still a marvellous place to visit. You can see traces of Christians painting over some of the ancient drawings and inscriptions, which is sad, but it’s amazing that the colours are so outstanding still, after so many years. Well worth a visit when you’re in Egypt! Remember that if you want to take pictures you need to buy an extra ticket for 300 Egyptian punds (around 15 EUR).
One thing is for sure, Egypt wouldn’t be Egypt without the Nile, it’s the primary water source and most of the population and cities of Egypt lie along the Nile valley north of Aswan and nearly all the cultural and historical sites of Ancient Egypt are found along the riverbanks.
We got to make two trips on the Nile, in Luxor and Cairo. I could almost imagine seeing Moses mother drop his basket onto the river in search for safety, but of course I didn’t, but instead we got to see birds, cows and spectacular sites along the river.
Luxor was the ancient city of Thebes, the great capital of (Upper) Egypt during the New Kingdom and the glorious city of Amun (god Amun-Ra). The importance of the city started as early as the 11th Dynasty, when the town grew into a thriving city, by native nubi Egyptian, it was renowned for its high social status and luxury, but also as a centre for wisdom, art, religious and political supremacy.
In Luxor, we also visited the papyrus museum and got to see how the papyrus was made historically and of course I bought some with me back home. Driving to Luxor was an experience in itself, where we got to see a more thriving and green part of the country along the Nile river. We drove past fields of sugar canes and men in their gallibayas. We booked our trip through Getyourguide who have a lot of different activities in Egypt for you to do.
The Karnak Temple which is a UNESCO heritage site, contains a vast mix of decayed temples, chapels, pylons, and other buildings. Construction of the complex began during the reign of Senusret I. The complex is a open-air museum and the second largest ancient religious site in the world, after the Angkor Wat Temple of Cambodia. Approximately thirty pharaohs contributed to the buildings, enabling it to reach a size, complexity, and diversity not seen elsewhere. At the Karnak temple you can find one of two large obelisks for the temple, the other one stands at Place de la Concorde in Paris.
It was marvellous walking around in this temple and feel the wings of history, it’s hard to imagine all the man power it took to complete this complex and how it was actually used back in the day. If you are in Luxor, you should definitely visit the Karnak temple to see all the details up close. There’s so much preserved in the paintings on the walls and ceilings, the lucky scarab and large obelisk.
To celebrate my mum turning 60 we went together to Egypt to experience the pyramids among a lot of other things. We had booked a 5-star resort with breakfast outside of Hurghada called Jaz Saraya Makadi Bay. It’s located just south of Hurghada along the Red Sea coast line. We weren’t really prepared for it to a closed resort with its own security check and no restaurants or places to go except for on the resort, but since we knew we had a lot of activities coming up this was no problem. The resort in itself was totally amazing, it had everything from heated pools, regular pools, beach, a la cart restaurants, ping pong tables, pool bar and so much more. It’s like its own little world in the middle of the desert. The buildings, palm trees and various flowers made the surroundings amazing and you could just walk around looking at all the beautiful wonders. The service was great and the staff was very helpful, so I could really recommend going here.
As I said before we didn’t spend all that much time at the actual resort area, I think we got around 2 days of relaxing time by the pool and enjoying the surroundings, the rest of our trip we did different activities such as visiting a Bedouin village, Luxor, Cairo and Giza.
Bedouin village and desert adventure
The second day we decided to go on a desert adventure and visit a Bedouin village hid behind the mighty mountains and large sand dunes. We didn’t take the 4-weelers and drove ourselves (remember, my mum is turning 60), so we took a jeep instead, which was actually an adventure in itself riding the bumpy sand through the desert to reach the village. We were a lot less sandy than the people who drove themselves at least. I think we were both expecting a more ”sandy” desert, but this part of the Egyptian desert has more mountains and stones than the east desert.
In place with some butt massage I went on a camel ride in the gazing sun which was a new experience for me, but very nice and the Bedouin people handling them were great. It’s a bit touristy to do this, but why not when in Egypt?
In November, I visited the capital of Germany for the first time in about 3 years. I used to come to Berlin quite often due to the fact that I had a cousin living in the city, now she moved to the lovely city of Potsdam, not far from Berlin. But it was really about time that I came to Berlin again, I really love the city. This time my friend Felicia came with me for her first visit to this historical city of Berlin. And that is a fact, the city is packed with history from all different ages of time and there’s so much to discover. For a history and social studies freak like me, Berlin is perfect.
We went on a tour around the city with an amazing guide taking us through the most well-known historical sites, like the Berlin wall, Checkpoint- Charlie, Brandenburger Tor, Unter den Linden and the holocaust monument. We got our tour through Getyourguide which I could really recommend.
We stayed at Scandic Hotel Potsdamer Platz which was really good and close to most places you want to go. We found a Christmas market at the square and got to tickle that Christmas- feeling a little bit. Cosy! We also visited a hidden gem of the city at the Panoramapunkt that gave us an amazing view of the city.
In September 2017, I went to the Nice to explore the French Riviera. I was very lucky with the weather and it was perfect for exploring the amazing city of Nice and the whole Riviera.
I started off my trip with walking around the beautiful city of Nice with all of the amazing colourful buildings and great atmosphere. This city is amazing for just strolling around in and you can walk for ages on the 7 km long Promenade des Anglais (the Walkway of the English) back and forth. The promenade was built during the 1800’s when the English aristocracy started to spend a lot of time in the area. In 1820, when a particularly harsh winter up north brought a big number of beggars to Nice, some of the English suggested a useful project for them- the construction of a walkway (chemin de promenade) along the sea, which resulted in Promenade des Anglais and thereof the name.
The area of the old part of the city is very picturesque, with small allies, beautiful buildings and cosy shops. The city also has a lot of parks and green areas which makes it easy to find places for a break. Of course, the beach is a great place to take a break and along the beach you can find several (over prized) restaurants with lovely views over the Mediterranean bay. I had the second most expensive beer in my life on one of these restaurants (the most expensive one I’ve had was in Venice, Italy). But I must say, the view was lovely and I must say, it was worth it!
Not far from Nice you find the small village of Èze in the commune of Èze-Sur-Mer with only about 3000 inhabitants (this is where all the celebrities have their amazing houses along the cliff sides). This very charming medieval village with its oldest building Chapelle de la Sainte Croix that dates back to 1306, feels like a maze when you first start walking around, but just relax and enjoy the ride. The village has become a tourist hot spot, but luckily, I went there off season, so I managed to walk around undisturbed. A must to visit when in the area!
Saint Paul de Vence
This is one of the oldest medieval towns in the French Riviera and definitely my favourite when it comes to the feeling and my prejudices of the French Riviera. I was stunned the moment I walked over the bridge and into this totally different world. I felt taken back in time and was totally amazed by the incredible charm of this village. The first thing I see is a couple of friends gathered together for a boule match in the afternoon sun, with a smile on their faces. Amazing! I almost have no words for this place, it’s just so enjoyable and so very cosy!
In Antibes, I had the best ice cream ever from a small café in the heart of the city. There were so much flavour in the ice cream and I was floored! Unfortunately, I forgot the name of it, but if you are interested in trying it, give me a shout and I can explain the way from the harbour. In Antibes, you can find the most amazing parade of yachts in the harbour. When I was there, the world’s most expensive yacht was on display and you could get it for (only) 600 million €, it’s a bargain!
The city is known for its association with the rich and famous, its luxury hotels and restaurants, and of course the Cannes Film Festival. I didn’t get to spend that much time in this city, but it was a visit to remember. It felt like I was in a movie- walking along the Boulevard de la Croisette with all the impressing buildings, stopping at the place for the Film festival to have a photo and took a break in Square Mistral for a waffle.
Monte- Carlo, Monaco
The capital (or Quartier) of the tiny country of Monaco is Monte-Carlo known for its amazing casino. The country is the second smallest state in the world with around 39 000 inhabitants. The official language is French, but Montégasque, Italian, and English are widely spoken and understood. The head of state is Prince Albert II (son of Grace Kelly) as a constitutional monarch, but he has immense political power of this small country. The widely famous House of Grimaldi have ruled Monaco since 1297 (with brief interruptions). I stopped by the castle to say hello and ended up coming just in time for the guard swift.
One other thing Monaco is famous for is the Monaco Grand Prix that has taken place annually since 1929. I was utterly amazed finding out how many things along the roads are temporarily there due to this race. Every year they pick a part large portions of the signs, road pumps and so on to arrange the Grand Prix. I heard about a glass sign in front of a hotel, that is destroyed every year before the races and then they put up a new one once it’s over.
It felt so strange driving in to this tiny country with its underground motorways and perfect surface. I must say the whole visit felt a bit surreal, but also truly amazing!
In August 2017, I took a week’s real vacation in the warmth, when I travelled to Alanya, Turkey. This was my second time in Turkey, one year before I went to Side with my brother for a week. This trip was mainly for relaxing and enjoying the sun (that was very lacking in Sweden at the moment). I stayed at a hotel right on the Cleopatra beach with great pool areas and the staff was great. This was a packaged trip with Ving, included breakfast and the hotel had an age limit of 16, which was perfect for me since I was longing for some relaxing days. I mostly spent my days by the pool or the sea, eating close by and reading a lot of books. The weather was perfect (I like when it gets pretty hot) and I treated myself to Hamam and massages during my trip. If you are looking for somewhere cheap to go, sunny and not an extreme flight to go there I really recommend going to Turkey. I haven’t been unhappy with either of my trips there.