Fossend Publishing

Fossend Publishing

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Hibiscus Tea and Temples

I have a passion for ancient history especially when it relates to Egypt.  I try to impart to people what an amazing place it is, but words never seem to wholly do it justice, I always say, the only way to learn about a country is to go and see it for yourself. 

Egypt is currently suffering due to the continued knock on effect of the toppling of Mubarak and change of Government, and the threat to foreigners in Sinai.  Recently the Foreign and Commonwealth Office changed the guidance for travel to Sinai and it’s environs.  Sadly the media has mis-reported that change of guidance stating that traveling to Egypt as a whole is unsafe.  This is not true, the restrictions are in place for the Sinai Peninsula with a note to check advice before traveling to the rest of the Country, which is standard FCO advice.

When I talk about Egypt I’m aware of its struggles as a country and of the challenges it faces every day, but I’m more aware of what a truly amazing place it is to visit.  Tourism makes up a large percentage of its income and at present tourist numbers are desperately low, and don’t seem to be picking up as quickly as people hoped.  It’s a shame people choose not to visit and explore the country, due to continued mis-reporting. 

Egypt is filled with culture and history.  Modern day life sits neatly alongside ancient monuments that are thousands of years old.  Contrary to some reports Egyptians are friendly accommodating people who will welcome you with open arms and make you feel at home, and now couldn’t be a better time to visit.  Due to the low tourist numbers, sites that are usually crowded and sometimes difficult to see, are relatively quiet, giving visitors the chance to spend more time there and really absorb their surroundings, making them feel they’re the first people to have stepped into that temple or tomb for generations.

We all know about the famous sites such as the Sphinx and the Pyramids of Giza, but there are many more magical places to see in Egypt.  There’s the fantastic mortuary temple at Medinet Habu in Luxor that has some of the best coloured reliefs, and accounts of Egyptian life I’ve ever seen.  Or there’s the temple of Isis at Philae, a beautiful temple that only stands today thanks to rescue work undertaken many years ago by UNESCO to save it from flooding and being lost forever.  If you have the time you could journey to the edge of Egypt itself to gaze upon the awe inspiring Abu Simbel, a sight that just takes your breath away and leaves you wanting more.  The list is endless, with so many temples, tombs and other ancient sites spread throughout the Country, you’re spoilt for choice.

Egypt also has many museums to house it’s collection of treasures. The largest is the Egyptian Museum in Cairo which contains artefacts from Tutankhamun’s tomb, as well as items belonging to the heretic King Akenaten, and if you have a penchant for the more gory side of life you can gaze upon a well preserved collection of mummified bodies of Royalty past.  In Luxor there are two museums, the aptly named Luxor Museum housing treasures found during excavations in Luxor and Karnak, and the Mummification Museum, where every item is dedicated to the ancient art of preserving the dead for the afterlife.

If you get bored with the history, and I promise you, you won’t, you could meander your way through the many shopping streets and bazaars bartering for some interesting souvenirs, or beautiful hand crafted goods, whilst accepting a friendly stallholders hospitality of a glass of hibiscus tea.  If this isn’t to your taste the luxurious Winter Palace Hotel in Luxor is an ideal place to have a break for a relaxing lunch overlooking the Nile.

I could go on. There are so many incredible things to see and do in Egypt, whether you choose to visit Cairo, Luxor, or venture further south to Aswan.  You could even combine all three by leisurely cruising down the Nile on a Dahabiyya.

So when considering your next holiday, why not try Egypt? It’s safe, there’s more to see and do than you could ever fit into one visit, and you’ll be welcomed with open arms and feel at home in a country that was just made to be discovered. If that hasn’t persuaded you then just imagine stepping onto a felucca, and relaxing as you sail serenely along the Nile, watching the beauty of Egyptian life passes you by, as the sun slowly sets leaving you with a bright shining moon and twinkling stars to guide you gently back to shore.