Exploring Egypt: The Beginning of a Transformative Travel Lifestyle

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Exploring Egypt: The Beginning of a Transformative Travel Lifestyle

The Great Pyramids

Welcome…Welcome home brother.

 

Those were the first words I heard while walking the streets of Cairo. My very first international trip abroad. Exploring Egypt was the commencement a transformational travel lifestyle journey that started years ago but still lives on in my heart as if it were yesterday. As an 18-year-old undergraduate student, I had no idea what to expect. Up to that point, the furthest I had been from home was a short, family trip to Canada at age 10—of which, many details I scarcely recall. In the subsequent years that have passed; however, I finally realize what those words of welcome truly mean.

Where is home for me?

Home is Africa. And on a much grander scale…home is the world.

Exploring Egypt: Transformative Travel Lifestyle Map

The Beginning of a Transformational Travel Lifestyle

It’s always fun to look back on past travels and highlight the elements that stand out. Before visiting, I had studied the ancient civilizations of Egypt and pharaohs and pyramids, but still did not completely know what to expect. Although I had never been to New York prior to traveling to Cairo, much like The Big Apple, the Egyptian capital had the electric energy of a city that never sleeps.

sphinx at night

Exploring Egypt: Beyond Expectations

What stood out the most during my entire journey was how warm and welcoming the people of Egypt were. Sure, there were the occasional hagglers that were only out to make a quick buck, but in venturing down alleyways off the traditional tourist path and embracing the local way of life I found friendships that formed the foundation of my approach toward all travels that have followed since. Wandering and walking through markets, the conversations captured were far more valuable than any items that could be bought and transported home. Of the individuals encountered, perhaps the person that stood out most was a young boy by the name of Mohammed. He oversaw his parent’s small shop and our initial conversation went something like this.

“Mr. please come my shop.”

Not wanting to be bothered, I dismissingly replied, “No hablo ingles.”

To which he responded without hesitation, “Hablo español. Entra por favor.”

Both shocked and impressed, I laughed, admitted I was American and went in to have a look and talk a bit. It turned out that, although he never received any formal language training, English and Spanish were not the only languages he spoke. He learned the basics of several languages in order to effectively communicate with a wide range of customers. On days when his parents were unable to run the shop, as the eldest son, the duty fell upon his shoulders. What I appreciated most about young Mohammed was the fact that he did not pressure me to buy. Instead, we humbly answered each other’s questions. In turn, what we both learned in the exchange was priceless—knowledge and a deeper appreciation of our respective cultures.

 

Transformational Travel Lifestyle: Expect the Unexpected

Ironically, the biggest disappointment for me were the pyramids. Now don’t get me wrong, they are STUNNING structures, I just naively believed that I would have to venture far out into the vast desert to reach them; however, their proximity to the city was a complete retrospect to that belief.

tourists at the pyramids

Exploring Egypt: The Food

In preparation for the journey, I visited The Nile, not the river…but an Egyptian restaurant in Chicago. While the food was quite delicious, it in no ways compared to the dishes dined upon while in country. Meals that included staples such as: pigeon, YES pigeon, falafel, molokhiya, and fatta all combined uniquely delicious flavors I had not previously been exposed to.

Exploring Egypt: fresh cooked falafel

The Birth of a Transformational Travel Lifestyle

If you had told the 17-year-old, high school senior version of me that, less than one year removed from receiving my high school diploma, I would be dining on exotic foods and walking the streets of a foreign land I would have laughed and said, “Psssht…the only land I’ll be walking on is the football field!” But just as the saying, “When life gives you a lemon, make lemonade” goes…it can also be said that:

“When life gives you a glass of lemonade, go ahead and have a drink.”

 

In the comments below, share the story/destination of your first international trip and the memories that stand out most.

 

 

100 Comments

  1. Lisa says:

    Omg I would so love to visit Egypt one day. It’s on my bucket list.

  2. Khushboo says:

    Egypt is a fascinating country with a culture enriched with history and modernity. I would love to visit this place.

  3. Wendy Polisi says:

    Egypt is an amazing place. I loved seeing all of the pyramids and real hieroglyphs.

  4. Tiffany says:

    What a wonderful experience! Visiting Egypt is on my dad’s bucket list. I would love to surprise him with a trip.

  5. Ada says:

    I have always wanted to go to Egypt. It looks so amazing.

  6. Shannon Sawicki says:

    Egypt is one of the 7 wonders of the world and somewhere i would love to be able to visit one day.

  7. KRYSTLE COOK says:

    I have never been on an international trip but Egypt would be a fun place to visit. I always liked learning about it in school.

  8. Annreeba says:

    Egypt sounds so mystic. Congrats on your travel. I have this country on my wish list to visit.

  9. Theres nothing like travel. It truly opens your mind and its hard not to learn new things about the world.

  10. Sarah Bailey says:

    Egypt is somewhere I would love to go one day. It has long been on top of my dream list.One day perhaps I will make it too.

    • EG III says:

      I hope you make it there as well. With tourism down in recent years, sooner rather than later may be the time to look into a trip!

  11. Irena says:

    I always wanted to visit Egypt to see the pyramids. I think when I go there, I’ll have to bring my own food because I’m not all that into pigeons..hahaha…

  12. Ali Rost says:

    Reading your post reminds me so much of talking with my grandmother. Like you, not long after graduating high school, she married my grandfather and they became missionaries. For the next forty years, they traveled the world, with Ethiopia being the place they stayed the longest. Like you, she goes to different ethnic restaurants but says they’re never quite the same as eating locally in that country. I don’t think Egypt is a place they went, but I’ll have to ask her because now I’m curious. x

  13. Laura Dove says:

    Oh wow I would love to go to Egypt, the pyramids are top of my list of places to go! What amazing photos!

  14. Oh amazing I too have studied Ancient Egypt as its my third favourite historical era after Tudor England and Medieval Europe, I was always so entranced by historical figures like Ramesses II and Nefertiti/ Nefertari. It is wonderful that visiting Egypt opened your eyes to a whole new world and even made you more adventorous with your food too. I tried pigeon when I was younger but I am a vegetarian now haha so no more meat for me!

  15. Hannah Denton says:

    Ohhh amazing! I’m
    The same, my trip that first inspired me was Budapest. The food was amazing and the lifestyle, I just had to start blogging! Egypt looks amazing and somewhere I’ve never been! I’d love to go!

  16. Carola says:

    In contrast to you, I visited Egypt as the last country on a 10-months-around-Africa trip that took me North to South and South to North. But my experience was similar to yours: yes, some touts are desperate to make a buck (especially, since the revolution has put quite a dent into tourism in the past years); however, mostly, people are curious and interested in learning about foreign lands while freely sharing their life story.
    Regarding the pyramids: I think they are a remarkable sight to behold and to think that they once were in the middle of nowhere and now have almost been surrounded by megapolis Cairo…

    Happy continued travels,
    Carola

  17. Flyingkids says:

    Egypt has a rich history and culture, and fascinating architecture. It’s surely a wonderful country to visit and explore.

  18. Tiffany H. says:

    At one point in my life I dreamed of going to Egypt! Now I’m not so sure that I want to go, not sure what changed. I enjoy history and im sure i will like the pyramids but what else is there to do? I’m open to trying the food, sounds tasty!

    • EG III says:

      There’s definitely much more to Egypt than the pyramids. As I mentioned, that was probably the least of things I enjoyed during my trip. The people, the food, the beautiful coastal cities. Whether you’re a foodie, history buff, or just looking for a place to relax near the beach it can be found there.

  19. Chelsea says:

    I’m vegan so the thought of eating pigeon made my cringe. However, the falafel looks really good!

  20. I have always wanted to go to Egypt! I don’t think I can go this year but I hope it’s in the cards for me during 2019! I would have an extreme fan girl moment at the pyramids.

  21. Dominique says:

    I absolutely loved Egypt. The scenery and landscape were breathtaking. Cairo was admittedly scary, but Luxor took my breath away! Great post!

  22. It is always my dream to visit Egypt. Hopefully someday, with my whole family. Thanks for sharing dear!

  23. Dellea says:

    Marhaba! I would love to visit Egypt one day. I appreciate your post and the anecdote about the vendor who spoke many languages: GOALS.

  24. Kita says:

    Love the realness of your journey. Egypt is beautiful and definitely on my travel bucket list.

  25. Mimi Green says:

    This sounds like a wonderful experience. I remember reading so much about Egypt growing up. It’s a place I would want to visit.
    I’ve yet to travel internationally so no stories for me just yet.

  26. I want to go to Africa so bad. African food is good. I would like to go to Cameroon first bc most of my DNA was there.

  27. Wow! I loved reading this because I have always wanted to visit Egypt.The pyramids are simply breathtaking and don’t even look real! I’m not sure if I can be down with eating pigeon though loL!

  28. Kim says:

    My daughter wants to do Egypt for her 10th birthday. She has planned this for the last 3 years, she’s six lol. The food sounds amazing. I’ve heard that about seeing the Pyramids in person, too. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  29. Jay Colby says:

    The way you described the picture of pyramids makes them sound even more amazing! I’ve always wanted to visit Egypt it seems like a place full of culture.

  30. Leslie says:

    I enjoyes reading your article. First international trip was Europe..Paris,France. Fell in love with the city of lights in 1998..and went back 6 times since.

  31. Brian says:

    Some of the most interesting food I’ve ever seen was at an Egyptian restaurant in Astoria, Queens. Those pyramids must make you feel small?

  32. Kusum says:

    Egypt has been on my list for a very long time! We almost went there for our honeymoon, had everything booked, but canceled becuase of the political turmoil in 2011.

    xx, Kusum | http://www.sveeteskapes.com

  33. Samantha says:

    I have not had the opportunity to visit Egypt yet, but it seems like a place every traveler must go to. Thank you for sharing!

  34. Elena says:

    I have a similar saying, that the life is so short and the world is so big. There are many places that I would like to visit and Egypt is on top of the list.

  35. SUCHI says:

    Egypt has always been on my list, but somehow never materialized! Hope its safe to travel now!

  36. Congrats on your travel. Make the most of the opportunities you have. Life is indeed too short.

  37. HilLesha says:

    I have always been fascinated by Egypt. That is one of the reasons that I would love to visit there someday!

  38. Stylooo says:

    You explained the things very beautifully. Thank you for your lovely post.

  39. I have never traveled internationally before although I’ve always wanted to. I love Egypt! Egypt is in my top five list of international places I would like to visit in this lifetime! Thank you for sharing your experience with us😊

  40. Anna says:

    I have traveled many countries but haven’t been to Egypt yet. I enjoyed reading your post and bit disappointed myself reading about how close were the pyramids from the city! haha nevertheless, glad it was one of the memorable experience for you.

    • EG III says:

      Haha, the pyramids was initially a letdown…however once they’re right in front of your face, one can only stand and stare in awe at their magnificence.

  41. Ami Rose says:

    I would love to visit Egypt one day. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to! I have friends that visit year after year and highly recommend it.

    Ami xxx

  42. Akamatra says:

    My first trip was in Italy when I was 16 years old. I stayed for a month and it was lovely. I’ve read many things about the Egyptian history and I would love to visit Egypt when things settle down a bit.

    • EG III says:

      I have friends who recently went and they had no issues at all. With tourism down at the moment, now is actually the perfect time to go!

  43. Blair villanueva says:

    Egypt is one of the interesting place to visit. I remember I watched this movie Cairo, which is very romantix and gorgeous.
    This is in my travel list after that movie!

  44. Sela says:

    Egypt looks very interesting and exciting. I would love to take a trip there to see the city and the pyramids.Some people in America eat pigeons but I will pass on that.

  45. I have always wanted to explore Egypt. There is so many things to see and I would love to try the cuisine.

  46. Ann Snook says:

    Wow, it sounds like you had an amazing adventure! I need to be more brave about chatting with locals when I travel so I can get a better feel for the place.

    • EG III says:

      Please do. Usually you can feel out whether a person is friendly and up for talking within the first 30 seconds of meeting them…so when you get a good vibe just take it from there.

  47. Elizabeth L says:

    This is really neat. I had no idea that Pigeons were eaten as Egyptian food. I love how much detail you went into!

  48. Roby H. says:

    Beautiful! My girlfriend and I are looking for an interesting place to travel this summer and this might actually make the list. Sending to her now to see what she thinks 🙂

  49. Prateek Goel says:

    Egypt is my very first bucket-list destination considering middle east and Mediterranean countries. I just love the title of your post: my transformational travel lifestyle. Even the night photograph of the Giza is exceptional.

  50. Congratulations on your travel. I haven’t known much of your same age who were able to travel far from home like you did. You are indeed a brave soul. Wishing you more places to conquer.

  51. I loved to visit Egypt when I was smaller. Now you really make me want go go back there. It is such an inspiring country.
    Thanks for sharing!

  52. Stylooo says:

    This is such a wonderful place to visit and explore new things to do in Egypt. Thanks for this lovely post again.

  53. sonal says:

    Egypt sounds so mystic. I have this country on my bucket list to visit. quite an informative post.

  54. Egypt has always been on my travel list and it is so different from my surroundings that I would be blown away for sure! there is so much art, history and things to see!

  55. tara pittman says:

    This would be a place that I would love to visit. The pyramids are so awesome.

  56. I wonderful experience for you. You write about your experience so beautifully. Thank you.

  57. Athena says:

    I have always wanted to visit Egypt. Not sure if I will ever get there in this lifetime but who knows – still on my bucket list.

  58. kartika nair says:

    I want to see seven wonders of the world that include pyramids of Egypt .I’ve seen Egyptian food on tv but didn’t knew they eat pigeons also .

  59. Puneet says:

    I loved the way you have explained your encounter with Mohammed and the picture of pyramids is amazing!

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