Posts Tagged With: Egypt river cruise


Find the lesser known Secrets of Egypt

Egypt, the origin of civilization, is primarily identified for the Nile River, the mysterious Pyramids and the Great Sphinx that date back to the ancient Pharoahs. If you are more of an Egyptophile, you have more knowledge about the mummies, the temples, the archaeology and early Egyptian royalty. But if you are like me, a bucket lister who wants to experience Egypt, wants more than a popular guidebook experience, where do you visit for some of the lesser known secrets of Egypt, while also seeing the key sites?

The country of Egypt is known for its relations to the Middle East however physically, it is located in northeast Africa. Cairo, the capital sits on the Nile river, today a very modern and luxurious city, is the perfect introduction to the culture and history of the Egyptian antiquities. 

When planning your Egypt agenda, you will no doubt have the highlights of visiting the Nile River Valley, the city of Luxor’s Valley of the Kings and the 4500 year old limestone monuments of Giza. Here are 5 lesser known experiences throughout the region that you can add to your must see list for an unforgettable experience. 

Djoser Pyaramid
  1. The Pyramid of Djoser – is an archaeological site northwest of the ancient capital city of Memphis, home of the Sphinx. Serving as the necropolis (cemetary) for the ancient Egyptian capital. The Djoser Pyramid was built for the burial of the early Egyptian Pharaoh Djoser in the 27th Century BC. The Step Pyramid is part of a large necropolis site (Saqqara) of many tombs of court officials and lesser royalty known as the “tombs of the nobles”. Built using stone and clay, the Step Pyramid was the first pyramid that the Egyptians ever built. Originally designed as a house of eternity with a flat roof and sloping sides in the standard for the time, mastaba style, the tomb evolved into a 200 foot six-layer pyramid. Within the structure, the limestone walls still contain images that were painted approximately 4,500 years ago. Underneath the pyramid are a labyrinth of tunnels almost 3.5 miles long. The pyramid and the complex are an amazing representation of early Egyptian architecture and with about 7 other structures in the area was one of the largest complexes ever built at the time. Saqqara is approximately 30 minutes outside of Cairo and 10 minutes from Old Memphis. 
The Suq Market of Old Cairo
  1. Khan el-Khalili – during a visit to Old Cairo, visiting a bazaar or suq market as it is referred to in Egypt is a must to physically transport yourself back in time. The main trade area established by the Muslims in the 14th century is now a standard part of the Cairenes lifestyle and a must see attraction. Khan el-Khalili, the largest and most popular of the bazaar’s is made up of many historic structures that combined offer more than just a place to bring home fun souvenirs. You will find handmade items, antiques, spices, gold & copper artifacts and jewelry. Visiting is truly a scavenger hunt of exotic local merchandise scattered throughout a maze of shops and alleyways. In addition to the shopping experience, there are many old cafes throughout to round out your visit. If you are looking for a great spot to sit, and sip some local tea or try a hookah while you people watch, El-Fishawi is the oldest cafe in the bazaar, for a full Egyptian dining experience, head over to Naguib Mahfouz Cafe near the Khan-el-Khalili compound. 
The Temple if Isis
  1. Temples of Philae – located near Aswan, a historic city on the river Nile, is an island where a significant number of Egyptian archeological sites can be found. One of Nubia’s major monuments, the sacred former temple site is an astonishing experience to add to your agenda. Started in Egypt’s Pharaonic era and completed in the Greek-Roman period between 332 BC – 395 AD are the majority of ancient structures that were relocated brick by brick to a Agilkia island for their protection from flooding. You will arrive by rowboat to the temple complex as you explore the area you will journey through well preserved temples and structures of ancient Egypt where you will see first hand the original hieroglyphic reliefs that are still in the process of being translated. To fully understand the story and history of the complex from erection to conversion as a Christian pilgrimage site, you can also visit the site at night for an amazing Sound and Light Show. 
  1. Temple of Edfu – One of the best preserved temples in Egypt, can be found within the lesser visited Edfu region along the West Bank of the Nile Valley. Built in honor of the Egyptian God Horus, the first national god of Egypt, also known as Apollo by the Romans, represented kingship and the sky. Horus, depicted in drawings as a falcon was worshiped from late prehistoric Egypt through Roman Egyptian occupation. The temple’s building started in 237 BC and was completed in 57 BC. The structure originated during Pharaoh rule under Ptolemy III and was completed by Ptolemy XII. The inscriptions on the walls describe life during the Hellenistic period including the language, religion and culture with scenes of the mythical conflict between Horus and Seth for the claim to the throne. Edfu can be reached within 2 hours from Luxor and the Valley of the Kings. 
Glide over the Valley of the Kings
Sail along the Nile River
  1. Bucket list worthy experiences – the last experiences if not already on your to do list, may be one’s that you may not have known about or thought about, but highly recommended for the region:
  • Take a hot air balloon ride over the Valley of the Kings and Queens. This unique experience offers you views of the temples and monuments as you glide over Luxor and Karnak on the West Bank of the Nile while the sun rises and illuminates them by the light of the sunrise. A once in a lifetime view of the ancient sites that even the Pharaohs themselves did not have.
  • We also recommend discovering the view of Cairo from a Felucca. Experience traveling by ancient river vessel used by royalty as you watch the sunset and sail the Nile river as many of Egypts Pharaohs and Queens did thousands of years ago.

Egypt is a bucket list experience. If you would like to discover the extended history and culture of  Egypt starting in Cairo and then traveling from Luxor on a 7 day river journey, to visit the most important sites and some of the lesser known secrets of the region, discover more about river cruising from our website. 

Categories: Bucket List, Dream Vacation, Eco-Friendly, Experience, River Cruise, Sustainable Travel, Travel Bucket List | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Try locally made foods, part of the Israel experience!

Israel is known for and also visited for its religious and historical sights, cosmopolitan cities, diverse beauty of desert, lush landscapes and beaches, culture and amazing people. What many come to learn is that street food provides visitors a blend of gastronomy experiences that provide a unique balance of both the Eastern and Western influences you will find here. 

Locals enjoy strong flavors and fresh ingredients and the street food is no different, making the options healthy and offering a no pun “taste” of Israeli life. 

Israel offers many restaurants and market stalls offering some of the best street food in the world. As you wander the cities these are 5 of the top dishes you will not want to miss.

1. Falafel

No doubt you have heard of falafel which is unofficially the national dish of Israel and rightly so since it can be found everywhere you travel throughout the country. The tasty dish originated in Egypt and was brought to Israel by the Yemenite Jews in the 1950’s. Made from ground chickpeas mixed with a blend of spices and then deep fried, they are typically served stuffed into a housemade pita with salad, tomatoes, pickles and topped with a tahini or hummus sauce. As you are exploring the markets in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, this is the one food that is a “must try” while visiting Israel. Some of the more popular locations to get your falafel on are Shalom Falafel and Falafel Brothers.  

2. Hummus

If falafel is the national dish of Israel, hummus would hold second place. Considered by Americans as a dip, in Israel, hummus is a staple and a favorite meal because it is nutritious, inexpensive and quick and easy. Made from mashed chickpeas that are blended with tahini sauce, olive oil and spices like garlic, salt, cumin and lemon juice, topped with a garnish of pine-nuts or parsley and then served in a large bowl. Eaten scooped up with a piece of pita bread with or without hot sauce and other healthy accompaniments like pickles and onions, hummus is so popular here that you will find many local hummusia’s all vying for the right to be called the “best”. It is up to you to sample and decide for yourself. 

3. Shawarma

Another well known Middle Eastern dish that is usually made using spiced chicken, lamb, veal or turkey that is thinly sliced and stacked in a cone shape and slow grilled until juicy on a rotating spit. Once the long cooking process completes, the meat is carved and served stuffed into a pita or on top of a salad with tahini or hummus and pickled vegetables. (Are you starting to see a theme here). Schwarm is a Turkish word for grilled it originated in the Ottoman Empire where it was made from lamb or mutton. We have been told that for the best Shawarma, there are a few standouts, Keter Hamizrach in Tel-Aviv or Massov in Jerusalem are best bets. Oh and come hungry!

4. Bourekas

Considered one of Israel’s best secrets, Bourekas, Burekas or Burke’s as they are locally called are stuffed flaky turnovers, created by the Turkish Jews and very very popular around Israel. Brought into Israel by Turkish and Balkan immigrants from Bulgaria and Slovenia in the 19th century, you will find them everywhere throughout Israel. Handmade with phyllo dough and served many different ways with savory fillings of cheese, potato, spinach, mushroom, roasted eggplant or even in a pizza style, they are best when enjoyed crisp and fresh out of the oven. You can also find sweet versions at some of the local bakeries to enjoy with a strong cup of popular “mud coffee”. Find them in the local markets and from cart stands throughout Israel.

5. Sabich

Last but not least, is the very popular breakfast sandwich Sabich. Similar in namesake to the BLT, the name is from the letters of the main ingredients of the sandwich, S – salatim (salad), B- beitzim (hardboiled egg) H – hatzilim (eggplant). Created by Iraqi jews, this local staple is in the form of a pita stuffed with slices of deep fried eggplant, cooked overnight hard boiled eggs and Israeli salad (diced cucumbers, tomatoes, onion and peppers) and cabbage and then topped with traditional tahini and tangy amba (pickled mango) sauce. You can also find them made with optional add ons like vegetables, potatoes, onions and hot sauce. Made in a way that you get a burst of all flavors in every bite, it has become increasingly popular over the past few years. 

To savor any of these delicious local favorites, stop in at one of the many open-air markets that are popular throughout Israel. Some of the more popular are the vibrant Machane Yehuda market in Jerusalem and the Carmel Market in Jerusalem where you can enjoy the lively Israeli life. And while you are there, sample some of the local olives, goat cheese and sample the popular prickly cactus fruit, sabra.

Israel can be experienced on its own or as part of a Middle Eastern tour, combined with Egypt. Our favorite experience is a 11 night river cruise along the Nile river with a post stay visit to Israel for a real bucket list experience. Find out more about Egypt Nile cruising, from the link provided. 

Categories: Eat like a local, Experience, Food, Travel Bucket List | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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