Egypt is an epic narrative of ancient civilizations & conquests. The journey began with the rise of one of the world's earliest and most advanced civilizations along the fertile banks of the Nile River. Ancient Egypt flourished with monumental achievements like the construction of the Pyramids, the Sphinx, and the establishment of a sophisticated hieroglyphic writing system. Following the decline of ancient Egyptian civilization, the region witnessed the succession of powers, including the Persians, Greeks under Alexander the Great, the Romans (including the infamous Cleopatra/ Julius Caesar/ Mark Antony love triangle), and Arab conquests. Egypt thrived as a center of learning during the Islamic Golden Age, contributing significantly to science. The Ottoman Empire later dominated the region, with Egypt becoming a province. The 19th and 20th centuries witnessed European colonial rule, first by the French and then the British. The struggle for independence culminated in 1952, marking a new chapter as a republic. Despite all these colorful chapters, Egypt is still most famously associated with Pharaohs, Mummies and the Pyramids. Even Pepsi cans in Egypt have pyramids on them.
Not far from Cairo, the huge pyramids of Giza have long been Egypt's hallmark. A true engineering feat, to this day no one can figure out how the pyramids were built. The Sphinx is equally impressive. Much less impressive are the Pizza Hut and KFC spoiling this ancient site. We were also constantly harassed by locals trying to sell souvenirs, camel rides, papyrus, etc. Rejection is not exactly understood.
Home to the magnificent temple of Abu Simbel, the entrance of this grand temple is made up of four enormous statues of Pharaoh Ramses who built them as a dedication to the gods Amun, Ra, Ptah, as well as to the deified Ramses himself.
Luxor was once the capital of Ancient Egypt, when the city was named Thebes. As such the city is a treasure trove of ancient sites. The main attraction, the Valley of the Kings, is hidden away in the mountains. It's where Pharaohs were buried in chambers carved deep in the mountains because they suddenly realised huge pyramids were too obvious, hence easy targets for grave robbers.
Aswan is a bustling market town in the south. It's worth a visit to wander around the stalls and sail the Nile river on feluccas to see Nubian villages, old style agriculture and crocodiles. Unlike Cairo or Luxor, no one is hassling you to buy stuff, it's much more laid back.
Marsa Alam is a small seaside town in the south of Egypt, located along the beautiful coastline of the Red Sea. It's full of hotel resorts but is not as touristy as other parts of the Red Sea.
Cairo is an overwhelming city: over populated, polluted and congested. It's home to 20 millions people, and constantly growing. The frenetic metropolis is also full of terrible drivers. It's impossible to be both Egyptian and a normal driver. But after a couple of days, the city starts to grow on you. One of the best experience was being in driven around in a tuktuk by a 10 year old boy through the narrow streets of the bustling Khan el Khalili market. Also, if you're walking around Tahrir square and a random guy says to you "hey, you look Egyptian", it's a guarantee he will very persistently try to sell you something.