At 12:25 Jen, Kelley, Tara and I made our way to the lobby area for our shuttle to the airport. Adam, Tim, Ed, Craig, Jacqui, Sharon and Alan all saw us off. They waved until we couldn’t see them anymore, it was quite sad. I won’t mention any names, but someone in the van tried to make the rest of us cry and was almost successful. But we had a good chat on the way to the airport about the tour and the people. At the airport I made my way through check-in with no problems while the other girls checked in at Lufthansa and got seats together. The 4 of us walked around the airport a bit, shopped a little, paid our last Baksheesh for the bathroom and then at 2:45 I watched them go through security for their flight. I had a little more time before my flight boarded and walked around a bit more till they called my flight at 3:30. On the line for security there were a couple really annoying Canadians – the type that give Canadians a bad name. I just hoped they weren’t sitting near me.
I wasn’t sitting near the annoying Canadians; I had a window seat with a view of Jen, Tara, and Kelley’s plane and an empty seat on the other side of me. I was exhausted at this point and slept at least half the flight to Milan, but managed to wake up for breakfast – Yogurt, fruit and bread with some cheese. But 2 hours of sleep wasn’t going to cut it.
Security in Milan was much better this time then when I was on my way to Egypt, only about a 10 minute wait. When I got on line for the flight back to NY I ended up in front of a big group, and man were they annoying! I had another entertainment box under my feet, but since I knew I was going to sleep on this flight I didn’t bother taking much stuff out of my backpack. Lunch was pretty good, but the snack was weird. My flight got in ontime, although my luggage took forever to come out. There was a customs guy with a dog, I was just hoping my bottle of Sahara sand didn’t smell. But I was fine. Mom and Dad took me out to lunch and then it was time to try and readjust to real life, which I knew wasn’t going to be easy to do – Egypt is the type of place that stays with you.
Before I left for Egypt I started reading a book called Map of Love by Ahdaf Soueif on the recommendation of someone from my Office. I continued reading it while I was in Egypt, and finally finished it when I returned home. I wouldn’t highly recommend the book as it took a long time to get into the book, but it helped to keep the spirit of Egypt with me. But in reality I didn’t need to read a book, Egypt is the type of place that lingers with you. There is just something about Egypt, and many others have told me this, that is distinct from other places and it lingers. I could jump on a plane tomorrow and go back.
I did mention early on that I thought this was a great group, and it absolutely was. I think the smaller group size helped as well as the fact that we were in Egypt and everyone was conscious of watching out for each other. Since the tour a couple of us have gotten together. I met up with Jen and Ed in Philly a few weeks after the tour. We were supposed to meet with Reid and her cousin and spend the day together; however, a rainstorm screwed up the plans and I only saw Ed and Jen. I went to the Morning Show with Mike and Juliet with Reid and her cousin a few days later and got to meet up with Chi for lunch. I’ve also had a chance to see Kelley a couple times. It’s been great to keep in touch and see people from tour, it’s always fun to relive the moments from tour, especially one as special as this tour was. I’m still in touch with quite a few people (facebook is a great tool) and even 2 and a half years after the trip we’re still in touch.
What surprised me most about the tour was how friendly the Egyptians were, how nice the accommodations were and how much I could love a place that I was having second thoughts about going to right before I went. It didn’t hurt that I didn’t have to carry my suitcase everywhere, like on my other Contiki tours. Egypt is well set up for tourists (which means there are a lot of tourists), but a person can still get a feel for the culture while staying in their comfort zone. As long as you leave your hotel…
Sherif served not only as Tour Manager and guide, but also as a bridge between the Western World and Egypt. Although he was born and raised in Egypt he has a good understanding of Westerners and gave an appropriate amount of information, enough to get an understanding, but not so much that you couldn’t absorb what we were told.