The winter of early 2001 seemed a good time for me to realize a lifelong dream, to go to Egypt. My family was in good health, able to care for themselves were I to disappear for a couple of weeks, New England weather was terrible and the warmth of a winter in Egypt beckoned; and the Muslim world was temporarily quiet. After Christmas I began reading guide books from the library, doing web-based research, and making sure my travel clothes fit.
Traveling completely alone in Egypt didn't seem to be worth the energy to plan it, but I found a tour company new in the United States but established in the Netherlands, with which to arrange my tour. Djoser-USA promised the combination of scheduled accommodations and travel within the country, with freedom to choose some of the areas I wished to visit, at a reasonable price for a "two week" tour. I left Rhode Island on January 28.
Our group of seven took a day-long train ride to Aswan, which - as I would discover - was like much of the Egypt experience: fascinating but over-long in execution. We spent a few days there exploring the souk, and took a felucca to Elephantine Island, Kitchener's Island and the western bank of the Nile one day. Another day we flew at dawn to see the fabulous monuments at Abu Simbel and spent the rest of the day visiting the High Dam and the Temple of Philae. And on the third day we embarked on a felucca north down the Nile toward Luxor.
Luxor - the site of the ancient city of Thebes - was a rich feast of all the temples and tombs and monuments I'd known about in my life - the temple of Karnak, the temple of Luxor, the Valley of the Kings and the other temples across the river. It would take far more than the four days we were there to see everything I'd read about - but at least I'd had a taste of it.
On our return to Cairo we visited a bit of the Islamic section, and saw more pyramids and returned to the Cairo Museum to tie up loose ends.
A year later, the world has changed, and I know I wouldn't be able to make the same trip today with the same confidence that we were welcome in Egypt that I had a year ago. But posting this website reminds me of the remarkable heritage of that remarkable country, and I hope the situation of today is temporary and that the world in general - even Americans! - will be welcome there again.
Clare Durst 1/1/2002