Time to reveal the Mystery Snapshot! But first, I want to quickly say THANK YOU to the past four weeks. My staycation has come to its inevitable end, and tomorrow I head back to school for more NYU pre-med intensity. It’s been a pleasure having a social life again, but farewell dear friends… Back into the study cave I go. (Although, I am determined to have a little more control over this semester — both academically and socially, so we’ll see how it pans out.)
The Mystery Snapshot was taken outside of Hatshepsut’s Temple, built just outside the Valley of the Kings (Cairo, Egypt). Andy, you are the official Mystery Snapshot winner. Good job! Egypt is one of those places I’ve been wanting to visit for years. Some day, I will actually get over there. For now, I’ve got this post.
Below, guest contributor, Raechel H. explains more about Hatshepsut’s Temple and about Cairo itself. (Enjoy!)
By Raechel H:
Random fact about Hatshepsut: She was the longest-reigning female ruler in Ancient Egyptian history. She ruled for 22 years, when she took over for her husband. Basically, her son, Tuthmosis III was supposed to take over, but Hatshepsut declared that he was too young to assume the throne. Instead, she sent him to military school abroad, and ruled herself. Eventually, Tuthmosis III came back, took over, and then tried to erase Hatshepsut from Egyptian history. She built tons of temples, obelisks, and other monuments to the gods, and Tuthmosis tried to destroy all of them – thankfully he did not succeed.
I was fortunate enough to be there during the Parliamentary elections – seeing lines of men and women at the polls was pretty inspiring. I was able to hit up the Khan el-Khalili (the famous market), wandering around the Ali Muhammad mosque and the Citadel, meandering through Islamic Cairo, trying out fantastic restaurants, and walking through Tahrir Square (although we were discouraged to do so).
During my trip, I was able to check out Luxor. I left as Cairo started to get crazy again (there was a sit-in at Parliament that led to clashes between different sides), which was probably good timing. Luxor is the complete opposite of Cairo: it’s pretty tiny, there are only a few hotels where tourists stay, and you absolutely have to take a cab to get from point A to point B. Luxor is more restrictive than Cairo in that sense – in Cairo we could walk around a lot more (mainly because there were things close by, in Luxor that’s not really the case). Since I was solo, I hired a guide and a driver (a friend of mine connected me with a good company), and saw Karnak and Luxor temples before exploring the Valley of the Kings and Colossi of Memnon.
The guide and I talked about a lot of things — the revolution in Egypt, Occupy Wall Street, the impact of everything on Egyptian tourism (tourism has obviously taken a major hit, which is problematic), the efforts that the government is making to regulate and organize things a bit more (to try and give licenses so folks can set up stalls to sell things outside of tourist areas rather than letting various people bombard tourists who are trying to enjoy what they’re seeing), and Luxor itself. After everything we discussed, I left with a bit of hope that maybe Egypt, post-election, can go back to a semi-normal state.
I definitely need to go back and see more – there are tons of sites in Luxor that I was not able to explore, and I did not make it down to Aswan or along the southern border (which I’ve been told is pretty amazing). Hopefully, I’ll be able to make that happen soon – and I’m always looking for someone to travel with me if anyone is interested!
Raechel lives and works in Washington, DC; Raechel and Tavel met while Raechel was conducting a Fulbright Fellowship in Brussels, Belgium. While Egypt was phenomenal, Raechel’s favorite place to travel is Rome, where she spent a year abroad. She hopes to continue to cross countries and continents off her bucket list, and will head to Costa Rica this Summer with her family.
So there ya have it – Egypt. THANK YOU Raechel for contributing to TwT!