I stared at King Tutankhamen’s gold and blue burial mask with my jaw on the floor, unable to comprehend exactly what I was looking at.
The glorious colours that embody the mask and the floor to ceiling glass security case in which it rests, caused a smile to creep across my face, as I knew that no-one I’ve ever met has seen this piece of history before.
Egypt is a country with, quite frankly, the most enchanting history in the world– and I was lucky enough to spend my 21st birthday there.
There are certain elements that are vital to any beach holiday, however this turned out to be anything but your usual beach holiday. I boarded the plane to Sharm El Sheikh, in the west of the country, armed with my two sisters, a flatmate, and several copies of Company magazine.
The 45 degrees heat stopped me in my tracks as soon as I stepped of the plane. Balmy evening air caught my breath as I started to peal off layers of clothing one by one. So far so clichéd.
Not this holiday that’s for sure. Booking a holiday to Egypt, I genuinely didn’t realise what I would be letting myself in for.
From day one, our itinerary was crazy. When you head to a country such as Egypt, you know you won’t be spending the entire week lying by a pool sunning yourself (you’d literally die from the heat anyway, especially in mid-July), but I didn’t know what to expect.
The man-made resort of Sharm El Sheikh was beautiful. Our 5-star, all-inclusive hotel lived up to its reputation, with two pools and a private beach, and the hotel staff couldn’t have been more charming, particularly Ahmed who took a shine to my flatmate Carly (she even got a marriage proposal out of him).
We spent time swimming alongside beautiful fish in one of the best diving spots in the world and I even managed spot Nemo swimming around my flippers. We took a boat ride out into the Red Sea and, armed with snorkels, flippers and copious amounts of sun cream, we made the most of the sea, diving in what felt like a warm bath.
One thing we knew we couldn’t do was go to Egypt and not visit the pyramids. One of the Seven Wonders of the World was a mere one-hour flight from our resort, and was too good an opportunity to give up.
Nothing I write can come close to describing what we saw that day. It just so happened that this day was also my actual birthday — a pretty good way to spend your 21st.
Cairo was a city exactly how I imagined it. Areas of pure poverty and pure luxury were just within a few dusty steps of each other. With a larger population than New York City, and not enough homes for a fraction of the people, it wasn’t the easiest thing to watch.
But nothing prepared me for the sight I saw when we pulled up outside the pyramids of Giza. The most iconic of all the pyramids in Egypt, and I got to go inside one. That’s right, I spent my 21st birthday inside a tomb inside a pyramid!
It’s not one for the faint-hearted, however. The trek through the pyramid was in a tunnel that felt like the size of a box. Not recommended to claustrophobics or tall people!
Our next stop in Cairo was the Egyptian museum, and if there is one place in the world I’d recommend you go to, it’s here. As soon as you step through the doors history hits you in the face.
Hundreds if not thousands of iconic Egyptian statues lined the halls, and it was a little overwhelming being surrounded by such large pieces of history.
It may sound odd, but the highlight of the museum wasn’t actually King Tut’s burial mask, but the mummy room we got to go into. About a dozen real-life, preserved mummies were on display. With real fingernails, eyelashes, and some still with hair, I was absolutely awestruck if not a little disturbed.
It was only when we got home, exhausted from Cairo, that it actually dawned on me what had happened. I had visited the great Pyramids of Egypt.
From camel rides to quad biking through the desert, to belly dancing in a Bedouin tent among the sand dunes, this really was a holiday in a million.
Even though I went in July, well over two months ago, it’s safe to say that I still have Egypt fever, and Iwill tell anyone who listens that it’s a must-do holiday. But make sure you take plenty of money. It wasn’t cheap, but absolutely worth every piastre I had.Tweet