So you’re going to Egypt? Congratulations! You’ll be walking on the land of Pharaohs! Egypt is an excellent destination for anyone who geeks out on the history of ancient civilizations. Ancient Egypt was on the forefront of education, military strategies, medicine, science, architecture and the arts. Evan Andrews shares on History.com that it “created a culture so rich that it has spawned its own field of study.”
In the Bible, we find that Egypt became home to the Israelites for 430 years. Joseph, one of Jacob’s twelve sons, became prime minister of Egypt and paved the way for his family to settle and multiply in Goshen.
Egypt was also the setting of the Exodus. After being mistreated for 400 years, Moses, a native Hebrew who was raised in the Egyptian palace was prepared and used by God to bring His people out of the land of slavery.
In the New Testament, Joseph had to take Mary and little Jesus to live in Egypt for a while after he was warned in a dream not to return to Israel because King Herod was looking for Jesus to have Him killed.
Just how large is Egypt? Egypt is a transcontinental country, meaning it covers more than one continent. A huge part of Egypt is in Africa but the Sinai area is in Asia.
Now that you’re acquainted with Egypt, here are some FAQs:
What is the climate like?
It’s generally warm and dry during the day but gets really cold in the evening, just like any desert country.
What should I bring and what should I wear?
Since Egypt is a largely Muslim country, part of respecting their culture and beliefs is to dress modestly. As such, do not go walking around and visiting their tourist sites dressed in skimpy clothing–no shorts, no spaghetti straps, tank tops or anything that exposes too much skin. Depending on what time of the year you plan to go, it would be helpful to bring a windbreaker or a light sweater. Since there’s a lot of walking involved, jeans, cargo pants and sneakers would be most comfortable. Also bring a scarf which you can use to shield your head or cover your face in case it gets too windy and the sand flies up from the ground.
Sunglasses are a definite must-have to shade your eyes, plus an umbrella and sunblock to protect your skin. Bring a reusable water bottle that you can refill with clean water when you get back to your hotel or when you stop by restaurants. .
Is it better to go there alone or with a group? Is it safe?
I went with a tour group. I know that it would be an entirely different experience to go there alone and plan my itinerary. I might decide to do that once I’m done ticking off the other countries on my list, so that would probably take a while.
Given my limited knowledge of Arabic, I think that it’s better to go with a group and to also find a local guide. Their history is so rich, I think your trip would be more meaningful if you have a licensed and information-savvy tour guide who can answer your questions and give you your fill of Ancient Egyptian history. Having a licensed guide will also protect you from over-charging vendors and even extortionists who may prey on tourists.
Where can I find good licensed Egyptian tour guides?
Our tour guides were from Meryland Tours. I was very pleased with Dr. Ashraf Moussa (his nickname is Moses) who communicated well in English and was very much in touch with current events. He is knowledgeable in history and culture, naturally funny and kindly urged us to get going specially when we were already spending too much time in our mini photo shoots! I know he wanted us to cover as many places as we could.
Marco on the other hand, assisted us as soon as we landed at the Cairo Airport. He also took us through the midnight trek to Mt. Sinai and brought us to the border at Taba where we were to enter Israel from Egypt.
What are the must-see places?
A trip to Egypt is obviously not complete if you don’t stop by the Pyramids and the Sphinx (he is so going to visit you in your dreams haha). We were only in Egypt for three days so we were not able to go to Karnak, The Luxor Temple, Abu Simbel, Philae and Alexandria, among others.
Our first stop from the airport was the Egyptian Museum, which by the way is so huge, you can’t go through all the antiquities in just one day. Moses said that we needed three whole days to go through all the halls! They have an extensive collection of personal items and furniture found in tombs, clothing, armor, sarcophagi, mummies, ancient condoms, accessories and even bread! Mobile phones and cameras are not allowed inside the museums, so no selfies, no photographs of the artifacts. You truly must go and just experience it for yourself.
What kind of money should I bring?
US Dollars are accepted almost anywhere in Egypt but make sure you have a lot of smaller bills. If you’re one of those travelers who like keeping foreign currency as travel souvenirs, then have a few dollars exchanged for Egyptian pounds and coins. Bottled water (believe me, you need it!) costs $1-2 per piece and these are available at small stores or from your bus operator.
Are you all set and ready to walk like an Egyptian? If you have any other questions, you can shoot me an email at ingrid[at]ingridnieto.com.
Cana is another significant place in the Bible because this was where Jesus performed His first miracle of turning water into wine.
It was drizzling when we arrived. I managed to take these photos of the surrounding areas before we were all called in to one of the chapels where the ceremony for the renewal of wedding vows would take place.
When the ceremony was done, Pastor Larry gathered us singles and prayed for us.
Nazareth is the place where Jesus spent most of his childhood years and is also the place where the Angel Gabriel appeared before Mary to tell her that she would be carrying the Son of God in her womb. Herod the Great was King of the Jews at that time and in the Book of Matthew, it is mentioned that he ordered the killing of all boys aged two and below out of fear that he would lose the throne. Before the violent massacre took place, Joseph was warned by an angel in a dream to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt where they would stay for a few years until the death of Herod.
We visited the Nazareth Village in Galilee, on open-air museum which is a re-creation of what Nazareth was like during the time of Jesus. The Nazareth Village is a non-profit organization that is able to operate through contributions, entrance fees and gift shop sales. Below are names of people and groups who have shown their support through the Builders’ Walk. If you wish to contribute a gift of $250 or more, you get a stone engraved with the words of your choice and then it is installed permanently in the Builder’s Walk.
Daniel Stanger, Tour Manager of the Nazareth Village talked about how they run the organization and also shared some “nerdtastic” stories about what life was like in the first century. My inner archaeologist hungered for more.
After the indoor museum tour, we stepped into a farm lined with olive trees.
We also met some volunteers who play Nazareth villagers and illustrate what daily life was like back then.
Souvenirs are a must for every traveler. In the all the places I’ve been to, I’ve purchased magnets, accessories and local products that are unique to the place. Whenever I feel the urge to over-spend, I tell myself two things: baggage limit and storage. When I went to Egypt, I knew that I had to get papyrus paper. Of course in my head I was thinking it’s light, it’s thin, it can easily fit into one of my flat luggage pockets. When I got to the shop, I was enticed to take home not just plain papyrus but those with Egyptian hand-painted illustrations.
You can’t just slip paintings like that into pockets right? The good thing is, Golden Eagle Papyrus has a special way of storing the painting—you roll up the papyrus paper, put it in a circular cardboard case and slip it into your bag.
My friends know that I am such a sucker for aromatherapy. Lavender and mint are my favorite essential oils because they give off such a clean, calming scent that puts me to sleep easily. Purchasing these oils weren’t part of my original plan. I walked into the oil shop, listened to the demonstration and like most of my companions, I walked out of the store with these bottles:
SHOPPING IN ISRAEL
Since we were to spend five days in Israel, I expected to spend more on souvenirs. When we took a dip in the Dead Sea, I thought “Maybe I should gather some of the mud and take it home!” I was told by our travel coordinator Tita Mina that someone from the previous Holy Land trip did take some of the mud but they weren’t even done with the trip when it started to stink. As tempting as it is to take the free-flowing Dead Sea mud, we have to first learn how to handle and preserve it correctly. So really, Ahava products are the closest you can get. They’re manufactured in Israel and they’re much cheaper too.
Our first legit souvenir stop was at the Nissan Brothers Store in Bethlehem. They had so much to choose from—olive wood Bibles, olive wood carvings and sculptures, crosses, jewelry and gemstones, holy water, holy oil, holy soil, olive oil products, Dead Sea Salt products, the list goes on and on.
We went to a lot of tourist spots after that, of course there were small stores selling souvenirs but they pretty much carried the same items found at the Nissan Brothers Store.
That evening, my companions discovered the shops at the lobby of the Hotel Rimonim. They were fixated on the jewelry being sold because the prices were remarkably cheaper than the other places we’ve been to. Other than jewelry, I saw more interesting shirts, camel leather products, sculptures, figurines, magnets and even bags.
I bought camel leather wallets for my dad and brother and cross necklaces for me and my Lola.
I also got myself a Star of David pendant from a store in Nazareth, Jerusalem pouches from a small stall outside Cana (the place where Jesus turned water into wine for a wedding celebration) and an Eliat stone ring at Galilee.
Now let’s proceed to JORDAN.
Jordan for me was much more festive and colorful. Jordan is well-known for their mosaic art. We visited the mosaic factory in Madaba where we saw how the artists carefully arranged the colorful tiles into beautiful pieces.
I was tempted to purchase some mosaic artwork but since Jordan was our last country, I was getting more worried about my baggage limit. Mind you, the mosaic pieces are heavy. Every night, when we’d get to the hotel, my roommate Lizza and I would unpack and re-arrange our luggage just to make sure everything still fits in.
Here are the other items I got from Jordan:
Pashmina scarves from a Bedouin at Petra
Myrrh smells like Christmas ($7)
Frankincense smells like a Cathedral ($7)
Do you think I purchased too little or too much? If you were to visit these countries, what do you think you’d spend a lot on?
Let me know on the comment box below. Thank you for reading!
The Western Wall has always been kind of mysterious to me. All I knew before visiting is that it’s a very sacred site in Judaism and thousands of people visit daily to worship and pray.
The 57-meter stretch on the western side of the Temple Mount was built by King Herod in 19 BCE.
Also called “The Wailing Wall,” Jews gather here to pray morning, afternoon and evening. There are separate areas for men and women.
The Second Temple was among those destroyed during the Siege of Jerusalem in AD 70. If you look at Matthew 24, Jesus prophesied “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
FINALLY! I finished this travel video! WHOOOO! When I edit videos, my tendency is to really get lost in time because I want to finish a project. It was a challenge to complete this because of my crazy schedule at work, events and ministry.
I spent weeks going through 600-800 video clips, noting which ones are good from those that are just crappy and blurry. So ladies and gents, my dear blog readers, here is ISRAEL IN MOTION (done with lots of love)!!!
The first time I heard of Megiddo, the images in my head were of scary arms and artillery, troops and their tanks locked and loaded. Megiddo is said to be the site where the final battle between good and evil will ensue (Revelation 16:12-16), when nations will gather against Israel and the latter will call out to Jesus Christ to rescue them.
How can such a beautiful, peaceful-looking plain be the backdrop of a bloody battle? History and the Bible both reveal that Megiddo has been the site of epic battles. The Megiddo Expedition site says:
Megiddo was the site of epic battles that decided the fate of western Asia. When the Canaanite city-states revolted against 15th century BCE Pharaonic attempts at hegemony, it was at Megiddo that they assembled to do battle. The Egyptian army, led by Pharaoh Thutmose III, surprised the rebels by choosing the most dangerous route of attack – through the narrow ‘Aruna Pass. After routing the Canaanite forces and capturing rich booty, Thutmose III laid siege to the city for seven months. His decisive victory enabled him to incorporate Canaan as a province in the Empire of the New Kingdom. The description of the battle of Megiddo is the earliest account of a major war in antiquity.
Would you believe that this was again founded by Herod the Great? The man was obviously rich, had a penchant for building colossal structures but he was also very paranoid specially when it came to power. He is the king who ordered the killing of male infants, after the visiting Magi asked him about the “one who has been born king of the Jews.” Aside from that, it’s also been recorded that Herod had his wives (Doris and Mariamne I) and two of his sons (Alexander and Aristobolus IV) killed.
Herod started building Caesarea Maritima in 22BC. It was named in honor of Augustus Caesar and became the Roman administrative capital, the military base of Pontius Pilate, Antonius Felix and other Roman officials.
Masada has such a moving historical background as told by Josephus Flavius. Built by Herod between 37-31 BC as his Northern Palace, this desert fortress served as a refuge for some 1000 Jewish zealots and rebels who revolted against the Romans in 66 CE.
In 73 CE, Flavius Silva led the 10th Roman Legion to conquer Masada. They infiltrated the fortress through a siege tower and fortified camps that can be seen from the viewing deck.
Before the legion even reached the top, the zealots (as told by Josephus Flavius) decided to take their lives in their hands instead of surrender and become slaves to the Romans. The only ones left to tell the story of Masada were two women and five children who hid in a cistern.