Friday, November 22, 2019

Our Christmas Adventure

Have I mentioned that Dave and I are going to Egypt?

Some months ago we cooked up this idea for our winter holidays. Dave has long wanted to go there, so he did some research and found a tour that takes us to Cairo and then on a boat cruise up the Nile, with stops at Luxor, the Valley of Kings and a few other places. We end the trip at Aswan.

It's only seven nights, so it will all happen pretty quickly. But we'll get to see everything from Giza and the Sphinx to the temples at Karnak and Luxor and the Aswan High Dam.

When we bought this trip several weeks ago, it seemed so far off -- almost an abstraction. But now the reality is settling in, so I'm trying to get us ready. We're supposed to have some vaccinations for travel to Egypt, so I booked us in to a travel clinic on Monday. I'm not sure how essential they are -- it seems incredibly unlikely that we'd be exposed to typhoid, for example -- but why take chances, right?

Fortunately, I had a raft of vaccinations when I joined the Peace Corps in the '90s, and I've had boosters for various trips since then, so I think I'm probably in pretty good shape. In fact, I still have my World Health Organization vaccination card, which I've tried to keep up to date. (A coworker of mine saw it on my desk at work yesterday and said, "A WHO card! I haven't seen one of those in years!") Here's what it looks like:

(That's just the first page. There are plenty of shots beyond those!)

Dave, on the other hand, doesn't have the vaccination history that I have, and he's not sure if or when he's had some shots. So he may need more, but with his Crohn's there may also be some he can't take, so we have to get some advice on that.

Otherwise, I don't think we need to do much. It's still a month away, but I've already been debating whether to take the camera and/or the computer. It was awfully nice traveling in DC with just my phone. But I'm pretty sure I'll want better quality pictures from Egypt, so the camera -- heavy as it is -- will almost certainly come along. We can manage with just one computer, either his or mine.

Olga will stay with Simone, our dog boarder, during the trip. She loves Simone, who takes her with a pack of other dogs to the Heath every day, so she'll be fine.

(Top photo: Graffiti along the Grand Union Canal, last Sunday.)


  1. I wouldn't stint on any vaccinations for Egypt. But then I'm not going. You are.

    The Grand Union Canal has everything; graffiti, chairs to sit on and admire the view and a grand assortment of rubbish.
    What's not to like about any of that?

  2. How exciting! I am sure you will get some amazing pictures over in Egypt but pleas stay safe.
    Bad things happen in Egypt - that is why I have never been there. But to see what remains of that incredible ancient civilisation, perhaps any potential risk will be worth it.

  3. Hi Steve,
    First time commenter but regular reader. And I enjoy your blog very much. Canadian but love London.
    Just a reminder about vaccines. My sister spent a month in Budapest and returned home with Typhoid fever. She was extremely ill and had to have 2 courses of nasty antibiotics. Not to mention the symptoms were VERY debilitating. Egypt is fascinating and areas very modern but also quite unsanitary to say the least. If typhoid vaccine is offered I think it is a good idea. I am a retired public health nurse and worked in our travel health clinic for a year so do have a little experience to back my advice!

  4. I still have my Peace Corps WHO card too! It's a real relic!

    But I've travelled back to Africa and the Middle East and I've never got any more shots since the PC in the 1980s. If you've got a reputable tour guide in Egypt, I'm sure they are adepts at handling foreigners' sanitary expectations and you know the drill. No ice, no veggies washed in water, etc.

    A week in Egypt sounds just about right to me. What a perfect time of year to go! What a great holiday you'll have. I wish I lived around the corner because I'd run right over and lend you my favorite book about Egypt. I have no curiosity about Egypt, so you can say that I love this book *in spite* of its being about Egypt. In fact, this is actually one of my favorite books even counting the ones that are not about Egypt.

    The Names of Things by Susan Brind Morrow. It's a memoir about hieroglyphics and etymology. Beautifully written, erudite without being scholarly, a little sad, and very evocative of the Egyptian landscape and history. 230 pages. You could knock it out in a weekend. Or you could read it after you come back and can "see" the places described.

    I'm happy that Olga will get a fun holiday too, with her pack.

    Jesus. Is Xmas just a month away?

  5. Oh, you smart men! What a joy to spend Christmas on a boat on the Nile! That's going to be amazing!
    I'm really happy for you guys.

  6. How exciting! I'd love to do a trip like that. And, I can't wait to see your pictures. I love all things about Egypt. In fact, on one of my many past trips to London I arranged a private tour of the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology at University College London. I remember seeing lots of bits and pieces from different sites but what I remember the most was the rather eccentric guide who showed me around.

  7. Sounds like a very cool adventure for Christmas. I'm already looking forward to the photos.

  8. In the "olden " days all kids had a vaccination card with every vaccination they had. However, now, I'm like Dave. I have no idea what vaccinations are up to date.

  9. What fun! It's making me want to watch the 2nd Mummy movie again...

  10. A trip to Egypt for your holidays sounds like fun. I look forward to seeing the photos of your views and I would be very interested in the food you will enjoy. Will y'all be taking the camel ride? My daughter in law toured Egypt and tells a hilarious story about that adventure. I do hope your vaccinations cause no adverse reactions.

  11. well, I'm jealous. I've been fascinated with ancient Egypt since I was a teenager.

  12. Your WHO card looks familiar. I had one from infancy until about age 25. Enjoy the trip!

  13. As the editor of an Australian magazine of ancient history and archaeology (now sadly defunct), I organised, conducted and led tour groups to Egypt twice a year for about 10 years. Your itinerary sounds about right, though limited to what you can see from your Nile cruise ship. To save time for sightseeing, our tours opted to fly to the key areas (Luxor, Aswan). You will have a wonderful time. Eat food that is cooked and still hot - no salads, and only fruit that you can peel. Bottled water is available everywhere (though with disastrous results--discarded plastic bottles are ubiquitous). I look forward to seeing the pictures and renewing my own happy association with Egypt.

  14. Alphie: Yeah, better safe than sorry. As for rubbish along the canal -- believe me, you're only seeing a tiny fraction of it!

    YP: I'm told by colleagues who have been in recent years that it's actually a good time to go because the Egyptians are so security-conscious at the moment (given the bad things that have happened). I've been wary of going as well, but I also don't want to give in to fear. We'll be careful.

    Laurel: Thanks for visiting and weighing in -- especially with your public health expertise! That story about Hungary is shocking. I wouldn't expect anything like typhoid there. (And I went to Budapest a couple of years ago!) I think we will get whatever vaccines are recommended.

    Vivian: We certainly have guides, or a series of guides, which will help navigate the perils of food and water. That book sounds interesting and it sounds like the perfect read for an Egypt trip! I think I'll order a copy.

    Ms Moon: We'll bring you along via the blogosphere!

    Sharon: I can only imagine the eccentricity of your guide, LOL! Ironically I haven't been all that interested in ancient Egypt, but I can't pass up the opportunity to see such famous and wondrous sights.

    Robin: Stay tuned!

    Red: It's really hard to keep track of them! That's why I keep using the ol' WHO card.

    Catalyst: Indeed! We thought spending Christmas in a mostly Muslim country might be a good way to dampen the holiday hysteria of our Western cultures.

    Bug: Ha! Hopefully we won't have any supernatural Mummy experiences of our own!

    John: We will indeed.

    Penelope: I'm sure we'll be offered a camel ride at some point. Stay tuned!

    Ellen: I'm sure it will be fascinating but also taxing in some ways.

    E: Where is it now? Do you still have it?

    David: Wow! We should have hired you as our guide! Can you meet us there? :) I know the drill about the food from my years in Morocco, where similar dietary guidelines are recommended. I'm curious how we're going to see all these sights in such a short time, but I guess the key is that we'll be continuously moving on the boat and covering a lot of territory that way.

  15. And next year, maybe the Wigtown Book Festival???
    Or just go anytime--looks like a fabulous excuse for a trip!
    Seems clear they want visitors year round:

  16. I'm so happy for your both sounds like a wonderful adventure !!!

  17. Egypt! Can I admit a tinge of envy?

  18. This sounds like an awesome trip. I can't wait to see the photos. Have a super day, hugs, Edna B.