Luxor, the treasure of Egypt!

To all the travelers up there, wanderers, historians, world lovers, Luxor  must be on your “must see( understand, love)” list.

While we are all dreaming to someday visit The Pyramids, wondering around one of the 7th wonders of the world, will have a bigger significance if first we take a detour on the land of Pharaohs, learn their history, and have a clue of what those Majestic constructions are all about.

Luxor is the artifact of years of tumultuous history. Love stories with Kings and Queens, hate, revenge, superstition, magic, all of which are greatly depicted on every stone.

“An open air museum” as many historians are seeing it, and containing the second biggest worship temple in the world *just slightly behind Angkor Wat in Cambodia*, Luxor is the dream of every history lover, and should be a must for every passionate traveler.

Despite its historical treasure, after the revolution that took place in Cairo in 2013, tourist rate dropped drastically in Luxor even though Cairo continues to enjoy its touristic attention.

I was about 10 when I first heard about Egypt and Tutankhamen a age when symbolism was not more than a fancy ward  and didn’t keep me from falling in love with the fascinating stories of Pharaohs and Semi-Gods.

At that age, my appreciation for a too complex history, converted in a formal respect leaving out the need for further investigation.

Years passed by and my latent love for Pharaohs stories converted in a more mature interest in culture.

Living in Middle East for the last 3 years and being surrounded with so many different cultures, inclusive Egyptian, acted like a trigger, reminding me of my childhood fascination with Pharaohs.

As many others, at the beginning I thought I will be able to apace my soul in Cairo, visiting the Great Wonder, the Pyramids. However it was not it, I couldn’t find myself in Cairo.

Indeed the construction is  out-striking and definitely worth visiting but somehow lacks the footprints of its historical significance since is closed to public view in major part and one can find out more about its interior from the Egyptian museum or Louvre in Paris.

Luxor came as a healing for my expectations, I didn’t know much about the place or what to expect but I had to give Egypt another chance.

The Luxor experience!!

Scattered all over the city, Tombs, Museums, Temples, are all paying testimony to a mysterious era of God-like Kings and Queens.

I woke up in the middle of the most fascinating story of the humankind. Every rock and every wall is taking you to a trip in to the ancient Egypt.

I used to see Hieroglyphs as more than a way of  transmitting simple information, and more like encrypted codes from Gods letting to the mortals their secrets.

While I am not believing anymore in secret inscriptions and codes, the Pharaohs did made sure they will be immortal. They are living in our collective memories trough pages of history encrypted on walls, through their temples and mummification.

They were actually believing that their soul will return taking the shape of a bird and looking for their body. Hence all the struggle of the mummification and the architecture of their tombs.

The body must be placed in a straight line from the entrance they say, so the bird can easily find it.  No wonder no Pharaoh has returned since all the mummies have been taken out of the tombs. The birds must have had a hard time looking for the museums. 🙂

Descending into Luxor you can already feel that something is setting this city apart. Extremely green and clean, Luxor is totally opposite to the Cairo’s frenetic modernization.

People here have found their way in agriculture and family life. Friendly and well mannered, they make the best host you will encounter in Egypt

Finding a good hotel here is an extremely easy task. Along the east bank or the modern side of the city you will have dozens of 5 star hotels at a very convenient price. If mingling with the locals is your purpose, the west bank offers a variety of traditional and modern apartments. A great quality for a great price.

The Nile river is separating Luxor in two equally fascinating sides.

The east bank takes you in a historical journey trough temples and museums between  which Karnak and Luxor temples are the most famous.

The second largest complex  in the world, Karnak,  has been Luxor’s main place for worship for 3000 years. Dedicated to Amun, his wife Mut and his sun Montu, the temple is charged with a huge amount of  symbolism and mystery.

Closely relates and connected with Karnak, by the Avenue of the sphinx, Luxor Temple is known to be set apart by not being dedicated to a specific God but mostly used by the Kings for coronations and celebrations.

The Cornice side is the best place to make your way from a temple to the other and stop for a quick visit at the Luxor Museum and  for a sunset ride on the Nile.

While dozens of private boats are waiting to take you on the other side of the Nile, the best way to experience the Luxor lifestyle is to take the National Ferryboat. Running 24h, it will cost you just around 25 cents(1 pound) and taking your change it will be insisted upon.

People will follow  your every move and you in turn will follow theirs. Curious and a bit hesitant some will ask for your name and where are you from, and you will smile back and try to do your best to impress by replaying a ward or two in Arabic.

The West bank is the home of the Pharoes or if you want a more accurate description ” their eternal rest territory “. The Kings Valley and The Queens valley, the place of burial of the kings and queens of Egypt are strategically positioned on the west bank symbolizing the fall of the sun on the west. and also for a natural protection between mountains.

The only ancient construction that will appear out of the pattern in a burial area is the Hatshepsut Temple. The majestic construction was built between 7th and 22nd year of her reign and is said to be connected to her burial place in the Kings Valley.

The first female to be ruling Egypt Hatshepsut is depicted as a man, however most of her portraits were destroyed by her step sun Thutmose III.

Stories are saying that Hatshepsut step-sun destroyed her portrait so when her spirit will want to return, it will not have an image to return to.

Roaming around the Kings Valley temples is like shifting pages in a history book. Every Tomb is engraved with encrypted stories and mythical beings supposed to help the spirit reach the afterlife.

However nothing compares with standing in front of the mommy of Tutankhamen. The only king still in his grave and not a museum, seeing a 3000 years preserved body of one of the most controversial kings of Egypt is breathtaking.

Less tall than I imagined and as I found out later, way younger (Tutankhamen died around age 18) I had at just 10 cm away, the figure of the one which inspired my thirst for culture and sparkle my childhood fascination for Pharaohs.

Seeing the 18 years old king has forced me to admit once more the power of symbolism and how the beliefs in forces out of this world is so needed when one has to preserve the authority and power.

Theories are saying that Tutankhamen was buried  as to appear similar to Osiris the God of afterlife. His mouth open and the blackened body are just part of the facts possibly confirming the theory.

Away from the Tombs and temples, Luxor has still much to offer, from a walk on the cornice stopping by for a local mint tea to a light show and a brief journey in time on the Karnak temple.

From a boat ride on the Nile and stopping by the banana farm where you can have a local dinner by the fireside and a taste of freshly picked bananas, to a incursion on the alabaster manipulation into beautiful works of art on the Qurna village.

Luxor is breathing its history trough every stone and every local can get you back in time over mysterious ancient secrets and fascinating stories told beside a campfire and underneath a cover of millions of stars.

Scared as s**t, excited and full of dreams

Every traveler-to-be has that moment in life in which his future will gonna unfold in front of his eyes and he will have to choose from a sea of possible outcomes, how his journey will continue from there.

You will most probably stay alone in a train station or at the departure gate of the airport and scared as s**t, excited and full of dreams, will try to contain your heartbeat from braking out through your “travel the world” T-shirt!!!

You are now dragging your feet through the warm sand, listening the soft waves, braking just a few meters away. The sun is stronger than you ever experienced it back home and on your skin, rivers of salt and sand are now painting your new life.

You could have sworn that, that watermelon juice was alcohol free, when overwhelm by a tremendous warmth you collapse near the fire.

Noise, too much noise, people are now passing by through your life, like through a train station.

At the beginning they are just passengers, carrying their own life like untold stories, strangers,  leaving behind the faint feeling of a ghost. But as they pass by, they start touching the walls of your heart, they start leaving behind peaces of their life-stories, they start creating a warm feeling of being there, and an emptiness when they are gone.

That small creature, full of dreams and wonders, has become now the carrier of the world, he carries  in his soul fragments of thousand lifes, stories of nations.

This is what I felt in my first traveling experience. I was alone in the airport dreaming of what might arrive in my life, of how my life will gonna change and if I should better stop this now and go back home to my friends instead of dragging my feet in places I have no clue of, around people I have no information of.

Who knows what can happen out there, the world is crazy! but at another thought…SO AM I“, and the outcome I have chosen to concentrate upon, is more than inviting !!!

A land of blue clear water, golden sands, seafood, bonfire parties, tribal dances, french accents. An island in the Indian ocean, where the Chinese, French, Indian and Creole culture are a fusion to excite your senses with.

Mauritius is the first destination gate-away I have chosen for my solo travelling baptism.

The taxi took me that early morning, upon arrival, through a dense jungle. Smells like dust and wet cloths,  and from the radio a Indian beat is making my driver sketch a shy smile under a rich mustache.

The drive took us around an hour and I can not deny the relief I have felt once we stopped in front of a waterfront resort. “Coin de Mire Attitude“, a name that somehow matched my dreams while making the booking.

Within just crossing the street from the beach, and with a vast garden and entertainment court, the resort seem to be a great choice. the same were feeling the two lizards which have introduced themselves as my room-mates.

I am terrified of lizards, and I still can’t realize how I managed to sleep so peacefully the 5 nights of my vacation, knowing that at any moment I could have had one of my flatmates cuddling on my bed.

I guess it was the Universe’s way to show me that I am not alone.:)))

I have choose my hotel on the north of the Island, famous for beach resorts, and cruising along small islands, for snorkeling and sunbathing.

The south was tempting without discussion for its mountains and wind, a surfer’s paradise. However, for my first solo travelling experience, I have decided to remain “in the neighborhood”

10458383_766217960076126_553145448281814192_nThe day unfold in a great speed, with a challenging amount of entertainment. I was to discover that is not in my destiny to be alone.  I seem to have a magnet for open minded free souls, and within just a few hours upon arrival as I was sipping on my local exquisite drink,  watching a traditional dance performance, my future travelling buddies join my table as we were knowing each other forever.

It felt so strikingly awkward and normal at the same time, but they seem inoffensive, so, “What the hack, I am thousand miles from home, alone in the middle of an ocean, why not making some friends”.

The sunrise in Mauritius is something you have to see for yourself to believe. I had already my swimsuit and my snorkeling kit, my coffee is smelling like heaven, the sun is bathing the ocean, the ocean is bathing my feet, and the  only thing missing is me shearing a tear to commemorate the beauty of the world. :))))

Our boat is approaching and my new friends also, so I have to leave my poetic mood for some alone time, if there will be any. :))

What followed next, needs more than words to be expressed.

We have started with getting lost between colorful  fishes ( God I have felt so tiny!) Is amazing how peaceful can it feel, to cruise around when, under your feet, the traffic is wars than India:))))

The day continued with a boat barbecue, lots of sunbathing, amazing stories, occasional off-the-board  accidents :))) and plenty of hydration.

10343537_765451236819465_2165897078176154836_nI know I was a bit melodramatic with the sunrise, but you should have seen that sunset, Oh my Lord that sunset! It might have been the drinks, or the excitement of being alone in the middle of an ocean, however, that was one of the best sunsets of my life!!!! :)))

Success!! After that day, I knew somehow that it was the beginning of a long and  happy relationship with the world.

The next 2 days wore spent discovering hidden beaches and following the locals through their daily routines. Fruit markets were my favorite! Having pineapple as ice-cream, and taking the courage to ride local buses just to have a glimpse of culture, away from touristic crowds.

The departure was tough. Somehow I have left a peace of my soul on the island. It was my first solo-traveler love.

I have learned there that feeling lonely has nothing to do with being alone, but with how ready you are to open up your heart to the world and most important, to yourself.

In Mauritius I have become addicted. Addicted to life, addicted to the world, addicted to discovering myself.

Zanzibar. Unfreezing the senses.

The air seems heavier down here. As my body is struggling with the heat, I am wondering if passing from -15. C of the Frozen Iceland, to the 35 .C of a heavy, humid Zanzibar, it is actually a good idea.

The contrast is striking, just a few hours ago I departed from a well organized land, where culture, manners, and high lifestyle is a daily concern, and here I am now in Zanzibar, a land where at a first glimpse, the chaos is normality.

My senses have been assaulted,  colorful, noisy people started dragging me to their taxi.

I feel as rivers are chasing down my spine and my breath was now taking a life of its one. My heart starts pounding as if it’s not coping with my brain, or maybe I was still frozen and now all my buds were waking up to life.

“Little one, where are you going”, a somehow familiar voice was calling.  I woke up from my hypnotic state realizing that I am not alone.

Lets call him Tim, a portuguese kite-surfing instructor, happened to be seated next to me, and as solo travelers, starting a conversation didn’t take much effort.

After a few drinks, ( he found out is my birthday), our expectations of this journey, somehow matched. So we decided to exchange numbers and potentially meet up with the rest of the gang.

I was not really convinced of the idea of meeting a new gang, in a place I have never been, trusting a guy I have just met.

However, here we are, in front of the small airport saying goodbye and see you in a few days!…Maybe !!!!

Once again, I found myself alone. Not as if is new to me, but in a way, every time is different.

My taxi driver was waiting.

In a very strong African-English, he introduced himself as Mohamed, and without any other introduction he jumped on talking about the politics of the place, his family and inquiring about mine.

How it all stated!

fb_img_1477828093159Zanzibar has passed through a history of slavery and Arab domination, however at a first glimps people seem to have made peace with the past.

The two days spent in the Stone-Town, will soon teach me the insights of the culture.  Another Mohamed, my tour guide this time, made sure he will not skip a detail while he guided me through the city markets, slave caves, and fortresses.

The brief history I will guide you through next, is a mix between official facts and personal information shred by the people I have interacted with durring my stay.

It seems to me that Zanzibar was always a lay-back nation. Lacking the military defense and being expose from the ocean, to commercial routs, they have always asked protection from powerful nations.

12342805_1034999043198015_5968951866159147071_nThe Portuguese were the first to succumb the territory.  Zanzibar has asked their help in developing the country. However the Portuguese attitude was: “I came, I see, I conquer”, taking advantage of the man power and starting here one of the biggest slaves markets in Africa.

This pushed the locals on asking the Arabic peninsula for help. Oman, back then under British dominance, accepted to help and liberate the country from the Portuguese domination, however they decided to stay.

Durring the arab domination, the majority of the portuguese culture and architecture got distroyed, between which, most of the christian churches.

The Islam will now become the dominant religion in Zanzibar and with it, the slavery becomes illegal.

However in the depts of the forests, a black market survived. The caves where the slaves were kept, are paying testimony until today to an era of oppresion.

After years of suffering, the British came in, trying to eradicate the slavery, and as a testimony, on the ruins of the slave-market, we can now find an Anglican church. However the one who finally stopped the slavery was Said bin Sultan, the 3rd sultan of Oman,

Finding freedom, didn’t convert the nation in a revengeful or closed culture, by contrary, they have learned to accept their faith.

The combination between a dominant Muslim belief, a lay back African culture and a history of suffering, converted Zanzibar in to one of the most humble and friendly African country.

Zanzibar in Arabic means ” the land of black man” . Therefore, African people, speaking Swahili, guides by Muslim religion, with a deep influence of Indian architecture and cuisine, Zanzibar seem to keep its calm and peace, converting tourism, into their hope for development.

Satisfied with the findings, and influenced by the new welcoming culture,  I have decided to trust my new travelling friend and to open up to what proved to be, a Hakuna-matata life experience.

The fun begins !!!

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I always say, if it feels good, its not necessary safe! However Zanzibar prove me the contrary.

From the Stone Town to Paje Beach, where I suppose to meet Tim and the rest of the gang, takes about 2 hours on taxi.

The road submerges into a dense coconut jungle, the only sign of life being the red ass monkeys crossing the streets in a lazy attitude.

Here and there, popping up from nowhere you can also meet the locals, selling the annual harvest.

20161031_092314My taxy driver, who by now was calling me “Sister”, invited me for a fruit lunch on a sidewalk. A huge Jackfruit was freshly cut, and we all shared the sweet taste; a combination of pineapple and banana.

Mary, the wife of our host and side-road sails-man, gifted us a bag full of mandarins and small bananas for the road, and we soon head back towards Paje Beach

We have reached Paje by afternoon, just in time for a sunset dinner.

Tim was waiting for me as if he was waiting an old friend.

Without further pleasantries, he informed me that I was supposed to meet them all for dinner on the beach bar.

An Australian, a Dutch, an Italian, a Jordanian and two Portuguese, were waiting for me.

Even though they have welcomed me in their family, the true bound arrived after a few drinks and some hammock side story. We all breath relived finding out that we haven’t bumped into any psycho. 😂

The stories continued until late in the night, as the stars were competing with each other in getting our attention. I haven’t seen such a spectacular parade since childhood.

Waking up in Heaven!

The sand is still warm under my feet, and as I walk along the beach, the freshness of the morning air, reminds me somehow of Iceland. Just two days ago, my mornings were tough. Waking up in a freezing cold place is a major task for me.

The sun starts rising, painting the sky in orange shades, with splashes of pink assaulting the infinite sky. I forgot how much I use to love waking up for sunrise.

fb_img_1477828098677Since the wind was not in our favor, we have spent the next 5 days between bonfires, beach parties, motor-rides, and complete laziness.

Sun-kissed and submerged in a deep calmness, tingling my senses with beautiful stories, laughing my heart out with people which are more precious than diamonds, I once more metaphorically hug myself for taking that leap of faith and trust people.

Travelling solo can be a phobia for many, or a dream for the others, but for me is an opportunity to experience, learn and discover.

PS: 1 year after, my Zanzibar acquaintances, are now my good friends. People I treasure and admire, people I am grateful for!

Iceland. A plan-breaker or a country out of this planet?!?!

If Justin Bieber had to have his white underwear showed-off in a freezing glacier in Iceland, why not me ?!?!?😂😂

As my fast-coming birthday it’s getting me into travelling mood, as always, I am passing through thousand destination getaways, looking for the most ingenious way to commemorate my existence.

Last year I had the great idea to celebrate my passing quarter by challenging my body.

Continue reading Iceland. A plan-breaker or a country out of this planet?!?!

How much do you really know about the people you interact with?

I have often observed a tendency in analyzing our new acquaintances in easy personality traits as “timid”, friendly”, “extrovert”, “outgoing”, “antisocial”, “messy”, “oversensitive”, etc.

And at a first glance the view might be valid, for those of us which have never got a deeper insight in why our fellow colleagues act the way they do.

On the other side, for those who had the chance of exploring other cultures and way of perceiving life, the truth gets a bit more complex.

Continue reading How much do you really know about the people you interact with?

The Maltese experience!

I have pushed myself to lay dawn on paper my Maltese experience for two months now. However I have always felt like the story is not over yet, I grabbed on to it like it’s a matter of survival, and maybe it is. The survival of my poisonous nostalgia.

With every country I visit, my heart pumps my blood in different colors, transforming my spirit in a beautiful rainbow. Poisoned by my own heart, relishing sparks of color from every pore.

For an adventure seeker like me, Malta has never been on my bucket list. However a series of circumstances brought me in front of the possibility, and I admit; for an European, Malta is perceived as an easy escape, a less expensive relaxation getaway.

Continue reading The Maltese experience!

The Revelation.

Not even God has all the world believing, and still, never gave up on expressing Its beauty.

For those who are wondering what God has to do with traveling and discovering, let me share with you a story that will give you a hint.

While I have never been a people pleaser, and by contrary I have lived my life in ways, many time out of the social expectation, I just recently realized that I did so, many times from fear, fear of not being good enough to please the society.

Continue reading The Revelation.

Germany vs Italy! the story of Deutschland !

While the world is struggling with War, Hunger, Racism and mostly Hypocrisy and Injustice; there is nothing that can move masses more than…FOOTBALL!

This frenetic, almost addictive joy, that takes over humanity while watching a “ball-chasing game”, is mind-blowing.

2016-07-04 19.31.20So here I am, in Berlin, loosing myself in this wave of people, with hopes raised high, that maybe, just maybe, Germany will claim victory over Italy for the first time.

Who cares now about War, Hunger, Refugees or Brexit, when a country’s ego is challenged!!??

Surrounded by hundreds of people, I found myself carried away, following the street between Victory Column and the Brandenburg Gate.

Continue reading Germany vs Italy! the story of Deutschland !

Niagara. The story of the waterfalls!

It is believed that if you want something bad enough, sooner or later, you will get it!. Lets add a little work and the success is almost guaranteed.

The Niagara Waterfall, was hitting the top of my bucket-list, since long before I could even imagine myself as a full-time  traveler.

So here we go, without any big revelation, or strange emotions, in front of the long awaited moment, I arm myself with patience for the 7 h. trip that separates me from crossing another major dream-destination from my list.

Continue reading Niagara. The story of the waterfalls!