What I Wish I Knew Before I Went to Egypt

Egypt is an incredible country to visit, but a somewhat difficult one – especially if you’re from Europe or North America. When I went, I learned a lot! But here are the things I wish I knew ahead of time – and things you should know before you go to Egypt.

The Sphinx and pyramids in Cairo, Egypt.

  • 1. Just because English numbers are called “Arabic Numerals” does not mean modern-day Arabic uses them.

    This is one of those moments where you realize exactly how lost you can get, and easily! The Arabic number set does not use the numbers that you and I are familiar with. Crazy, right? I’m so used to being in other countries with foreign languages, but I’m not as used to foreign number sets. You’d do well to study the numbers ahead of time just a bit – I got lost with which platform to go to for a train, and sometimes vendors put different prices on things for people who can read numbers in Arabic and those who can’t.

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The Egypt Bucket List: 10 Things You Must Do In Egypt

Egypt is one of the most incredible, historical and mysterious countries in the world. From mysteries around how the Pyramids got built, to seeing the Red Sea (and remembering Moses parting it!), and all of the other incredible things that have happened there, Egypt is an amazing place to visit.

When you make it there, here are 10 of the things you must do – the essential Egypt!

  • 1. Visit the Pyramids

    Simply put, you cannot come to Egypt and not see the Pyramids. You just can’t! They are the only original wonder of the world still standing, and they are just massive! Seeing them in person is a dream come true (though beware of touts and hasslers!).

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The Pyramids: The 8 Wonders of The World (Part 2)

One of my favorite goals that I accomplished was to see all 8 Wonders of the World before I turned 30. It was a fun adventure, and in this series I’ll walk you through what the eight wonders are, and about how to visit each one.

Part 1: Petra

Also, one thing I love about the Pyramids is that they’re the reason we now have 8 wonders of the world and not 7. In 2000, when the 7 Wonders Commission was voting on the New 7 Wonders, the Pyramids were an option in the vote. Egypt countered that the Pyramids have ALWAYS been one of the 7 wonders, and are thus not subject to the “New 7 Wonders” vote. So we now have 8 wonders!

General Info

Location: Cairo, Egypt
Nearest Major Airport: Cairo International Airport (airport code CAI)
Overall Difficulty to Visit (ranked among wonders, 1 is the most difficult, 8 is the least difficult): 3
Why That Difficulty Rating? Cairo is not especially hard to get in and out of, but the Pyramids themselves can prove to be somewhat difficult. First, you have some general unease about the safety of traveling in Egypt. Then, you have all of the vendors trying to sell or scam you at the Pyramids. There is definitely a lot more hassling there than at any of the other wonders. Read more

Jordanian Recipes to Try at Home

I don’t know about you, but I love bringing something of a vacation home with me. One of my favorite things to bring is recipes and food ideas! Jordan has a surprisingly diverse cuisine (surprising only because when was the last time you saw a restaurant in the US specializing in Jordanian food?). In all honesty, Jordanian food is not always the world’s most beautiful food – but it more than makes up for it with taste!

Some fun recipes to try include: Read more

What to Wear Visiting Jordan

Jordan is an open country, but it’s still a conservative one. Women should plan to cover up just a bit, especially outside key tourist attractions.

At tourist-heavy places like Petra, it’s normal to see women in shorts and t-shirts, or even tops that have bare shoulders. In the cities, plan to wear sleeves and cover your legs (at least to the knees).

At the resorts, resort-wear is expected and normal. A good pool coverup is essential, and don’t hesitate to wear a bikini. (Do NOT, however, wear a bikini at a public beach.)

This is a post that’s focused on roughly April – October, when the weather is mostly warm. You’ll want a whole different set of things if you’re visiting in the winter!

When you’re in Jordan, you could be hiking, at a spa, floating in the Dead Sea or riding a camel. You need a wardrobe that’s flexible (and breathable!).

So what should you wear in Jordan in the summer? Read more

Petra: The 8 Wonders of The World (Part 1)

One of my favorite goals that I accomplished was to see all 8 Wonders of the World before I turned 30. It was a fun adventure, and in this series I’ll walk you through what the eight wonders are, and about how to visit each one.

General Info

Location: Petra, Jordan
Nearest Major Airport: Queen Alia International in Amman, Jordan (airport code AMM)
Overall Difficulty to Visit (ranked among wonders, 1 is the most difficult, 8 is the least difficult): 2
Why That Difficulty Rating? There are not as many international flights into Amman as others like Rome, Beijing, or Rio de Janeiro. There is no public transit that you can take to Petra, and limited options for hiring a shared ride. The best option tends to be renting a car or hiring a private driver, both of which add to the expense. Jordan traffic and roads are easy to navigate, and the country is well-signed. If you’re nervous about driving, avoid Amman. (Going to the Dead Sea or Petra from the airport will take you away from the city traffic.)

Amanda Plewes at the Petra Treasury Read more

15 Books to Read While Visiting Italy

Italy. It’s the place of pasta and Puccini, and hundreds of stories. If you’re visiting Italy, you should be reading books about Italy and books set in Italy! Here are a few to consider:

Non-Fiction Books About Italy

  • The House of Medici: It’s Rise and Fall

    If you want to understand modern Italy, start understanding the Medici family. The great patrons of many of the arts, this book brings much of Tuscany to life. You’ll look at Florence with new eyes, and see Siena anew, not to mention Milan! If you’re headed to Rome, you’re also going to be surrounded by the papacy – and understanding the Medicis is great for seeing the art in Rome too!

  • Leonardo da Vinci

    A new biography by Walter Isaacson, he looks at the life of Leonardo da Vinci. If you want to understand Italy, look at one of its most favorite sons. This is also a great book to read alongside the Medicis – da Vinci was able to share his genius with the world because of the support of the Medicis.

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The 20-Something Guide to Disney World

Disney World is not just for kids. If you’re there for a day or a weekend as a 20-something, you’ll still find plenty to do. Just know – this might not be the Disney you remember from childhood!

The other awesome thing about being an adult is that the parks aren’t the only place to have Disney fun. There are lots of options to have a magical afternoon or day without paying for park admission!

  • Drink Around the World at Epcot

    This is the quintessential adult Disney activity. Epcot’s World Showcase is the perfect place to lost an afternoon. You can start at noon, and go til 9 (generally), finding something to drink at each country. Be warned: this activity is strongly recommended only if you’re not driving!
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