A decent number of followers suggested I write a travel post after coming back from vacation so I thought my next ramble would be about my 2 week travels to Egypt, Dubai and Turkey. I won’t make it too long but list things we did and must-do’s in these areas!
My guy and I decided we would spend my birthday travelling this year but didn’t really know where would be a good destination to travel in November. We wanted to do something different from the usual warm destinations and since he recently did a trip to Asia, we decided on Egypt! With two weeks of vacation, we then thought we’d hit up Dubai and Turkey at the same time since the flights we relatively short. DISCLAIMER: below are my own opinions – I’m sure many people have traveled to these areas and will have differing thoughts and suggestions!
(The Great Pyramids)
After doing some research on Egypt, we were a bit iffy on going (especially with Canada’s travel advisories recommending non-emergent travel be avoided). In the end, we stuck to our guns and decided on buying into an 8 day tour (since I was feeling like a bit of a chicken with the current travel advisories and didn’t want to travel in the area without a local guide). If you do an 8 day tour, don’t expect it to be a vacation! There was minimal relaxation since our guide really packed in whatever he could within those 8 days (and it was worth the minimal sleep and long drives/train rides we committed to!)
(Abu Simbel temple)
The tour took us through Cairo, Aswan and Luxor – I enjoyed Cairo the most but Aswan and Luxor were also amazing. Activities/monuments we checked out included (I “*” things I really enjoyed):
- *The Great Pyramids
- *The Great Sphinx
- *Valley of the Kings
- *Abu Simbel temples
- *Luxor Temple
- Philae temple
- Hatshepsut Temple
- Temple of Kom Ombo
- Edfu Temple
- Explored a Coptic Church
- *Ate a lunch and dinner with 2 local families
- Train ride to Aswan
- Exploring various markets
- Eating koshari
- Trying shisha
- *Grabbing street eats (our guide suggested we not do this due to food safety concerns but the foodie in me couldn’t help myself.. it was some of the best food I ate! We only went to restaurants/street vendors with large lines).
- *Felucca boat ride down the Nile (ours also involved sleeping on it over night which wasn’t super fun since it got quite cold..)
- *Donkey rides (far more fun than I thought it could be!)
- Optional activities we opted out of: hot air balloon and camel rides.
(Felucca boat ride along the Nile)
As per most areas you could travel to, be aware of possible pick pocketers and thefts. We sadly had a large amount of money stolen from our hotel room and some of the children in areas did attempt to pick pocket me. Regardless, we had an awesome time!
(View of Palm Jumeirah Islands)
Oddly enough, Dubai was probably my least favourite part of my trip. I tend to like to wander and explore when I go travelling and really enjoy the country’s culture, but Dubai seemed to lack this feature (or maybe we just went to the wrong parts of Dubai!) We explored both old and new Dubai, checked out many “touristy” buildings.. and sweat like there was no tomorrow. For it being the colder months, it was still 32-35 decrees C. You’ll need to cab around quite a bit to get from place to place so if you’re the type who likes walking around, it’s hard to with the large distances between areas and the heat. We took the metro system a decent amount which did save a lot of money and allowed us to see a lot as we traveled from station to station. Activities/monuments we checked out included (I “*” things I really enjoyed):
- *Mall of the Emirates (including seeing Ski Dubai – we didn’t actually ski.. seemed like more of an activity for the kiddos)
- *Dubai Mall (holy tomoly is this mall HUGE – we were there for more than 6 hours in total and didn’t even see everything in it!)
- Burj Al Arab
- Dubai Creek
- *Palm Jumeirah (from above – the I HIGHLY suggest going to the Observatory Restaurant in Dubai Marriott. We went during their happy hour and watched the sun set on the 52nd floor, plus the food was very affordable.)
- *Burj Khalifa
- The Dubai Fountain
- *Dubai Marina (go at night!)
- Madinat Jumeirah
- *Jumeirah Beach
- *Old Dubai where we explored the different Souks
- *Short boat rides to different areas of Dubai
(Checking out Old Dubai)
If you’re into checking out the super cool buildings of Dubai or having a relaxation vacation at a hotel/doing activities you could most likely do here in North America, Dubai would be a great place to check out. My guy and I got a bit bored after being there for 2 days (but that could just be our goals of traveling/ interests when we go to a new country!)
My favourite part of the vacation. Ever since I’ve been back, all I can think about are simits with Nutella, Turkish puddings/desserts and fresh squeezed pomegranate juice.. As a food lover and sucker for cobble stone streets, I adored Turkey. We went to Istanbul and Izmir (to check out the ruins of Ephesus). I loved Istanbul since it was super walkable (or you could take a quick, cheap cab or use their tram/metro system to get around). We stayed at an Airbnb in the Galata Towers neighbourhood (and could have stayed in that area the whole trip with the vast amount of restaurants/eateries and small shops to check out). We did quite a bit during our 4.5 day stay there and was such an awesome place to be for my 25th birthday! Activities/monuments we checked out included (I “*” things I really enjoyed):
- *Hagia Sophia
- *Galata Tower
- *Blue Mosque
- Grand Bazaar (it’s HUGE)
- *Galata Bridge (it’s a pretty short walk through and connects to two main areas you would explore in Istanbul)
- New Mosque
- *Bosphorus Cruise (highly recommend if you want to see a lot of must-see monuments)
- *Ate a large Turkish breakfast
- *Drank a ton of Turkish tea and Turkish puddings (I attempted to make their rice pudding with little success..)
- *Scrubbed down at a hamam (highlight of our whole trip for my guy)
- House of Mary
- *Explored the nightlife in Istanbul (that was a lot of fun!)
- *Honestly, eating until I felt sick. Our last day was spent walking around and eating at any street vendor/restaurant that looked or smelled delicious.. which meant we ate 8+ small meals and regretted none of it.
I think the reason I loved Turkey was the food and the amazing culture. If you love food, Turkey better be on your bucketlist.
Hopefully this post wasn’t too long.. but I can say I needed a vacation from my vacation since we really packed a lot into a 2 week time span. If you’d like to see more photos from my trip or have any questions on my experiences, please fire questions in the comments section!