At the end of July, I crossed the border from Sudan to Egypt and spent the next two weeks exploring Egypt before flying to Eritrea. After that, I had a few day stopover in Dubai before flying to Europe. I was invited to Benidorm with the tourism board and spent five days there before traveling to Finland. Yep, August was very busy, and I was kind of exhausted after all the traveling!
Countries Visited: Egypt, Eritrea, United Arab Emirates, Spain, Finland = 5
Cities / Towns visited: Egypt: Aswan, Abu Simbel, Edfu, Esna, Luxor, Cairo; Eritrea: Asmara, Massawa; UAE: Dubai; Spain: Benidorm; Finland: Helsinki
New Countries: 1
Country Count: 90/197
Visiting the Ancient Sites in Egypt
I had been dreaming of visiting Egypt since I was a kid. I remember all the history lessons when we learned about Egyptian history in school, and it really fascinated me. So seeing all the ancient sites like the tomb of Tutankhamon, the Great Pyramids of Giza, etc. was a dream come true.
Also, cool about Egypt, and Cairo especially, was the fact that I had officially finished my Cape Town to Cairo trip. I was kind of feeling sentimental; I had after all been traveling in Africa for the past eight months!
Eritrea is probably the most secretive country in Africa, and I felt honored that I had a chance to visit it. Getting the visa can be very difficult to do on your own (almost impossible I’ve heard) so I was thrilled when Tekeste from a tour company called Asmara Grande was willing to help me. He did not only help me with the visa but also with accommodation, transportation, etc. I’m forever grateful for his help and hospitality. He even invited me to his house for a traditional Eritrean tea ceremony!
I spent most of my time in Eritrea in the capital city, Asmara, but also visited Massawa. Both are unique places, and if you travel from one place to another, you can experience three seasons in two hours. The weather changes so quickly, it’s unbelievable. I left kind of cold and rainy Asmara, and I arrived in Massawa where it was over 30 ºC (86 ºF) and humid. Needless to say, I was sweating my ass off in my black jeans!
If anyone reading my blog is interested in visiting Eritrea, check out Asmara Grande and contact Tekeste. I’ll write more about this fascinating country in a separate blog post.
Getting to See Different Sides of Benidorm
I was invited to Benidorm by the tourism board, and I spent five days exploring the city with few other bloggers/vloggers. Although I have traveled a lot in Spain, it was my first time visiting Benidorm. I feel like most people have an opinion that it’s a destination for retired old people, but it certainly wasn’t the case. For me, Benidorm was a new destination, and I had only heard the name, so I had no expectations when I got there. It turned out to be a very popular destination among young and old, and a city full of activities and possibilities. While I was there, I had a chance to do a lot of different things like scuba diving, driving an electric bike, finding some pretty cool viewpoints, doing a jeep safari, private boat trip, paddle boarding and much more. I’ll write more about things to in Benidorm in a separate blog post but for a start, you can check out this post I wrote about the best viewpoints and Instagram-worthy locations in Benidorm.
Sexual Harassment in Egypt
While visiting Egypt was a dream come true for me, it wasn’t without its challenges. Sexual harassment and catcalling were real issues for me. It didn’t matter if it was day or night, it didn’t matter what I was wearing, and it didn’t matter which city I was in. I got too much attention wherever I went. There were guys constantly shouting things like: “Hey sexy babe!”, “Hey babe, I’m single!”, “Beautiful, beautiful!” etc. and also I got so many intimidating stares. If I met someone who was kind to me, it always turned out that they were attracted to me or wanted money. No one was really genuinely helpful.
If you would like to see how was is for me to walk on the streets in Egypt, I found this great video where a woman walks in Cairo with a hidden camera and captures all the stares can catcalls. It doesn’t show you all the verbal harassment I got but just try to imagine that.
By the time I got to Luxor, I was literally having a mental breakdown because of this. Aswan had still been alright, but the harassment got much worse in Luxor, and I also met a taxi driver who made my life a hell.
I met this taxi driver in front of my hotel when I was trying to find a taxi to take me to the West Bank to see some of the sites. He offered a good deal (now when I’m thinking, maybe even too good) for me so off we went. Everything was great, and he took me to all the places I wanted to see, always waited for me at the parking lot and then finally took me back to the hotel.
But what happened next, was that he was waiting for me outside of my hotel every time I was trying to go somewhere. I was telling him that I don’t need a taxi, I just want to walk ALONE. But he was so persistent and kept following me (literally driving his car next to me) until I got into his car. He then wanted to take me for a coffee etc., told me that he likes me and what not. I had made myself very clear that I’m not interested and I just want to be alone, but I was in an impossible situation because he knew where I was staying and was waiting for me outside 24/7.
I’m not kidding when I say that I was literally having panic attacks because of this constant sexual harassment and more than sightseeing I just wanted lock myself in my hotel room and not meet any people. Even after I had left Egypt, it took me more than a month to kind of feel like myself again and actually start meeting and trusting new people again.
(I’m not saying that women shouldn’t travel to Egypt alone but this was my personal experience and even though Egypt is a wonderful country with lots of things to see, the sexual harassment was just too much for me.)
Egypt is full of interesting places and if I had to pick one destination, I would choose Abu Simbel and The Temples of Ramesses. What’s really interesting about this site, is the fact that the temples were relocated there in 1964 to make way for the High Aswan Dam. Unbelievable!
The Great Pyramids of Giza:
You just can’t visit Egypt and not visit the pyramids. I had already seen pyramids in Sudan but compared to those; these were massive! Egypt also didn’t have a lot of tourists at the time I was there (probably because it was the hottest time of the year) so it was nice to wander around without the crowds.
You can’t visit Asmara and not love the city. The capital city of Eritrea has really a unique atmosphere, Italian colonial architecture, and friendly locals. The place kind of feels stuck in time because of the old buildings and lack of international brands and electronics (even access to the Internet is almost impossible and if you find a wifi connection, it takes you 30 minutes to just open one site). A true hidden gem in Africa!
Pyramids View Inn, Giza, Egypt:
Egypt is surprisingly cheap and because of that, I got a private room with a pyramid view for less than 20€/night. The owners were also nice making sure that everything was okay and every morning the breakfast was served at the rooftop and they even had fresh falafel every morning (a huge plus because I love falafel).
Sol Costablanca, Benidorm, Spain:
This four-star hotel has probably one of the best locations in Benidorm because it’s located right on the beach (there are surprisingly not so many options with the beach view!). I had a lovely view of the beach and swimming pool and despite the central location, it’s not noisy during the night.
When got back to Europe, I had a chance to upgrade my gear. My old backpack was falling apart, and I also wanted to have a carry-on sized bag instead. I got this CabinZero 44L backpack, and so far it has been perfect. Even though my previous backpack was 55L and not cabin sized, this new bag still fits all of my stuff.
Meroe Pyramids, Sudan
Abu Simbel, Egypt
Benidorm Skyline, Spain