My Inner Peace

First steps into Cairo’s habits – Tips and tricks for a great DYI trip

After 2 hours sleep, waking up was not easy, but was necessary as our driver was coming at 9:00 AM to pick us up and start the Egyptian adventure. We went on the roof of the hotel to have breakfast, where there is a beautiful terrace and you can see a nice panorama of Cairo’s downtown. The view was amazing, yet we were in a hurry and we had to wait for more than 30 minutes to have everything cooked on the spot. This way, we found out that due to the pandemic and consequently to the low number of tourists, a lot of hotels are not offering open buffets anymore to avoid wasting food and resources. Hence, they are cooking on the sport only for the people present in the dinning room for breakfast. Not having this information upfront, we ended up waiting for breakfast and making our driver waiting for us for half an hour. The great news: the breakfast was amazing! Falafel, boiled eggs, French fries, vegetables, cheese, bread, butter, jam, and tea. I was so impressed, but unfortunately this amazing breakfast was served only the first day. The bad news: the second and the fourth day we received less food, no Falafel and no vegetables which made me very sad and unhappy.

Hotel Amin Cairo – breakfast

Once we met our driver, Esra, a nice lady which was recommended to us by a close friend, we headed towards the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in Zamalek (Cairo) to buy the Cairo and Luxor Passes. If you have in mind to visit a lot of sites in both Cairo and Luxor, you should definitely buy both of them because you will receive 50% discount from the Luxor Pass which is more expensive. This way you will save a lot of money and, if you go during a crowded period of time, you can also skip the tickets and entry queues. It is very important to know this information, as no local guide or employee from different sites are aware of it even if the Passes were introduced since 2016. For us the Cairo Pass sold for $100 or 90 EUR, taken separately, was not worth it because we didn’t manage to visit everything we had on our itinerary. This is only if you take into account the entrance fees of the sites we’ve managed to see, which would have cost us 73.5 EUR / person vs. 90 EUR / person paid for Cairo Pass. Otherwise, if we would have managed to see everything, the entrance fees were 95.5 EUR / person vs. Cairo Pass 90 EUR / person. However, the big difference is not consistent for Cairo Pass, but for Premium Luxor Pass. Buying both of them saved us 91.5 EUR / person or $111 / person. Hence, the Cairo Pass + Luxor Premium Pass both sold for $200 / person or 180 EUR / person was a wise choice. Moreover, both are valid for 5 days, so if you want to go and visit the same site in different days, you can do it without paying the entrance fee several times.

Cairo Pass

For Luxor you have 2 options:  

  1. Standard Luxor Pass sold for $100 or 90 EUR which includes all the sites in Luxor area, including Luxor East and West Banks, Luxor and Karnak Temples, except for the Tombs of Seti I, Tutankhamun and Nefertari.
  2. Premium Luxor Pass sold for $200 or 180 EUR which includes all the sites in Luxor area, including Luxor East and West Banks, Luxor and Karnak Temples, plus the Tombs of Seti I, Tutankhamun and Nefertari.

To be honest, if you see these three tombs that are more expensive and for which you have to pay a separate ticket if you don’t have the Luxor Premium Pass, it is like seeing all the other tombs from the Valley of the Kings and from the Valley of the Queens. Most of them are very similar, but in a less good shape than these three. But we will be talking more about Luxor sites in a separate article dedicated to this magic place.

So, if you decide to buy the passes, you should have 2 passport pictures with you and USD or EUR in new banknotes. If the money is not in a very good shape, they will reject it. The lady from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said that the Egyptian National Bank is not accepting old banknotes, so take care of this aspect upfront. Another thing you should take into account, is the rhythm some tasks are performed in Egypt. We’ve spent more than 30 minutes for these passes and we waited just 5 minutes at the beginning, because the lady there had to finish the service for the previous person. So, if you are used with fast tasks performance, forget about it in Egypt, otherwise you will get very frustrated. And, if the lady helping you with the passes will ask you to sit, you better do it from the beginning, otherwise her tone will become more and more inquisitive. 😊

Once you have the passes, you’re free to go and visit all the sites you want in Cairo and Luxor (for Premium Pass), but take a good care of them. As I said before, the employees of the sites are not all aware of the existence of these passes, especially in Cairo, so they will look strangely at it, analyze it, ask a superior if it’s ok to let you pass based on it, and they will not treat that piece of paper kindly. Being written in ink, at a certain point the ink may fade away, so be very careful. In the Valley of the Queens in Luxor we had a strange situation with a guy from the entrance. He didn’t want to give us back the passes without paying him. We refused to give him more money and, at a certain point, while we were trying to explain him that we don’t have to pay anything, I tried to take back the passes, but he didn’t let them go easily. Hence, I had to pry it loose and, in the process, due to this man resistance, a small part of my picture was damaged. All this happened in front of two policemen sitting there and smiling while we were trying to take back our passes. So, be careful and try not to give your pass to everyone asking to see it. It is better to show it from your own hand, but it is not always possible as some of them will insist to take it and study it or ask for a superior permission. So, if you see any abuse, just insist to take it back explaining in every way that you don’t have to pay anything as the passes are granting you free passage in all the areas from Cairo and Luxor (only the Premium Pass covers everything).

Back to our first day… Esra was waiting for us in the car to come back from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in Cairo with our passes, ready to start the journey. And finally, around 11:00 AM we headed towards the Saqqara Pyramids.

Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in Zamalek (Cairo)

To be continued…

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Traveling to Egypt in time of pandemic

Egypt, a country full of contradictions and fight for money, received us on April 14th of 2021, a period still under the shadow of the SARS-Covid19 pandemic. The funny thing is that here, the story of this disease we are talking about for more than a year now, seems to be nothing more than a strange shadow bringing official safety rules, but not affecting the day-to-day life of usual people. Yes, you have to wear a mask especially inside official places, in Uber or in closed areas. In reality, only the first two categories are respecting these rules. There are a lot of closed areas, even inside the common areas of the hotels, where you can get rid of the mask and nobody will notice. However, in certain hotels the staff is using masks, but for the guests the masks are not mandatory. Today, after a week since this adventure began, I feel like living in another dimension. Our suitcase is full of unused masks that are only bothering me when I move them from a place to another.

But let’s start from the beginning of this DIY trip.

We landed in Cairo at 2:30 am on April 14th after a 2 hours and 45 minutes flight. The flight was comfortable, the new process of the safety measures was much easier than expected, just the airport was so empty that gave me a strange feeling of a deserted area.

I must say that this was my first flight after one year and 5 months since I was in Jordan. Soon after, the restriction of SARS-Covid19 pandemic started to be implemented, and that changed completely my plans.

After landing in Cairo, in the airport we paid $25 for getting the visa that is bought from the Egyptian Bank office where one can usually go for exchanging the money, which we did at first without knowing that at the same office we should have paid for the visa as well. The visa in Cairo is a nice sticky paper, that the airport policeman is applying on your passport. Looks nice and clean and colorful. But before arriving at passport control, we had to introduce our personal data in the emigration form, this time received in English. In the airplane we had received one in Arabic, impossible to read, hence to fill in. Once we arrived at the passport control office, we had to give them the sticky visa paper, the negative RT-PCR test, the passport and the emigration form. Everything there was super-fast, so we went to get our luggage and then to buy a local SIM card to have internet access everywhere. That was a smart move, as we travelled a lot and it was really useful especially when we had to bargain for certain services. 

Cairo Airport

The best deal for the SIM cards is sold by Orange at $10 and includes 18GB of data and 2000 minutes for national calls, which proved to be helpful as we travelled a lot and we had to hire different cars with different drivers and calling them was the best way of communication since not everyone has mobile data active on their phone.

Cairo Airport

Speaking about technology, you should know that WhatsApp video and audio calls are banned, Zoom and Skype are not working at all in Egypt, only Facebook and Google meet allows you to make or join video calls.

So, once the tech part was done, we headed outside the airport where the driver from our hotel was waiting for us. We booked a hotel in Cairo downtown that had the airport pick-up offered as a free service. Not all the hotels in Cairo are offering this free service, so I guess we’ve just been lucky. We arrived at the hotel at 4:30 am. You should know that all the above processes in the airport will take you one hour more or less. That’s what it took us in the middle of the night when only our flight was scheduled. So, I guess when the airport is crowded, you should take more time into account.

Once we checked in, our contact guy from the hotel started to explain to us some options we could have for our journey, and some services he could offer. We took none, and we went further with our plan. We already had an agreement with a local lady we knew via a close friend traveling in Egypt a month before us, so we went to sleep for a couple of hours to be ready to meet her in the morning and start our adventure with Saqqara Pyramids. But this is the story for the next article.

To be continued…

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Wadi Rum – The Desert is quiet, yet the Desert speaks!

Wadi Rum Desert
On Top of The World – Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan

During these three days in Petra my body was burning, my inner peace was nowhere to find and I felt like dying for few times. My only window towards myself was opened only inside the Prophet Aaron’s tomb where I was able to meditate for half an hour. It was a real blessing and I am sure it was actually our ticket back safe into the car where my fever came back again. 

Tough night, but I managed to sleep and that was a real help. The interesting thing when I woke up was to notice the fever was completely gone. So, luggage done and jump into a taxi towards Wadi Rum Desert where we booked a jeep tour and a night in a camp in the middle of the desert.

I was a bit dizzy in the taxi, I admit, but once I stepped into the desert, I was completely a new person. We took a jeep tour and started visiting the most important things Wadi Rum has for tourists’ eye.

Desert Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan

We started with Lawrence Spring, where two Jordanians asked me nicely to take some pictures with me. I was surprised even if I’m already used to this kind of requests when I am traveling in countries where my skin color looks so interesting for the locals and they are asking me to take pictures with me like with a movie star or something. So, my surprise was not coming from the request, but from the fact that after three days of fever, my look was not that great, and for a second I asked myself “why in the Gods name would you like a picture with someone looking like me?!” But looking at the guy and seeing how nervous he was, I felt my heart melting and I said to myself “if you see something that worth being immortalized, so be it!”. And we laughed and they were trying afterwards to catch a camel for me from the free ones around, and I guess that was the Desert way of saying “Welcome to my world!”

Desert Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan

After this unexpected experience, we went and hiked the Sand Dunes. And there I was back again in touch with myself and God! On top of that Dune, I was able to do my first quiet, profound and relaxed meditation under the full light of the Sun bathing my body and my Soul. For Christians like myself, it was actually the celebration day of the two Archangels MikaEL and GabriEL, under which power and blessings I surrendered my entire being.

Desert Wadi Rum Meditation
Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan – Sand Dunes

Once back in the jeep, I felt like having a new body and the certainty of a complete healing was installed in every cell. Then we headed to a canyon where one can see the Anfishih nabatin Inscriptions 200 B.C. old left by ancient trade caravans.

Desert Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan – The Canyon
Desert Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan – Anfishih nabatin Inscriptions

After getting into the heart of this canyon where one may find it a bit uncomfortable to keep his own balance while stepping on wet rocks trying not to slip and fall into the water, we went to Um Froth Rock Arch. Climbing that rock it’s more like climbing a wall. It’s not easy to climb, nor to get down afterwards, but it’s worth all the effort and the queue you have to wait patiently as it is one way only and the path is so tight only one person can pass at a time. Once you are up, it’s amazing! You have this mixed feeling like being on top of the world despite the fact that the arch is only 15 meters high, but you are up there, looking down at all that people ready to take a picture of you, and the small path is giving you the sensation that you can fall anytime. In fact, is just that monkey brain scared as Hell seeing itself out of its comfort zone. 😊      

Desert Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan – Um Froth Rock Arch

After these experiences full of adrenaline, we went to a nice place where we were able to take some panoramic pictures of Wadi Rum desert and spot the line between the red and white desert.

Desert Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan – panorama point

It’s amazing to sit in the red sand, play with it and feel like home!

And moreover, 300 meters away set a small camp, and witness a majestic Sunset while drinking Bedouin tea. Words are not enough to describe the feeling, so I advise you to go there and have this experience.

Desert Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan – Sunset

Once the Sun was down, we went to the camp for the night, we had Bedouin tea again, we had dinner and then we decided to walk for a while into the desert and just listen. And I think if God has a voice, that is the voice of the desert!

After this walk, I laid down on a bench to watch the stars. I have never seen so many stars not once in my trips in different parts of the world. And I felt like my body was melting down and becoming one with the sky, one with the stars, one with the entire universe. This was my second door of the day into a profound meditation where I felt like finding an equilibrium between all 5 elements and integrate it. And there it was again, that healing state coming from a new layer and embodying into this human being.   

Desert Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan – Sky after sunset

And after three days of fever, my body was not burning anymore, was kind of freezing for a bit. So, we headed towards our tent with a view over the desert and the sky, and I was finally being able to fall asleep watching the stars and the Moon shining over the quiet sleepy desert.

Desert Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan – Moon view from the tent

I woke up several times that night, just to watch the Moon and the stars as I was always dreaming of, and then fall asleep again with a big smile on my face.

And if you spend a night in the desert, you cannot miss the sunrise! So, we woke up at 5:00 am and we went out to witness how the Sun is touching the mighty Desert. We climbed the rock that was behind our camp, and there, after consuming that strong feeling of joy for the present moment, I set on the edge of the cliff, I closed my eyes and I felt like falling into another dimension. There, on that cliff, I reached another layer of my own being, and I understood my profound connection with this world, and the meaning of the burning days in Petra.

Desert Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan – Sunrise

That’s why I’m saying… As much as quiet the Desert seems, the Desert actually speaks!       

Desert Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan – Sunrise

To be continued…

I am an independent writter, so if you like my stories, I invite you to support my activity with a donation.


Chek out the begining of the Jordanian story here!

PETRA, the City of the Magic Fire (2nd part)

After an evening full of medicines and all kind of therapies, I finally managed to sleep and I woke up at 6 am willing to explore the magic tracks of Petra. I went to the Visitor’s Center and I started walking inside the archeological site at 8:45 am. I expected to find less people, but, to my surprise, there were a lot of big groups walking around, taking pictures and speaking all kind of languages. I was walking so fast to find some peace in there, but soon I found out it was really impossible before reaching again “The Treasury”.

The second day in Petra is different than the first one. “The Siq” and “The Treasury” are already familiar, so you don’t need to spend too much time there anymore. What I did on this part was just walking, and once I reached the Treasury, I went up on the mountain to take some pictures from that angle as well. Being early in the morning, the sun highlighted a part of the place where we were sitting to take “the perfect picture”, so we had the chance to play with the light and shadow and to do some great shoots. Up there, you need to pay 1 JOD, and you receive a black tea… awful! 😊

Petra – The Treasury

Once we came back from the mountain and reached again the “Street of Facades”, we passed the “Theatre” and the “Great Temple” and we continued to walk towards the “Ad Deir” known as “The Monastery”. To reach it, we had to climb another mountain, and from a certain point, to walk the 850 stairs on the way up. There were so many donkeys exploited up and down on the mountain to help tourists climb it easily. Some of them were so sad, and I spent some minutes with them just cuddling and making them feeling special. And the most impressive thing was to see a few of them crying while I was petting them. They broke my heart in so many pieces, as I really felt their sadness, loneliness and hard time to cope with the effort their masters were asking them to do. And, to be honest, I don’t think climbing that mountain on the back of a donkey is too much fun. I’ve seen tourists scared, uncomfortable or just tired to keep the balance on some tricky paths to avoid falling from a peak. So, I would say, think twice before asking for a ride. It may cause you more pain then just walking, and you will force an innocent animal to make a huge effort under your weight.

Petra – The way to The Monastery

So, step by step, stair by stair, breath by breath, and amazed by the beautiful Canyons we were crossing, we managed to win the race with our own limits, and reach the peak. And there it was “The Monastery”, 47m wide and 48,3 m high. This amazing building dates from 2nd century AD and it took the name “The Monastery” after it was used as a Christian chapel. Different yet similar with “The Treasury”, what stroked me again were the details and the perfect cuts into the mountain. If the “Tombs” and the “Great Temple” are “less perfect” and the time got them and left some important tracks, “The Monastery” and “The Treasury”, are still there and more perfect than the others, even if they are supposed to be older (except “The Church”).

Petra – The Monastery

Now, being on the top of the mountain and witnessing such a beautiful architecture, I always have to check it from different perspectives. And here, I had a new idea! Why not taste this monumental building?! 😊 Inspired by the donkeys that were licking the rocks, I tried the same with “The Monastery”. Aaaand… Surprise! The walls are salty! And this information can produce now so many stories. My favorite one is that everything was under the water ages ago, and all the rocks and Canyons around are salty! 😊 I haven’t taste them all, still, I like to believe they are! 😊

Petra – The Salty Monastery

Once the crazy things were done and the pics were made, I just set down looking for a while at this amazing shape. It is so beautiful to allow yourself to dive into the unknown story of this place and just feel it inside out. There is this new layer covering the history the local people are telling. This layer much more profound that doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone. I think is just there for whom is really interested to see it and to feel it. It’s maybe the unspoken voice of the Mighty Spirit of Creation.

To be continued…

I am an independent writter, so if you like my stories, I invite you to support my activity with a donation.