Tag Archives: spring break

Egypt: Plan Your Trip!

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Originally written for and published by: Texas Lifestyle Magazine 🙂

 

When I decided to go to Egypt over spring break, most people thought I was crazy. “But it’s not safe!” was still ringing in my ears as I landed in Cairo. Well, I promise you, fellow Texans, it IS safe (enough) and it is amazing. If this African country isn’t on your bucket list already, add it! There’s so much more than just pyramids to see.

Granted, I was part of a tour group—escorted by Sherif, our genius and congenial guide. Egypt CAN be a dangerous place, but so can every major city here in the U.S. You just have to be smart—don’t go off alone. Pretty normal, straight-forward travel advice for any third world country. Unfortunately, the impoverished state of the country is hard to miss—but there’s so much beauty to see as well.

We started off in the capital, which meant that the tour of the Great Pyramids (which you can see peaking between buildings as you drive through the city) was up first. I thought this was strange—to do the most exciting thing on Day 1, but I was very mistaken. The sphinx and pyramids where fantastic, don’t get me wrong (we even rode camels around them!), but I enjoyed the rest of the trip much more than expected.

After Cairo, our group set sail on the Nile—in a small cruise ship! The dollar goes far in Egypt—one of ours equaling to about eight of their Egyptian pounds. We wined and dined, lounged on the upper pool deck, and each time we docked, we were met with some of the most gorgeous sights we’d ever seen. Luxor, Edfu, and Aswan each presented their own treasures—temples upon temples upon temples, delicious food, insane markets, hookah lounges, vast museums, belly dancing, and of course, more temples.

Valley of the Kings was a highlight—we even went on a sunrise hot air balloon ride over it before walking through the tombs themselves. We also decided to take a quick flight to Abu Simbel, a massive rock temple that was my personal favorite stop of the trip—it was just simply majestic.

Hurghada was our last stop—we charted a yacht and snorkeled in the Red Sea! The water was brilliantly blue and we saw bright, beautiful fish and even got to hold a pufferfish. We also swam through so many purple Moon Jellyfish—they don’t sting! It was a great way to end the trip, especially since almost every other day had required quite a bit of walking! On that note—be prepared to sweat (it’s respectful to cover up as much as possible in Muslim countries—no short dresses or low-cut tops).

Egypt is such a historical place, but it’s more than just the mummies, gold, and hieroglyphics. It’s such a unique experience—you just have to go!

The Sweeney’s and Beer: One More Week!

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SPRING BREAK IS COMING. This teacher is definitely more excited than her students about the one week countdown. Oh goooooodness, I can’t wait. I’ve had itchy feet for a while now. Dying to “get outa town” as they say. Took a quick trip to Fredericksburg recently, but that didn’t really do the trick.

Six more days and it’s NYC (purposely lengthened our layover so we could squeeze in Aladdin on Broadway) and then Dublin for Saint Patrick’s Day!

Apparently if you go overboard with green and leprechaun mentions, you will be judged and shunned, hard. Glad I learned that. Who woulda thought that Americans have warped other culture’s traditions into their own versions… Strange.

Anyway. Guinness tour, Jameson distillery, St. Paddy’s parade, Cliffs of Moher, Blarney Castle, and more. GET HERE, SPRING BREAK, GET HERE NOW.

I should also mention that this intensely awesome and affordable Groupon deal comes with a rental car—so we will be driving ourselves all around the Irish countryside. What the. I know. I’m not very good at driving here in Texas so I can only imagine the danger we will surely be in with me behind the wheel in a foreign country.

But then again: beer.

Not to be combined with the driving, geez. I’m just saying: beer.

It’s going to be in the 40s and 50s and rainy the entire trip: beer. That one makes more sense I guess.

Also, it is imperative to tell you that we will be staying at B&B’s across Ireland, most of which are your average European hostel-type stays, HOWEVER, one of them is a legit farm overlooking the sea, owned by the cutest old couple named The Sweeney’s. I cannot express how excited I am to meet The Sweeney’s. I also may ask them to adopt me, if they’re as adorable in person as their picture and description portray. Isn’t it crazy how some people’s “norm” is feeding their donkeys, drinking coffee while gazing over the Cliffs of Moher?! Just, ya’ know, another day in the life. Meanwhile I’m over here in Austin, scraping myself outa bed and shuffling out of my crappy apartment complex onto I-35, realizing that I put in my left contact but not my right.

You know what, though? Even if The Sweeney’s turn out to be super creepy Roald Dahl’s “The Landlady” types: beer.

Yeah, Mon!

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You know you’re officially old when you opt out of going to the Ochos Rios Margaritaville with college boys and instead head up to your room, piña colada in hand, to read and pass out by 11 pm.

Ah, Jamaica. I’ve never had so much fun doing so little. Let me tell you, I didn’t get hit on ONCE. My younger self would’ve thought a vacation without vacation romance would be no vacation at all. Pft, who needs a man when you’re at an all-inclusive resort, sipping on rum from morning til night?

Don’t get me wrong, we swam with dolphins and climbed Dunn’s River Falls, but we spent the majority of our spring break working on our tan, our appetite, and our alcohol tolerance. I gained about six pounds and three shades of brown.

Jennifer, my co-teacher/co-captain/co-pilot/co-whatever else you can think of, DID get hit on. Hard. I literally thought they were going to kidnap her (and by they, I mean every Jamaican man in sight). The man driving us to the airport grabbed her arm and said, “I don’t want you to go. Stay here with me.” I thought I was going to have to go all BACK OFF SHE’S MINE on his ass. But most of the men just smiled and winked at her, gaping at her curvy figure. Our tour guides at Dunn’s nicknamed her Shakira (I definitely called her that for the rest of the trip). Then they’d glance at me and occasionally offer to sell me weed.

Conclusion: Jamaica is amazing. Side note: I do not recommend going “off the beaten tourist path”…as amazing of a country as it is, it’s still extremely impoverished and therefore, well, just scary in parts.

I dedicate the rest of this blog to random highlights that I typed in a note on my phone. Feel free to stop reading here.

-Jennifer hadn’t been on a plane in ages and was also a little sleep deprived. She rambled on and on when we were landing…it went something like this: “I feel like we’re floating. You know how when it speeds up and then it stops? Now I feel like we’re on a bungee rope. This would be a lot harder to park than my truck.”

-We witnessed a random drunk man stand on top of the hotel’s fake waterfall and throw his flip-flops into the pool below. He wound up walking downstairs to retrieve them and I said, “Excuse me, why do you hate your shoes?” He slurred that he just did it to do it, considered jumping in the pool to get his flops, then said, “Fuck it,” and stumbled back inside, barefoot.

-We went out on a small sailboat one day and the driver kept repeating over and over, “I’m going to get you ladies so wet.” Yeah…awkward.

-There was a snake in the ocean one morning! Freaked us out. The workers said, “No problem, mon, they don’t bite. They’ll just wrap around you.” Cool.

-We had an omelet man who we absolutely adored. As in, the same man made us a gourmet omelet every single morning. My breakfasts will never be the same.

-Jennifer was too lazy to keep walking back to the bar, so she would usually show up with four drinks in her hand. Then she discovered what a Hummingbird was, and all hell broke loose. Crazy lady. She would also frequently order in interesting fashions like this: “Can you just make me something blue? I want something blue.”

 

Conclusion #2: Jamaica is the most affordable paradise I’ve ever been to. Highly recommend! And all-inclusive is definitely the way to go. I can’t even explain how awesome it feels to walk up to a bar, order a beer (Red Stripe, mon!), and not have to even think about presenting an ID or money OR tip—tips aren’t allowed! They win coolest accents, yummiest jerk chicken, and most rum-filled island.