Our first overseas travel in 2022 was really an opportunity to see Expo 2020 in Dubai before it closed at the end of March. This was a chance for Dan to return after about 20 years and for Marcia, Doug and Melanie to see Dubai for the first time.
In the 1950’s the main industry in Dubai was pearl diving and it’s population was about 30,000. Today it is a city of 2.8 million, about 90% of whom are expats. It is a very modern city that can brag about it’s excesses.
We stayed a the Sheraton Hotel at the Mall which is 2.5 million sf and has an indoor ski slope. We rode the metro a lot, to the Expo, the waterfront, the old city, etc. The Expo had representation from 192 countries plus three theme exhibit along with performance stages, restaurants, etc. The highlight for us was to have Senior badges that allowed us to cut the 2-3 lines at many of the pavilions. Over three days we enjoyed a banquet of experiences presented by countries large and small. Heartwarming was the Ukrainian pavillion covered on the interior with post it notes from visitors from around the world.
In between our trips to Expo, we explored the waterfront, the old city with it’s souqs and even got to the 147th floor of the 160 story Burj Khalifa. After five days it was time to move on the Egypt.
We arrived in Cairo the evening before Ramadan, the traffic was heavy as the whole country made last minute preparation. This is a city of 9.5 million people that ranges from ancient to very modern. We arrived at Mena House, a magnificent hotel originally built in 1886 at the foot of the Giza pyramids. We took in the light show on the sphinx and pyramids our first night. The next day our guide showed us the sights on the west bank of the Nile. In addition to going around the pyramids, we even hiked up inside.
While the big three are close together in Giza, the pyramids stretch out for over 40 miles. Looking at the surrounding desert one would wonder how one could feed the labor or even provide fresh water. A little research revealed that at the time they would built about 3,000 BC, this are was a savanna with numerous lakes.
Time to move on again, this time to the Red Sea resort and snorkeling on the reefs. One reason the Red Sea is crystal clear is that most of the coast line in uninhabited desert; therefore, minimal human pollution. We stayed at the Sheraton at Soma Bay, one of a number of upscale resort hotels around this bay. A chance to relax a little, swim and snorkel, and enjoy some Egyptian food and wine.
Our driver picked us up at 9am for the 180 mile ride thru the mountains and desert to Luxor. The afternoon was in the Valley of the Kings where now the burial chambers were underground rather than in pyramids. An amazing complex with hieroglyphics that were astonishingly well preserved. Other valleys for queens, warriors, and laborers who had a chance to dig their tombs on their days off.
We started the next day with a sunrise hot air balloon ride at 5 am, beautiful ride enjoyed by all. On to Karnak Temple built by the great warrior who created one of the largest empires. This entire complex together with Luxor were basically lost to time as centuries of flooding from the Nile buried them in sediment up to 40 feet deep. Great archeological work has now exposed these magnificent sites. The Avenue of Sphinx that stretches about a mile and half between the sites was only opened to the public about six months ago. In the dry season this was a road, in the flood season it was a canal.
We ended the trip with a day back in Cairo and had a chance to visit the Egyptian Museum, a great Mosque and the various souqs on our walk back to the Hotel. That evening we took a 3.5 hr flight back to Dubia and after a 2 hour layover enjoyed a 17.5 hr flight back to Miami.