Egypt Journal 2023


Between November 1 to December 31 of 1979 the “The Treasures of Tutankhamun” exhibition was held at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, Canada. At the time I was in grade 5 and living in nearby Cambridge. I was fascinated by the early Egyptians and, like many others, captivated by the story of Howard Carter discovering the boy kings' tomb relatively intact in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. My school arranged a visit to the exhibition but only had a limited number of tickets to the hugely popular event so I put my name into the ballot. I did not win a ticket and was hugely disappointed at missing this chance to see the treasures of the tomb including the death mask which no longer travels, permanently housed in the The Egyptian Museum in Cairo in Cairo. As the date of the outing approached I was ever more despondent about not being able to go. Then, a miracle. A last minute cancellation meant that I was given a reprieve - I would be able to go!

I remember bits and pieces of the visit, the early morning departure, the crowds, but mostly I remember being in the exhibit itself and marvelling at the amazing treasures on display, though limited in number, and in particular King Tutankhamun's death mask which I was surprised to discover had hieroglyphics carved in the gold of the interior. To my regret, I also remember being in a hurry to get to the end of the exhibit and visit the gift shop to see what books and information they had on the subject. In this I was disappointed and ended up buying three miniature chocolate death masks in a small plastic case. Returning to the exhibits was not possible so I would have to wait for more than 43 years to see the treasure again.

Egypt has always interested me with it's ancient but highly advanced civilization that simply vanished only to be re-discovered relatively recently in the last few hundred years. The amazing monuments and artefacts left behind are simply amazing, really capturing the imagination.

Late last year we were thinking about travel. Where could we go to in the early, grey and depressing months of the year that would be warm but not too hot and, definitely, sunny. For a while I had been thinking of Nile cruises but they often had been either quite expensive or including long stays in the resort areas of Egypt, in particular, Sharm El-Sheikh on the Red Sea, quite a big distance from the historical parts of Egypt. I was not particularly interested in sitting on a beach if I was to visit. While watching my daily Voyage Privé emails I had noticed a Nile cruise holiday that not only included the major sites on the Nile but also featured several days in Cairo and even Alexandria, which seemed to be exactly what I was looking for, but this offer disappeared for many months before finally reappearing just in time for us to make our decision on where we wanted to go: Egypt. The stars had aligned. Sun, check, warm but not hot in February, check, reasonably priced, check, not strictly a beach holiday, check again.

I was finally going to visit the land of my childhood dreams.

⇒ Continue to Day 1 - Nantwich to Hurghada - March 9, 2023