About Dahab

Dahab is less crowded and more satisfying. Dahab is Egypt’s answer to Goa – with one of the best diving sites in the world and the bluest, most beautiful beaches. Dahab is a fitting interlude after your Egyptian crash course. There is not a pharaoh in sight, not a museum to see, not a temple to visit. It takes us a day to adjust to the slow pace of Dahab after our breathless journey and we spend it walking around the souk and sipping drinks, watching divers suit up and take the plunge. Dahab is a serious diving destination, divers staying for months here to enjoy the coast and its secrets of the sea. There are multiple diving shots through Dahab, selling and renting equipment, and even a diving school that you can enroll at. A couple of places offer free beginner dives (www.sinaidivers.com)

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About Luxor

Sailing on the Nile is the most essential of Egyptian experiences; in fact, you would rate it higher than the pyramids. You have two options – 1. More obviously a luxury cruise 2. More adventurous Felecca. The river merrily passes by some of the most important and well-preserved temples in Egypt from Aswan to Luxor. You dock during the day to visit the sites, and sail at night. There are beautiful temples, but the pace of visiting the sites is rather fast, so be prepared for much history and not enough time.
1. The Temple of Horus at Edfu (Rs. 400) is very well preserved, and was considered the second – great temple after Karnak.
2. The temple of Khnum at Esna was dedicated to the ram-headed god, built in the Ptolemaic era over the ruins of an era over the ruins of an earlier temple site.
3. An interesting aspect about the dual Temple of Kom Omho is that it’s built for two gods: good and evil: Horus the Elder and Sobek (the crocodile god) (rs. 250). The colors on the columns at this temple came from the precious stones of that era. There is also a festival list and illustrations of tools used possible by the Egyptians of that time.
4. The favourite was the temple of Isis at Philae with water around it and a sense of calm that she and Osiris probably never knew, what with all the killing and resurrections (rs. 400)
5. When you dock at Luxor, visit the Luxor temple, built by the New Kingdom Pharaoh Amenhotep III, on the banks of the Nile. This is gorgeious when lit up at night, especially the long avenue of Sphinxes.
6. Visit the Mummification museum. And look at the tools that Anubis used to preserve souls.

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About Aswan & Abu Simbel

Aswan is perfect antidone to the condition that will afflict you in Egypt: phraonic fatigue. The slow pace of the city, the quite on the streets as opposed to the urgenty of the other cities reminds you that this in fact a vacations and not a crash course in history. Having said that don’t be fooled. Aswan is a town of great historical importance. The only region in Egypt to have Granite. Aswan’s Quarries are Egypt’s main source of income.

Aswan is home to Nubian culture, which is rooted in a fair bit of turbulence in the name of development. Today Nubians are complete integrated, holding on to vanishing identity as their children grow up to be Egyptians.

1. Unfinished Obelisk: A massive 42m long shaft that would have been the largest since piece of stone ever sculpted.
2. The Aswan Dam (Rs. 160) caused much distruption in the Nile of Lower Nubia, causing villages to be submerged and forcing Nubians to move into Egypt.
3. Sail in Felucca (the most fun way to get about in Egypt) to Elephantine Island, which has a museum dedicated to Nubian Artefacts, but absolute highlight of the journey for us is stumbling upon an actual live, honestu-goodness exaction site on the island.
4. Abu Simbel Festival: Twice every year, On Febraury and October 22, thousands of people travel to Abu Simbel to participate in this festival.
a. Reasons to go: The Great temple of Ramses II, built in such an ingenious way tht only the these two days of the year will the first rays of the sun reach the innermost sanctuary of the temple and illuminate there out of the four statues: Ra-Harakhty, Ramses II and Amun. Most impressively The statue of Ptah, the god of darkness remains in Shadow.
b. Journey to Abu Simbel: You travel to Abu Simbel in a convoy of 20 Busses, passing some gorgeous landscapes. At the temple, there is a palpable excitement in the air, locals gather in traditional attire and there is much dancing, merry making and whirling derivishes dressed in psychedelic solours. Lake Naseer calmly stretches into the distance, offering quite spectacular views when dawn breaks. Lake Naseer is an artificial lake formed by the Aswan Dam.
c. Reasons not to Go: You might not be able to enjoy most of the stuff mentioned above as you may be waiting in a really long line for hours to get inside the temple to see the phenomenon. Which also you get all of two minutes to look around, seeing as you are shoved along by the security guards.

Suggestions & Quick Facts:
 Take a walk by the Nile in the evening. The road have emptied out and the walkway is lit up. There is a bench that look over the river and you can sit and watch the boats cruise by, the activity Aswan is for.
 Basma Hotel offers expansive and lovely views of Elephantine Island
 The felucca boatsmen often sing local songs to entertain the passengers
 Elephantine Island is a hot bed for excavation. History is still unearthed here.

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About Cairo

As on introduction to Egypt, it’s possible that mad, bustling, breathless cairo will deflate your enthusiasm for the journey. There are people everywhere (20 million and still counting). As an indian, you have seen it all before. The crowds, souks, poverty, traffic jams, beggars, hagglers, all of it.

1. Khan-al-Khalili, on of the oldest souks in Egypt. Traders opened shops at the Khan in the 14th Century and though today its somewhat of a tourist show, it’s a very interesting walk through. You get everything here, from basic kitchen utensils to rows and rows of souvenirs to sheeshas and fake papyrus paintings
Alerts: Beware of “Only 1 EGP for items on sale”; it turns out it’s 1 EGP just to look at them.
2. El Fishawi the oldest Running Coffee shop in Egypt. It has been serving customers for 200 years now. The paintings on the wall, the beautiful antiques that line the walls but you keep getting distracted by vendors who come to our table to sell us necklaces, tiny pyramids. History lies all around you, but is used as a venue to sell.
3. The Giza Pyramids are everything you have been told about and then some more. These massive burial chambers have been talked about for centuries. Pyramids are Very Big & Very Old. As you drive closer to Giza you will find small mounds appearing in distance. Its quite natural in getting mistakened them with Pyramids. But.. they are just sand dunes. Suddenly you will see massive triangles reaching the sky. You can visit Khofu Pyramids; Red Pyramid, The step Pyramid (at Saqqara, the earliest stone monument of the World, buit for Zoser). Khofu is the largest one about 146 m in height and 46 centuries old. The pyramids of Khafre and Menkaure and the Sphinx are all equally magnificient.
4. The Citadel: If sprawling gardens, mosques and old military museums seel like a good way to spend a few hours, head to the Citadel, which housed Egypt rulers for 700-odd years. The most popular draw is the Mosque of Mohammed Ali, but don’t miss the smaller but gorgeous mosque of An-Nasir Mohammed. Women need to wear a Hijab to go into the mosques; you can get one at the entrance. There are smaller museums to visit; the Police Musuem, Carriage Musuem and the National Millitary Museum.
5. Al Zahar Mosque: One of the oldest mosques and surviving universities in Cairo (founded in AD 970), the Al Azhar Mosque is a beautiful building rising above the busy streets of Islamic Cairo. The courtyard is a peaceful square where students come with their books to study religion. The minarest and the doorway to the tomb chamber have beautiful, intricate work.
6. Coptic Cairo: The Church of St Serfius is built over a cave that Joseph, Mary and the infant Jesus supposedly took shelter in to escape from King Herod. Coptic Cairo is a major religious destination for Christians and the hanging Church and the Ben Ezra Synagogue are both centered here, done up beautifully in ancient styles.

Suggestion:
 Travel Early in the morning to Giza when the tourist population is still tucked in bed. You will be happy to have reached before the madness starts.
 For getting inside the pyramids. If you are claustrophobic, I’d suggest you don’t try. It is a long, narrow, dark tunnel and when there is a two way traffic – which is always – it’s a pretty tight squeeze. Try the Red pyramids instead. It is less crowded much smaller.
 Save some Cairo for the end. On the first day in Egypt, you do not want to be boggled by the Egyptian Museum. Come back to Cairo after your journey down the Nile and you will appreciate the significance, the enormity of what the museum houses.
Travel Facts:
If you want to go inside the Burial chambers of pyramids, there is an extra charge that you will need to pay.

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About Egyptians

Death seems to be a dominant theme. It seems they are obsessed with Death. Egyptians believed in eternal life and their life’s work reflected the desire to achieve it. They Worshipped the Pharaohs of God, and believed that it was through the pharaohs that the immortality of life would be achieved. The pharaohs are considered to be the middlemen to God and hence, they went to some seriously bizzare lengths to preserve their souls.

According to the mythology: the goddess Isis actually assembled parts of Osiris’s Body (after he was killed by his jealous brother “Set”) to form a mummy helped by the very interested Anubis, and restored him to life. And apparently this happened more than once).

Egyptians are a close knit community and are admirably connected to well, everyone. They are also, and this is not just in Cairo. They are inexplicably enthusiastic about the well-being and future of Amitabh Bachchan. Wherever you go, everyone would ask about him.

Travel Alert:
When you ask for directions to Egyptians, about 10 people would leap up, who will be ready to escort you to your destination. This could also be in the hope of baksheesh more than out of the goodness of their hearts.

About Egypt:
The first thing what comes into the mind is that there two egypts; one is in your head: the one with the mysticism of the pyramids and the romance of history; and the one that really exists, with jostling crowds, a tourism driven economy and a claustrophobic pace. It’s a bit tough to explain how both are real and false, awe inspiring and exasperating all at the same time.

While Egypt was Golden & Colorful, today its mostly dons brown and grey because people live in homes still under construction just so they can escape paying the housing tax. The Nile retains its central role. An ancient channel for trade and economy. It contributes even today to the country’s income, through Cruise ships and Felucca rides. This is the river against the desert and provides beautiful landscapes. Egypt is full of contradictions.

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Switzerland for Honeymoon in the Winters

Is it the right choice to visit Switzerland for honeymoon in the winters (Nov-Dec)?

Winters are a great time to visit Europe especially Switzerland. The months of November & December are snowy but they are more enjoyable. January & Febraury are very snowy and the feel of the Switzerland is absolutely different from what you get in Summers. And it’s a great experience. In winters Switzerland provides great Combo-offers of Snow & Greenery which is rare to find in any other destination of the World.
If you are looking for a city feel you can stay in Lucerne. And if you wish to enjoy actual Switzerland, I would suggest you to stay in Interlaken/ Engelberg/ Grindelwald.

A Must Visit places in Switzerland are:

Lucerne
Matterhorn
Grindelwald
Jungfraujoch
Andermatt
Zermatt
St. Moritz
Zurich
For Honeymooners it’s a paradise. The mountain excursions & the scenic trains would be a unforgettable experience. One must visit Switzerland for Honeymoon Travel.
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