Hey there! My name is Anna, and I’m the Producer and Project Manager here at Thrust. I’m thrilled to share with you all the amazing opportunity I had to travel to Egypt with my mother and grandfather – it was an unforgettable experience. These memories will last a lifetime and it meant the world to my grandfather that I could go with him, and so it meant the world to me as well that Thrust was so supportive of my trip.
As a relatively new addition to the Thrust team, I never expected to be able to take a two week vacation within a few months of my starting. But I asked anyways, just in time to get one of the last spots on the boat (we took a river cruise down the Nile). So to everyone at Thrust, thank you so much! This is just one of the many reasons why I’m so grateful to work here.
Before I jump in to telling you about my trip, I have a quick anecdote about my grandfather. When my older sister was born, my mom asked him what he wanted to be called by his grandkids. Grandpa, Poppy, PeePaw, Papi, etc., and his response?: “Why can’t they just call me Jim?”. And so we call him Jim.
Now I’m going to take you back to the late 90’s and early 2000’s, when educational computer games were all the rage and I convinced my parents buy me all of the games from those Scholastic Book Fair magazines. I was obsessed with all of them. I played the JumpStart games, Humongous Entertainment games (Putt-Putt, Pajama Sam, Freddi Fish), Oregon Trail, all of the Nancy Drew games… the list goes on. But two of my favorites were Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego (who can forget that catchy theme song?) and the ClueFinders series (I had all of them). Guess what the first level of Carmen Sandiego and ClueFinders 4th grade had in common? They were both about ancient Egypt!
Games from my childhood about Ancient Egypt
Throughout my trip I kept spewing out facts about Queen Hatshepsut, the mummification process, and all of the Egyptian Gods like Horus the falcon god and Sobek the crocodile god. So after all these years, I finally proved to my mom that all those computer games were worth it! And now here I am, on the other side of the game industry – making games (like Hemonauts) for kids to understand chronic illnesses!
Now, on to the actual trip. As I mentioned before, we booked a river cruise (UniWorld – Splendors of Egypt and the Nile), and I would highly recommend doing the same if you are trying to plan a trip to Egypt. We saw everything we wanted to, and the cruise itself was beautiful. Also, since everything beyond a few miles away from the Nile is just desert, being on the water was a pretty convenient way to travel between all the ancient sites! Some of them were even just a 2-3 min walk from our docking point.
We started our trip in Cairo, where we met up with all of the guests and our tour guide, Hatem, nicknamed Tommy. Tommy went with us everywhere and was an incredible fountain of knowledge for all things Egypt. When we booked the trip, the Grand Egyptian Museum (the GEM), was scheduled to be opened before we got there… so we were a little disappointed to find that it’s still not open – and probably won’t be for a while. But we did drive past it and it sure looks amazing (and a bit overwhelming). We did still get to see King Tut’s gold mask and other treasures and artefacts still located in the Cairo Museum. As a side note – the driving in Egypt (and Cairo in particular) was quite an adventure. The stop lights are merely suggestions, and there are no such things as lanes. There was a very complex honking system that everyone seemed to be able to understand – so let’s just say it was a good thing I wasn’t driving!
After our first leg in Cairo, we got a lovely 2:45 am wake up call in order to make our flight down to Luxor (it was a rough start to the day). And instead of going directly to the boat once we landed, we went to our first and the largest temple of the trip, Karnak Temple. It was a lot of walking, so when we lost the group, my mom and I left Jim on a bench (sorry Jim!) and went on a wild goose chase around the whole temple to find them. We attempted to use the quality of signal from our audio guides to find Tommy, but with all of the stone walls and columns and obelisks and statues, it was next to impossible. We must have walked around for 15 minutes before finding them just around the corner from where we left Jim. At least I got in my steps!
Sailing up and down the Nile was absolutely gorgeous. Our boat, the River Tosca, had a very small (and cold, which was actually a good thing in the Egypt heat) pool on the deck, so whenever we were sailing, we’d make sure to take in the views and read Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile. We only had one copy with us on the trip, so my mom and I kept fighting over who got to read it next. I had read it before and just couldn’t remember the ending (even though it’s my favorite Agatha Christie book) until I started reading it again, so most of the time my mom won that argument. But we both managed to finish it by the time the trip was over!
From the boat, we sailed down the Nile to Dendera, and then back up the Nile to Kom Ombo, Aswan, Edfu, and Esna, with a quick flight to Abu Simbel and back snuck in there (an optional excursion, but one that Jim was NOT going to miss). We saw some temples (aka lots of temples), the Valley of the Kings (and in it, King Tut’s tomb), did some shopping, and saw the High Aswan Dam. While we were in Aswan, we were also able to have high tea at the infamous Old Cataract Hotel – where Death on the Nile was written and where the characters themselves begin their journey. And let me tell you, that hotel was unbelievably gorgeous, as was the view from the terrace. Agatha Christie picked a good spot.
Pyramid of Khafr and the Great Sphinx
Back in Cairo
Once we disembarked the boat, we flew back to Cairo, and crossed a bunch of things off our bucket lists. We climbed the Great Pyramid of Giza, the last remaining Wonder of the Ancient World (not all the way – that’s illegal – but they’ve opened a small section where you can go up some stairs and take a picture), went into the second largest pyramid, the Pyramid of Khafr (spoiler alert: they’re all completely empty… but still worth it!), and rode camels (because, of course).
Of all the amazing sites we saw, I have to say that riding the camel was probably the highlight of the trip for me. I had no idea it would bring me so much joy, but it did! I was a little surprised to find that my mini-caravan was being led by a small child (he must have been 6 years old!), but he knew what he was doing and even took a few photos of us in front of the pyramids. However, when I say in front of the pyramids, I mean we were literally in front of the pyramids! From the angle where he held the camera (which was at the height of a 6-year-old), my camel is blocking all but half of one of the three pyramids that should be visible. Meanwhile, my mom’s caravan had a full on photoshoot, with multiple poses and even some props, with the pyramids clearly visible all around them. You can say I was a little jealous, but it was so much fun that I couldn’t possibly complain.
So that was our trip to Egypt! I had such a great time, and can’t wait to see where the winds take me (and my family) next!