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On the Nile

cruise-on-the-nile-10cruise-on-the-nile-1cruise-on-the-nile-9cruise-on-the-nile-3cruise-on-the-nile-8cruise-on-the-nile-5cruise-on-the-nile-6cruise-on-the-nile-11cruise-on-the-nile-12cruise-on-the-nile-2cruise-on-the-nile-4cruise-on-the-nile-7Cardigan: Target // Top: Target (old) // Pants: Forever 21 (sold out) // Bag: Rebecca Minkoff // Shoes: Target // Sunglasses: Prada // Necklace and Bracelet: Julie Vos // Ring: Stella & Dot

On Friday night in Cairo, we did what the locals do: snag a ride on a neon-festooned river boat and cruise down the Nile. Most boats are crammed full of Cairenes dancing (men and women separately, of course) to loud Arabic music blasting from the speakers. Since we didn’t want to wait for our boat to fill up, we rented our own and got some ahwa (I took mine with lots of sugar) for the ride.

I thought maybe it would be weird to take so many pictures in Egypt, but it turns out that the locals are even more snap happy than I was. We saw lots of selfie sticks, many men dramatically posing in groups and fielded several requests to have our pictures taken with Cairene women. It should also be noted that another boat pulled alongside us during our cruise so that the passengers could take pictures of me getting my picture taken. At least I didn’t have to feel weird about posing!

In planning and packing for the trip, I knew that much of my warm-weather wardrobe wouldn’t be appropriate. Sarah advised me to keep my arms, legs and collarbones covered out of respect, so I brought along a lot of maxi skirts, scarves and pants. These leopard palazzo pants barely made the cut since the bottoms are a bit sheer (scandalous!), but I’m glad I decided to bring them along for the ride.

Travel

Alexandria, Egypt

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 Top: Target // Skirt: Forever 21 // Scarf: old // Shoes: Aldo, old // Earrings: BaubleBar // Sunglasses: Prada // Bag: Rebecca Minkoff // Watch: Michael Kors (similar) // Bracelet: Julie Vos

Since we had plenty of time to take in the Cairo sights, we decided to spend one of our days on a mini-road trip to the city of Alexandria, which sits on the coast of the Mediterranean. Alexandria was founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC and over its illustrious years was home to the ancient lighthouse, famed library and, of course, Cleopatra.

Today, you can tour the new library, which is a beautiful sight if you’re a bibliophile like me, stroll along turquoise waters and gorge on delicious, freshly caught seafood. After spending some time in the urban (read: supremely polluted) air of Cairo, it was nice to breathe in some brisk sea air and experience the decidedly more Mediterranean feel of the coastal city.

For our one meal in Alexandria, we knew that we had to get seafood, so after some online sleuthing, we walked up to what looked like a seafood market to see about getting lunch. After a little initial confusion, and lots of help from my Arabic-speaking sister and brother-in-law, we learned that the way to go about ordering was to point to the fresh seafood we wanted and simply say whether we wanted it grilled or fried. Then, we were whisked through the kitchen, past many bubbling pots filled with fish and aromatics to a hidden dining room in the back.

After almost filling up on a seemingly never-ending supply of Egyptian banchan in the form of hummus, spicy cheese dip, bread, baba ganoush, requisite potato chips (they’re everywhere in Egypt), pickled beets and more, we proceeded to devour a couple of delicious whole-grilled fish and some of the best, sweetest, plumpest shrimp I’ve ever had.

We left Alexandria full and happy, driving down the Cairo–Alexandria desert road as the sun set over the Nile Delta.

Travel

Egypt: The Pyramids

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Cardigan: Target // Scarf: old // Top: Forever 21 // Pants: Forever 21 // Shoes: Target // Bag: Rebecca Minkoff // Necklace: Julie Vos // Bracelet: Julie Vos // Watch: Michael Kors

When you visit Cairo, you have to visit the pyramids. And although the tour seems almost routine from the start, the minute you drive up the hill and approach the massive necropoli, the atmosphere shifts. Yes, the pyramids are missing most of their outer layers, not to mention the maze of lush rivers, walkways and temples that once linked them, but the massive structures retain their pleasantly imposing air. It’s dizzying and wildly entertaining to imaging oneself smack dab in the middle of ancient Egypt, when the pyramids were in their element.

Now, they’re surrounded by hordes of ambitious camel and horse riders, who jockey loudly for the attention and money of tourists from all over the world. Having never ridden a camel, I decided to cross that very jarring activity off my bucket list and took a turn around the area on an old specimen name Michael Jordan. Post camel ride we did a little bit of illicit climbing (the temptation to ascend all the way to the top is strong), ate some fool and tameya sandwiches and then ambled down the hill to rest at the feet of the Great Sphinx of Giza.

The columns pictured above belong to the ancient temple that sits on a sunken terrace about eight feet below the base of the sphinx. Although the crumbling limestone stones of the temple lay in partial ruin now, they were once covered in pink granite with a floor paved entirely in pale, precious alabaster. What a sight that would have been.