Daugh­ter’s pyra­mid scheme: A two-week Egyp­tian va­ca­tion.

The Washington Post Sunday - - TRAVEL - travel@wash­post.com To tell us about your own trip, go to wash­ing­ton­post.com/travel and fill out the What a Trip form with your fond­est mem­o­ries, finest mo­ments and fa­vorite pho­tos.

Our read­ers share tales of their ram­blings around the world.

Who: Alison Thoet (the au­thor); her par­ents, Bill and Liz Thoet; and her sis­ter, Emily Thoet, all of Loudoun County, Va.

Where, when, why: I’ve al­ways been fas­ci­nated by Egypt — I grew up watch­ing Egyp­tol­o­gist Zahi Hawass on PBS, read all about Tu­tankhamen and watched the movie “The Mummy” too many times to count. So, when I grad­u­ated high school in 2011, my fa­ther and I planned to visit Egypt. But the rev­o­lu­tion erupted in Jan­uary and thus made any po­ten­tial vis­its in­ad­vis­able. So, six years later, our fam­ily tried again, and em­barked on the trip of a life­time to a slowly heal­ing coun­try. We trav­eled the coun­try for two weeks, with our va­ca­tion start­ing and end­ing in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal, Cairo.

High­lights and high points: The pyra­mids were a dream to be­hold. A text­book couldn’t com­pare to see­ing — and stand­ing un­der­neath — the An­cient Won­der (the Great Pyra­mid) in per­son. Ev­ery site and mon­u­ment in Egypt was be­yond what I could have imag­ined, and the majesty of the three giant pyra­mids and the sphinx was truly in­cred­i­ble.

Cul­tural con­nec­tion or dis­con­nect: What I found to be the most mem­o­rable in Egypt was not the great pyra­mid or an­other an­cient mon­u­ment, but rather the peo­ple. Ev­ery­one I came across was kind and wel­com­ing. We had three guides over the trip and an in­cred­i­bly pa­tient driver. Each one of them showed us a dif­fer­ent side of Egypt and a glimpse into the coun­try’s his­tory. And although they started as guides, they wound up be­com­ing our friends.

Big­gest laugh or cry: The day we saw the pyra­mids of Giza, my fa­ther, sis­ter and I met a man who of­fered to take us on a ride through the desert on Ara­bian horses. The horses were a lit­tle less ma­jes­tic than your typ­i­cal Ara­bian, but that didn’t mat­ter be­cause soon we were gal­lop­ing and rac­ing through the desert with the pyra­mids at our backs. I am a horse­back rider and my fa­ther has rid­den in the past, but this was my sis­ter’s first time on a horse since child­hood. She had a blast, I could tell, but when she dis­mounted her hands were bleed­ing and blis­ter­ing. The next day, she could hardly move her left arm from hold­ing onto the sad­dle so tightly.

How un­ex­pected: The odd­est thing about be­ing in Egypt was the feel­ing I had that I was a com­plete out­sider. My fam­ily and I like to be en­veloped in the cul­ture of a place we visit; we rarely take tours, in­stead opt­ing for a rental car and map to find our own way around. This was

not pos­si­ble in Egypt, so we al­ways had a guide and we al­ways stood out. We looked un­like any­one else and be­cause of that we were stared at a lot. It was not men­ac­ing or un­com­fort­able, just odd.

But never were we looked at more than when we rode the sub­way. There were usu­ally other tourists where we were, but on the sub­way we were the sole four non-Egyp­tian peo­ple and we were very much aware of it. Our guide gave us the same ad­vice a New Yorker would for tak­ing the sub­way there. (Be care­ful; hold your purse.) But we were not pre­pared for the stares or sep­a­rate cars for men and women, for the women’s safety. This was wholly dif­fer­ent from any­thing I had pre­vi­ously en­coun­tered. I will never for­get en­ter­ing the women’s car while see­ing the doors en­velop my fa­ther a few cars down in a sep­a­rate men’s car.

Fond­est me­mento or mem­ory: I must ad­mit, I re­turned from Egypt with a much heav­ier suit­case than when I left. I bought scented oils, a paint­ing on pa­pyrus and Egyp­tian cot­ton scarves. My fa­vorite pur­chase, how­ever, is my car­touche neck­lace. I splurged and bought one, as most tourists do — it has my name spelled out in hi­ero­glyph­ics.

The ironic part is that I found my name, or close to it, in a car­touche on the wall of a tem­ple. There was a queen with the name “A-L-S-N,” my name with­out most of the vow­els! So, in a way, my per­sonal car­touche links me to some­one in an­cient his­tory, and that is a pretty great sou­venir.


The Thoet fam­ily, from left, Bill, Emily, the au­thor and Liz, on their camels dur­ing their first night in Egypt as the sun sets. Be­hind them are the sil­hou­ettes of the famed Giza pyra­mids.

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