Wonder is a very subtle, precious emotion, often lost in the gross hustle and bustle of modern life. When we feel wonder, we are immediately reminded of the purity and innocence of our childhood. Then, everything was magical and mysterious. Magic should help us relive that wonder. - Doug Henning
Last year around this time, my dearest friend called me on the phone out of the blue. And as we got to talking she said "I have something to tell you"... You know, I had a hunch, but as the words came out of her mouth I still couldn't believe it. "I'm engaged!". Cue the utter shock, congratulations and excitement. Then, she spilled the proposal story which happened at the pyramids, and everything was just love and cuteness overload. (Seriously their story is an absolute fairytale and gives me butterflies).
So, when I was presented with the opportunity to experience my best friends wedding reception in Egypt, there's no way I could turn that down. It was an opportunity to travel to a new country, a new continent, experience a new culture, and you know the best part? I got to experience it all with my girlfriends while witnessing our best friend and her husband commit themselves to one another in a beautiful union.
We've been friends since elementary school where we used to walk our baby brothers to and from. We bonded over relay races at school, and SNL. And now she's married.... I swear we are still 12.
Now, if I tell you about the events that happened on the day of the wedding leading up to the reception, most brides would have had at least 3 mental breakdowns, a mild heart attack, and a severe case of Bridezilla. It is a little hard to believe all that actually happened, and some of it hard to fathom.
I am so proud of Megan, and Alaa, for their grace, and their ability to just go with the flow. It was a beautiful lesson in learning that a wedding is not about throwing the 'perfect party' and having a picturesque day (not that it wasn't), instead it is a day to celebrate the love that two individuals share as they embark on a new journey together. Nothing else matters.
And though we all ventured to Egypt for a wedding, we were able to experience so much more. We shared in the excitement of travel, and the awe of sightseeing.
My journey started with a flight on New Years Eve, and much to my dismay there was no special celebration for a New Years flight. All I wanted was those silly new years hats and maybe like a super cool countdown from the pilots, and the flight attendants burst out into a flash mob. Instead we got eye masks, complimentary booze, and the symphony of the man in row 21B snoring away.
Only plus side was that I was upgraded to premium economy - if you've ever flown transcontinental you will know how clutch this is.
This picture won't do it justice but I flew into Cairo during the most magical sunset, and after getting off the plane I was able to hug my best friend after a year apart. Feels.
Having worked in retail during the holiday season I was totally over being in a mall.... But low and behold that is exactly where we spent part of my first day. At City Stars, a giant multi story mall before spending our evening at the night bazaar. But hey we managed to find Starbucks and that is always a win.
Side note: I rarely ever give my name to Starbucks baristas, mostly to spare them the humiliation. But sometimes I like to play a little game called how not to spell with Shanice - exhibit A; Chinis..
Our day at the Egyptian museum was led by our tour guide Magdy who showered us with a wealth of cultural information on pharaohs, tombs, architecture, as we dove into the world of ancient Egypt. Now I've been to my fair share of museums around the world, but this one was home to over 360,000 of the coolest artifacts. Mummies, sarcophaguses, rosetta stone, jewellery, beds, anubis sculptures, papyrus' scrolls - seriously anything your heart desires you could find.
There are so many artifacts in fact that they are currently building a new Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza to give each item a new home.
We ended our cultural learning day by enjoying a beautiful dinner , followed by a felucca cruise for an hour along the Nile. Now just because you're all curious the Nile is a North flowing river which can be considered one of the largest in the world. And because of the way in which the river flows divides Egypt into it's upper and lower portions. Upper Egypt being the Southern portion of Egypt as this is the origin of the Nile, and Lower Egypt being the North of the country because this is where the Nile stretches out and ends. #learningstuffiscool
The day after the wedding hangover (merely from eating too much dessert and dancing all night) we made the trek to the great pyramids of Egypt. Kind of cool if you're into that sort of thing. Again we were led on a guided tour where we learnt about the 3 pyramids of Khufu (the great pyramid), Khafre, and Menkaure, the Sphinx, the step pyramids, the afterlife and mummification, tombs etc. Blowing all of my Prince of Egypt dreams out of the water.
I don't know how to put into words how surreal the experience was. Standing on the pyramids. Entering a tomb. Physically being at one of the ancient wonders of the world. Something I will never forget. Mostly because there is still desert sand in my shoes.
And in our final days we spent our time eating, laughing, and bartering our way for the Egyptian price. A trip of a life time. Memories to tell my children. And friendships strengthened from a little bit of loving in Cairo.
Cheers to a beautiful beginning to the new year.