Pharaohs With Bagpipes and a Mummy, Too

Jeff Seigle and his family took a tour of the Abu Simbel archaeological site in Egypt after a cruise along the Nile River.
Jeff Seigle and his family took a tour of the Abu Simbel archaeological site in Egypt after a cruise along the Nile River. (From Jeff Seigle)
Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Seigle family of Vienna is the latest contributor to our Your Vacation in Lights feature, in which we invite Travel section readers to dish about their recent trips. It's a big, confusing travel world out there, and you can help your fellow travelers navigate it. Your hot tip could be the next guy's daymaker; your rip-off restaurant, the next family's near miss. To file your own trip report -- and become eligible to win a digital camera -- see the fine print below.

WHERE: Two weeks in Egypt, including a Nile cruise.

WHO: My wife and I, our two children (9-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter) and my wife's mother. (Disclosure: My mother-in-law is Egyptian, and a big part of the trip was visiting family members and friends.)

WHEN: June 18-July 2

WHY: To take MIL to visit relatives, but also to show the kids Upper Egypt and take a Nile cruise, which we had not done before.

THE TRIP: Flew into Cairo, then flew to Luxor to board our boat (without MIL), which cruised upstream to Edfu, Kom Ombo and Aswan. From there, we flew to Abu Simbel, then back to Cairo.

COST: International air was $1,618 per person. The tour package (air, cruise, Abu Simbel visit) through Egyptian Express tour company averaged $1,582 per person for four of us. Grand total, including hotels but not tips or meals: $16,400.

GETTING THERE WAS. . . arduous. From Dulles to Cairo (via Paris), the total travel time was almost 20 hours. Once in Cairo, we slept for 12 solid hours.

HOTEL TIP: In most hotels here, you are billed a 12 percent service charge. Word on the street is that the service charge does not go directly to the staff, so tips are much appreciated.

FAVORITE MEAL: Egyptian Night on the boat. Egypt's local food is quite tasty and includes specialties found in many other parts of the Middle East and Mediterranean, such as stuffed grape leaves, baba ghanouj, hummus and kebabs.

COOLEST ATTRACTION: The great pyramids at Giza. They are an awesome sight that you can't possibly appreciate merely by looking at pictures.

HOT HOT HOT: We were in Upper Egypt a few days after the summer solstice. It's a desert climate, bone-dry and with temperatures hitting 110 degrees, but the shade is surprisingly cooling when the humidity is that low.

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