My travel *pinch me* moment

Camel bum

Ok, you are going to have to stick with me on this one because my travelling *pinch me* moment came after a fairly epic journey. A few years ago before Egypt was tipped into revolution I was on a tour in Egypt. Group tours are not normally my thing (wait till I tell you about Morocco) but it was far easier to book a tour rather than independently plan a trip that would keep three Americans and a runawaykiwi happy. So after a few happy days climbing into the middle of the Pyramids, riding camels and impersonating the Sphinx we were on to our next adventure.

Riding camels in front of the Pyramids Egypt

The plan was (was being an important word) to take an 8 hour overnight train to our Nile cruise ship, then we would cruise off into the sunset and onto the next temple. Two important things to remember for later, the Australian lads on the tour went shopping to prepare for the train trip, they purchased 1) playing cards and 2) beer.

We hopped onto the train and by god it was the best sleep I have ever had. Being rocked to sleep with the clackety clack of the tracks lulling you into dreamland is something I wish I had every night.

We woke up all of a sudden and instantly went into panic mode, the train had stopped and that could mean only one thing, we had reached our destination and the rest of the group must be waiting. We quickly threw our clothes on, jammed everything into our suitcases and ran out the door; only to be told that we were not there yet.

Abu Simble at sunrise

So what the hell was going on? We were told to just sit tight and the tour leader was trying to find out what was up. So we sat tight in our tiny train bunks and read books, looked out the windows at the camels and quite literally drank the train dry…fun fact for you, a group of Kiwis, Australians and Americans can demolish an entire train of alcohol in 14 hours. Oh yes, our 8 hour train ride was onto hour 14.

Remember the two items from earlier? Well moments after skiting to the rest of us that they had the forethought to buy playing cards and beer, the Australian boys discovered a couple of things. Firstly that their ‘playing cards’ were not playing cards at all, rather they were 40 cards with photos illustrating the most religious sites in Egypt, not so helpful when playing poker. And the second was even more brilliant, after opening a beer to commiserate the card debacle someone in the group helpfully coughed that they were non-alcoholic beers. Not surprising in a country like Egypt, but I have never seen an Australian look so heartbroken.

People standing on the pyramids

So, at hour 18 on the train we ran out of food. Then at hour 19 we heard a bang and found a bullet hole in the window. We still had no idea why we were stopped and all of a sudden the hilarity of hour 14 seemed like a distant memory. Remember this was in the days before smart phones, and we couldn’t exactly Facebook for help. Runawaykiwi was not happy.

Train Egypt

At hour 22 we found out what was going on, the train in front of us had derailed and spilled its load of something all over the tracks. The simple solution would be to put all of us tourists onto buses, but the  government would not allow us to get off the train without a police escort (re: earlier bullet hole, we were in a dangerous area), and the police would not provide an escort.

It took a further 6 hours for our tour leader to negotiate buses to another train, that train to a closer station and then taxis to the ship. In total we were on that damn train for 28 hours, and by the end we were tired, freaked out and hangry. So where is this *pinch me* moment amongst this hell trip, hush I’m getting to that.

Hanging out with a soldier in the Valley of the Kings

The tour company was absolutely mortified at our experience, and just didn’t want us to miss out on anything that had been planned. So when we arrived on our boat at 4am they announced that the visit to the Temple of Edfu would go ahead as planned with the coach leaving at 5:30am. Yeah, after 28 hours on a train the idea was an hour and a half sleep before more site seeing. Never one to miss an experience I was keen, and left my room mate sleeping while I went to the temple.

Temple of Edfu

After our tour of Edfu we got back to the ship at at 9am, by this point everyone was either already asleep (having skipped the temple) or went straight to bed. But something stopped me. There was magic in the air and this runawaykiwi was on the Nile, a place I had watched in Disney movies but honestly thought I would never be adventurous enough to go.

King Tut

With the ship asleep I crept up to the top deck and just sat in the morning light. The tour leader came by to ask if I was ok, I said I was perfect. With a strange look he said ‘almost perfect’ and walked away. A few minutes later he came back and handed me a pina colada… now it was perfect.

My travel *pinch me* moment? The hot rays of the morning Egyptian sun, gliding down a river of legend while drinking a pina colada and feeling like I had, just for a moment, held magic in my hands.

*pinch me*

The River Nile

Check out more *pinch me* stories in the links below!
xx

14 Comments

  1. March 1, 2014 / 9:27 am

    I can just imagine the look on the Aussie guys faces when they realised they had non alcoholic beer!

    • March 1, 2014 / 9:46 am

      I was thinking exactly the same thing as Sammy hehe.

      I really enjoyed reading your story – sometimes its like that, even when things go to crap you can find some magic.

  2. March 1, 2014 / 10:12 am

    So good that you can turn a 28hr train journey into a positive thing! Egypt is a great place.

  3. March 1, 2014 / 11:43 am

    Ooo, I love a good story! This one was perfect and gave me goosebumps. Felt like I was right there with you. Thanks so much for sharing it! I love TRAVEL!!!!! xx

  4. March 1, 2014 / 11:53 am

    Aww I want to go there too! Technically I have but I was three so I do not remember it aside from photographs. x

  5. March 1, 2014 / 5:02 pm

    Wow amazing story, and I loved how you’ve turned what must have been a scary experience (Aussies with non-alcoholic beer?!) into such a positive 🙂 magic moment!

  6. March 1, 2014 / 8:12 pm

    I love this Rebecca and there is something magical about sailing down / up the Nile isn’t there! (get so confused which way it flows!). I was so fascinated watching the locals using the Nile for their crops and fishing – just such an intriguing part of the world.

    I did have a giggle about the Australians – that was worthy of the master card “priceless” ad! The train journey would have been hell. Did you do a felucca trip? Remind me to tell you the stories about the crazy australians on my tour – i’m smiling and shaking my head just thinking about it!

    xx

  7. Molly S
    March 1, 2014 / 9:29 pm

    Eeek! Love this story – and definitely a few great ‘pinch me’ moments in there! The Australians made me laugh…:)

  8. March 2, 2014 / 10:03 am

    I love your positive spirit! I would have been right there with you after 1.5 hours of sleep – I’d much rather sleep when I get home than miss something important!

    So you are the second person I’ve heard with not-so-great things to say about group tours, particularly in Morocco. What’s so bad about them? I’ve never taken one.

  9. March 2, 2014 / 5:50 pm

    Good on you for not wanting to miss out on anything and going on the Temple of Edfu after such a long journey and then enjoying such a magical moment. Love that you got a Pina Colada! Fantastic ending. I loved Egypt. It exceeded all expectations I had, even though this was the first place I opted to do a group tour as well. I’m really glad we did as there is so much history we would have otherwise not known about at all the temples. Great post.

  10. March 4, 2014 / 1:34 pm

    I love this story! And the fact that you still had an amazing experience out of such annoyances. I hope to have the same pinch me moment seeing the nile some day.

  11. March 5, 2014 / 10:54 am

    What a travel story! It’s one of those that whilst you’re there, there simply isn’t anything you can do about it, but make the best of it. Until you run out of beer!
    I’m a little disappointed the Aussies weren’t able to create a poker game based on the Egyptian cards…

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