With far flung destinations no longer seeming so far away thanks to the internet and social media, everyone seems to have a long bucket list full of dream places around the world that they’d like to visit. But how about visiting places closer to home that are likely to be easier to get to and yet just as delightful? Dalia El Debaiky and Omar Attia’s romance developed first through a shared passion to discover Cairo’s treasures. They eventually got married and decided to broaden their discoveries by travelling together around Egypt in 60 days. Their fascinating journey not only exceeded their expectations, but their blog describing their journey to delightful destinations attracted much attention on social media, gaining them a huge number of followers from around the world. eniGma’s Nayera Yasser sat with the couple behind “Around Egypt in 60 Days” to learn about their favourite discoveries and the hidden gems they would recommend to other travellers.
Ageeba Beach – The Fascinating Beach
On Egypt’s western shore of the Mediterranean close to Marsa Matrouh, lies a beach called Ageeba (translation: amazing) known for its crystal clear waters and pure white sand. “When I first showed the image of the beach to my father, he thought it was taken in Marbella or Majorca in Spain; he could not believe that there was such beauty in Egypt. He was sad that he had never been there and now plans to visit it soon. That’s exactly the reaction we wish to see from everyone who sees our image of Ageeba,”exclaims Attia.
Manial Palace – The Prince Who Never Got to the Throne
The Manial Palace was built by Prince Mohamed Ali between 1899 and 1929. As the first cousin of King Farouk, he was getting ready to eventually succeed him to the throne. However, the 1952 revolution came along and thwarted his plans. “Building this palace was his way of preserving his legacy. According to a member of the palace’s current staff, the prince used to walk back and forth in the palace’s throne hall, practicing how he would address the nation when he got to the throne,” says Attia.
Abu Simbel – The Giant Love of Rameses II & Nefertari
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the giant twin temples of Abu Simbel were carved out of the mountainside in the 13th century BC, during the 19th dynasty reign of the Pharaoh Ramesses II; and was carefully moved stone by stone to the current location to avoid it being inundated when the High Dam was built. “A lot of Egyptians go to Aswan and don’t bother to take the three-hour drive to reach Abu Simbel, even though it is absolutely worth it. It is by far the most magnificent temple in the entire region,” says Attia.
Tel Basta – Walking Through History
This hidden gem in Zagazig is home to a number of Pharaonic and Roman monuments and statues, simply lying on the ground. This important attraction is sadly neglected, eliciting zero local attention. Attia remembers his visit as rather funny, “I found this site on a British website and I decided on a random day that I will go to Zagazig to visit the ruins of this temple. When I got there, the security guard was baffled to see me. He wondered why and how I got there.”
Khan El Khalili – Tales of the Century
Khan El Khalili is a popular attraction for foreign tourists. The traditional souk is located in the heart of Islamic Cairo. From souvenirs to antiques and jewellery, the bazaar offers a range of widely diverse local handmade merchandise. “Even though Khan El Khalili is a popular destination among locals and tourists, there are still many hidden gems there. Tucked in a particular spot not known to many, there is a one-hundred year old shop that sells rare magazines, stamps and newspapers that document a far gone era,” says Attia.
Luxor – Above and Beyond Magic
The beautiful voyage above picturesque Luxor was a truly memorable experience which the couple remembers with tremendous awe. According to them, the experience was nothing less than mesmerising. “We took the balloon ride during our first visit ever to Luxor. We had been learning about Luxor in school and hearing so much about its temples and monuments. When we finally got there and saw it from the sky in a hot air balloon, it was so very impressive,” El Debaiky fondly recalls.