November 4, 2019 | Stories from the road
Can Egypt mend a broken heart?
By Brooklyn D.
Brooklyn, who writes about her travels on her blog, Brutally Honest Travel, recently returned from our new Egypt Expedition trip. Read on to learn more about the trip, her favorite moments, and how traveling immediately after a breakup changed her perspective.
My first EF Ultimate Break trip to Egypt couldn’t have come at a better time. My fiancé and I just broke up—so I was definitely needing a change in scenery from our shared, one-bedroom apartment. Realizing I was going from having my entire life planned out to suddenly being alone, I was nervous yet excited to meet 37 strangers who would soon become lifelong friends.
Not only was I traveling with a heavy heart, but I had to face a lot of fears on this trip! Like my fear of flying, water, and battling to break out of my introverted bubble. By the end of the trip, I was certainly an introvert posing as an extrovert; like-minded travelers have a way of bringing out the socialite in you.
To my surprise, I found someone on my trip flying out of the same airport as me and was booked for the same flights. This was an incredible relief, because I hadn’t flown internationally since I was twelve. So basically, no experience with airports or who to show your passport to, where to print your boarding tickets—you get the idea. Daynell was incredibly sweet and helpful, showing me the ropes of boarding plane after plane.
Like I mentioned, I had to face a lot of fears on this trip: flying being one of them. It’s amazing how your anxiety slowly fades after boarding seven flights. It took three planes to get to Egypt, one in Egypt as a part of our tour, and then three to get home. I will say, it started out rough. On the flight from Chicago to Frankfurt, I passed out before takeoff. This is not a joke. I got so anxious about flying and taking off—that I passed out. In my seat. And woke up as we were speeding down the runway. Still though, this didn’t stifle my excitement for exploring Egypt. I took some deep breaths, broke out my Sudoku book, and relaxed with some puzzles. Every flight after that got a little bit easier! By the time we boarded our plane from Vienna back to the States, I was cool as a cucumber.
When in Cairo (and in the airports along the way), we started meeting our fellow travelers. Immediately I knew we had a good group, even though I didn’t have any previous travel companions to compare them to. Everyone was so excited to be a part of the launch trip to Egypt. Some travelers who landed first were so anxious to get going, they did some sightseeing by themselves before we all arrived. Everyone was bright-eyed and ready for adventure.
Brooklyn and her fellow travelers in Egypt
We slowly became a family on this trip, for more reasons than one, and mostly enjoyed talking about our previous travel experiences and where we wanted to go next. Because listing everything we packed into this eleven-day adventure would take up too much space, let me share some of my favorite moments.
In Cairo, of course the pyramids were stunning, but even more amazing and jaw-dropping for me were the temples we visited in Luxor and Dendera. Some of these temples were so well-preserved; the original colors still cling to the ceilings and walls. Particularly beautiful is the Dendera Temple Complex, where I got emotional and have one of my best pictures from the trip.
Dendera, by Brooklyn D.
In Luxor, almost everyone in our group woke up at 3am for our sunrise hot air balloon experience. This had been on my bucket list for more than ten years. I couldn’t believe this was really happening. Not only was I boarding the balloon, but I would be floating over the desert and by the Valley of the Kings. Pinch me. No seriously, pinch me. We enjoyed each other’s company on this trip, but we also met some Chinese tourists who were excited to get a picture with us. We didn’t speak the same language, but it didn’t matter; we shared an experience.
Hot air balloon excursion, by Brooklyn D.
In Hurghada, we had an enjoyable beach day. I was most excited for the included snorkeling excursion. But fear alert! Before this trip, I was terrified of open water. My anxiety also told me that breathing through a small tube while staring into the sea wouldn’t work out well. And it didn’t. For the first five minutes after I jumped into the Red Sea, I was freaking out. But I told myself to just breathe and remember this was a once in a lifetime opportunity! After choking myself underwater a few times, I finally got the hang of it and caught a glimpse of a stingray. Even though my lips were purple afterwards from shivering in the water, I’m so happy I powered through my anxiety to enjoy this amazing journey with new friends.
Snorkeling in Hurghada, by Brooklyn D.
Finally, I’ll mention something that was less than a highlight. On the bus ride back from Hurghada to Cairo, just about everyone wasn’t feeling well. The emergency bathroom became the main attraction on the bus. This is to be expected when traveling in foreign countries; your body needs time to adjust to different germs and foods. So, why mention this? Firstly, so you’re prepared with the proper medicines and expectations! Secondly, to detail the responsive and caring group I traveled with. Everyone was so helpful handing out Imodium, Tums, toilet paper, sodas...I’ve never been surrounded by more supportive and thoughtful people. Even though this bus ride was less than stellar, I remember my travel buddies fondly when I think back on it.
Overall, my first trip with EFUB was an absolute success and an unforgettable trip. I’m getting emotional as I recount the highs and the lows of the excursion. It’s difficult to focus on your anxieties and bad vibes when you’re surrounded with entrancing landscapes and rich history. When you realize you’re just a speck in the timeline of humanity, you start to accept there isn’t enough time in this life to be worried about things you can’t control. Instead, we need to make our mark while we’re here, and embrace every adventure we can.
EF Ultimate Break helps you do exactly that. They plan everything on your trip so all you have to worry about is which outfit coordinates best with the sandy landscape behind the pyramids. They include epic excursions like a sunrise hot air balloon ride or snorkeling in the Red Sea, so that you can live your best life and drop your worries at the plane terminal.
So, to answer my original question, ‘Can Egypt mend a broken heart?’ Well, it certainly helped me gain a new perspective on life. It reminded me just how many people want to explore this world and do it together, whether you’ve taken three trips together or you’re meeting for the first time while shopping the markets in Cairo. I grew a lot in my independence on this trip. I no longer fear being with me, myself and I. Because when you’re traveling the world, you’re never truly alone. This trip was the experience of a lifetime, and yes, it was ultimate.
photo by Brooklyn D.