They (whoever they are) say that travel broadens the mind and nourishes the soul, and this is one theory I whole-heartedly subscribe to.
Despite being a homebody, I love to visit new places and explore different cultures.
So choosing to go to Egypt with one of my best friends, and honorary sister, Leanne, was a fairly easy decision to make, despite the political situation still causing tension across the country.
Firstly we were looking for somewhere hot, in early March, and secondly we had a relatively small budget for the trip.
We checked temperatures, then costs and bingo, Egypt was the clear winner.
We did our homework, checking Tripadvisor, embassy websites re safe zones and customer reviews.
My brother had visited Egypt the year before and he and his girlfriend were full of praise for the resort of Sharm-el-Shiekh, the people, and of course, the iconic landmarks.
Decision made, we (literally) counted down the days, minutes, hours and seconds – there’s an app for that!
Staying all inclusive in the westernised resort gave us the feeling of safety and comfort we required and our rep whose name I can’t spell (sorry!) had spent Christmas 2012 in Middlesbrough and was delighted to do anything he could for ‘his little smoggies’!
But it was on our two day trips that we really got to experience Egypt.
We had decided before we booked the holiday that, providing it was safe, we couldn’t go to Egypt without going to Cairo to see the Pyramids, and as it was Leanne’s birthday, we also booked a trip which included camel riding, star gazing and a meal in a Bedouin tent.
I really wanted to ride a camel, but I was also terrified – you are very high off the ground, and in an uncomfortable saddle at the mercy of an animal who has no qualms about your safety.
For anyone who’s never met a camel, they are possibly the grumpiest animals in the world! They make a deep guttural growling noise that clearly tells you exactly how much they don’t want you on their back as they trek across the desert.
And typically I got the camel I referred to as the shopping trolley with the broken wheel – he constantly put his head down and frequently banged into the camel next to me, causing the nice lady from Durham riding him and I to get unnaturally close and a bit squashed.
But I was determined to appreciate the incredible situation I found myself in. I also find that I’m getting braver and becoming more relaxed about situations as I get older – bonus!
After our camel ride we arrived in time to watch the sunset over the mountains and then were treated to Bedouin hospitality – good food and dancing round the fire with Bedouin children.
Afterwards we were given a lecture about the stars and the constellations and viewed Jupiter through a telescope.
Then it was back on the bus and straight to bed for a 4am wake-up call to fly to Cairo!
We had booked a trip to the Egyptian Museum but due to an incident in the area, our trip was changed to the Citadelle and not everyone on the coach was happy with the change in plans.
But as it had been deemed unsafe, there really wasn’t any option, and our guide made our trip to the Citadelle both informative and fun.
Finally, visiting the Pyramids was a once in a lifetime experience (as cliched as that sounds) and the perfect end to a fantastic holiday.
Leanne and I have now decided we’re going to visit the rest of the seven wonders of the world, I’ll keep you updated!