Friday, December 18, 2009

I'm on my way to EGYPT!!!!

Day One - Getting Ready to Leave, December 15, 2009

Its 3:30 pm, wait, now its 3:45 pm … crap, its 4:00, I really have to get a move on it if I want to make my 6:30 pm flight at JFK. I now have 2.5 hours to get to the airport (and no, there is no online check in with Egypt Air. It takes about 40-50 minutes, door to door, to get to the airport via LIRR. I also know at a minimum, I must be there 45-50 minutes prior to departure, regardless of international travel, if I wanted to check-in and check-in a bag. So I have to be there before 5:40 pm (or else the ticket agent will see me groveling and pleading with them! Not a pretty sight – haha!)

So if I leave now (um, not ready yet), I will get there around 5:00 pm. Plenty of time (you getting skirmish yet?) , so, I tell myself, I will make it (yes, I’m notorious for cutting it close to departure time). I caught the 4:22 pm LIRR Jamaica outbound train and made it to the check-in counter at 5:10 pm. Not bad – phew, what a relief! So with one hour and twenty minutes to spare – what can I do? Shop… No, I made my way to the gate (afterall, I didn’t want to miss my plane after cutting it so close). I also used the remaining time to call my credit/debit cards to authorize usage in Egypt and Jordan (definite must, so don’t forget to do it on your next international travel!) and texted a few friends before I left. Ah, the hard part is done, now I can relax and sleep on the plane!

If you’re curious about my preparations, read below… If not, wait for my next blog posts on Egypt!

Excitement Level: Low. For some reason, I don't usually get excited until I’m am at my destination. It doesn't feel until I am there and witnessing it. :D

Mental Preparation: None. Though, I do admit, I am a bit nervous to be a woman traveling in Egypt (thank goodness, I’m traveling with my brother, which reminds me -- should I pretend that we are married? sick thought, i know, but apparently married woman here are not accosted as much!).

Physical Preparation: Limited. Ankle is still hurting a bit. - I expect to do my own physical therapy while on the road. Gym? I went a few times to get my body ready for some scuba diving (though, I had no pool to see if I'm capable of swimming a few laps – so let’s hope I don’t drown!)

Planning: A lot. My brother determined our route and I obliged. I figured out all the hotels and made reservations via email. I used Lonely Planet Egypt, Lonely Planet Middle East and to find reputable and clean hotels. For the first few nights, Wilson and I will be staying at a 5-star hotel (he is returning from a 42 day safari -- so he needs to slowly readjust back to society.) No we aren’t staying at 5-star hotels the entire time, just 3-stars (or whatever I can find). Took a week or so to get email confirmations from most of the hotels (sounds easy, but really isn't).

Packing: Not so bad. Packing my clothes was easy -- I packed one carry on suitcase for a 38 day trip (I checked it in), one side tote bag filled with camera stuff and another sling shot backpack with my camera equipment. Lots of camera equipment and I already feel as if I've packed too much!

Purchases: Drove me insane. Tested three cameras and six lenses within a week. At the end of the week long camera trials (sounds like a lawsuit!), I chose the 7D and equipped it with 24-70mm F/2.8L lens and 70-200mm F/4.0L lens. Btw, I have some new friends at B&H, though I do admit they probably hate me at the return counter. :D But, if I’m about to spend THAT much on equipment, it better be good and perform well under certain stress tests! (future blog about camera purchase to come)

Last Minute Thoughts

I made my flight and with 45 minutes to spare! phew! I can't believe I'm on my way! The excitement is slowly building. (ha ha, the photo of me on the left is me writing this part of the blog!)

I can’t wait to see what Egypt has to offer and I can’t wait to explore and live day to day, not knowing what to expect next. Every day will be a new challenge, whether finding a way to our destination, haggling with Egyptians over their wares, or finding a clean bathroom! Whatever it is, I love the newness of traveling and the unknown. Traveling is probably one of the only times where I find myself in a heightened “survival” mode – where I depend on my gut instincts, my common sense and my ability to talk to strangers. I love it! I really can’t wait to interact with the locals to find the good food and the hidden gems! oooh and all the beautiful photos I will capture (cross your fingers!) So, on to my adventure I go!

my travel blog will start soon! (not up and running just yet! but will be soon!).

btw, my New York postings will be limited for now, but I hope I will have internet access while on the road and can blog about the adventure in the Middle East. I will be gone for 38 days -- and will be visiting Egypt, Jordan and maybe maybe Israel (if we have time) with my brother.
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