All my life I have been intrigued by the mysteries of the pyramids around the globe, especially the great pyramid of Egypt. The problem with thoughts of adventure in far off places is that they are ultimately very expensive. I never thought it would ever be possible for me to actually go to Egypt and walk inside of the Great pyramid. My dad used to tell me as a kid that I could do anything I want if I wanted it bad enough.

One day in 2008, a co-worker and friend came into my office (funny how adventures begin this way) and asked me a question, “do you want to go to Egypt and dive the Red Sea?” I looked up from my desk and in that moment I saw myself standing at the great pyramid. I said “I’m in, when do we leave?” A notion that I could never possibly do something like that changed in the blink of an eye with a simple “yes.”

Anything is possible

It all started with a very long airplane ride from JFK in New York to Cairo. The people in my group all met at JFK and as mostly strangers to one another, we boarded the plane. I’m feeling a mixture of excitment, anticipation and a sense of uncertainty about what to expect in a foreign country. This will be the first time I’ve have been out of the country besides Canada and Mexico. The trip was a tedious 12 hours. Packed into a little seat with little room to adjust, I tried unsuccessfully to sleep the hours away. Even with the assistance of several mixed beverages, sleeping in an upright position was impossible. It was a long night.

The sun finally rose over an alien world and as the plane made its final approach I veiwed a bleak landscape without color. A city of sand and rock lay below and the beginning of an incredible adventure had begun.

After gathering our luggage, obtaining our visas and exchanging currency I was ready for a beverage and a cool swim. It was not to be. Our first stop after boarding our tour bus was the famous Cairo Museum. The trip from the airport to the museum was an adventure in itself as the driving here has no rules. It’s everyone for themselves and no one wants to give way. This makes driving in New York City look like childs play.

Cairo Museum

The museum was pretty cool. Really it was hot as hell, no AC but that’s part of being here. There was so much to see and after a while the artifacts, as historical and awesome as they were, became almost mundane. Even so, I couldn’t get over the fact that they were 3000 years old. King Tut Ankh Amun’s exhibit was unreal. Very cool.
Cameras were not allowed inside…..

It was nice to finally get to the Cairo Sheridan in the heart of the city and get checked in. Once settled we immediately met at the pool for a cocktail and to wash off the long flight. The hotel was first class, an oasis in the middle of a crumbling city of 8 million souls.

We finished the day off with a long walk through the streets of Cairo. We ended up at the _________ restaurant where we enjoyed some authentic Egyptian cuisine, Mostly fresh sea food straight from the Nile. We finally had a chance to get to know one another and share the excitement of being here. It was a good first day!

Aug 22: AM:
Today we are to visit the early pyramid sites at Meydum and Dahshur.
As we ventured out to our destination, my first impression of Cairo was a city of disrepair, a city void of color. Everything was a neutral sand color. The buildings seemed incomplete, no windows and rubble everywhere. Where did all the rubble come from? Rooftops were littered with brick and rock.

As we traveled in our fancy tourist bus, it quickly became evident that there were no traffic laws of any kind. Most roads were without lanes and traffic was a free-for-all. It was actually very entertaining, like watching a movie through our oversized windshield. Who was going to crash first, the guy on the moped carrying his entire family or the dump-truck squeezing between oncoming traffic? It really was amazing.

As we left Cairo behind and ventured out into the smaller villages, the conditions got worse, garbage littering the streets and waterways, children playing in the same water, buildings in total disrepair. I had mixed feelings of empathy for these struggling people and an uneasy feeling of guilt that I was born into a better life. The comments I was hearing from some of the people in my group were unsettling, that somehow they were far superior being from the USA, driving along in our air-conditioned bus looking out at the squalor as though we were insulated from the outside.

As we approached our destination, I caught my first glimpse of a pyramid in the distance. Now you must understand that I have a great reverence for these pyramids. They have always mystified me, the history and mystery that surround them. As we approach the mountain-sized structure, I am in awe of the sight. The bus comes to a stop a good distance from the pyramid. As the doors open we exit into an oven of arid air, an alien environment and I become overwhelmed with the feeling that I am “no longer in Kansas Toto.” I immediately start walking across the sand towards the pyramid. The closer I get the higher it looms against a crystal clear sky of blue. Wow!

There are guards of course protecting these historic monuments. They are, in a sense, tourist guides competing for attention from the tourists that visit and the currency that accompanies them in the form of tips, any tips they can muster for assisting in picture taking, sitting on their camel or allowing visitors to venture into places that are not typically allowed, all away from the eyes of the powers that be.

Our next stop was the Ancient Capital of Egypt at Memphis, the Step Pyramid and the Tombs of Sakkara.

Without repeating my prior exuberance, let’s just agree that I am in a constant state of awe at the sight of these antiquities, thousands of years old. They tell a story of life back then. Just the thought that I am standing where an ancient civilization once thrived is very cool.

Aug 23: AM:
The next morning we headed out for the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx. The “big daddy.” The bus ride was entertaining as usual. When we arrived, I couldn’t believe my eyes. How was it possible for a stone-age civilization to build such a massive structure?

"Big Daddy"


On this visit, the option to go inside was available for an extra fee; it’s a no-brainer. “Let’s go.” I began to climb the massive stones up to the entry point and finally reached the entrance.

Now you would think that once inside the temperature would be cooler but it’s quite the opposite. It’s actually like a sauna. I began to sweat immediately and the smell of ammonia was overwhelming. The deeper into the tomb I went the more pungent the odor. I figured it was from the sweat of many people over time. The tunnel inside was small and steeply elevated, dimly lit by lights.

I had to climb hunched over at the waist. Twice on the way in I came to huge chambers opening up above me and finally to the end in the great chamber. The climb had taken about 20 minutes and I definitely had the sense that I was entombed……

Deep inside, it was like my voice was muffled, void of tone and quality……dead. Before me lay the opened sarcophagus that has been viewed by millions on TV and I’m standing here in front of it, touching it. The granite blocks that make up the inner walls are cut so finely that you couldn’t slide a razor blade into the cracks. I cannot believe where I am. I waited until the few tourists had gone and then took the time to soak in the utter silence, to close my eyes with my forehead against the granite and listen; to picture the past and try to imagine what took place 5000 years ago in this mystical place.

It was hard to leave but I made my way back through the tunnel and to the outside where the laser beam of the sun met me. My clothes were ringing wet with sweat and it actually felt cooler as I climbed down the massive stone blocks to the desert floor. Looking back, I didn’t want to leave. I knew that once I left, I probably would never return to this place and I just couldn’t seem to soak it in enough to satisfy me. Maybe I will return…….

Once I came back down to earth, it was time for some fun. We all gathered up, picked our ride for the afternoon and went on a camel ride.

The ride ended in the vicinity of the Great Sphinx where we wandered and wondered.

That night we wandered the streets of Cairo looking for something good to eat. We found a place situated on the Nile that looked and had the feel of authentic Egyptian cuisine.

The food was good, the company was nice and the belly dancing was awesome!

Aug 24:
The Valley Temple, Visit to the Citadel, the Alabaster and Sultan Hassan Mosques and the Khan El Khalili Bazaar.

Aug 25:
Visit to the West Bank, including the Valley of the Kings, Queens and Nobles, the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut and the Colossi of Memnon.

After flying from Cairo to Luxor, we checked in to the Luxor Hotel which by the way was 1st class. Situated on the Nile, Luxor was a far cry from the shambles of Cairo.

Aug 26:
Visit to the Temples of Karnak and Luxor.

Aug 27:
Transfer by road to Hurghada.

The next day we boarded our bus for a 5 hour trek across the desert to the port city of Hurghada where we would begin our scuba diving portion of the trip into the Red Sea. The journey was interesting to say the least. We passed through several check points along the way where guards armed with machine guns were sheltered behing steel barriers. I assumed it had something to do with terrorism and protecting the tourism trade that is so desperately needed in this part of the world. We actually had an armed escort on board with us during the excursion across the desert. I caught a glimpse of a Mac-10 under his jacket at one point. There was also a report of an attack on a tour bus recently in this area where an RPG was fired at the bus. This information made for an even more interesting ride.

Finally, we made our approach to Hurghada and found our way to a sea-side paradise. I’ve never seen water as clear blue. It was amazing. I am ready for some diving!

We board our vessel where we will spend the next week diving at some of the best dive sites in the world.

The “Emperor” which is the name of our vessel is a fine boat indeed. Everything is first class. Our first dive is an orientation dive to assess the divers skill level. This takes place at Sha’ab El Erg where we dive for about an hour. Everyone passes.

Our next dive location in the Red Sea is Abu Nuhas where we dive the WWII wrecks of the “Giannis D,” the “Cresula K” and the “Carnatic.” All exceptional dives. Unfortunately, I do not have an underwater camera so I have no pictures to share.

Our other dives are listed here:
Yolanda Shark reef
“Dunraven” at Beacon Rock
The “Thistlegorm”
The “Kingston” at Shag Rock
The “Barge” wreck dive
The “Rosalie Muller” at Bluff Point

The “Rosalie Muller” was an exceptional dive to end the trip. A cargo ship full of supplies headed to the Mediteranean, it was bombed by German aircraft and sank here in the Red Sea.

The week on board “The Emperor” was incredibe. Our American group joined a European group which included divers from Britain, Germany, Ireland and Venezuela.

We headed back to Hurghada where we traveld back to Luxor and prepared for the flight back to Cairo. The adventure was coming to a close and I think everyone was ready to get back to the USA and eat some real american food. Our last day in Cairo, we visited the Hard Rock Cafe and ate what seemed to be real beef…it tasted like it anyway????

The trip back to JFK was a nightmare. We had been up for 27 hours and endured screaming kids, irate passengers and crowded conditions where sleep was imposible. I guess it was tolerable considering the amazing adventure I had experienced. It was one I will never forget.

The Crew