Med Pearls Egyptian fam trip: A journey of adventure, culture, and gastronomy.
As the Med Pearls project reaches its end, the Confederation of Egyptian European Business Associations and the Egyptian Chamber of Commerce in Alexandria, in collaboration with the three awarded project subgrantees from Egypt, organized a final immersive Familiarization Trip. This journey, which took place from May 3rd to May 8th, 2023, was designed for European tour operators and travel media journalists, offering them an extraordinary exploration of two Egyptian pilot areas: the Lakes Edku & Mariout and Al-Montazah District in Alexandria, Egypt. Let's delve into the unforgettable experiences that unfolded during this adventure:
A Diverse Group Embraces the Journey
Signing up for the adventure was a diverse group of six individuals, including tour operators, travel magazine editors, women's focused travel agents, and sustainable tourism NGOs, from Germany, the United Kingdom, and France. Together, they embarked on a carefully curated itinerary spanning five eventful days, immersing themselves in the enchanting cultures of the Egyptian pearls.
The journey started with a general briefing about the program, accompanied by an introduction to the concept of Slow Tourism and the three Med Pearls subgrantees from Egypt. This set the stage for an expedition focused on meaningful connections and genuine cultural immersion.
Mariout Lake: A Cultural Oasis
The first two days unfolded around the often-overlooked Mariout Lake, where they were immediately immersed in the local culture with an authentic Bedouin lunch that awaited them at Aknash Restaurant, renowned for its mouthwatering barbecues prepared by the local communities. Satisfied and energized, they then made a stop at Fagnoon Arts, a hub of creativity, where participants delighted in the art of baking bread and tried their hand at pottery making. The day reached its pinnacle with a visit to the historical UNESCO World Heritage site, Abou Mina Monastery, where they had the chance to interact with the monastery's esteemed monks, delving into its rich history. At the end of the evening, a delicious dinner awaited the group at the nearby Hilton King's Ranch, providing the perfect setting to reflect on the day's experiences.
Abu Sir: A Journey Through Time
On the second day, visitors were transported back to the era of Cleopatra with an exclusive visit to the Abu Sir monumental site. To unwind and rejuvenate, participants enjoyed a serene Meditation and Yoga Session at the Jesuite Home. Later, a captivating lake boat tour with local fishermen provided a unique perspective of the Mariout Lake, complemented by bird watching, creating an immersive experience in nature. As the sun set, a culturally rich sunset dinner and tea were served, accompanied by a traditional Bedouin show filled with music and dance around a bonfire, igniting an atmosphere of pure joy.
Alexandria: A Tapestry of History and Flavors
Following the exploration of the Mariout Lake area, the team embarked on a journey to the heart of Alexandria city center. The itinerary included visits to the Roman Amphitheatre, the Royal Jewelry Museum, and panoramic views of the Montazah Gardens. Along the way, the group paused at Zefrion Restaurant in Abu Qir to enjoy traditional seafood, and dinner at the historical Fakhr Al Behar Yacht, from the times of King Farouk of Egypt.
Edku: A Beekeeping Adventure
On Saturday, May 6th, the highlight of the trip awaited the visitors in Edku, where they were greeted with warm fresh Feteer Meshaltet (Egyptian layered pastry), honey, and cream at a local Bee Farm. This immersive experience allowed the guests to closely observe and interact with the bees and beekeepers, gaining a deep appreciation for the fascinating world of apiculture. The adventure continued with a kayaking trip on Lake Edku. Later, the journey led to Rosetta, where they visited the historical old town and local market and engaged with the vibrant community. The day concluded with a heartwarming visit to a local home in Alexandria, where the tour operators had the unique opportunity to cook and dine together with a local family, savoring the flavors of authentic local cuisine, including the renowned Molokheya and Sambusak, among other delicacies.
Bibliotheca Alexandria and a Captivating Yacht Cruise
The adventure continued with a visit to the infamous Bibliotheca Alexandria followed by a fun horse carriage ride along the corniche to Alexandria's East Harbour. There, they were greeted by the refreshing Mediterranean breeze as they went on a relaxing yacht cruise around the Sunken Antiquities of the old city of Alexandria. The waves and panoramic views created a sense of tranquility providing a perfect backdrop for reflection and appreciation of the past adventures.
Positive Feedback and Fond Farewells
As the Familiarization Trip drew to a close, participants gathered for a round-table discussion to share their overwhelmingly positive feedback. Javier praised the flawless organization of the trip, while Chiara from Germany expressed her admiration for the opportunity to discover new places and connect with local communities. Yuri expressed gratitude for the chance to venture off the beaten tourist path and witness hidden gems. Martha was utterly captivated by the charms of Alexandria, and Francois relished every activity that fostered personal connections. Evelyn, deeply moved by the city, declared Alexandria as one of the best she had ever encountered.
With hearts filled with unforgettable memories and a deep appreciation for the wonders of Egypt, the entire Med Pearls team, alongside Egypt's project partners and the esteemed guests, gathered for a final farewell dinner. The evening was a celebration of the successful collaboration and the shared passion for promoting sustainable tourism and cultural exchange.
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