May 31, 2011

Cairo, Egypt- Travel Blog

I’ve decided it’d be a bit easier to split my travel blogs by cities, instead of countries- that way the post is shorter but you get the most out of my tips and information.

Honestly, this trip for me was a dream come true! Who hasn’t dreamt about seeing the Great Pyramids of Guiza, not to mention the famous Sphinx…. I know I have... eh, had! And I blame it all on the movie; The Mummy. Ever since the fearless Brandon Frasier; eh, I mean O’Connell, raised the infamous Imhotep from his grave- I knew that I’d one day have to visit this magical land filled with adventure, peril and romance. Of course, a couple years later I tragically realized that The Mummy was a phony. For starters it wasn’t even filled in Egypt; not one scene! Not to mention the story itself, although it was believable and VERY entertaining, came nowhere near the actual Egyptian legends…. I was heartbroken, I really was *tear* but that didn’t stop me from wanting to visit this country to experience true Egyptian culture and to visit one of the 7 wonders of the world.

My trip began with online reservations. I booked a two-week tour for my friend Theresa and I with Ramses Day Tours. They are ranked #1 tour group in, but I did do my homework before finally deciding on Ramses Tours. If you read other Travel blogs, you might have heard horror stories about Egypt. Some travel blogs stated that the majority of the online reservation tours are scams, others suggested that you just “wing it” and visit Egypt as your own tour guide. I don’t know about ya’ll, but when I visit a country I like learning about the people and their culture, and what better way than to have an actual citizen be your guide.

But, as you might imagine, I was very nervous when I finally contacted Ramses, and they wrote me back asking for a 10% deposit. I was very “ify”, but let me tell you- I followed their guideline/process for sending my payment and everything worked out perfectly. I went to a local Western Union, sent them my 10%, and the next day got a confirmation email saying my deposit was received and they couldn’t wait to meet me. So despite all the scam warnings, I’m here to tell you that Ramses Tours is a company you can trust.

climbing the Great Pyramid
With that being said, let me just mention that after my arrival at CAI (Cairo International Airport), there was no tour guide to be found. We were told that our tour guide would be holding a “Diana/Theresa” sign, but we couldn’t find him/her. As you may imagine, I was freaking out! It was actually my friend Teresa who calmed me down by reminding me that “obstacles become blessings” and right she was. Being the prepared tourist we are, we had Ramses contact info, and with help from a worker at the airport we were able to get a hold of the Ramses representative, and they sent out a driver to pick us at immediately…. Imagine our luck; we ran into an English speaking bathroom cleaner, and he let us borrow his cell to make the call…. Talk about being blessed, huh?! :) Upon being picked up we were told that as a courtesy we would be upgraded from our 3 to 5 star hotels throughout the 2 weeks. I think its safe to say that out obstacle really did become a blessing!

After a good nights rest, we got up bright and early because our first stop was the Great Pyramids of Giza. Mohammad, our tour guide, gave us a history lesson while we were there. The three main pyramids of Giza are the pyramid of Khufu (the great pyramid), Khafre, and Menkaure. The Great Pyramid is awesome and even taller and bigger in real life. You are even allowed to climb on it, just not allowed to climb to the top of it! Theresa and I bought tickets to go inside the Great Pyramid. The passageway is very steep and narrow and you have to walk it while hunched over! The passageway ends in the tomb's chamber, which in reality isn't much. To be honest, I wouldn't recommend buying tickets to go into the pyramid because it's not very exciting, just a strenuous climb, but how many people can say that they've been inside the Great Pyramid? So it's up to you, just know there's not much to see once your inside. After our visit to the Great Pyramid, I did a camel ride around the other two pyramids, Theresa was too scared :)haha!

OK, so I quickly learned that camels are not my favorite mode of transportation. First of all, camels are REALLY tall and it's a long way to fall to the ground! Secondly, by now it was midday and it was HOT. I mean, really, really HOT. Sure I enjoyed the surrounding scenery; there are three smaller pyramids towards the back, which were made for Khafu's wives, but after 10 minuets of riding in the sun, I suddenly felt really sick. Thankfully, the ride wasn’t much longer and I was able to get back to camp and drink a liter of cold water in one gulp.

Our next stop was the Sphinx. Theresa and I had our picture taken and we got a little bit of information from our tour guide. By this time I was feeling a bit woozy. Our tour guide told us that it was 38 C. Now, if I remember correctly, 38 C= approx 100 F! That's CRAZY! And let me remind you that my trip was in November.... NOVEMBER! It's supposed to be winter for crying out loud! But I guess the normal temperature rules don't apply in the middle of the Egyptian desert. After the Spinx, Mohammad quickly took us to a restaurant to grab a bit of lunch. I ate lots of pita and hummus. Food definitely helped and I felt ready for our next stop, which was the Egyptian Museum.   

This museum is just packed full of every Egyptian treasure you can imagine.  Mohammed gave us a quick basic tour of the first floor, then we were left on our own to visit exhibits such as King Tut's golden mask and tomb treasures and the mummy room, which houses eleven royal mummies. The whole second floor (or almost all of it) is dedicated to the treasures found in King Tut's tomb. Its amazing to see how much possessions he had and he was only Pharaoh for approx 10 years.... imagine if they found a closed tomb for a Pharaoh that lived his whole term; 40-50 years... they'd need 15 Egyptian museums just to display all his possessions. The Egyptian Museum is something that is well worth the entrance fee and is a must see for every tourist! But remember, there are no cameras are allowed in the museum (they store them away at the entrance of the museum) and there is no air conditioning... deodorant quickly became my best friend throughout my whole trip!

Upon returning to our Hotel, Theresa and I had some dinner and off to bed it was.... which was surprisingly comfortable! We stayed at the Mercure Hotel and it was phenomenal. Clean, comfortable, friendly staff, awesome pool... Although lots of reviews on tripadvisor recommend staying only at known hotels (Marriot, Hilton, even Best Western), I found our stay at the Mercure to be super accommodating and I would recommend it to ANYONE looking for good, affordable hotel in Cairo near the Pyramids. 
The next day was a more relaxed, non rushed day. We spent the majority of the morning shopping for souvenirs, we visited a perfume factory and I bought myself a Lotus Flower scented oil. It smells delicious! We did make a quick stop at an Egyptian papyrus store... it was very educational. They walked us through the process in which the plant becomes the canvas or paper. Unfortunately I was running low on cash and I didn't have enough to buy one :( they were pretty expensive, but I can see why! They're hand made and BEAUTIFUL! We took a car/scenic route of Cairo (the city, not the desert) and visited a couple of Mosque's. I'll admit that I did jump the first couple of times the prayer calling came on. There are speakers ALL over the city and Egyptians take their prayer time very seriously. The calling is done 5 times a day for 20 mins (1 hour a day).
After yet another delicious, pita and hummus filled (I was addicted to that stuff) lunch, we took a private Nile River cruise. This was probably the funniest part of my afternoon. Our boat driver/navigator had this little boom-box on the boat and was blasting some Egyptian/Arabian music, which I must admit had an AWESOME beat to bit (I appreciate any kind of good music when I hear it). Once he noticed that I was tapping my foot to the rhythm of the music, he pretty much stopped our boat, and started belly dancing. It was the coolest thing I had ever seen, that boy could MOVE! Theresa and I cheered him on with some clapping, "Woo!" and "you go boy" comments, but he eventually got us dancing too. It was such a fun evening :) I definitely recommend taking a scenic river cruise.... Be on the lookout for this guy!

Practice saying Shukran (pronounced show-kran), which means Thanks or thank you. Everyone and their moms expect you to give them a tip.... they all have this misconception that tourists are just loaded with money to hand out. Expect to give anyone who helps you a tip. Egyptian people are very friendly, don't be afraid to start a conversation... that is, if they speak English, which majority of the folks at the touristy spots do. You don't know how many people I befriended just by talking about soccer, or futbol. They couldn't believe that I was a soccer player (very rare in Egypt for a women to lay a "mans" sport). They where blown away when I started commenting on the 2010 World Cup and certain games/players. Also, make sure and exchange your money for Egyptian pounds. It makes it less of a hassle when your trying to bargain- which is something you should ALWAYS do! Never settle for the original price, they will bring it down, TRUST ME! When I was there 5 EP = $1 US. You can use my favorite exchange site to calculate the current value;

Well guys, as far as Cairo, that is all I have to tell. The next day we got on a train towards Aswan, but I'll be doing that city (and many others) in separate blog spots. There's just so much to share about Egypt... Gosh, I hope this wasn't to boring for you y'all.  Let me know if you would like me to add details of a certain aspect of my trip or if you have any questions. Here are a couple more pictures of my visit to Cairo- enjoy :)

in front of the Egyptian Museum
educational demonstration on papyrus
Nile Cruise
giving the Sphinx a little farewell kiss...
Planning a trip to Cairo in the near future... have questions I didn't answer in my travel post? Please, dont hisitate to ask eithe rin the comments below or by email; lovelygetaway @
I'm here to help :)

May 29, 2011

In My Mailbox #5

For more info on IMM or to sign up/post your link, 
visit Kristi over at The Story Siren.

Hi guys, 
So... I've spent the whole weekend laying in bed and reading.... (hence the lazy look in the vlog) but you know what, it's been AWESOME. I wish every weekend was a 3 day weekend :) Either way, he's this week's IMM vlog. Enjoy!

A special thanks to Shannon... thanks for hosting that twitter contest a while back :)

May 27, 2011

Review: Nightshade (Nightshade #1)

Title: Nightshade (Nightshade #1)
Author: Andrea Cremer
Publisher: Philomel
Pages: 452
Challenge: None

My Rating:
Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything— including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice? -summary from

Meet Calla; she is a kick ass and awesome, soon to be 18 year old Alpha werewolf! )First heroine I don’t want to slap around :)haha!) She is Alpha of the Nightshades, a Guardian pack working for the Keepers. Her job is to protect all Keeper secrets from the Searchers. Since infancy, Calla is betrothed to Ren, Alpha of the Bane Guardian Pack. She has always known and accepted her destiny, but all that changes the day she saves Shay, a human boy who has just moved into town. Much to her surprise, Shay is not all that he appears. There’s a reason he moved to the secluded mountain which is Vail, and Shay and Calla set out to find the truth about who he truly is and how he fits into Calla’s world.
Such a unique story! I quickly fell in love with the magical world of Alphas, Keepers, and wraiths. The plot in itself was enthralling and romantic, but I felt the author had a little too much foreshadowing. For example; Slight spoiler- when Calla was getting dress fitted and her mom started freaking out because Logan was making Calla spend time with Shay… yeah… thanks to that scene I kind of figured out the ending.
Characterization was great; Ansel was easily my favorite character. He was willing to risk anything for his sister…. What I wouldn’t do for a brother like him! I was a bit angry with Calla for not trusting him with the truth, but I later understood that she did it for his own good. Calla's yearning for Shay was a little too much for my taste…. Gosh, I’m such a hypocrite, had it been the other way around (Ren and not Shay) I would have been all for it! The whole Calla and Shay relationship, I just never felt it.  It lacked substance, and honestly I thought it was too instantaneous. I usually enjoy “love at first sight” stories, but something about Shay just didn’t work for me. Ren on the other hand… well, let’s just say he had my blood boiling! Although Ren started off as a jerk, he had totally transformed by the end (Chapter 33…. Awwwww!) and that give’s him mad props in my book! TEAM REN!

Overall, Nightshade was a quick, captivating read. This is a series to watch out for! Luckily for me, Wolfsbane is sitting in my TBR pile :) it might not be next. But I think I’d be willing to bump it up!

May 25, 2011

Review: City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments #3)

Title: City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments #3)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry 
Pages: 541
Challenge: YA Series

My Rating

To save her mother's life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters -- never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight. As Clary uncovers more about her family's past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadow-hunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadow-hunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he's willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her new found powers to help save the Glass City -- whatever the cost? -summary from

Wow…. Just wow. What can I say about COG that hasn’t already been said. This was such an intense story.... in a good and in a bad way.

In this last installment, we pick up right after the events in book 2. After making their forbidden journey into Idris, Clary and Luke meet up with the rest of the gang and some new characters. They're introduced to Sebastian, another Shadowhunter, and Cary meets Amatis, Luke's sister. Then continues the epic final battle versus Valentine, and let me tell ya, it was AWESOME! *slight spoiler* I felt all giddy inside knowing that the Downworlders and Shadowhunters were working together against Valentine.

It was nice to finally get Clary's moms point of view and find out all the hidden secrets and what really happened. I enjoyed reading about all the characters! You really grow to love them and their relationships. But let me warn you.... There were certain scenes that did make me cringe. I'm talking about Jace and Clary. Deep down, I knew that Clary and Jace weren’t related, but that didn’t make the kissing scenes easier to read. I felt so torn; I loved it when Jace gave in to his emotional side and went in search of Clary (especially since he spent the majority of the book being a complete jerk)…. But at the same time I was praying they wouldn’t kiss… You're cheering for the same people that gross you out when their together... does what make sense? I don’t know, it just felt so wrong to me.

With that being said, I still loved the story and the ending! What can I say, I'm a sucker for happy endings. Plus, the Simon and Jace humor charm from the past 2 books is still present and very strong.... even during the darker parts of the novel they were both hilarious! Overall, this is an awesome ending to what I thought was a trilogy. It turns our book 4 City of Fallen Angels released earlier this year and you can bet your bottoms I will be buying it this weekend :)

May 23, 2011

Review: Desires of the Dead (The Body Finder #2)

Title: Desires of the Dead (The Body Finder #2)
Author: Kimberly Derting
Publisher: HarperTeen

Pages: 368
Challenge: YA Series
My Rating: 

Violet can sense the echoes of those who've been murdered—and the matching imprint that clings to their killers. Only those closest to her know what she is capable of, but when she discovers the body of a young boy she also draws the attention of the FBI, threatening her entire way of life. As Violet works to keep her morbid ability a secret, she unwittingly becomes the object of a dangerous obsession. Normally she'd turn to her best friend, Jay, except now that they are officially a couple, the rules of their relationship seem to have changed. And with Jay spending more and more time with his new friend Mike, Violet is left with too much time on her hands as she wonders where things went wrong. But when she fills the void by digging into Mike's tragic family history, she stumbles upon a dark truth that could put everyone in danger.  -summary from

It was very nice to start the book off with a clean start; we didn’t have any cliffhanger or lingering questions/problems from book one. Violet and Jay have a bit of a break and it was nice seeing their relationship in a drama-free zone. But I was anxious to see what new plot Ms. Derting was going to throw at us, and let me just say that she did not disappoint!
In the story we still get to see the “stalkers” point of view, which gives the story a major creep factor. Although I will say that I did figure out how everything was going to unfold a bit sooner than I did with The Body Finder…. But there is still plenty of excitement and suspense throughout the book. At times I found myself screaming, “Nooo! Turn around! Don’t go in there alone!” …. Lets just say that at times I felt like I was watching a horror film in which the protagonist walks straight into a trap or does something stupid. But every event is part of the bigger picture towards the end.
My only complaint about this book is Violet and Jay’s relationship; it was rather anti-climatic… now before you start sharpening your pitchforks, let me explain. Despite how romantic and sweet Jay is to Violet throughout the book; he does have a moment of weakness and they get into a fight. Now, I don’t want to give too much away but Violet definitely overreacts! She brings on this horrible attitude and she pretty much lost all my “Violet is a kick ass heroine” kudos. I wanted to reach into the book and slap her around a couple of times so she’d straighten out. I want their relationship to succeed, but with the way Violet was acting I was afraid I wasn’t going to get my happy ending.
I really like the new FBI characters that were introduced; Sarah and Rafe. Violet forms a sort-of friendship with Rafe and I'm really looking forward to seeing what role he’ll play; he’s a whole lot of sexy just waiting to happen… you’ll see! There were some parts in the middle that were a bit slow and I was just praying for something to happen, but that all changed once the FBI plot-line came along.
Overall, this was another great book from Ms. Derting. I recommend this series to all paranormal mystery-thriller book lovers, not to mention romance, too! Can’t wait till I get my hands on book 3 :) have they even announced a name or release date? Will have to look that up now!

May 19, 2011

Book bloggler hop (6) & Follow Friday (6)

Follow Friday is hosted by Rachel of Parajunkee's View & Blog hop is hosted by Crazy for books! This is an awesome way to talk a bit about yourself and make some new friends along the way!

Q. It's circle time. Time for us to open up and share. Can you tell us FIVE quirky habits or things about you? We all have them...
1. I say "dude" in the begining or every other sentence.
2. I color-code my closet.
3. I am a compulsive email checker.
4. Money in my wallet has to face the same way. 
5. I doodle to calm my nerves.

Book Blogger Hop
 Q. If you were given the chance to spend one day in a fictional world (from a book), which book would it be and what would that place be?

I would love to spend a day in the Nevernever (The Iron Fey). I would visit both the Seelie an Unseelie courts (mean queens don't scare me ;)haha!).... Maybe I'll be lucky and run into a handsome young prankster or an icy prince?!...

May 18, 2011

Review: Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy #3)

Title: Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy #3)
Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 443
Challenge: YA Series

My Rating:
For Rose Hathaway, everything seems out of kilter. Ever since she made her first Strigoi kills, a dark shadow has been creeping over her. Looming in the background, too, is another realization: If she follows her forbidden love for guardian Dimitri Belikov, she might lose her best friend forever. And these sleep-shaking worries couldn't have come at a worse time. The immortal unloving are prowling everywhere, famished for vengeance against her. -summary from

BEST BOOK YET!... eh, in the series, that is. This book was such am emotional roller coaster. I hate that I love it… does that make sense?
Let me just say that my heart broke for Rose. Poor girl, she goes through so much in this installment. The book begins with Rose feeling more dark and depressed ever since her friend Mason died. Then to make things worse, she starts to fear that she's going crazy because she sees Mason's ghost around campus. She then learns what it truly means to be shadow kissed; through their bond, Rose is able to pull the darkness away from Lissa, thus absorbing it and going crazy herself.
Afterward, more trouble comes when the Strigoi attack the school leaving several Moroi and dhampir dead and many more captured. Rose helps Dimitri and the other guardians come up with a plan of offense to get the kidnapped back. And that’s when tragedy strikes…. And boy does it strike hard! Like, deep in the chest, hard. I really don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read this series yet (which I doubt! I’m always the last one on the band wagon)…. But think tragedy. Just when you think things can't get worse, well...they always do.
Aye ya aye! I hate comparing books to twilight, but SHADOW KISS brought back memories from New Moon. As I finished reading it, I chucked it against the wall, but then ran to it and apologized for treating it so badly! Yeah, I know… I’m loosing it. I desperately need to pick up book 4; Blood Promise. Luckily for me, the book is already out and I don’t have to wait :)

May 17, 2011

Review: Glass Houses (Morganville Vampires #1)

Title: Glass Houses (Morganville Vampires #1)
Author: Rachel Caine
Publisher: NAL Jam
Pages: 248
Challenge: YA Series

My Rating:

It's a small college town filled with quirky characters. But when the sun goes down, the bad comes out. Because in Morganville, there is an evil that lurks in the darkest shadows - one that will spill out into the bright light of day. Claire Danvers has had enough of her nightmarish dorm situation. The popular girls never let her forget just where she ranks on the school's social scene: somewhere less than zero. And Claire really doesn't have the right connections - to the undead who run the town. When Claire heads off campus, the imposing old house where she finds a room may not be much better. Hew new roommates don't show many signs of life. But they'll have Claire's back when the town's deepest secrets come crawling out, hungry for fresh blood. -summary from

Oh boy, where to start? I picked this book up late one night, and the story was so good I didn’t stop reading till 3 or 4 am. The beginning of this book was actually kind of frightening for me. Let me explain; the main protagonist, Claire Danvers, is having a hard time at school, not with her classes (this girl is a genius) but with some of the other girls in her dorm. This girl named Monica beats Claire and pushes her down a flight of stairs with a promise that Claire will get “what’s coming to her”.... And all because Claire corrected her in front of her friends, thus making her look bad... Yeah, Monica is one CRAZY chick! I don’t know about y’all but had I been in Claire’s shoes, I would have packed my things and gone home! Yes, I know, I’m a coward! But wouldn’t that seem like the logical next step?.... But noooo! Claire stays.

It’s stated many times that Claire has led a very sheltered life and that’s why she doesn’t want to go home. She wants to prove to her parents that she’s independent, even at such a young age. Her parents didn’t want her going to college far from home (for her own safety). Too bad they didn’t take a closer look at Morganville before Claire applied. It turns out that Morganville is actually a town that’s run by vampires, and unless you’re under “protection” you could easily become your neighbor’s midnight snack... creepy, right? I kid you not; throughout the first couple of chapters I would stop reading and take a glance around my room, out the windows, under my bed… etc. This happened several times, I was very paranoid. 

But don’t get me wrong, Glass houses was still a kick ass book; I loved it! Once Clair finally left the university dorm rooms and moved into the Glass House, things start to look better…. Especially since Shane’s always hanging around ;) I loved Michael, and Eve as well. All characters in this novel all seemed 3-dimensional, very real. Even Michael, with his secret and all..... Although I thought Claire was a bit "wimpy" it was nice to see her stand up for herself towards the end of the book. The story, although at times was a tiny bit unbelievable, was action packed and had me sitting at the edge of my seat... eh, bed.

This is a quick read, full of suspense and romance. Luckily for me, the second book, Dead Girl’s Dance is sitting in my TBR pile right now… Must read now! Especially since Glass Houses ends with a major cliffhanger ending.

May 16, 2011

And the winner is...

Winner of The Awakening (Ghost Huntress #1) is 

Penelope over at The Reading Fever
 The winner will be emailed shortly. Thanks so much to everyone who entered. Stay tuned for another giveaway coming later this week :)

May 9, 2011

Review: Winter's Passage (The Iron Fey #1.5)

Title: Winter's Passage (The Iron Fey #1.5)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Publisher: Harlequin
Pages: 59
Challenge: YA Series

My Rating:

Meghan Chase used to be an ordinary girl...until she discovered that she is really a faery princess. After escaping from the clutches of the deadly Iron fey, Meghan must follow through on her promise to return to the equally dangerous Winter Court with her forbidden love, Prince Ash. But first, Meghan has one request: that they visit Puck--Meghan's best friend and servant of her father, King Oberon--who was gravely injured defending Meghan from the Iron Fey. Yet Meghan and Ash's detour does not go unnoticed. They have caught the attention of an ancient, powerful hunter--a foe that even Ash may not be able to defeat.... -summary from

I actually didn’t even know this book exsisted *lowers head in shame*. I read about it on the authors’ blog and I was like, “Wtf? There’s another book that’s already out?” Of course I downloaded it right away and finished it in a couple of hours. And although I loved it, I am so bummed that I read this novella out of order. It would have been so nice to read it after The Iron King… It actually helped me accept Ash and Megan’s relationship a bit more (I’ve always been more of a Puck girl, but you can’t help but love Ash in this short story). I love it when authors give you little extras novella’s, it feels like I’m reading deleted scenes from the other books.

Winter’s Passage place right after book one; during Meg and Ash’s trip back to the Unseelie court. It's only about 60 pages long, so it's a real quick read… and I don’t recommend reading it out of order. I mean, technically you could, but you wouldn’t appreciate the story as much.

Either way, if you’re a fan of the Iron Fey Series, pick this book up. It’s a fun, quick (and romantic) read that you won’t want to miss!