Egypt is a bucket list destination for just about anyone. You don't have to be an avid traveler to have ever dreamed about standing between the pyramids, kissing the sphinx, or riding camel back over orange-colored sand dunes. The scenery alone lends itself to the imagination and you could easily begin to picture what the days of Ramesses II must have been. History is all around you at all times and well-preserved which immediately ties you to the proud heritage of Egyptian people.
Fast forward to modern-day Cairo, and things are very different but still reflective of the significance of the past that is etched into Egypt. Cairo is the largest city in Egypt and a bustling shock to the system that hits instantly. This city sits at the banks of the famed Nile River, and boasts a population of about 20 million people. Egypt alone has a population of approximately 105 million people. It is a predominantly Muslim country but still seems more progressing than I expected in its views and diverse in its current culture. If New York City is the city that never sleeps, then Cairo is the city that never blinks. There are people in every corner, there are shops everywhere you look, many languages being spoken in the same conversations, amazing smelling food and spices and of course sweet-smelling shisha. If there is one thing I can say about Cairo, much less Egypt, I felt surrounded by a robust culture that is steeped in history and pride.
Egypt is so big and there is a lot to take in all at once. Here were some of my top 5 favorites:
The Pyramids & The Sphinx
So, small confession I really only came to Egypt to see these two things. By the time I left though, I realized how much apart of a bigger, grander tapestry of history they actually were. These two sets of structures were one of my earliest memories of me and father bonding over travel. I knew that being in their presence would be awe-inspiring. The Great Pyramids and the Sphinx are located in close vicinity to one another. You can purchase a ticket at the ticket office and proceed through several security stops before walking into the main historic area. Once you are through the gate, you are literally standing at the foot of the first of three Great Pyramids. Be prepared because it will take your breath away.
Off in the near distance, you will be able to see the other two pyramids against the desert background. It is possible for you to go inside the first pyramid but that ticket must be purchased at the gate or you are out of luck. If you choose to venture inside the pyramids, be cautioned, it consists of crawling through a small tunnel while crouching to traverse both inclines and declines until you reach the final room. Here is where a tomb was found but is now located in the Egyptian Museum. The walk is not for the faint of heart and is very hot due to little ventilation. Honestly, you can skip that and instead take a walk around each pyramid. It is possible to climb up the first set of stones to take a photo and get up close to each pyramid.
A short walk down the road that winds between the pyramids is where the Sphinx is located. It is a separate structure with a complex all its own. Upon first glance, it almost seems small until you walk through the purification chambers and exit along a pathway that puts you right next to the head of the Sphinx. Here is where most people take their iconic photos kissing the Sphinx, holding the chin of the Sphinx or any other creative way to capture this wonder of the world. A few tips while visiting this area: go early and not on Friday, it gets crowded quickly. If anyone offers to take your photo be prepared to tip them. Pay for the camel rides, there are a lot of fun and you get great photos from the other side of the pyramids. Lastly, make sure you stop for a moment and take it all in.
Visit The Mortuary Temple Of Hatshepsut
A little background history to Hatshepsut for context first: She was the fifth Pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty of Egypt. She was the second confirmed female pharaoh at the time. Now, you might be wondering if she was a woman, why was she not the Queen of Egypt? As the story goes, when she rose to power, she decided that she was going to rule Egypt in the same manner as the men who preceded her. This involved creating her own narrative and establishing herself as the God's Wife of Amen. Hatshepsut called herself a pharaoh in her story and even used male pronouns to refer to herself in her written story. In physical depictions, Hatshepsut is seen with the royal false beard and wearing a pharaoh's royal garments in many statues surrounding the temple, as well as in drawings on the temple walls.
She is regarded as one of the most successful and accomplished Pharaohs of her time, ruling for longer than any other female in Egyptian history. Her temple sits on the West Bank of the Nile River in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt. It is carved into a cliff with a grand staircase leading to the central level of the temple. Here, you can see many statues of Hatshepsut as well as many columns and rooms for purification. On the top level is the chamber for the tomb that also showcases stories about the female Pharaoh's time in power. It is one of the most prominent structures in the area. The Valley of the Kings is known for the 60+ tombs that were found, including King Tut, but the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut is the most prolific structure standing. Her story is one that shows the power of women leaders and is inspiring to women in today's society.
Hot Air Balloon Ride Over The Valley Of The Kings
Hot air balloon rides should be on everyone's bucket list. Personally, I hope to do this in as many countries as possible. However, I am glad that I got a chance to do it first in Egypt. I wasn't sure what to expect but the end result exceeded my expectations. This particular hot air balloon ride started in a large open space on the West Bank of the Nile River. Our projected flight path was over the Valley of the Kings. One unexpected feature of our balloon aircraft was the size of the basket. Originally, I thought the aircraft would consist of small baskets with 6-8 people in each. The reality is, the aircraft is a large basket that holds about 20 people with even splits on both sides of the balloon pilot.
Even still, takeoff was smooth as we rose to 700 ft above the earth. This was coupled with the exact moment the sun rose to reveal a kind of beauty that could only be seen at that height. There is a moment of quiet calm that happens at cruising altitude that can only be described as tranquility. This was truly a highlight of my trip and a must do in any country offering this experience. If you really want to turn up your experience, pop a bottle of champagne while in flight and cheer to a beautiful life.
Cruise The Nile River
One of the most famous rivers in the world, the Nile River, exists in Egypt and has a 5-star cruise industry. The Nile River is a north flowing river and is arguably the longest river in the world, coming in at 4,130 miles (6,650km). It covers the length of 11 African countries and empties out in a large delta to the Mediterranean Sea. The highest populated cities in Egypt, including Cairo and Aswan, are located along the banks of the Nile River.
Cruising the Nile River can be done in many different ways, from luxury cruise ships to the shorter felucca rides. Most cruises in Egypt take place between Luxor and Aswan, visiting cities such as Esna, Edfu and Kom Ombo. Each stop gives you a look into some of the oldest structures still standing from ancient Egypt. It also is an excellent opportunity to see the stark contrast between ancient Egyptian buildings and the more modern-day apartment buildings, hotels and restaurants. The Nile River itself is a rather wide river with amazing scenery that changes from mile to mile. You can easily go from city scape, to mountains, to small village, to lush farmland in a matter of minutes. The luxury cruises are the way to go with a smooth ride down the Nile while being hosted by amazing staff that provide the comfort you need to relax and enjoy the jewel of Egypt.
Visit The Nubian Villages
Before traveling to Egypt, I did not know much about the Nubians. So, this was a welcomed surprise! The Nubian people are a part of one of the oldest civilizations known to Egypt, and are descendents from areas in modern-day Sudan and Egypt. Currently in Egypt, the Nubians live in what is considered ancient Nubia. They are farmers, shop owners, or they travel to work a variety of jobs in other Egyptian cities. Their buildings are brightly colored stucco structures stacked neatly together against the mountain side. Almost reminiscent of Mykonos but will more vibrant flavor. The people are welcoming as soon as you set foot on the Nubian soil, saying things like, "Wow you look like me, are you Nubian?" The goods sold here reflect the African culture from which the Nubian people derive their skin tone and heritage. The tiny streets are filled with shops selling local artwork depicting the deep-toned people of Nubia, spices, teas, and more. Camel back is the transportation of choice, and the Nubians traverse the small winding streets with ease. It doesn't quite feel like home but it feels familiar. This is a must-see and shop stop on any Egyptian itinerary.
So, that's it for my top five things to see and do in Egypt. I want to also give honorable mention the city of Alexandria. The ancient city contains a lighthouse called Pharos, which is regarded as one of the ancient world's seven wonders. I did not get a chance to visit but here are a few things to check out there: Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Montaza Palace, Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa and the beaches. Also visit the bazaars and perfumeries in Cairo. A few tips for the bazaars: know how much you want to spend on any item; most things are very cheap so haggle, haggle, haggle; if they won't budge leave and watch you spend exactly what you wanted.
These are my suggestions but Egypt is a big country, so there is much more to explore and discover.
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This was first evident more than a decade ago when she quit her job as the corporate executive of a Fortune 500 company during a Periscope livestream. “I’m not sure if there’s an alignment of [our] future trajectory. I’m going to work for myself. I'm promoting myself to work for myself,” she said at the time before flashing a smile at the viewing audience. As she resigned on camera, a constant stream of encouraging messages floated upwards on the screen.
By 2021, she’d fashioned her work as a corporate consultant and her personal life with her husband and three adopted daughters into a reality show, She’s The Boss, for USA Network. This year, she released the New York Times bestselling memoir Nothing Is Missing, written as she was in the process of getting a divorce and dealing with her eldest daughter’s struggles with substance use.
Convinced that there’s no way the 39-year-old has achieved all of this without intentional strategic planning, I asked her about it when we spoke less than a week before Christmas. I’d seen videos on social media of her working on 2024 planning for other brands, and I wanted to know what that looked like following her own year of success.
She listed a number of goals, including ensuring that the projects she takes on in the new year align with her identity “as a Black woman, as an African woman, as a mother, as someone who has lived a [rebuilding] season and is now trying to live boldly and entirely as themselves.” But, I was shocked by how much of her business planning also prioritized rest.
Despite the bestselling book, a self-titled podcast, and working with numerous corporations, Walters said she’s been taking Fridays off. This year, she doesn’t want to work on Mondays, either.
“A lot of us think we work hard until retirement hits. I want to progress towards retirement,” she said, noting that she’ll check in with herself around March to see how successful this plan has been. The goal, Walters said, is to only be working on Tuesdays and Thursdays by sometime in 2025. “It is intentionally building out what I know I would like to have happen and not waiting for exhaustion to be the trigger of change.”
"A lot of us think we work hard until retirement hits. I want to progress towards retirement... It is intentionally building out what I know I would like to happen and not waiting for exhaustion to be the trigger of change."
Walters said the decision to progressively work less was partially in response to her previously held notions about her career, especially as an entrepreneur. “When I first started, I thought burnout was a part of it,” she said. “What I didn’t realize is that even if you’re able to bounce out of burnout or get back to it, there’s a cumulative impact on your body. If you think of your body as a tree and every time you go through burnout, you are taking a hack out of your trunk, yes, that trunk will heal over, and the tree will continue to grow, but it doesn't mean that you don’t have a weakened stem.”
But, the desire for increased rest was also in response to the major shifts that occurred three years ago when she was experiencing major changes in her family and realized her metaphorical tree was “bending all the way over.”
“One of the things we have to recognize, especially as Black women, is that there is this engrained, societal, systemic notion that our worth is built around our productivity,” she added. “That is some language that I think is just now starting to really get unpacked.” In recent years, there’s been an increased awareness of achieving balance in life, with Tricia Hersey’s “The Nap Ministry” gaining attention based on the idea that rest, especially for Black women, is a form of resistance. Even online phrases such as “soft life” and “quiet quitting” have hinted at a cultural shift in prioritizing leisure over professional ambition.
"One of the things we have to recognize, especially as Black women, is that there is this engrained, societal, systemic notion that our worth is built around our productivity."
If companies are lining up to consult with Walters about their brands and products, then women have been looking to her for guidance on starting over since she invited them to livestream her resignation 12 years ago. As viewers continue to demand more from content creators in the form of intimate, personal details, Walters has navigated her personal brand with a sense of transparency without oversharing the vulnerable details about her life, especially when it comes to her family.
The entrepreneur said she’d been approached to write a book for several years and was initially convinced she was finally ready to write one about business. “I started to do that, and then I went through my divorce. When that happened, I said, why would I write a book telling people to get the life that I have when I’m not sure about the life that I have,” she said.
Instead, she decided to write Nothing Is Missing and provide a closer look at her life, starting with being born to immigrant Ghanaian parents (“You need to know my childhood to know why I’m passionate about entrepreneurship.”) through the adoption of her three daughters and eventual divorce. Despite her desire to share, however, she said she felt protective of the privacy of her family, including her ex-husband.
When discussing this with me, Walters said she was reminded of a lesson she learned from actress Kerry Washington, who released her own memoir, Thicker Than Water, just a week before Walters’ book release. Washington’s memoir grapples with family secrets, too, specifically the fact that she was conceived using a sperm donor and didn’t learn about it until she was already a successful TV star. While Washington reflects on how the decision and subsequent deception impacted her, she’s also careful to hold space for her parents’ experiences, too. “A lot of things she said was that she had to recognize where she was the supporting character and where she was the main character,” Walter said.
This is something Walter worked to do in Nothing Is Missing when discussing her daughter’s struggles with addiction. “I was very intentional about making sure that I did not reveal more than what was required,” she said. “If I say something about someone’s addiction, I don’t need to go into the list of the substances they used, how they used them, what I found. [I don’t need to] walk into a room and paint a picture of what it looked like for people to understand.”
Walters said some of the most vulnerable moments in the book barely made a ripple once it was released. She was extremely nervous to write about getting an abortion, she said. But no one has asked her about this in the months since the book was released. Instead, people have been more interested in quirkier revelations, such as the fact that she once appeared on Wheel of Fortune.
“I have bared my soul about this thing I went through in my youth that has changed me for people, and people are like, ‘So how heavy was the wheel when you spun it?’” she said, chuckling. “It just goes to show that people never worry about the thing that you worry about.”
With the success of Nothing Is Missing, Walters said she still isn’t planning to release a business book at the moment. But, as she navigates parenting a teenager and two adult children while also navigating a relationship with her new fiancé, Walters said she believes she has at least one or two more books to write about her personal journey. “There is sort of an arc of where my life has gone that I know I’ve got something more to say about this that I think is important, relevant and necessary,” she said.
In just three years, Walters’ life has undergone a major transformation. There’s no telling what the next three years will have in store for her, but it seems likely she’ll retain an inspired audience wherever life takes her.
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In the vibrant heart of Atlanta, the dating scene received a stylish upgrade courtesy of the dynamic Dr. Stacii Jae Johnson. I recently witnessed her matchmaker extraordinaire skills live in action at a speed dating soirée with a Mr. & Mrs. Smith twist. This event wasn't just an opportunity for singles to mingle; it also set the stage for Amazon Prime Video's buzzworthy new series coming in Feb 2024, adding a cinematic flair to the evening's potential connections.
Stepping into the world of speed dating for the first time, I couldn't shake the mix of nerves and excitement fueling my anticipation. The idea of meeting new faces in a fast-paced setting felt like the dating version of a rollercoaster ride—thrilling yet slightly nerve-wracking. Little did I know this night would spark a newfound eagerness to dive back into the dating pool.
Navigating the curated world of speed dating under Dr. Stacii's guidance, I found myself captivated by the creative ambiance and Mr. & Mrs. Smith theme. With Amazon Prime Video's collaboration, the evening not only held the promise of potential romance but also stirred anticipation for the upcoming series, creating a unique conversation starter among attendees.
As a 28-year-old navigating the dating landscape, this experience marked a turning point. The allure of speed dating not only melted away my initial reservations but also ignited a sense of hope and curiosity about what the future might hold. The event acted as a stylish nudge, prompting me to embrace the dating adventure with fresh enthusiasm, regardless of my past lack of serious relationship experience.
In an exclusive interview with Dr. Stacii, we delved into the world of dating advice for single Black women navigating the modern dating landscape. Dr. Stacii's wisdom, honed from years of experience, promises to be a beacon for those seeking genuine connections in a world saturated with swipes and fleeting encounters.
“The small talk is amazing. It's a great starter. But what I liked about this speed dating event hosted by myself in partnership with Prime Video for Mr. and Mrs. Smith, it allowed for real conversations to happen and real connections to be made,” emphasized Dr. Stacii.
“One of the things that I even stated was to keep your mind open. That's why we pushed so much with questions that were intriguing and questions that then can open the door to a level of thought that would not probably have been in the conversation with a normal speed dating event.”
Keeping an open mind is key in today’s dating scene. Dr. Stacii and I were able to chat about the struggles of being on dating apps and how social media is starting to alter people's perception of dating, where we should and shouldn’t go on a first date, and what's acceptable and what's not. She also gave some great advice for singles looking to still make meaningful connections, how to approach dating with steps to find out what we really want, and how to articulate that when we're looking to date.
“I think online dating is a great starting place for men and women and, of course, speed dating events like the ones that I host that come with loaded questions that can add to real connection,” Dr. Stacii responded. “Online dating for men and women is an opportunity to connect to more people than we would on a daily because we're all working, some of us taking care of children, and all of us have bills. It’s an opportunity for you to meet people quicker than you would normally.”
For some women who are still working through past traumas from previous relationships or even situationships, Dr. Stacii touched on how they can navigate dating while still healing from these experiences. “All of us were given the blueprints that our parents, caregivers, community, social media, or even trauma gave us. But none of us were really given a blueprint of what works for another individual and what doesn't. Online dating and dating in general is not something where you work through severe trauma, depression, or anxiety that you have over dating. You do that in therapy.”
In the modern dating scene, a lot of women have become comfortable shooting their shot at men they are interested in. I’ve personally slid in a few DMs myself and sometimes try to come up with clever, catchy sayings to really get their attention. Dr. Stacii and I discussed how women can operate in their feminine energy and gave tips on giving signals to men while in public.
Dr. Stacii Jae Johnson
“It's totally OK for a woman to shoot her shot. After you give a man a clear point of entry, you're letting him know that you're interested without a shadow of a doubt. After that, you allow him to receive you and then take the lead. I don't think there's anything wrong with initially sliding in someone's DMs, but women need to make sure to do their research and look thoroughly at the guy to make sure they don't see them involved in any relationship. Also, look at the character of the individual so it’s not just being led by a handsome picture of the guy or a car. These are all things that mean nothing to building healthy, romantic relationships.”
Rejection plays a huge part in the process of dating, and sometimes you have to learn how to “charge it to the game.” Dr. Stacii noted that men often take rejection harder than women. “Sometimes men want to approach but more times than not, they don't because some men are way more sensitive than women to rejection. Sometimes rejection from a woman to a man may be a little bit more harsh.”
It is a common aspect of dating and women who shoot their shot definitely experience it as well as men. Dr. Stacii gave some great tips on how to navigate rejection gracefully and maintain a positive outlook for the next time you want to take a swing at it. “Use dating as an experiment. Even how you shoot your shot. Asking, ‘What did I say that time that maybe didn't get a response or the response that I would have wanted?’ Use each encounter as a way to learn. A lot of times with women, they don't remember that there is a marketability in dating. If you are not acting as the woman who is in the market for the man that you want, then what can you do to get that marketability aspect that may be attractive to him? Make sure your marketability is in alignment with what that type of man would want.”
As I reflect on the whirlwind experiences—the dynamic "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" speed dating event and the insightful conversation with Dr. Stacii—I can't help but feel equipped with valuable insights for the dating landscape in 2024. Dr. Stacii's advice for single Black women navigating modern romance has been both enlightening and empowering, providing a roadmap for personal growth and connection.
Armed with this newfound wisdom and a renewed sense of enthusiasm, I'm looking forward to applying these lessons to my dating journey. Dr. Stacii's book, "Date Girl! 143 Reasons Why I Believe Women Should Date Multiple Men," is now on my must-read list, promising a deeper understanding of the complexities of dating.
As the countdown to February 2nd begins, I'm eagerly anticipating the premiere of the Amazon Prime Video series "Mr. & Mrs. Smith." With its promise of romance and espionage, both on-screen and in real life, I'm ready to embrace the twists and turns that the year holds for me. Here's to a year of growth, connection, and the exciting journey that awaits in the realm of modern romance.
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