Egypt is a hybrid: sometime breadbasket and leading light of the Arab nation, gateway to Africa and ancient civilization in its own right. Tutenkhamun, Red Sea diving, Coptic Christians and the Muslim Brotherhood: it's all Egypt.
Egypt 's extensive and varied history means that there are plenty of sights to see. As well as the more obvious ones from its Pharaonic period, such as the pyramids at Giza and Luxor 's Valley of the Kings, there are monuments from its Islamic and Christian heritage too. The Greek Orthodox St Catherine's Monastery is an impressive place to visit if you find yourself on the Sinai Peninsula(although try to go off-peak - the crowds distract from the experience when it's busy). All the other monasteries in the country are Coptic, and as long as you dress respectfully and possibly bring a donation you will be welcome at them too, as is the case with most of Egypt 's mosques.
On Egypt 's glittering Red Sea coast the resort of Sharm El Sheikh offers some of the best diving in the world. There are several resorts tailored to the water-sports market, and it's a good way to get the best of every world: tour companies also offer tasters of other aspects of Egyptian life such as trips to Cairo and Luxor.
However, Egypt 's not just Arab; it's also African, and there's a sense of this combined history in the incense-heavy atmosphere of the gilded souks and the semi-ordered chaos of the capital. And in the food. towards Alexandria the flavours are Mediterranean, but the Nubian cuisine of southern Egypt is more firmly rooted in its home continent.
Alcohol is generally freely available(Tutenkhamun himself was fond of a tipple, if traces of grape residue found in his tomb are to be believed) and the national varieties of wine, beer and spirits are much cheaper than their imported counterparts. If you're going to try an indigenous spirit, it's a good idea to start(and finish) with the national speciality, arak.
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