Jim Hopkins, age 77, also a world traveler has been to both Egypt and several other Middle Eastern countries including Turkey.

Hopkins visited Egypt in March of 2010 while on a cruise and visited the cities of Cairo and Alexandria.  He says “The tour guide (in Alexandria) apologized for the trash that seemed to just be dumped everywhere. She explained the city was very poor. Cairo was a lot cleaner. We were surprised to see the Sphinx right next to the city, but that and the pyramids was still a site to be seen. People still wonder how these massive structures were built with no modern equipment.” 

As mentioned Egypt is currently in a state of turmoil and Americans are not able to visit the country.

Travel agent Christine Belge, co-owner of C&L Travel Agent in Westminster, Md., says that Americans are advised to not travel to Egypt at this time. However, she says “I remain hopeful that as soon as Americans are allowed back we will be booking trips to Egypt frequently.”

Those who have traveled to this country before are saddened by the inability for fellow travelers to go there.

Hobart says “When we first heard of the riots my concern was with the looters, praying they would not destroy anything in the museum.  Unfortunately they did.  The museum except for the one perfect Tut area is amazingly understaffed, displays just sitting out, very hard to believe when we as Americans have the likes of Smithsonian.  I think it was time for Mubarak to go.”

Hopkins shares similar feelings and says “I am worried now that the Muslim brotherhood will now come to power in Egypt and form and anti-American government. If this happens Israel will be surrounded by enemies. In the years since the wars between Egypt, Syria and Jordan, Egypt has kept the peace and remained friends with the U.S.” Hopkins clearly fears that future Americans will not get to experience Egypt in the same way as former travelers.

Not all of the Middle-East is treacherous terrain. There are still countries worth visiting. Obviously safety is always a priority so still always be aware of the place you are visiting.

Turkey falls under the category of places worth visiting. This country has gorgeous landscape, architecture that is breath taking and rich culture that you have to experience to appreciate.

Hobart says “Turkey was beautiful and a culture worth experiencing. I liked the food, and felt much safer eating all of the Turkish specialties.  The Turks were very friendly and very proud of their country.  It was also a more progressive, and cleaner than Egypt.”

When asked what advice he has for those thinking of traveling to the Middle East Hobart says “Do your reading on the place first.”

Hobart does not have future plans to travel to the Middle East and says “once was enough.”

Hopkins also says “Turkey was beautiful. Greece was the most enjoyable place to visit though. For those considering traveling to the Middle East be prepared for a different culture and different food. Vendors also are pushy and in every tourist area. Also, be prepared for the climate differences. While in Rome it was snowing and then when we got to Egypt it was 90 degrees and dry.”

Hopkins also has no plans for ever going back to the Middle East. “After you have seen things for the first time as second visit is not the same” says Hopkins.

Those who seem to miss out the most are students who had to cancel their trips to Egypt.

Justin Balsamo, age 21, and a student at George Washington University, was suppose to visit Egypt this spring with his mom.

Blasamo says “our travel agent had us cancel the trip; I was very disappointed because since I can remember I had wanted to see the pyramids. I hope that I one day can take my kids there since I had to miss out on the opportunity.”

Hood College offers a course on death and dying which focuses largely on the views of death in the Egyptian society. Allison Dapsauski, age 21, and a student at Hood took this course in spring of 2010.

Dapsauski says she loved the course and shortly after taking it she began plans to travel to Egypt. She says “I was mesmerized by the unique culture and mysterious land. I has heartbroken to hear of the riots and even more so that I had to put my travel plans on hold.”

Travelers, students and people with just an interest in cultures all share the same feelings of hoping Egypt works out its current problems. It forever remains a land of mystery and awe. It is with high hopes that those who have yet to experience its wonders will one days be able to have the opportunity to do so.