Great (Wanderlust) Expectations

A few weeks ago I was reading a lovely blog post atΒ and it really struck a nerve in me.

The quote being discussed was by Vladimir Nabokov in in Mary, 1926.

Nostalgia in reverse, the longing for yet another strange land, grew especially strong in spring.

The author talks about that odd sensation you get when you know about a place from films, books, or traveller tales yet you don’t actually know the place at all. The ideas that build up around a destination are often inaccurate or out dated. This started me thinking.


In 1999 a movie came out called The Mummy. I was 8 years old and I fell in love. Absolutely everything about this film, I wanted. I wanted to be Evey, wanted her intelligence, her skills, wanted to be able to read hieroglyphs, wanted to go on an adventure with a rugged outsider. This film developed 90% of my attitude towards history and travel – it doesn’t matter if you’re a quiet bespectacled woman you can go to Egypt and be a kick arse scholar! Β It’s also set in 1926 (my favourite era) and she ends up happy, wealthy, and respected by her peers.


Thus, my idea of Egypt was formed. I want it to be romantic, and grand, and picturesque. I want sweeping sands, and star filled skies, enigmatic old Arabic men with sparkling eyes and draped women swishing past me in the bazaars.

I know that Cairo is modern, I know that it wont be like in the movies. I know that you can sit in a Pizza Hut and look at the Pyramids of Giza. If I could travel back in time to the late 1880’s and live out the next fifty years through the wars and development of the Egyptian state I would go through with it in an instant. But it isn’t Egypt’s purpose to be what I want it to be, I’m a world traveller not some kind of culture dictator. It’s my purpose to experience everything I can.

Well, I started thinking about this on KaveyEats, and that night I got really upset with myself. I say I’m an historian, I say I’m a traveller. But I have all these preconceived notions about what a country is or isn’t – and I haven’t even been there! I then got even more upset – what if I never get to visit Egypt? What if something happens and it becomes unsafe, or an earthquake swallows up Abu Simbel and it is just gone? What if I just keep saying ‘one day’ and never actually get off my fat, lazy, arse and go?

I was almost in tears.

So I made a decision. I am going to Egypt – this year. Within 48 hours I had booked myself on to a 22 day journey though Jordan and Egypt. I am going to my dream destination, a place I have been thinking about for nearly 20 years. So, I guess I’ll find out how the Egypt in my head matches up against the Egypt that is out there – and I cannot wait!

Check out the wonderful blog post that has sent me to Egypt! ❀

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26 thoughts on “Great (Wanderlust) Expectations

  1. Oh my goodness. I love this post, though I’m sorry the thoughts my post provoked made you sad, I’m thrilled that they’ve lead you to book this dream trip. That’s just wonderful!

  2. Books and films play a huge role in introducing us to stories about parts of the world. I’m so glad that you made the decision to go to Egypt and fulfill a lifelong fascination.

  3. You will love it. And Jordan is one of the most extraordinary places in the world. I just wish you could visit Syria. That’s why you are so wise to seize the day

  4. I might actually suffer from the same condition… especially with Instagram that you see so many pictures and details about so many different destinations. Sometimes these preconceptions can make or break a destination. It has happened to me, I had soooo much expectations for some places and the experience was completely different.. this was Paris for me

  5. I’m so glad you made the leap and booked your trip to Egypt! You won’t regret it. The historical sites are spectacular. I regret not having time to visit Jordan as well while in Egypt, and hope to visit there also someday. Enjoy your trip!

  6. That’s so awesome that you booked a trip! Can’t wait to hear more about your experience. It is so interesting how our views are formed about a place without even visiting–it’s always interesting to see how they compare to the real place. Hope you have a wonderful time!

  7. What a great post and a fantastic snap decision! I keep putting off Egypt too, but because I don’t want it to be something other than what I’m hoping it is. Which is ridiculous, because a place is what it is. And I have that romantic notion in my head too – of archaeologists and sweeping pyramids and friendly people.

    • I’m glad I’m not alone! I know many archaeologists currently in Egypt and I over romanticise them as well πŸ˜‚ one day maybe I’ll get to work on a dig there ❀

  8. What an inspiring post – it is so awesome that you booked the trip! “Nostalgia in reverse, the longing for yet another strange land, grew especially strong in spring” really resonates with me. I feel like I need to book a trip too πŸ™‚

  9. Can;t wait to follow your Egypt trip! I actually semi don’t want to visit Egypt, the reason being exactly this, that I have these built up expectations in my head from TV and literature, and I don’t want the idea in my mind to fall short if the reality isn’t all that. I picture Egypt too to be romantic, and grand, and picturesque. And I’ve quite often found that you can ruin a destination by building it up in your head. Will be interested to see if you feel it lives up to the hype for you!

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