Looking back on one of my favorite travel itineraries, breaking it down by the numbers. This trip, made possible by a 3 week break in my work schedule, was booked only a week ahead of time. The small window of planning opportunity turned this journey into a “plan as I go” adventure.
Roundtrip Tampa to Cairo
Layovers in red:
Tampa ✈️ Atlanta ✈️ Paris ✈️ Cairo ✈️ Paris ✈️ Atlanta ✈️ Tampa
This trip was booked with Egypt only in mind along with the Paris stops. Flight itinerary read one long 7.5 hour layover in Paris on the way to Egypt, and coming back with 1 week left off work. A return layover in Paris, but only 2 hours. The idea was to spend the most time in Cairo, and maybe venture to other cities in Egypt? I wasn’t sure, all I knew was I’m meeting my Egyptian friend in Cairo and we’ll go from there. Without me meeting my Egyptian friend in Rio a few months back, this trip never would have happened.
The trip laid out above was the initial, primary plan. A solid itinerary an Egypt trip with a quick Paris stop. It grew and grew into this gorgeously massive 3-week travel binge, February 9 – March 1, which at the end looked like this:
Tampa ✈️ Atlanta ✈️ Paris ✈️ Cairo ✈️ Luxor ✈️ Cairo ✈️ Sharm el Sheikh ✈️ Cairo ✈️ Paris ✈️ Porto ? Lisbon ✈️ Paris ✈️ Atlanta ✈️ Tampa
$1,698 total airfare
1 train ride
4 airlines: Delta, Air France, EasyJet, EgyptAir
45 in-flight hours
6 foreign cities
8 separate accommodations (3 hostels, 1 friends home, 4 hotels)
4 languages: English, Arabic, French, Portuguese
Combining my 3 separate stops into Paris almost could count as 1 official visit. The 3rd trip I especially covered some ground:
Paris 1: 7.5 hour layover; train into city. Eiffel Tower visit. Read the full layover play-by-play here.
Paris 2: 1 hour layover; going back to USA, changed into a 6 hour layover after moving flight date to 1 week later.
Paris 3: 24 Hour layover; train into city. Sacre-Coeur Basilica, Eiffel Tower, Palais Garner, Place Vendome, Le Louvre, Tuileries Garden.
I focused writing about the city hopping that happened over the 22 days rather than the detail in each city. There’s a unique thrill when arriving in a new country every couple days.
It began, the early morning Delta flight from Tampa to Atlanta. From Atlanta I took off mid day, and arrived via Air France at Charles De Gaulle airport around 6am Paris time. Used every second of my 7.5 hour layover to hustle into the city. Nearing 2pm and back at the airport, I was off to Egypt. The EgyptAir flight landed around 7pm into Cairo.
After seeing most of Cairo, I ended up flying EgyptAir roundtrip to Luxor for 4 days – $130. Read about my many stops throughout Cairo here. Luxor is the Egypt you think about in your head; full of ancient history and the land of the Pharaohs, all 6,000 years old. Getting back into Cairo, I met my buddy and we hopped on a roundtrip flight to Sharm el Sheikh for a 3 day weekend to explore the Red Sea – $185. We arrive back into Cairo late Sunday night, and I take off early Monday morning.
Finishing Egypt 1 week early, I found myself on the plane from Cairo to my 2nd and much shorter layover in Paris. While in the air I was feeling the blues of the journey coming to an end. I decided I had to use that week to go somewhere else, I couldn’t go home early! So I created a couple of itinerary options in my head.
Portugal stood out to me. It is another place not mentioned too often on traveler bucket lists. For that reason, and because I wanted to practice my Portuguese for a week, I chose Portugal. A great opportunity to compare the Brazilian accent with the European accent. I landed at Paris Charles De Gaulle airport and located the in-terminal Delta help desk. I discussed with the agent, and cringed at the disgusting $300 Delta change fee. Still, my decision was simple. My desire to explore the European Portuguese culture quickly overruled the desire to save a few bucks.
By now my connecting flight from Paris to Atlanta was already in the air, so I was left with only one option. I had the Delta agent change my return to USA flight for 8 days into the future, so I had to be back in Paris in just over one week. She swiped my credit card for $332 ($300 fee + $32 fare difference), moved my flight, and I was free to fly anywhere I wanted, as long as I made it back to Paris in 8 days.
Why didn’t I stay in Paris for a week? I was already there, ready to hop on a train into the city. Great chance to see it in full right. My reasons to not stay were the cost of living is extremely high, and I already saw Paris for a few hours before Cairo. Besides, I organized my Portugal trip to get one more glimpse of Paris. I booked the EasyJet flight for only 7 days so I would have one full 24 hour day back in Paris when I returned. I found a vacant bench within the International terminal, sat there connected to Free CDG Airport wifi, and booked with my iPhone two separate EasyJet one way tickets. The first from Paris, France to Porto, Portugal – $120. Next a flight from Lisbon, Portugal to Paris, France – $105.
4 days in Porto, one 3.5 hour train ride south, finally arriving in Lisbon for 3 days. Soaked in the sights, 3 days later took an early flight from Lisbon back to Paris, for the 3rd time. I was back into Paris. My 24 hour clock started, and also a streak of little to no sleep continued. I dart off by train, again, into the city. Check into my hostel, drop bags, find my GoPro and walk the city for hours. Sleep that night for a few hours, back on the early train from the Gare du Nord train station to CDG airport. This marks my 4th time in that airport on this trip.
As I board the Air France 777 for Atlanta it hits me that the 3 week jet set high is almost over. I woke up some mornings forgetting if I already made it to Portugal, or frantic thinking I missed my flight to Paris even though it was still a few days out.
That is my favorite part, the journey. It was completely up to me how I spent those 3 weeks. I spent them as a mover every day, always thinking I can get in one more quick adventure.
I made some more world friends, which means more couches to sleep on abroad.
I saw buildings older than my home country.
I posed for photos with happy strangers.
I snapped photos of me with happy strangers.
I rode a camel, and stole a piece of the Pyramids of Giza.
And now, I have all these couches to sleep on.