PCR tests +tips for Jordan & Egypt

We were the first group to experience the Jordan/Petra/Egypt tour on Aug. 29, 2021. Check-in at Pittsburgh required showing PCR, vaccine, insurance, Jordan Entry paperwork. Our flight from Pittsburgh to Dulles was delayed because of storms at Dulles. We arrived at Dulles with moments to spare but waited 15 minutes for the jet bridge to be brought out. Consequently we did not make the flight which necessitated an overnight stay. This meant our PCR would be out of date. (We had opted to get the PCR test as close to the 72 hours to be sure we would get the results in time.) As a result, we had to get another PCR at the Dulles airport with guaranteed results within 90 minutes. It cost $250 a person. And we lost the Gift of Time because of our delayed arrival. Not a great way to start an adventure.

We flew from Dulles to Vienna on Austrian airlines. Upon arrival in Vienna, there were two lines. If vaccinated, you showed your vaccination & PCR paperwork and a sticker was put on your passport. If not vaccinated, there were 20 booths set-up to do PCR tests.
All of the paperwork was closely examined before boarding the flight to Amman. The agent wasn't happy that the Tauck insurance did not have coverage dates. Fortunately I had attached a copy of the Tauck receipt showing the purchase which satisfied her. One never knew what paperwork was going to be requested. I had everything in a binder with sleeve protectors so I could remove the paperwork easily.

Overall, the hotels were great. There were some maintenance hiccups that were probably the result of the rooms being empty for so long. The staff was incredible at every location. They could not do enough for you. The Oberol Cruise on the Nile was over the top! Everyone wanted to sail to Cairo instead of flying. The food was absolutely delicious everywhere,

The weather was excruciatingly HOT. It was 126 degrees F one day, several days at 120 degrees and always over 110 Degrees. By mid-morning everyone's clothes were soaking wet.

With the exception of the Mena House, the hotel and restaurant staffs in Jordan and Egypt all wore masks. Most people and vendors on the streets did not wear masks. A significant number of people on our tour did not consistently wear masks on the coach. In Jordan we had a "Safety Person" on the coach. He had a disinfectant wand that he used everywhere. The coach drivers squirted hand disinfectant before anyone got on the coach.

Egypt airport security is pretty intense. I have never been patted down so many times. In Egypt, our coach had a police car following us every day. There was an armed security officer in a black suit every day on the coach. We were never concerned about our safety.

All of the public restrooms were flush (some had the "basket") and were relatively clean.. Most had an attendant that required a tip to get tissue paper. Very few had working soap dispensers. I always have soap leaves and tissues in my handbag so all is well.

Closed toe walking shoes are essential. In all of our travels, this was the hardest walking because of the sand and rocks.

Almost all of the men wore jackets for the Welcome Dinner. The Farewell Reception was held outside so jackets weren't worn. The vast majority of men and women did change for dinner. On most days, there was just enough time to return to the hotel, shower and change for a 7:00 dinner reservation.

Almost all of the sites were empty of tourists which was nice since it was so hot. Crowds would have made the heat unbearable. The vendors were pretty desperate. King Tut's mask and jewelry is still at the museum. Although there were empty sections and display cases there was still a lot to see. As expected, the local guides were exceptional. Our favorite was Achmed (sp ?) in Jordan.

Seeing all of the sites was awe-inspiring and after being cancelled twice we were thrilled to actually be there!

Comments

  • Loves2. Are you going to see if you can claim the cost of the airport test at the airport under your insurance….worth a try!

  • **loves2travel2 ** Awesome! Thank you so much for this trip report. I am beyond excited that you were able to experience Jordan & Egypt. It's unfortunate about the delay at the beginning of the trip, but there is always a silver lining...thank goodness you were arriving early because of the Gift of Time (or else you would have probably missed day 1 of the tour). I try to get long layovers to avoid this. I have experienced weather delays on 2 Tauck trips; however, since I chose 5 hour layovers, I didn't miss my connecting flight. Hanging out in the nice lounges help with the long layovers

    It's good to know there are places to obtain PCR test in the airports in the event something like your type of delay happens again.

    I live in New Orleans and know a little bit about heat and humidity; however, I have never experienced anything like 126 degrees...you guys were indeed troopers. I hope you had time to enjoy the fabulous pools to find respite from the heat.

    Good to know King Tuts mask is still on display in the Egyptian Museum. Did the tour coach drive by the GEM so you could at least get a glimpse? How was the float in the Dead Sea? Was anyone brave enough to hike to the Monastery (in the heat), although I'm sure it wasn't as hot in Petra??? Were you able to experience the Petra Night Light Show? I looked at my itinerary and it appears we will be in Petra on Wednesday night; however, I think Wednesday is the same night as the dinner in the bedouin tent, which is an experience I do not want to miss. You mentioned shoes. Were hiking boots preferred for Petra? Since it was so hot in Egypt, did you wear sandals at all or strictly closed toe-type shoes for all activities, with the exception of the Nile Cruise.

    Again, thanks for your report....as you think of more things, please pass along. I'm so looking forward to my December tour. I'm excited!!!

  • Good walking shoes and cotton socks or the fancy moisture wicking ones are safer than open toed shoes, heat or not.
    Loved reading about Egypt.

  • loves2travel2 Hi!
    To start , Thank You! so so much for all the info you shared.
    Sorry to hear all the chaos you had to go through at the airports.. thanks god you did make it!
    You mention the lack of tourist at the monuments... sadly not good for the locals , but great news for us while visiting the sites. Also, nice to know there's still something and I should say the most important pieces of the King Tut's collection are still in the Old Museum so we can still see.
    You did mention about the security guard and the police car always behind the coach.. this is part of a treated Egypt did with Israel & Jordan to ensure the safety of pilgrimage groups and was so successful that it was extended to all tourism companies.
    It's in part how Egypt has promoted itself back as a tourist destination..
    I do you have a few questions if you don't mind...
    At the Kempinski were you able to use the swimming pools? How crowed was the hotel?
    How was the experience getting into the Faluccas? is it a ramp?
    Where you able to take pictures inside the temples? is there a cost?
    How many Covid test did you had during the tour?
    I think these is all, hope to hear from you.. thanks again for the info. and Welcome back :))
    Shukran :))

  • loves2travel2

    Great report!

    PureLuxury, AlanS,
    It will be great to see reports from your trips (December, March) to see how things change/evolve over time. My trip isn't until October 2022 (I'm only doing the Egypt: Jewel of the Nile tour, since already did the Israel/Jordan tour) so a sense of how requirements, conditions, etc. are evolving will be very useful. It will be interesting to see if/how Tauck adjusts the itinerary in Cairo/Giza as things in the Old Egyptian Museum and the GEM continue to evolve.

  • Great report!

    British - Note how readable a longer post is, when there are line spaces between paragraphs!

  • Smiling Sam I will definitely send out reports during my tour. I think mil's tour is scheduled prior to mine in December...So we'll be looking forward to mil's insights as well.--Robin

  • There were seven of us who stayed an extra day in Malta, and delayed getting our covid tests to cover the possibility of delayed or canceled flights. I think the experience described above validates that procedure. You want your covid tests to be valid as long as possible. You do need to know how long it takes to get test results, but we have not found that to be a problem. We have been tested ten times in the last couple months. Tests at airports tend to be pricey. We paid 35 euros for our return to U.S. tests in the city in Malta. That was the only test where we actually had to pay.

  • milmil
    edited September 12

    I will be posting for sure. :)) either daily or every other... Inshalah . :)
    I'm practicing my Arabic.

  • edited September 12

    BKMD, I’m not writing a document, I’m on a forum. Can you enlarge the writing on your phone or iPad or computer, or wear some glasses. 😂 some people think what I write is not worth reading anyway🤪

  • British - Some of your posts are documents, lengthwise. How hard is it to be thoughtful? Honestly, I skip the long ones without proper spacing. It's just not worth the hassle trying to read them. Do you speak the same way - not pausing between sentences? :)

  • edited September 12

    BKMD, YES I probably do!

    If you want to attack me personally more and more, that you so often do, please send me a PM. I thought the forum was over this recent critique of individuals

    Is the spacing better for you now?

  • edited September 12

    It's not an attack and I've never attacked you. It's constructive criticism of your inconsiderate writing style.

    And yes, thank you. That wasn't so hard, was it? :)

  • mil -- You're going to need that "insha'allah" in the Middle East!

  • MCD hi, no more then here......

  • When I worked for Saudi Arabian Airlines I knew enough Arabic to do my PA’s in Arabic. For some reason all I can remember now is Ma Salama … Goodbye. (;-). Perhaps it is because I was arrested twice while I was there.

  • Did you all miss me- been off the web all day! :)

    loves2travel2

    Thanks, so much for the great report!! The big question- was it a dry heat? :D:D

  • I'm glad you found my post useful. I know I have learned a lot from the forum. I'll try to answer the questions several of you have asked.
    1. You will drive past the GEM building numerous times as it is close to the Mena House. It's GORGEOUS
    2. There wasn't a light show at Petra but the Bedouin evening was fantastic.
    3. Nobody hiked to the Monastery because of heat and age.
    4. Nobody wore hiking boots. I have always worn ECCO sandals because they have sturdy soles and are cooler than walking shoes.
    I only wore my sandals on the last day when we visited churches and mosques. Some of the wooden steps into the tombs are very
    very steep so shoes with good treads are important. I'm used to uneven pavements but the sand adds another dimension.
    5. A few took advantage of the hotel amenities. There wasn't a lot of leisure time between returning from the day's activities and dinner.
    That was probably one of the disappointments. The properties were gorgeous and HUGE but little time to really enjoy.
    6. The hotels were not full except for the Mena House that had a wedding reception scheduled during our last night.
    7. There were various restrictions regarding photos. The TD provided photo tickets for those who wanted them. Both my small camera
    and bigger camera didn't like the 120 degree days. I used my phone as a backup.
    8. The PCR for Egypt was administered during lunch in Jordan. The PCR for returning home was scheduled in the evening at the Mena
    House.
    9. I would practice putting your head in a hot oven to approximate the heat! It was both dry and humid depending where we were.
    Some days there was a breeze that made standing in the limited shade bearable. I live in Florida so I am accustom to heat.
    10. The Dead Sea float and mud bath is a must do!

    A couple of things I didn't mention that you may find useful.

    I'm a shopper and I look forward to finding unique pieces that remind me of the trip. Tauck cancelled the visit to the Bazaar because of health concerns. Although there were vendors selling trash and trinkets at every site there wasn't time to browse. The gift shop at the Kempinski had beautiful things. Since that was our first stop, I was reluctant to buy. BIG MISTAKE! We did stop for a restroom stop at a large shop but only had 20 minutes there. The gift shop at the Museum is nice and we did have a little more time there.

    Both my American Express and Mastercard were compromised in Jordon! Fortunately I got an alert from both and froze my cards until I contacted them. I never had my credit cards out anywhere so how it happened I have no idea. It's the first time I've ever had that happen. My husband looked on the bright side. He said, let's not report it since the thief will probably spend less than I do. HAHA

  • loves2travel2 - Thanks for your reports!

    Regarding the credit cards, did you contact your CC companies prior to your trip, alerting them to where and when you'd be? This can be done online in your accout pages. If not, that may have been the problem. It may not be that your cards were compromised, but that charges appeared for "high risk" countries where CC fraud is rampant, so they routinely block them without prior authorization.

    Regarding shopping, I'm not a shopper and rarely buy stuff while traveling, but with few exceptions, almost anything you see can be found online. During our China trip, I recall tourmates buying Terracotta Warrior replicas in Xian. You can find them online at Amazon and save the hassle of either carrying them and risking breakage, or arranging shipping directly from China. Of course, YMMV or if it's a one of a kind item...

  • BKMD - Regarding shopping, I'm not a shopper and rarely buy stuff while traveling, but with few exceptions, almost
    anything you see can be found online.

    Your statement is true, but on the rare occasion when I might buy such an item, buying it in person then associates a time and place memory in a foreign land to the purchased item. For me the associated memory is about as important as the purchased item. If the purchase is strictly transactional then I totally agree with your online ease comments.

  • Sam - I believe I told you the story of the unique-ish coffee table I happened across, and decided was a must-have, seen in a furniture store's window while walking down a street in Oslo. That is, until I went in and saw the price. Sooo, when I got home, I did some online research and found the same table available from a large furniture store in Sicily (the table was designed and manufactured in Italy) that, after some due diligence, had a good reputation. This site had it for half the price I saw in Norway. Still expensive, but I took the plunge and lived happily ever after .

  • loves2travel2 Thank you for the additional details. They are most helpful.

    I am hopeful the weather will be cooler in December. When I dropped off the Israel-Jordan tour after visiting Masada, a few travel mates sent me emails and pictures. I recall they were wearing light jackets in Petra. This was late November. Crossing fingers the weather is cooler as I really want to hike to the Monastery and see other historical sights on the trail.

    Camera & credit card compromise issues: Good to know. I was in Antarctica and didn't experience any camera issues; however, I was in Paris during a cold spell in February and my camera battery was affected. It took a few hours before it started working again. I will carry my Iphone as a backup. Same with credit cards. I always carry my AMEX and MC; however, based on your report, I will carry an extra card to keep in hotel safe just in case there are any issues and perhaps some extra cash. Petty thieves are everywhere.

    Shopping: Thanks for the heads up about the Kempinski gift shop. I like to purchase a few special items to remind me of the trip. Full disclosure... I prefer buying from the hotel gift shops. The items may be a tad bit more expensive, but I find they are of higher quality, there is no hassle and the gift shop attendants will usually package items very well and I can take them right to my room and pack them. I know there are special places to buy certain items such as when we were in India and the TD advised where to purchase the Indian miniature paintings and rugs. If there is something special I want, I will ask at the beginning of the trip. That said...I am really looking forward to going to the bazaar. I want to compare it to the massive and chaotic Chandi Chowk bazaar in New Delhi.

    Thank you so much for your report-outs.--Robin

  • It’s great to read these reports!
    The few times we have been traveling and called Amex to tell them, they say it isn’t necessary. They have a good handle on what we generally buy and are really good if there is a suspicious purchase and contact us. It’s usually a ‘ping’ purchase like someone trying to buy gas in Texas. One time someone tried to buy several pedicure chairs with our card. The funniest was after a trip to NY. We only used the card in an Italian restaurant. The next day, someone tried to buy a very expensive dress in a boutique in New Jersey. One thing I know, even if Mr B had a mistress, there is no way he’d pay that for a dress for anyone!

  • Thank you so very much, loves2travel2, for your very informative and comprehensive reviews!

  • We like to buy things from local vendors, got a beautiful item at Ayers Rock in Australia and we know it is authentic.

    Also, local vendors take care of you. In Tokyo, a vendor spent over 5 minutes wrapping up a Tee shirt

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