Cairo can best be described as a slap in the face. You hear the word ‘Welcome’ a lot — too much, actually — just before aggression bears down on you like an angry mother-in-law, yelling and asking inappropriate questions while pushing you into chaotic streets of honking cars and choking pollution.

I’m consoled with a big bowl of koshari, tasty falafel and pyramids, which appear in the distance haze like ghosts.

Fortunate to get one of 150 morning tickets, I enter the Great Pyramid’s robbers tunnel and spend 30-45 minutes hunched over and sweating to death. There’s no air. I don’t mind. It is, after all, a tomb and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

In Luxor, I’m up at 5:30 again to ride donkeys over the tallest ridge and into the Valley of the Kings. The overhead view of the Hatshepsut Temple and Valley of the Queens, the scenery and the opportunity to see everyday life are things I would have missed by taking a tram, taxi or bus. I also pay extra to see the inside of King Tut’s tomb, which satisfies a lifelong fascination.

Abu Simbel and the Karnak Temple. Wow. Light show and cheesy commentary. Just say no.

Egypt is a country I’ve dreamed of going my whole life and the last on my original destination checklist. Aside from men offering to buy me with camels, a boring felucca ride and fending off haram described in “Sex, Mobs and Revolution,” this journey is nothing short of amazing and surpasses anything I expected.