CAIRO: “Once you drink from the Nile River in Egypt, you are destined to come back again,” is a common Egyptian saying that seems to have proved true for many tourists, including Swiss tourist Pia Baracchi, who has been visiting Egypt twice every year since 1991.
“I loved Egypt at first sight and I stopped counting how many times I came after the 50th visit,” Baracchi told The Cairo Post. She was in Tunisia in 1990, loved the Sahara and decided to explore it more in depth.
“My first experience in Egypt started in the winter of 1991 with a group visit to Mount Sinai, where I had a wonderful safari trip and climbed the mountain in the early morning to see the sunrise,” she said. “The scene of sunrise over the vastness of the desert from the top of the mountain was breathtaking and it has captured my heart; I will never forget this moment.”
Since 1995, Baracchi said she stopped coming with big groups and that she handles her sightseeing, accommodations and other travel services upon arrival to the airport in Egypt.
According to the National Accounts Division of the Ministry of Tourism, 9.2 percent of Egypt’s tourists have visited the country twice, 6.1 percent have visited it three times and 2.2 percent have visited Egypt more than three times.
Baracchi, who has been to almost everywhere in Egypt—from the Mediterranean coast to Egypt’s western desert oases of Dakhla and Kharga and from the Red Sea resorts of Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh to Aswan, Abu Simbel and Nubia—said that Luxor is her favorite spot, and she has stayed there during her biannual visits to Egypt for the last 15 years.
“It is the only place in Egypt where I can wander around with no worries. I have many friends in the city and I always do my best to visit them with Swiss chocolate, watches and other gifts every time I visit Egypt,” she said.
“I have traveled to many other countries around the world, including Tibet, Machu Picchu, the Pacific, Lebanon, Jordan and almost all over Europe, but I feel at home in Luxor, Baracchi said.
Her love of the country has even inspired her to write two books about it: “Mein Agypten” (My Egypt) published in 2005 and “Heisser Sand” (Hot Sands) published in 2010. She said she wrote the books not for commercial purposes, but because she loves Egypt so much she wanted to document her experiences
“At the beginning, I never planned to visit Egypt twice a year, but every time I am in the airport leaving for Switzerland I know I will be coming back because I miss the warmth and the friendly manner of the Egyptian people, the culture, the archaeological sites, the chaos in the streets, the car honk sounds, the Egyptian food and all of those things that make up my daily life,” Baracchi said.