Sunday, April 22, 2007

4/19/07 - Day 9 - Back to Cairo

We got up early again to fly back to Cairo for our last night. Upn arriving we toured Old Cairo via bus, then went to the Citadel. The Citadel is an old fortress now long since converted to a tourist monument with a hugh Mosque in the center originally owned by Mohammed Ali, the king not the boxer. We took time to tour it and get a birds eye view of Cairo. It was nearing lunch so we went to a small outdoor café downtown Cairo by the Bazaar. We had shishkabob and rie pudding. Not bad. We a a little time for some laste minute shopping and then onward to our last hotel. Here at the Sheraton every said goodbye to our Egyptologist, Safy, and made plans for our last dinner together. It's hard to believe that its over already. Time went by so quickly. We saw so much. But it was a great trip overall. Be back home on Sat. Till then, Bye.

4/18/07 - Day 8 - Abu Simbel and the Dust Storm

Man, here we go again an early morning to avoid the heat of the day. Today we got our wakeup call at 4am to leave at 5 to fly at 6 from Aswan to Abu Simbel. We got breakfast boxes which were filled with pastries, orange, banana, and juice. It was a 30 min flight enough for a quick cat nap. Upon arrival we boarded the shuttle to the site. There were tons of people there. This another of the amazing sites that you see in movies. A temple for Ramses and Nefeteri. We started back to the airport by 930 am to be back at the hotel in time for lunch. Welllllllll, guess what....... A hugh dust storm in Aswan has all the flights grounded. They moved us to a hotel from 10 until 3 pm. A lloooonnnnggggg boring HOT day. Everyone is hot, tired, and a little irritated. And it wasn't just our group of 15 people, there were 5 tour guides from many different tour companies in the same boat. Needless to say, they were stressing. Many people asked about chartering a bus and just drive the 3 hours back to Aswan but that was nixed. You see we eould need an escort to be with us the whole way and there was no one there (escort is our undercover police guard) secondly they didn't want the responsibility of a possibility of getting hijacked. Lastly, if we were going and ran into the sand storm we would not be able to see and therefore stuck. So, we waited and many slept any where they could find a seat. We are finally back at the hotel and many are taking naps before dinner at 630 pm. We have another early one tomorrow as we fly back to Cairo. Till tomorrow, my last day in Egypt. G'night

4/17/07 - Day 7 - Aswan - Ship Disembark

We had our last breakfast on board thr Royal Lotus. We said goodbye to the crew and boarded our bus. We headed out to an old quarry where they found an ancient Granite unfinished obelisk. It was never finished because it cracked. So it was unuseable. From there we boarded a ferry to an island called Agilka. Here is where we visited the temple of Isis which was transplanted from the submerged island of Philae. Again we see the large entrance way to a courtyard followed by a collonade. There were many nooks again. We took the ferry back to the mainland and on the way sa the old Aswan Dam. From there we made a brief stop at a glass factory. We saw them make ornaments and perfume bottles. They also had all of the pure oils and esences. Some were really nice. From there we took a small ferry to an island where our hotel is. This is another Movenpick Hotel. Its nice. The rooms are big and there are 3 resturants. And of course stores. More ways to suck the money from your wallet. We grabbed a quick lunch then relaxed for a while. Late in the afternoon we took a quick ferry to a Botanical Garden for a relaxing afternoon walk. We returned back to the hotel to prepare for our trip for tomorrow. Dinner was a nice buffet and off to bed. Our flight to Abu Simbal is 6am, leave the hotel at 5am, so that means up at 4 am. So, I'm off to bed. G'night!

4/16/07 - Day 6 - Edfu and Komo Obo

As we woke up this morning we were mooring at Edfu amongst other boats like ours. They are stacked 3 deep at each port. We disembarked, walked up the ramp to our awaiting horse drawn carriages. These took us to the old ruins of the Temple of Horus, the Falcon God. It was and interesting site but to tell you the truth, all the wall drawings, carvings are all starting to look the same. If you don't keep a journal of where you have been and the uniqueness of each you won't remember what you saw. When we came out of the ruins there were vendors in every nook and cranny. They are persistent little buggers. Dad wanted a couple of gifts and he was trying to negotiate with the guy. I came over and argued some more, got a better price, another gift, and a freebie. I've come to the conclusion they won't argue and will back down from the western female. We are too aggressive for them. It really pisses them off when the man passes the buck to the woman to handle it.
An interesting thing happened yesterday as we were waiting to go through the Lock (much like the Panama Canal) there were many tiny boats that came up to the side of the ship and started yelling. Naturally we had to go see what the ruckus was. We were all on the top deck. As soon as you walked near the railing the vendors started heaving Galibias (long dresses) up at us. Then it was scarves, then table clothes and napkins. Some people wanted the Galibia because we were having a dressup dinner at night. I asked the price and they told me 150 Egyption pounds (for US divide by 5.7). I told them forget it and through the stuff back down at them (whoops, sometimes I missed the boat and it went in the water-oh well too bad. They were persistent. I finally got them all down to 50 (about 10 US) and everyone on the ship bought one even the German tourists. It was hillarious to see everyone at dinner that evening.
Another couple of items to note, as we work our way up the Nile River its getting hotter and hotter. Today it was blazing hot by 9 am. Also the features of the people are changing. Getting darker complected with more curly or kinky hair. You can easily see who and from where people migrated into this country.
Anyway, back to my day.... We headed back to the ship for leisure time and lunch. The ship departed Edfu and headed upstream to Kom Obo. After docking we went to visit the temple of Kom Obo which is the Falcon God and the Crocodile God. Good and evil. It was supposed to be an eye and ear clinic in the ancient times. We saw carvings showing this throughout the temple. At one point they still had mummified crocks on display. Well enough of this. E headed back to the ship and on the way I caused a ruckus again. I wanted to take a pic of a little boy and the burro. I offered 1 dollar and immediately some other guy came out of nowhere and started yelling at me. Well this ticked off the Tourist Police and he ran after and was hollering at that guy for talking to me. I gave up and left. Don't want to start another war. We went back onto the ship for our last night and to sail the last leg to Aswan. Upon arrival at Aswan we had a local show come on board to do some local music and dance. Interesting......Why do I always get picked to join the dancers!?

4/15/07 - Day 5 - Vally of the Kings

Today was a Really early start. We were on the bus at 6am heading out to the valley of the kings. It gets HOT here by 8 am. We first went to the kings tombs. We visited Ramses III, Ramses 9, and Ramses 4. You would NOT believe it. Although the gold and jewelry are all gone, you are still captivated by the wall paintings. Each one telling a story. And to thing this all the original coloring used by the early ancient egyptians. You just stand in awe of the depth of the tombs and catacombs deep inside the mountain side. While there I also visited King Tut's tomb. It was small and the only thing left is the granite tomb with the golden sarcofigus AND mummy still inside. His is small because his reighn was short. After leaving there we visited the Temple of Hatshepsut. Lokk this up on the internet. Very impressive. She is the only queen that was a Pharoah. Now on to the valley of the Queens. We wanted to see the tomb of Queen Neferiti, but hers was closed. They rotate the viewing of the tombs so they don't get worn out. Here we saw a tomb for one of the children of RAMSES tHE SECOND. Guess what its finally 1030 am and we have to get back to the boad because we sail at 11 am. We are starving and lunch isn't until 1230. So now we are all sitting in thw sun by the pool, burning up. Thw sun is very hot here like in Kenya. Relax time for the rest of the day. I think most everyone will be napping by 1. Nothing for now. Hope all is well at home. We have heard and read about the bombings in the countries close by. Keep in touch. Later. Anna

4/14/07 - Day 4 - Luxor

We stayed at Jolia at Crocidile Island. A quick breakfast we took off to Karnak one of the ancient ruins. We saw the temple complex of Amun-Ra. It had 2 entrances both lined with sphinx. One went on for 3 kilometers. There were multiple kings and queens who over many centuries. There were temples for Ramses, Tut, Tuthmoses, and Queen Hatchupsut. Here we also saw the sound and light show. Not impressed. I must be tainted by the Disney entertainment. We then went to the LUXOR tEMPLE where there were large statues of Ramses II. In both places the engravings, drawings, and many cartouch symbols were everywhere. At times you could still see thr original colors embedded into the rock. We ched into our cruise ship room. This will be our home for the next 3 nights. There are over 300 cruiships here on the Nile. They are parked 3 & 4 deep. You walk through each one to get to the other. Our room is not bad. Just like a cruise ship in Fla. Food is really good and a wide variety. Till tomorrow. Anna

4/13/07 - Day 3 - Cairo and the Flight to Luxor

We got to sleep in a little longer today but with the time change we were awake anyway. Our last breakfast in this beautiful resort over looking the pyramids. We boarded the bus about 9 and headed out to a Papyrus making house. Here they showed us the plant, how they harvest it, how it is cut into long thin slices, then soaked for a long time. The longer it soaks in the water the darker it becomes. Next it is weaved between each of the pieces like woven material, then it is put into a press where all the pieces meld together and seals itself. Its such an interesting process. Once the sheet of papyrus is done and dry they then paint pictures on it. The paper will never tear or crush or fall apart even if wet again. I will bring some to show when I return. Everyone bought something. The stories of the pharoahs in paint is so interesting. We left there to go to the Cairo Museum. Although most of the valuable antiquities were looted throughout the years, there were still lots of coffins, walls with heirogliphics, wood sycamore statues, granite statues, etc. The most interesting was all the known antiquities of King Tut. His multi piece sarcofogus, his jewelry, solid gold headdress, so many amazing pieces. We only had 3 hours here and had to leave. We did get a quick chance to see the mummy room. Inside were many of the Kings, but most important was King Ramses II. The statues everywhere are so big, strong, and mighty, but his mummy was so small and frail. You could spend a couple of days here looking and reading about everything but we had to go. From here we went to lunch at a park with an outdoor resturant. Food was great. Time was running out and we had to get through the traffic to the domestic airport. Wait till you see my traffic pics. They don't believe in stop lights, headlights, right of way, lines in the road. We had lots of close calls. From the air port we flew to Luxor and are staying at a resort on Crocodile Island. Its jam packed as this is a resort that many use for relaxation. Tomorrow is a busy day as we are visiting Karnak, Valley of the Queens, temple of Ramses, thebes and more. Then we will board our cruise ship, the Royal Lotus by Avalon Waterways, to begin our 3 day journey down the Nile to Aswan. Till tomorrow....G'night. Anna