Pyramids, the Nile and the Red Sea

Egypt was on our " Must Go" list for many years.
Now that we’ve been we wonder why we waited!!
Egypt has so much to show and tell us ! The following is a journal of our travels.


From Kenya to Egypt

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by nofootprint on March 29, 2010

Kenya Air
We took Kenya Air to Cairo.Our flight was comfortable and on schedule. We are so accustomed to delays here in North America, we’re amazed that all the flights we took throughout Africa have been on or near schedule.
The security wasn’t nearly as strict as other parts of the world, which may not be a plus. We were permitted to carry on our back backs which were a little too heavy , we were pleased as we heard luggage is sometimes opened and valuables often robbed in Nairobi .
The plane was a bit shabby but the service was friendly and they served two pretty good meals on our 5 hour trip.
We were surprised that we had a stop in Sudan on the way, we didn’t realize there was a stop. Not sure if it’s a country we’ll ever visit so at least we saw the airport.
Booking our tickets online from Canada was impossible however as it wouldn’t accept our credit card . We had our agent in Tanzania buy the tickets for us which worked out well . The tickets were about $80.00 cheaper than the prices offered online so that was a plus.


Here at Last


Arriving in Cairo

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by nofootprint on November 23, 2009

Arriving In Cairo
Cairo is a hectic , confusing and bustling airport. It seemed very foreign to us even though we have traveled to 70 countries .

We booked our trip in Egypt with Five Star Travel and we were pleased to see our agent ,Tamer waiting for us and we were surprised to see he was permitted to wait inside the customs area.

Tamer really was a help with obtaining our visas which to our surprise you buy at the money exchange place . He handed our $15.00 and our passports to the guy in the wicket and without even looking at our information they handed over our visa. Glad we didn’t go through the trouble of applying before we left home.
Customs clearance was also pretty fast and we were on our way.

The 30 minute drive to our hotel went by quickly as we caught our first glimpse of the famous city of Cairo. I thought it looked quite European and it is a mix of the new ,old and ancient. We saw many impressive grand buildings that were built over generations as well as extremely poor and shabby areas. Tamer did a wonderful job explaining the sights we were seeing but by now I was so exhausted many of the details escaped me.



A Day Trip to Alexandria


Alexandria and Pompeii"s Pillar

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by nofootprint on December 8, 2009

Thanks to our driver our trip which was to take 3 hours turned out to be a short 2 hours .It was a great highway , but I wouldn’t want to drive it as the rules were somewhat chaotic!!This road was once called Desert Highway . Today you can’t really see the desert thanks to the discovery of an underground water source. Our guide tells us , cities sprung up overnight and we can even see farmland here.

Along the way we see fields of corn , grapes, citrus and of course dates. We also noticed these strange little houses that looked like bird house condos! They are actually pigeon houses. Locals raise pigeons for food.

For a break we stop at what had to be the weirdest restaurant ever. It is a combination of restaurant and mini zoo. We saw ostrich , lions, and monkeys to name a few . All were held in cages , so sad . They also had huge stone ovens where they made these hage crisp pies. They smelled delicious but we passed as the whole zoo concept just took away our appetite. Filthy bathrooms completed the picture!!

Alexandria lies 220 km across the Western Desert from Cairo. Named for Alexander the Great this ancient city was originally founded in 331 BC. Its hard to imagine but for years in laid buried under the desert sands and actually some is still buried under the sea. A "new" city was eventually built on top of ancient Alexandria by Mohammid Ali the Ottoman Governor of egypt in 1801.

Today Alexandria is a mix of cultures including Greek , Roman and Egytion. There is a rich and a very poor population but not much in between. On the east side of the city we see spectacular mansions, wide blvds and hotels . In stark contrast the west side of the city in a dusty rubble with heaps of trash everywhere.

Pompeii Pillar

All that remains of this huge temple is one huge red granite pillar, two sphinx and some ruins.
The temple was built in 207AD for the Roman Emperor Diocletian . It is called Pompeii’s Pillar as it was once thought to be his temple…an idea that has been disproven.
We take our time exploring the area with our guide. He points out the cleansing baths area of the temple,where priests would bathe before entering. We also see various ancient monuments including those of Ramses 11 and ancient Christian artifacts . We were interested to learn the temple was converted to a Cathedral during Roman times.

An Afternoon in Alexandria

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by nofootprint on December 27, 2009


Our first stop is The Mosque.

The Attarine Mosque is located in the middle of this unique area, on Attarine Mosque Street. Originally a church dedicated to Saint Athanasius in 370 AD it was converted into a small mosque, which was built up and eventually became known as tAfter lunch we continue our tour of Alexandria. As a special add on bonus our guide decides to take us to a couple of places which aren't on our agenda. He is a true lover of history and I have to admit his enthusiasm is contagious.
he Mosque of a Thousand Columns.
Men enter by the elaborate front entrance but women must enter by the side door. I know this is an age-old cultural practice but it offends me. As it turns out I can’t go in at all as I don’t have anything to cover my head….ahhh maybe its just as well.
I content myself with viewing the exterior which is very ornate. A Spanish architect designed it and even our inexperienced eye can see the Spanish influence.Surrounding the Mosque is an ancient market place. It looked interesting but our guide was impacient for us to move along.

Nest we visit El Salamalik Palace

Originally it was built as a hunting lodge for Khidive Abbas Helmi 11 and his Hungro- Austrian mistress .The grounds were stocked with game for his hunting enjoyment. Later his son, King Farouk used the lodge as his summer palace.

Surrounding the Palace we find what once were the private gardens of the King known as the Montazah Gardens. Today they are enjoyed by the public as a park . They really aren’t spectacular, maybe I was expecting too much but they are a pleasant place to stroll.

The palace has been converted to an elaborate 5 star hotel with about 20 rooms. Prices start at $120.00 per night.Situated overlooking the bay, I think this would be a wonderful and romantic place to spend a honeymoon.


Our final stop today is at the Catacomb of Komel – Shokafa

Here we descend several floors into the damp dark cavern, which was the buriel chamber for the royals. Even though the Greeks didn’t believe in an afterlife they maintained the chambers to show respect.
On the main level there is a stone bench and a sort of gathering place for family members. Here families gathered sharing drinks and fond memories of the recently departed. They broke their cups when they finished drinking so as not to bring bad luck away with them . As a result, hills of glass were later discovered here and the place was named Mountain of Glass.

Remarkably it was a donkey who found these ancient chambers by chance. He was digging in a heap of mud after the a rain and fell through the deep hole. As pictures are not allowed here , I have only my memories to take away with me.




The Old and the New


Memphis, Ramses and the First Pyramid

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by nofootprint on November 25, 2009

Once we figured out we were an hour early ( didn’t know there was an hour time change) we were on our way with our guide for the Cairo area with Saed and our driver Tony.

Saed is a walking history book ----he’s quite a serious man but we learn to appreciate his amazing knowledge of Egyptian history.

Our first stop to day is Memphis. This city was built by Pharaoh King Menes . Once the capitol in 3500BC and due to heavy trades, the city flourished . In ancient times Memphis had many fine palaces, large Temples and beautiful gardens. With the arrival of the Greeks the Egyptian Capital was moved from Memphis to Alexandria and Memphis suffered considerably. This was the beginning of the end. It is now mostly in ruins with shabby buildings and very poor residents.

Once we check through the security post we are in the open air museum of Memphis. We see many monuments of Ramses 11 and many more treasures left behind by the early inhabitants.
Saed tells us a farmer discovered the huge granite
monuments when he was tilling his field found the site…quite a harvest !!


King Ramses II was the Greatest Pharaoh King of Ancient Egypt belonging to the19th Dynasty. He was had a strong build and was taller than average at about 5 feet 9 inches tall. Most Egyptians were at least 5 inches shorter than this. He also lived to be 96 years (although at that time average Egyptian lived up to around 45 years of age). He had 200 wives, 60 sons and more than 100 daughters.

The massive Colossus of Ramses inside the Museum is the grand finale. It is an enormous statue carved in limestone about 10m (33.8 ft) long. Some of the original colors are still partly preserved.. The fallen colossus was found near the south gate of the temple of Ptah . Because of its enormous size where it lies is where it will remain. It was once offered to France as a gift but moving it proved to be to difficult.

Our next stop on this exciting first day of Egypt is to see the famous Step Pyramid. The Step Pyramis is located in Sqqara not far from Cairo.

We are so excited to see our first Pyramid and it is appropriate as this one is the oldest of the120 or so Pyramids. It was constructed around 2600BC and was built in stages. The original structure was an underground burial chamber . Today most of the outer casings are gone and though it is an incredible sight one can only imagine what it once looked like .

The whole experience with the guards on the camel on the desert hills, the towering Pyramid and all the mystery in holds and the beating Egytian sun reminds us of why we love to explore new lands. We spend almost and hour taking pictures from every angle.


The Burial Chamber
Inside the Burial Chamber pictures are not allowed in an effort to preserve the ancient works for generations to come.

Here we see clearly ancient pictures depicting people living as they once did at about 2600BC. Giant squid and fish that are now extinct are carved into the stone . We see Nile crocodile and hippos that have long since disappeared from this area as well as the fishermen that harvested them with spears. We see tables laden with food and farmers fields with crops waiting to be harvested.

Its all here for us to see so many thousands of years later. We wonder with all our technology what record of our lives will stand the test of time to tell our story.

Looking Back 4500 Years at The Great Pyramids of Giza

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by nofootprint on November 27, 2009

Our first view of the Cheops (also called the Pyramid of Khufu ) was from our restaurant window at lunch, as it simply towers over Giza. It’s surreal to sit eating pita and hummus while gazing at one of the top wonders of the world. We wonder what took us so long in making this trip. After lunch we’re anxious to get a closer look!!

I think this is one time when the word "Amazing" is appropriate. Just to see the guards on camels in the shade of the massive Pyramid is unbelievable. Before we take any more pictures we walk together to touch the ancient Pyramid wall and congratulate ourselves for finally being able to scratch this off our life goal list!

I thought the whole place would be mobbed with visitors but there were far fewer than I imagined. Maybe Sept is somewhat off-season.

Cheops Pyramid is the oldest and largest of the three in Giza. Built around 2500 BC it took 20 years to construct and is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still intact. No one knows for sure how the Great Pyramids were built . Some say by slaves and others think peasants built them as a "make work" project during floods. The rising waters would have aided in the movement of stones. It’s hard to believe there are actually 120 Pyramids scattered about, that we know of!


We also have time to see the mortuary temple in honor of Khufu, three smaller pyramids for Khufu's wives. We thought it was nice of him to build them but of course they were much smaller!. We also saw the slightly smaller Pyramid of Kaffre builder of the Great Sphinx. A few hundred meters away the much smaller Pyramid of Menkaure, Khafre's . These explain why all the venders sell the souvineer sets of Pyramids in three.

Pyramid building continued until the Middle Kingdom but sadly suceeding Dynesties robbed all of them to build new monuments.

Last but not least on our visit the this complex,was the Great Sphinx. What trip to Egypt would be complete without a stop at the Sphinx! The Sphinx is the guard of the Royal buriel chambers and the Temple of Cheops. Our guide tells a huge mound of granite was infront of the Pyramid Complex and the King thought it spoiled the view.Thus the Sphinx was cleverly carved in its place.

Each evening there is a Sound & Light Show near the Pyramids. Although I hear it is a good show ,we chose to keep our $100.00 (price for two with transportation) and enjoy the Pyramids as they were before technology.

Security is toght all around the Pyramids. We see lots of guards with kalishmikob rifles and tourist police on horseback, camel, and in heavy armoured vehicles. . This is in an effort to secure tourists from terrorist attacks. It gives us a feeling of unease and is a grime reminder of troubles in the past.

Alas, the day is not over before a visit to the "Perfume Factory" where as expected everything is hugely overpriced. This is at the urging of our guide who I’m sure is hopeful we will buy so he can get some commission!

With our shopping trip aside, this was an incrediable day. We are exhausted now however and are happy to kick back with a casual dinner and a drink poolside at our hotel.

Exploring Coptic Cairo and Shopping at the Khan

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by nofootprint on December 28, 2009

Coptic Cairo

I have to admit I knew nothing about this area before we visited. It is an ancient area of Cairo dating back to the 6th century BC. We notice that the area is heavily guarded. We see armed police as we enter, with spiked chains ready to stop any intruding vehicle. As we walk the main street we also see guards behind heavy artillery shields

Our first stop is the Fortress of Babylon built here by the Romans. The plaque outside is written in both Arabic and the Cryptic language.
At one time as many as twenty churches were built in this small one square mile area. Today only 5 remain.

Next we stop by the famed "Hanging Church" (Saint Virgin Mary’s Church) . It turns out to be just that; it literally hangs between two towers. Built in the 3rd century AD ,it is quite and amazing structure and the ceiling is built to represent Noah’s Arc. We stop to see the many relics of saints and martyr all whose fate too horrific to even write about. They died as they lived for their faith.
For the most part the church is quite rustic , which is understandable considering its age. The heavy doors are inlaid with ebony and ivory and the huge pillars are of marble. There are 13 pillars designed to represent the 12 apostles and Christ. The floors have escape hatches, which were used through the ages to save the lives of the priests and their followers during attacks.

Next we descend (filthy steps) to the original streets of the city to pay a visit to Saints Sergius and Bacchus Church. Dating back to the 6th century BC this church is built upon the Holy Crypt where Joseph Mary and Jesus are said to have taken refuge for three months during their flight into Egypt fleeing Herod. The Church itself is quite a simple structure and thankfully nothing like other religious sites we have seen, like Lordes in France which is wildly ornate and "built for the tourist dollar’. We aren’t permitted to take pictures of the crypt however, I’m not really sure why. Maybe it is to boost the postcard sales. Really there’s not much to photograph anyway as its just a sort of cellar.

Greek Chapel of St George
There is a lot of reconstruction still going on here ,so we took only a quick stop. Inside the majority of the church is strewn with rubble. The highlight is a chamber featuring a chain that was used to hang St George. The faithful take there turn kissing the chain and receiving the blessing.

Our guide encouraged us to take the short walk to the old graveyard. Here, behind the church we see a mixture of old and relatively new tombs .It’s a rough trek to get there through a disgusting entrance of trash and rubble to reach the run down site . A quick look was enough for us.

The Jewish Synagogue
After the fall of Jerusalem in around 70 AD, the area saw an influx of Jews, and it's here where Egypt's oldest synagogue, Ben Ezra is located. No pictures allowed here and the security protested when I took a pictures of the outside.

Leaving the narrow and ancient streets of Coptic Cairo behind we head for the Old Cairo Market called Khan el-Khalili Bazaar. This has been high on my list since we first arrived so I was filled with excitement and anticipation.
Built in the 14th century this market is still a vibrant and exciting place to shop. The tiny shops are filled with copper, silver, Egyptian robes, scarves, spices , souvenirs and more. Bargaining is both expected and necessary. Prices often start 3 or 4 times the going price. Its difficult to browse as the sellers start a hard sales pitch the minute you just glance at an item. With that aside we felt safe and welcome here. The venders though persistent were friendly and fun.
One thing to note here is to watch where you are going as it would be easy to get lost. The little streets seem to wind in and out without much pattern. We met our guide in an ancient coffee shop called al-Fishawi. This is Egypt's most famous, and most place where shoppers still gather to smoke the shisha ( water pipe) as they have for hundreds of years.
Our time here flew by and we could have used more. I was happy with my purchase of a lovely silver necklace with tiny stones and earring to match. I don’t know if I overpaid but I was happy with the $72.00 that I paid and it is stamped with the silver 925 numbers.


Getting to Aswan


A Rocky Trip On The Overnight Train From Cairo

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by nofootprint on December 29, 2009

Well this was a part of our agenda that I was a little concerned about. I honestly didn’t know what to expect. Instead of flying to Aswan to catch our Nile Cruise we decided to try the train.

The first thing I realized is we shouldn’t have come early The tiny waiting room is shabby crowded and hot. There are only a couple of chairs and no AC. The toilet is absolutely filthy. I have to say this is the worst I’ve seen in all my travels.

Our guide came with us and insisted on waiting with us. We assured him we would be fine , after all this was country 73 for us . We’ve been around a bit. None of the less he stayed.

The people we waited with, however, were so friendly that the time actually passed fairly quickly . We met a young Doctor and her mother (who is also a Doctor). They spoke good English . We learned Doctors here do not make the kind of money they do in Canada ( this explains their mode of transportation). Education is free here so there are more than enough Doctors to go around.

When our train arrived things got pretty hectic . The cars aren’t marked at all so we would have had a tough time figuring out which train was ours . Maybe it was good we had our guide after all.

Our "room" was dingy, worn and basic. Good thing we booked first class. I’d hate to see the other levels of service. We have a sink but the toilet is down the hall . I fear this will be a very long night.
On the positive side there is AC and the included dinner of chicken, beef, rolls and rice is at least edible. The porter was pleasant but we realized later , the drinks he offered was extra ,only the ones that came with our meals were included. It really was no big deal though but good to know.

The trip to Aswan was 12 hours. So we were thankful to convert our seats into bunk beds and lie down . We somehow managed to get through a restless night of banging clanging and rocking.

After breakfast of bread cheese and jam we welcomed our arrival to Aswan.


The Nile Cruise from Aswan to Luxor


Cruising the Nile on the Ship Nile Plaza

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by nofootprint on January 2, 2010

5 Star Presidential Cruise – Nile Plaza

This is a comfortable ship with friendly staff and really good service. As soon as we board we’re given our keys and time to relax before meeting our tour guide who will be with us for all our excursions.

We really like our room . We have a huge King Size bed and a big window. There is a TV a modern bathroom and much ti my delight a hairdryer!! It’s better than we expected and our room is much larger than the one we had on the Carnival Cruise we took a few years ago.

The food is excellent with a buffet breakfast and lunch. We have table service at the dinner meal with a different theme each evening. The Cruise line proudly boasts of their Crystal Certificate of Achievement ) and thankfully stomach worries were never a problem during the cruise.

There is a small pool on the upper deck; a couple of gift shops and money can be changed at the front desk. Each evening we have entertainment including a belly dancer and a Nubian show. Our favorite was the Egyptian night where we played dress up and got to wear our Egyptian finery
.
This is not a huge Cruise ship and has about 65 cabins. I think because in September it is off season, the ship is only about half full.
We are sorted in groups of ten for the cruise. We meet in the lobby on the first afternoon and decide on a group name. Our group is named Isis. I think it’s a good name, mostly as it’s easy to remember. We sit together for our meals and tour together with the same guide. .Our group has a nice mix of nationalities, including Australia , New Zealand and South Africa . We get to know each other pretty well and become friends by the end of our cruise. Our guide is excellent and is actually an Egyptologist.

I really have no negatives to report and I would definitely book this Cruise Line again.

Our Itinerary:
Day 1:
Aswan
Embarkation before 8.00 A.M. Visit the High Dam and the temple of Philae. Sail to Kom Ombo. Visit the temple shared by two Gods Sobek and Haroeris. Sail to Edfu andovernight.

Day 2:
Edfu / Esna / Luxor
Visit the temple of Horus in Edfu. Sail to Esna. Cross the lock. Sail to Luxor and overnight.

Day 3:
Luxor
Cross the West Bank. Visit the Necropolis of Thebes, Valley of the Kings, the temple of Queen Hatshepsut, and the Colossi of Memnon. Afternoon free at leisure. Overnight in Luxor.

Day 4:
Luxor
Disembarkation after breakfast.

Presidential Cruises - Nile Plaza

Egypt, Africa

Beware of Banks with Broken Windows

Member Rating 1 out of 5 by nofootprint on February 7, 2010

Banks ATMS etc.

We are always very careful which ATM’s we use when traveling. A couple of people in our group were out of cash so our driver stopped in front of this Bank. It didn’t pass our scrutiny with its broken windows and soaped up doors. We thought it was better to pay a couple of dollars more to exchange money on the Cruise ship!!

Discovering the Magic of theThe Temple of Love

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by nofootprint on February 7, 2010

Temple of Philae

Located on an island we take a boat over to reach the first temple , known as the Temple of Love ( Temple of Isis).
The trip to the island is part of the magic .

Our boat crew are of the beautiful, dark and exotic Nubian race. Nubians are the people of southern Egypt and northern Sudan,with a history and traditions which can be traced to 3800BC. They have their own language that can be spoken but has no written word.Along the Nile,they developed one of the oldest and greatest civilizations in Africa. Until they lost their last kingdom (Christian Nubia) only five centuries earlier the Nubians remained as the main rivals to Egypt, the other great civilization of North East Africa.

This is the most surreal temple we have seen on the trip. We are lucky to still have this temple as it is one of several that were relocated to higher ground and saved from the floodwaters created by the building of the Aswan Dam in 1906. In the seventies many nations attempted to save the Temple that was almost completely submerged. These countries, together with UNESCO, selected a new island reshaped to imitate Philae Island . The new island was called Egilica (also called Agilika).The project took over 9 years to be accomplished and the Temple of Philae was reopened in 1980!


We notice the high water marks on the temple walls. There is much to see here including lots of well-preserved hieroglyphics and early Christian symbols. During the reign of the Emperor Justinian (527-565 A.D), the main Temple was converted to a church. Our guide points out the defaced symbols of the gods on the temple walls. This was done the early Christians, as they were afraid of the spirits that might exist and be floating around inside the temples.
Its absolutely beautiful and stand proudly looking over Lake Aswan delighting thousands of visitors that arrive daily to take a trip back in time.

Visiting the High Dam

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by nofootprint on February 7, 2010

Visiting High Dam
We’re greeted to this rather drab area by a modern monument, which was built as a tribute to the joint effort in building the dam by the Egyptians and Russians. It looks out of place in this land of world-renowned ancient temples and monuments.

We learn there is an older dam here as well called Aswan Dam. As we travel we see many abandoned houses that were made uninhabitable by by the floods resulting from the High Dam.
The people that lived here were the Nubians. They migrated here from Sudan.

Kom Ombo- and the Medicine Men

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by nofootprint on February 7, 2010

Temple of the gods Sobek and Haroeris – Kom Ombo

Kom Ombo stands on a promontory at a bend in the Nile Aswan and Edfu. We arrive here at sunset and had to rush before the sun sunk too low. Sunset here is at 6PM.
This is the temple where the Doctors in ancient times came to study. It is pretty amazing to see prescriptions written in hieroglyphics. We see depictions of medical tools, and even women in birthing chairs. Our guide tells us there is even evidence that successful brain surgery was performed here. It is unbelievable!!
We saw strange hieroglyphics of men’s penises. Our guide explains that when enemies were defeated they were castrated. It was an effective way to limit their numbers for future generations
We left the temple as the sun was setting. Our pensive mood was quickly ended as we descended into the hectic marketplace where hopeful venders awaited us.


The Temple of Horus and Life Today in Edfu

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by nofootprint on February 7, 2010

Edfu and the Temple of Horus
Last night we sailed to Edfu and it was really cool this morning to look out the window and see the horse and carriages out front at dawn waiting for the tourists!

Our excursion today is to see the Temple of Horus , the best-preserved Temple in all of Egypt. The hieroglyphics here are so clear they look like they were painted yesterday.
The falcon gods Horus along with his wife Hathor are on the front of the Temple.
The front of the temple is a pylon which makes this huge structure appear even larger. The pylons of the main Temple are about 118 feet high with typical scenes of the pharaoh in battle with his enemies.
We see the the goddess Hathor coming by boat ( laden with gold) to see her husband Horus. Apparently her plan was to stay two weeks and make 14 babies ( pretty ambitious , even for a goddess!!)
We take a good look at the " Nile-o-meter" here. We have seen them in Cairo as well and they are quite impressive. They were used to measure the water level of the Nile . The temples were always built in times of flood. This allowed for ease of construction as well as providing work.

Returning to our ship we relax on deck and watch scenes of everyday life play out before us. We see children playing ball and swimming while men fish. We watch men struggle under a heavy load of water from the river while we sit in our lounge chairs only meters away. Unbelievable!!
One man waves and shouts " Hello! Welcome to Egypt!"
Egyptians have been nothing but welcoming to us throughout our entire trip, despite our different lots in life!!

We cross the lock and sail to Luxor overnight.

Temple of Queen Hatshepsut

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by nofootprint on February 8, 2010

Temple of Queen Hatshepsut
We wake up this morning in Luxor. We’re anxious to get exploring. Some keeners in our group were off the boat before breakfast and tell us there is a coffee shop nearby.

We set out at 7AM . Our destination is the West Bank . Tradionally the west side of the Nile is reserved for the dead. Our first stop is the Temple of the Queen Hatshepsut. To reach the site we drive through a small ancient village strewn with "alabaster factories". This is a clue to our second stop. The temple is massive a huge plaza in front. We really had to push ourselves to cross the wide expanse of the plaza in the scorching heat. Ahead we can see the towering pillars. We climb the many steps to the galley at the top. We see Thebes standing with arms crossed in front. This is a stanch she took to represent power (a man’s pose) Smart lady!!
As a side note, this is where the terrible massacre of innocent tourists occurred on November 17,1997. On that terrible morning armed terrorists disguised as security police greeted tourists. 62 people including children were killed.
Today security is very tight and no one is permitted to enter the Temple.

Valley of the Kings, Where the Pharaohs Met Their Gods

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by nofootprint on February 9, 2010

This is high on our list of must sees and we have looked forward to our visit for many years. We soon discover the Valley of the Kings is high on many lists, so much so that cameras are not allowed in the site. I think this is in an effort to keep the crowds moving more than to protect the ancient hieroglyphics.
The very name evokes a sense of dark mystery. There are 63 temples discovered to date with work continuing to uncover more. As you would expect, all of the temples are of Kings with the exception of three. The walls of the temples are in unbelievable shape with the images of the Book of the Dead ,the Book of the Gates and the Book of the Underworld are clearly visible. It is easy to let your imagination run wild and be transported back in time . The Egyptian belief that "To speak the name of the dead is to make him live again" is certainly carried out in the building of the tombs. The king's formal names and titles are inscribed in his tomb along with his images and statues.

Beginning with the 18th Dynasty the kings abandoned the Memphis area and the pyramid style tombs and built their tombs in Thebes. Most of the tombs were cut into the limestone .These catacombs were harder to rob and were more easily concealed. As soon as the reign began so did the construction of the tomb. I guess its best to be ready!!

We visited only three temples in all .
The first was temple 14 – Temple of King Setnakht
Setnakht was the first King of 2oth Dynasty,which was the last of the New Kingdom. Setnakhte's reign was short, perhaps only two or three years and he may have come to the throne fairly late in life. Upon his death, Setnakhte was buried with full royal honors. According to the Papyrus Harris I, "he was rowed in his king's barge upon the river (crossed the Nile to the west bank), and rested in his eternal house west of Thebes". He actually had a "used" tomb as it was originally excavated for Queen Tuosret.
The next tomb we visited was Set 11.We believe that Seti may have only reigned for about six years, from about 1199 until 1193 BC.
This is an interesting tomb as it is where we first see some change in colour. Black and white are used to change the color hues. Color was obtained by crushing jewels to dust. We also notice many servants in the tomb , all to be used in the afterlife.
How I miss my camera. I try my best to content myself with some postcards.

Colossi of Memnon

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by nofootprint on February 9, 2010

Colossi of Memnon

This was a quick stop for us , as all that remains are two massive towers. The temple itself was destroyed in an earthquake in 27BC and the stones were most likely used over the centuries to build homes for the residents.
The stone statues are of Pharaoh Amenhotep III and are still quite amazing ,standing 23 meters high . They have stood for the past 3400 years (since 1350 BC) in the Theban necropolis across the River Nile from the modern city of Luxor.
Colossi of Memnon
Theban Necropolis
Luxor, Egypt

Out Trip to Luxor Town

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by nofootprint on February 10, 2010

Our trip to Luxor Town
We arranged our transportation from the ship and for 60 EL ( $12.00) return we take a trip to town. Our primary interest is to visit the Souk ( market) but the city is pretty interesting in itself.
We see the White Palace a pretty impresive place to stay where you would feel like royality. There are touches of the western world here with both MacDonalds’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken on the main street. You can’t enter Luxor without seeing Karnak Temple , the city seems to be built around it.
Luxor is so very old ,with many old dusty homes and shops built along lanes that are really just alleys.
I’m a sucker for old market places , so I was happy to arrive at the Souk. Souk Street runs parallel to Karnak Temple Street with its entrance close to the side of Luxor Temple. Here the bargaining is fierce and no rules apply. A scarf that will sell for 15 or 20 EL is offered for 220EL. It is outrageous and not for the shy or timid. With that aside however it’s a fun place to spend an afternoon.
We were shopping for a silver medallion and couldn’t seem to find one we liked. We evenutally accepted an offer to go to a small place where the locals go, with a shop clerk . This is breaking all the rules in the "safe travel for Tourists Handbook" but we were cautious. It turned out to be a backshop in a nearby narrow alley. They were actually making jewellery there and we came away with exactly what we wanted at a very good price.
Our time passed so quickly here. We came away with lots of scarves, jewellery and traditional Egyptian garmets.



The Desert and the Sea


Crossing the Western Desert to the Red Sea

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by nofootprint on February 10, 2010

Driving Across the Western Desert to the Red Sea
We start our trip by driving along the Nile through little towns and content ourselves watching life along the Nile. We see people carrying supplies with donkey carts and washing their clothes in the river. They lead very simple lives in much the same as did their ancestors.

It seems there are checks points every 10 minutes. It is a bit unnerving .Adding to our concern is the fact that our driver pulled over and a man unknown to us jumped in. Neither spoke English so we didn’t know what this surprise traveler was about and we hope all was well. Up until six months ago cars had to leave at scheduled times as part of a caravan . I think I would have preferred this.
Eventually we find ourselves in the desert. This continues for two out of the three hours of our trip. We’re excited at first ,having never experienced the desert before. Our excitement soon turns to boredom however as there is little change in scenery.
I plan to research why there is so much security in this area. For us it was an uneventful if somewhat boring trip.

Taking it Easy on the Red Sea

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by nofootprint on March 29, 2010

We stayed at the Royal Azur next to its sister hotel Club Azur. Facilities at both resorts were available to us.
The hotel is quite grand with marble everywhere and several restaurants. It is an all-inclusive resort and the food was great. There were lots of choices of drinks and food. We didn’t make it to all the restaurants in our 4 -day stay but by the look of the scales when we returned we ate our share.
There are several pools as well. We enjoyed the salt water pool the best.
The rooms are very nice with king sized bed , nice big balcony SAT TV ( with a couple of English channels) and HD.
Royal Azur Hotel and Resort
Makadi Bay
Hurghada, Egypt

http://www.igougo.com/journal-j73970-Egypt-Pyramids_the_Nile_and_the_Red_Sea.html

©Travelocity.com LP 2000-2009