Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Week Seventeen Daily Journal

Friday, January 21
Luxor, Egypt

Hiking from Valley of the Kings to Hatshepsut

Breakfast at Beit Sabee was really good.  It's always a treat to get eggs cooked to order!  Today we toured the west bank of Luxor - Valley of the Kings, Hatshepsut, the Collosi of Memnom and the Valley of the Nobles. See post: Tomb Raiders We went to Moon Valley for lunch, and had a really good vegetarian dinner at the hotel where we met one of the owners.

Saturday, January 22
Esna, Egypt & Nile cruise

We spent the morning relaxing at the hotel, chatting with other guests and enjoying some delicious fried eggplants.  In the afternoon we were picked up and driven to Esna to start our Nile cruise on the Princess Donia.  The other guests were Ed and Ellen from Easton, PA, and Chaz and Stacey, who were living in Armenia.  The boat was really nice and the crew were super friendly.  We ate lunch on the deck and cruised (not enough wind to sail, so we were towed by the tugboat) to Edfu where we docked for the night.

Sunday, January 23
Nile Cruise

Dave's typical boating activity

Today we visited Edfu Temple, which was really well preserved and was dedicated to the god Horus.  Afterwards we had to walk through a bazaar.  That night, after dinner, we watched Death on the Nile (the original one, not the remake starring Rachel McAdams).

Monday, January 24
Nile Cruise

Village cow
(wearing a blanket to beat the chill)

Today we visited an ancient sandstone quarry - it was really cool to see where the giant slabs of stone were hewn to make all the huge statues and monuments.  We also visited the Speos of Hormheb, which was totally deserted except for us.  That night we tied up on an island and Hassan took Dave and me on a walk to watch the sunset.  We passed banana trees and lots of small huts with donkeys and cows grazing outside.

Tuesday, January 25
Nile Cruise

Fresh Nile fish for lunch
We visited the temple of Kom Ombo, which is interesting as it has two symmetrical entrances, two halls and two sanctuaries, one set dedicated to God Horus (falcon god) and one to God Sobek (crocodile god). We saw a Nile-ometer (a deep well used to measure the height of the Nile to determine taxes).  Soon there will be a big crocodile mummy museum on site, since so many crocodile mummies were found at Kom Ombo in honor of Sobek.  We had some fresh juice at a Bedouin-style tent before going back on board.  That night the crew threw a surprise birthday party for Dave, complete with strawberry shortcake and his very own galabeyah, and lots of singing and dancing.  So nice of them!  Today was also the day the Cairo protests started, and our guide Hany kept us up to date on what was going on.

Wednesday, January 26
Nile Cruise
Nubian house

A very busy day in and around Aswan.  In the morning we visited he Aswan High Dam, which was built in the 1950s and 60s and created the massive.  Then we took a motorboat to Philae Temple, which had been moved from its original location which was eventually covered by Lake Nasser.  After lunch, everyone except Dave (who stayed to relax) took another motorboat to the Kirschner Gardens (a botanical gardens with trees and plants from around the world) and then, much farther, to a Nubian Village.  There, we had an Arabic lesson, had tea, held a crocodile and got henna'd on our hands.  That night was the big farewell dinner with more singing and dancing.

Thursday, January 27
Aswan and Cairo, Egypt

The long road to Abu Simbel
An extremely long day.  A taxi picked us, Ed and Ellen up after breakfast and we joined the 11am convoy for the 3+ hour trip to Abu Simbel.  An armed soldier drove with us.  We spent about an hour and a half exploring the ruins (which were massive) before making the trip back to Aswan. We were dropped off at the airport 4 1/2 hours before our 11:30pm flight, which normally would be ok except that they wouldn't let us into the airport (and into the food area) until 10pm.  To our surprise, there was a Sbarro in the Aswan airport and we enjoyed some mediocre (but at the time, delicious) pizza.  When we got to Cairo we discovered that our hotel, the Swiss Inn, was not actually at the airport but was in Giza, about as far from the airport as you could get.  Luckily the streets were quiet except for a group of teenagers fighting outside our hotel.  We tried to check email but the Internet had been already shut off in Egypt.

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