Egypt

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During one wonderful week in December 2009, Lynne and I enjoyed a cruise on the Nile on the 5star cruise ship MS Monica. 
We took the trip with our friends Denis and Pat and a whole group of travellers  organised from the Buckden marina in Cambridgeshire.
We flew out to Luxor where we joined our cruiser, and here are a few memories of the wonderful things the staff did for us on our voyage.


During our visits to the sites of the Nile we were organised into 3 groups: Isis, Magic and Ramses.
Our group was Team Isis led by the best looking Egyptologist George.


Team Isis

  Our first day's visit took us to the temples of Karnak and Luxor, which face each other along the side of the Nile. 
Our visit began with a 5 o,clock call so it was very cold.  However, we caught some lovely sunrise shots over the temple

 

Our next outing took us to the Collosi of Memnon, the Valleys of the Queens and the Kings and the great temple of Hatshepsut,
one of the greatest Queens of Egypt.  On the way out we saw other brave soles taking a sunrise ballon ride over the Valley.
Unfortunately, no photography is allowed in the Valleys so we could only walk away with our memories.
The Valleys dig into a large mountain of limestone and alabaster rock and the Egyptians begin interring their royalty here
after their Pyramid phase at the latter end of the Pharaonic period.

That afternoon, we took in some of the local wild life to spot a King Fisher and a Bee Catcher

 

Next day and a nice 0830 call for a visit to the Temple of Edfu and then we set off for Aswan.

 

An evening visit to the temple of Kom Ombo

Our Galabaya party on-board MS Monica.

Next day found us in Aswan and a visit to a local granite quarry.  We then took a trip along the 'British Dam' built in 1902 as the first dam on the Nile.
However, by 1954 a second 'High Dam' was started and was completed in 1970 resulting in a massive flooded valley above the dam called Lake Nasser.

Our next visit was to the Temple of Isis on Philea Island.  This temple had been moved in its entirety from a nearby location that had
been flooded by the completion of the British Dam.   However, our trip out to the Island was temporarily delayed when our boat developed problems. 
Namely, the battery leads almost melted each time they tried to start the motor.  The temple was another fine example of
Egyptian architecture and religion, and this one included a tablet of stone engraved with a peace treaty.

That afternoon, we took another boat ride to see the local wild life and to visit a typical Nubian house.
On a hill top we saw the mausoleum of the Agar Khan sitting opposite the Hilton hotel.

The trip took us through the 'Cataracts' and ended on the far bank of the Nile with a hill that led up to the edge of the Sahara Dessert.

On our return to the ship we called in at 'El Hussein Perfumes' where we purchased a set of Essential oils.

That evening we went back out to Philae Island for a Sound and Light show.  The show was very well done but it could not be photographed.

The following day we rose early at 03.30 hrs to drive out 250 Km into the Saharan Dessert to visit the Temples at Abu Simbel. 
The site is at the side of Lake Nasser and it houses the Temple of Ramesses II and the Temple of Nefertari dedicated to Hathor.
The two temples in their original locations would have been 140 metres below lake Nasser, but a UNESCO project to save
the temples saw them lifted and recreated some 150 metres higher and 60 metres back from their old positions. 
The project involved the building of two concrete domes which were then filled using the original stones from the temples,
built into the new artificial frameworks.
Photography was not allowed inside the temples so here we are on the outside.

Returning to Aswan, we took an afternoon trip on a felucca (sailing boat) out to Kitcheners Island.

As we sailed away from Aswan these pictures show some of the lovely sights of this reasonably new city.

Our final visit took us to the Temple at Esna, which had remained buried for around 2000 years. 
The temple dated from the later Greek period (around 400 BC) when invading rulers had tried to emulate the old Pharaonic religion
and had pictured themselves alongside the Egyptian gods.  Due to its burial, the temple inscriptions were in good condition
and even showed many of the original colours used to decorate the carvings.  The later date of the temple can be seen easily as the
figures have features (e.g. knees, muscles, etc) whereas older carvings all tend to be flat and featureless.


 

We finally set off down the Nile to traverse the Lock at Esna on our way back to Luxor.

If you ever get the chance to visit Egypt, we would recommend it.  The history, architecture and culture are remarkable to discover and the Egyptians are nice
people once you get over their addiction to bakshish (tips).  My advice is to carry lots of Egyptian one pound notes or coins as they are needed everywhere.
You will also be mobbed by sellers everywhere you go, but it is worth a look because their goods are often cheap and very nice quality.
The best option is not to pull out your wallet but to have some tens and twenties in your pocket ready to use.  Don't get flustered by their persistence and
do haggle for a good price.  The best form of haggling is to keep walking away and the price will get lower with each step.

Have a great trip.

 

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