After a few months of work in
Linda then came into town before Tina, and Linda and I went around
There were men in the street spinning thread on mysterious machines which looked like a large bicycle wheel. We wandered through old Coptic Cairo with its beautiful old Coptic churches and the ancient Ben Ezra synagogue. We took a long walk through old Islamic Cairo, whose many mosques seemed to be under restoration and therefore unable to be visited. But we loved walking along the tentmakers street, full of people making applique tent cloths, tablecloths, fruit markets, while gaggles of giggling school girls followed us shouting ‘hello! How are you! Where you from? What’s your name?’ and just dissolving into hysterics if we actually answered them.
The day before Tina arrived, Linda and I drove out to Saqqara, the site of the oldest pyramid in
When Tina finally got into town the three of us then proceeded down to
It took almost three hours, and took us to parts of the site we could never had access to on foot. For most of the trip we were behind the pyramids in the desert, away from the crowds. There also was a minor sandstorm in progress, which made walking in the wind quite difficult, but up on the camels, less of an issue. Our camels had rather surprising names: Michael Jackson, Whiskey, and Moses.
The sandstorm made the pyramids look eerily beautiful.
That night we stayed in the famous Mena House hotel, which is very near the pyramids, it’s a former palace and full of old world charm, and of course, gorgeous views.
The Red Sea & the
From there we headed south. We flew down to the
We drove from Hurghada up to
All of us were nervous about going on this cruise, being the adventure travel snobs that we are, none of us had done a cruise before, and so worried about the group travel experience, going to sites en masse, etc.
As it turned out, we had a terrific time, and relaxed right into being herded around. The guides were all Egytologists; ours had a master’s in Egyptology and was passionately interested in his subject, very knowledgeable, funny, good story teller, just a trove of information. He was also funny and sarcastic about his own country, referring to Mubarak as Mubarak the First.
On the afternoon we arrived we went to Karnak and the
Day two in Luxor was Valley of the Kings, visiting an alabaster factory (buying some beautiful alabaster most of which didn’t survive the trip as I discovered to my dismay when I unwrapped it all in Baghdad), and the Colossi of Memnon… heavily damaged by an earthquake in 27AD, but still impressive.
I hadn’t known that the tombs had such spectacular vividly colored walls and ceilings, anything I had seen to that point had been sandstone, with maybe faint traces of color remaining. But these tombs, buried deep underground for centuries, are staggeringly beautiful, and with the explanations of the guides, we could even understand some of what we were looking at.
In addition to seeing some of the tombs of the pharoahs, we also went to see the burial area of the artisans who had decorated the tombs — you can imagine how beautifully they decorated their own tombs.
We set sail that night, and the next day went to Edfu to see the
We sailed some more, and then went to Komombu, yet another magnificent temple.
That night was the Egyptian dress up night. We had been told (requested) to dress in jalabiya’s, that there would be Egyptian food and music and dancing. Initially, of course, we thought, no way, but by this time, we were happily full blown tourists, and so… you can see imagine we responded. Low key.
The following day we made our way down (or up river technically) to
As we slowed down and approached the locks on the Nile, before getting into
I jumped, startled, to see a jelabiya land at my feet, having been thrown up to my balcony by a fleet of floating dress sellers. For the next fifteen minutes until we made it into the lock, they were yelling at us and throwing shawls, dresses, etc. up to us. I threw the dress back (hitting the water of course but they retrieved it) only to be thrown a shawl, which I also threw back (and this time made it into their boat). If you bought something (which I didn’t, amazingly enough, I actually didn’t buy something), they then threw up a bag to put money in which you threw back at them. By this time I had run up to the top deck to watch the action, all of us were up there or on our balconies, enjoying the show.
Abu Simbel and
Back to Civilization:
Once we got back to Cairo, we went to the Egyptian Museum, with its amazing treasure trove, the glorious King Tut collection, the mummified animals, mummified royals, room after room of treasures, all of which we understood and appreciated much more, after having been on our wonderful, wonderful Nile trip.
Linda left, and then on our last day, Tina and I had a day trip to
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