Quick hit. A few photos selected at random from our trip through Egypt. Jonathan, Unny and I are having great fun and Becca joins us tomorrow evening.
We can’t wait.
Hope you enjoy the pics…
Below is an excellent map of Egypt. It shows allof the major historical sights from Pharaonic times to the present. The Pharaohs, Alexander, the Ptolemies to the Romans. It is an excellent road map with which to describe and follow the path of my recent Egyptian adventure.
We landed in Cairo at about 6 AM. That first day, we napped til noon.
Afterward, we headed out to see Coptic Cairo and the great fortress on the hill which contains the magnificent Muhammad Ali Mosque. This Mosque is a wondrous work of art. A celebration to God and all that was and could be great about Islam as a religion. Muhammad Ali is buried within inside a white mausoleum. We head back to our hotel for showers. And then head back out to see the light show at the Pramids and Sphinx.
Next day, we were gathered up by Shaimaa and taken to the Pyramids and Sphinx at the Giza Plateau. We walked around those incredible structures and viewed a boat that was found in the 1940s. The boat was to be used to ferry the Pharoah across the river to the world of the dead. That afternoon we were driven south of Cairo to Sakkara to see the Ziggurat which is the earliest pyramid. We also took in the Red Pyramid and the Bent Pyramid. Huge structures. We climbed down into the Red Pyramid. It was…difficult. Afterward, we took lunch at an Egyptian restaurant. Pretty good food. That night we enjoy an evening cruise on the Nile. Taking in the sites of Cairo along the river Nile.
Day 3 saw us traveling North to Alexandria. We visited the catacombs. Checked out some cool grave sites that are centuries old. Dating back to the Greek and Roman eras. Took in a couple of mosques and the new Library of Alexandria. All of the learning of mankind in one repository. A daunting task. We also visited the Pompeii Pillar. I’ve put a few pics of this up on another post. Lastly, we visited the Quitbay Citadel which is built on the site of Ptolemys Pharos.
That night we jumped on the train that took us to Luxor. We were forewarned about the food on the train. So we grabbed some KFC to take along. I let them bring me a plate of food. It was as wretched as we were told. I don’t know who eats the stuff. Not even the Egyptians to whom we talked would eat it.
In the morning, we arrived bright and early in Luxor. We were met at the train station by our guide and he delivered us to our hotel and got us checked in. We agreed to meet at 1 PM for a tour of the Theben Temples of Luxor and Karnak. Magnificent is all I can say. We were given a tour here by Adel. A pretty cool dude who took his time and had lots of patience with me. lol
The next day. We get up bright and early to take in the Valley of the Kings and the Temple of Hatscheput. We also roll over to the Valley of Artists. This is where many of the artisans who built and decorated the tombs in the Valley of the Kings and Queens were themselves buried. We also take in the Colossi of Memnon. This was my second favorite site in Egypt. Two giants overseeing the ages of man. Reaching out from the past. What message would they have for us if they could speak to us?
The next day we drive to Aswan. We awaken bright and early. Along the way, we stop at Edfu and Kom Ombo. I think we arrived in Aswan at noon. We have most of the day to ourselves. So we go to the market. Catch some lunch at the hotel. We explore the city more and take in more of the markets. It seems the markets in Aswan go on forever. We don’t buy much. A couple of trinkets. This is where Adel leaves us and we are handed over to Fatima and a guy whose name I can’t remember.
That night, we take to bed early. As day 6, we are required to arise at 2AM in order to catch our bus to Abo Simbel. Abo Simbel is my favorite stop on this tour. It is beauty. It is ageless. It is THE sign of the greatness of Pharaonic Egypt. It’s a long drive to Abo Simbel. And a longer drive on the return. We seem to have been placed on the bus with the slowest driver in Upper Egypt. In the afternoon, we take in a few more sites. The Aswan Dam. The unfinished obelisk. The Temple of Philae which is situated on an island in the middle of the Nile. Tour guides aren’t allowed to enter Abo Simbel. They have their own. But when we returned to Aswan, Fatimah gave us a great tour of Philae and the other sites around Aswan.
That night we fly back to Cairo.
We are picked up at the Airport by Hamdi. The owner and operator of Adventure Egypt. Hamdi has taken care of our tour in Egypt. He did a good job of it. Although, the tour like everything else in Egypt was a bt pricey. Even so, he had a mammoth task on his hands in booking us through everything at the last moment. Even if it was the low season.
We proceed to drive the 8 hours to Mount Sinai. It was a long drive. We arrived around 7AM and get booked into our room. The room was not so good. So later in the afternoon, we were moved to a nicer room. Thanks to Hamdi. We hung out until about 2 and proceeded to Mount Sinai. It was a hell of a climb. I’ll post more on this and other parts of the tour later. But this climb damn near killed me. But about 2/3rds of the way up, my old Army training kicked in. I got my second wind and took off up the mountain. I climbed a few spots that were pretty hairy. If you stick to the trail, you are pretty much safe. I kept exploring off the trail. A couple of times, I slipped and thought it would be the last anyone ever heard of me. haha
We reached the top. Finally. And watched the sun go down. Then proceeded down the side of the mountain in the dark. And it was dark. Sometimes pitch dark. I got “mis-oriented” once and lost track of Becca and our guide. But I found my way and got down safely. That is until I caught up with Becca and she blinded me with my flashlight and I almost killed myself. lol
That night, I stayed up with Hamdi and a tent full of Bedouin watching movies, talking and smoking sheesha or water pipes. Apple flavoured smoke. I had my laptop with me and my hard drive. So I gave these dudes about 30 movies. Kinda funny. A tent out in the desert with satellite TV, internet, desk top computer and 32 inch TV. I think he had a refrigerator out there as well. We sat up until 3 AM or so drinking tea, eating bread and cheese, smoking sheesha and laughing at Will Ferrell in Semi Pro.
Day 7 (I think), we rise early. Check out of the hotel and tour St Catherines Monastery. Interesting tour. It’s built on the site where the Israelites camped and Moses brought down the Ten Commandments.
After the tour, we headed back to Cairo. The last night, we stayed in the Mena House Oberoi. A beautiful hotel with views of the Pyramids. It was just the right place for our last night in Egypt. A little bit of luxury after our rugged tour of Upper and Lower Egypt. That night we decided to take in a bit of the Cairene night life. We didn’t see much. Pretty dead. It was a Sunday night though and we were in the wrong area. But I did meet a pretty cool gal named Nora at my Hotel. She was there for a wedding at the Khan Khalili room of the Mena house. She invited me up and we sat and talked for a couple of hours until she headed out with her friends.
The next day, I got up late morning. Packed everything up and jumped on my flight back to Dubai. Departing Cairo is a bit of a mess. The Airport was crazy and disorganized. But I bribed the police to put me in the front of the line. So I got through pretty quick.
I got to my gate and an hour or so later…I was off. Adventure Egypt concluded…
I have to say that the most daunting task I have ahead of me is describing here on this blog these sites and experiences. I have not adequate words to describe Abo Simbel, the Temple of Philai. I know of no way to convey the sense of awe and wonder that one experiences upon entering tombs and temples that are thousand of years old but look as if they were but recently painted. Walking through Karnak and Luxor. Hearing the histories of the Egyptian Pharaohs and their people. Kom Ombo and Edfu. It is beyond my power. What words could I use. It is not possible to pass onto the reader the magnificence of these Pyramids rising out of the desert. These works of man are a marvel to be seen. Imagine the efforts and genius of the peoples who built them. Even so, all of this pales in comparison to the mighty river Nile and the surrounding deserts.
The lighthouse of Alexandria (or The Pharos of Alexandria, Greek: ὁ Φάρος τῆς Ἀλεξανδρείας) was a tower built in the 3rd century BC (between 285 and 247 BC) on the island of Pharos in Alexandria, Egypt to serve as that port’s landmark, and later, its lighthouse.
With a height variously estimated at between 115 ~ 150 meters (377 ~ 492 ft) it was among the tallest man-made structures on Earth for many centuries, and was identified as one of the Seven Wonders of the World by Antipater of Sidon. It may have been the third tallest building after the two Great Pyramids (of Khufu and Khafra) for its entire life. Some scholars estimate a much taller height exceeding 180 meters that would make the tower the tallest building up to the 14th century.
On our third day in Egypt, we drove north to Alexandria. One of the sites that we visited was the Qaitbay Citadel. Established in 1477 AD by Sultan Al-Ashraf Sayf al-Din Qa’it Bay, this Islamic sea fortress guards the bay of Alexandria from foreign invaders. In it’s day it was the premier defensive stronghold on the Mediteranean. And for good reason, European conquerors from Alexander to Ceaser had landed at Alexandria and taken Egypt throughout the ages. The good Sultan wished to dissuade other foreign adventurers from attempting the same. A few centuries later, Napolean would land and take Egypt for the New French Republic/Empire. That would signal the definitive and final conclusion to Muslim dominance of the Mediteranean and North Africa.
The Citadel sits on the site of the famed Lighthouse of Alexandria and is actually built from blocks that are left over from the Lighthouse. On the inside, there are columns and large granite blocks that were taken up from the grounds and used as foundation, portals and entryways. The citadel is large and formidable in appearance. Not a bastion that I’d look to storm with swords, muskets or 17th and 18th century canon. It is a magnificent structure with the history of the ages writ upon it. Think on it. The lighthouse itself was built by Ptolemy to stimulate trade in Egypt. Even so. Alexander, Cleopatra, Ceaser and Napoleon are but a few historic figures who have walked upon the shores of Alexandria and either the ramparts of this fort or the hallways and ruins of the Lighthouse. Great drama in the histories of man have been witnessed by these monuments of man.
The Citadel is situated at the entrance of the eastern harbour on the eastern point of the Pharos Island. It was erected on the exact site of the famous Lighthouse of Alexandria, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The lighthouse continued to function until the time of the Arab conquest, then several disasters occurred and the shape of the lighthouse was changed to some extent, but it still continued to function. Restoration began in the period of Ahmed Ibn Tulun (about 880 A.D). During the 11th century an earthquake occurred, causing damage to the octagonal part. The bottom survived, but it could only serve as a watchtower, and a small Mosque was built on the top. In the 14th century there was a very destructive earthquake and the whole building was completely destroyed.
We spent a day in Alexandria. We tooled around town for a bit. Walked around the bay. Visited Pompeii’s Pillar. The new library of Alexandria. The catacombs under the city which date back to Cleopatra. The Alexandrian Coliseum and a few other places. We took a lunch break and headed back to Cairo to take the ten hour overnight journey by train that would take us to Luxor and the ancient Temples of Thebes and ultimately to Aswan and Abo Simbel.
The beginning of an incredible adventure for Becca and me.