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Egypt

By Ian Urie

tut

I don't know how anyone else feels, but the name of the country conjures images in my brain.
This is a country steeped in history, with most of the pre biblical history fairly well documented.


Now, my wife will watch anything that has a mention of Egypt in the title and will read endlessly about their past civilizations,
so where better to take her on  holiday for a quick break?
Throw in a birthday that only comes once in every four years for her, and I didn't really have an option, did I?

Please be aware how graphics heavy this article is, I'd find it extremely hard to document this holiday without all the pictures!

colour

A Nile cruise seems fairly exotic, and so it turned out.
We flew into Luxor airport and were then taken to the ship.
The cruise itself goes from Luxor.
One of the many misconceptions I had was that the Nile would be fairly quiet.

boat

Above one of the hundreds of ships that traverse the route.
Boats are actually docked up to 4 in a row from the bank, meaning you cross through each one until you reach your own one.
A word of warning, the natives are desperate for any currency and any scam can and will be implemented to relieve you of cash.
These include the "sorry , you gave me the wrong note" where they switch a high denomination note for one much lower.
It starts at the airport where mistakenly you believe a porter has been provided as he rushes forward harrying you to the coach.
It's only when the case gets dropped halfway to the coach and the hand comes out that you realise you've been conned.
The reason that he only goes halfway is that the staff try and protect you from the scammers and chase them without mercy.

market

Leave the protection of your guide for an instant to discover the hordes waiting just for you!
I should stress there is absolutely no malice in the attentions, but I wish they would learn that tourists are delighted to part with cash
 without any of the hassling that occurs.

donkey

From the area we seen around Luxor, the country appears to be very poor with the majority living as in feudal times.
There is a wide contrast, though, with large colonial hotels, shining new buildings mixed alongside poor areas.

man

The Nile itself is  impressive, with varying widths.
As an electrician, I was impressed by the height of the electricity pylons crossing it,
I realise they have to be that high due to the sag of the cables  crossing such a distance, but, still, they are huge!

sunset

Going at the end of February (you had figured that out, hadn't you), the weather was only up to around 30 degrees.
Hot enough for Scots but cold for the Egyptians.
One of the guides explained that if we didn't like someone, we should recommend they came in Summertime.
He estimated that by  mid March the temperature would reach 50.

stones

Once on the boat, everyone is assigned to a group, with each group having a guide for the excursions.
The guides are superb, with , it seems, knowledge of all things Egyptian , in their heads.
For instance, above you can see the slots where wood was cut and placed between the slabs forming the walls of the temples.
This was to provide movement if an earthquake struck and minimize the chance of the building crumbling.

This is a fairly rambling account of the holiday which was only a week long.
As with any cruise, it can be anything you want it to be.
Since my wife is enraptured by Egypt, we signed up for any tours we could get.
I couldn't persuade her to take the balloon trip over Luxor, but I went anyway.

kings

The boat is basically a floating hotel.
And a fairly nice hotel it is.
Entertainment is at a premium, since most times, you can't go off the boat.
There  are games, evening entertainment, the bars and the restaurant.
The restaurant normally provided buffet meals.
The food on our boat was plentiful, with a good mix of dishes.
Once you have wandered the boat, the first day is practically over.
Second day starts with the Valley of the Kings, on the West Bank
Because of the temperatures, all trips tend to start early or near dusk.
Valley of the kings is by ticket, where you get to choose which tombs you visit.
The ticket limits you to 3 tombs.
Guess which ones we did, I'd check the pictures ...........
Photographs are not allowed inside the tombs, and your camera is taken from you at King Tut's tomb.
Notice the way his name is spelt in the first picture.
This is the correct way to say his name. All Pharaohs had 3 names.



factory

The tour then moves to Queen Hatchepsut. She was actually a King as women were not allowed to rule.
Listen, I'm repeating the guide here!
Picture of the temple is shown later.
There was still time to take in an alabaster factory after this.
Alabaster is very expensive, and still hand made.
Considering examples of it are still around after 3500 years means it is also hard wearing.


paddle

One of the many cruise boats.
The one above is the last paddle steamer still operating, and dates back to the first World war.

dummy


Then, back to the boat for a shower, and food.
There's always time to look around and take pictures, though.
Sun burn is an optional extra.



felluca


The Nile is still used by a large fraternity of people to ferry goods around, even in fellucas .


animal            croc     



Cabin staff clean the room, sorry, cabin, at least twice a day.
While they're in the cabin, they tend to get bored and make things, usually out of any clothes they find, although anything that comes to hand is used.




tomb

One of the many things that struck me was that I always believed everything Egyptian was sand coloured.
Valley of the kings relieved me of that impression, and yet, every time I noticed colours in any of the engraving,
it reminded me that we can't paint something and the colour will last for 3000 years.
So much for dulux and the others!


Next day the boat moves to Kom Ombo.
More temples to see and listen to the guide.
The good thing is the wonder never died for me , or my wife.
I found it totally fascinating.
The guides were very good at bringing the subject to life, and all the architecture was amazing.
It is worth noting that all the temples were moved, when the dam was built.
Abu Simbal and the rest were moved to preserve them from the water.
They only chose a select few, so think how many are under the waters of the Aswan Dam.



karnak

This is not turning out to be all that relaxing.
We are up early in the morning, and it is amazing how much energy you use up in the heat wandering round the temples and tombs.
When you do get back to the boat, you're usually quite keen to sit with your feet up and a few cold drinks.
The Philae temple is out on an island.
We visited it during the day by going out in small boats.
Another impressive monument.
At night, an optional excursion takes you back out in the dark, for the sound and light show.
Picture above shows the temple before the show started.
The show , although plain by modern standards, having only backlit buildings and a soundtrack of the history,
is absolutely awesome.
The whole atmosphere is electric while the show runs.


aswan



Above, one of the type of small boat used to ferry you to the island for the Philae tour.



crow

Even the crows look different in Egypt!
Either that or the ones I saw had gone prematurely grey......








house

You see quite a few of these types of house near the banks of the Nile.
One of the tourists asked why a house she saw had no roof.
The guide replied that they didn't need one, it never rained.


 



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