Saturday, December 27, 2008

Time to say goodbye

December 5 - We ended our trip by spending one more day in Cairo. 


We went to the Ahmad Ibn Tulun Mosque (we had to wear little coverings over our shoes) and the Gayer Anderson Museum.


The Hanging Church


and the St Sargeous Church (Underneath the church is the crypt where the Holy Family hid when they came to Egypt). 

For our final night we went to the Sound and Light show at the Great Pyramids and then went to dinner and a Folkloric Show at the Mena House.

December 6 - This is Luke, our driver, our trip manager (we called him Larry King), and Me just before our 19 hour flight back to California. 


This was a great trip! I love Egypt. The country, the people, the places to see... everything! I would have no problem coming back but I have many other places to see first. 

Next stop: Europe!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Alexandria

December 3, we left the Hotel with our old tour guide (Tamir), our classic driver, and an private guard… wait, what?! That’s right! Apparently the road from Cairo to Alexandria is really dangerous. So we had our own personal guard. He had a huge HUGE gun and he was not someone that you wanted to mess with. It was nice to feel protected and he ended up staying with us for most of the time we were in Alexandria.

It was a long 4 hour car ride to Alexandira, but it was ok since I was excited about what we were going to see. Upon arrival we headed over to the Catacombs of Kom ash-Shuqqafa. This catacomb alone would have held hundreds of people. It still had a lot of Egyptian influence but you could tell that the tombs were from the Greek period. The catacombs had 3 levels that were deep underground. We were able to go into the first 2 but the third was flooded.

While in Alexandria we also saw:

Pompey’s Pillar. Underground at the Pillar there is a cellar where they used to keep books and scrolls if the couldn't fit them in the Alexandrian Library.


Fort Qaitbey, where Pharos Lighthouse (another Ancient Wonder of the World) once stood


The Mediterranean Sea


The Roman Amphitheatre at Kom al-Dikka. If you stand in the exact center of the Amphitheatre you can hear your self echo perfectly. 


Alexandria Library, which is the 5th largest library in the world. And the location of the Ancient Library of Alexandria. 


Alexandria is a beautiful city. The culture is different from that in Cairo; the people act, look, and dress more European then Egyptian. 

We spent the night at the Helnan Palestine Hotel (5 stars) which over looks the Mediterranean Sea.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Our last days in Upper Egypt

December 2, we docked in Edfu and took horse drawn carriages to the Temple of Horus. This is probably one of the best preserved temples in all of Egypt due to the fact that it was buried under sand for almost 2000 years! This temple was gorgeous and was my favorite temple by far. It was built here because it was in Edfu that Horus killed his uncle Set in revenge because Set killed Horus’ father, Osiris (it’s a complicated story…). The reliefs are still very visible and the roof is still intact over most of the temple.


After being taking back to our ship by the horse carriages, we headed to Kom Ombo. Here we went to the temple of the falcon god Horus the Elder (Horus’ uncle) and Sobek (the crocodile god). This temple was unique because everything was doubled: two entrances, two holy of holies, etc. During ancient times they kept a crocodile in the temple and fed it so it wouldn’t be hungry. When the crocodile died they mummified it and kept it in the temple (and it is still there). 


It was our last night on the ship so, of course, we had another party which consisted of Nubian dancers and singers performing for us. My mom and I kept getting volunteered to dance. Even though I have no rhythm, I still danced and had a great time.

December 2, we woke up early in Aswan and flew to Abu Simbel where saw the temple of Ramses II and the temple of Hathor that Ramses built for his wife, Nefertari. Again, we couldn’t take pictures inside…. Sorry! We were also only 100 km from Sudan. The Nile flows into Sudan and Lake Nasser boarders both countries. This is the closest I may ever get to the heart of Africa so I had to savor the moment and take a picture.



After touring around Abu Simbel we flew back to Aswan where we were taken on a quick tour of the city. We saw the High Dam and Unfinished Obelisk and then headed back to the airport to fly up north to Cairo.

We didn’t get to go back to the Mena House (which is too bad, I would have loved to see the pyramids again), but we stayed at the Nile Hilton instead which had our rooms overlooking the Nile.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Upper Egypt

November 29 - Luxor

We flew from Cairo to Luxor where we were picked up at the airport and taken to our home for the next four days: The Royal Lotus Cruise Ship.

Our adventure in Upper Egypt began with meeting our awesome tour group our gorgeous tour guide, Awr. I’m not going to lie, the Egyptians are beautiful people.

Our first stop was Karnak (Temple of Amun). This temple is one of the worst preserved temples in the Nile Valley area, but that doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful. The pillars and statues were breath taking. In the temple is a large statue of a scarab. Awr told us that if we walk around it 3 times we would have good luck and if we walk around it 7 times we would get married. I immediately started off to get some luck. After my 3 laps my mom told me to keep going so I could get married. I resented, but finished my laps anyways.


After Karnak we went to the Luxor Temple (Temple of Mut). Outside this temple was two huge colossi statues and an obelisk. There use to be another obelisk but it was given to France and is now in Paris. The two temples are only a few miles apart and they use to be connected by the Avenue of the Sphinx. Unfortunately, most of the sphinx were destroyed or built over but the city is in the process of uncovering them.


November 30 - Thebes
Across the Nile from Luxor is Thebes. The temples were all built on the east bank and the tombs of the pharaohs are all located on the west bank. This is symbolic of the rising and setting sun. The sun sets in the west and this represents death; hence this is where the kings were buried.After spending the night on our cruise ship we headed out early to Thebes. We crossed the Nile on a motor boat and were met on the other side by our bus. 

Our first stop was the Valley of the Kings. Sorry the pictures are limited because we were not allowed to take pictures inside the tombs. But take my word for it, they are beautiful! There are 63 tombs in the Valley of the Kings that have been discovered and they were digging for more of them while we were there. We were able to go into 5 of the tombs: Ramses IV, Ramses I, Ramses IX, Tutankhamon (we saw his mummy, may he rest in peace), and Ramses VI.

Next, we went to the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut. She was one of the few women to rule Egypt. She would dress like a man and claim divine right so that no one would question her as a Pharaoh and she is also the only woman to be buried in the Valley of the Kings. My tour guide told me that this Thebes is the best place to buy alabaster so I bought a beautiful vase. The seller wanted 120 Egyptian pounds for it but I got him down to 50 Egyptian pounds (about $10).


After I displayed my amazing bargaining skills we headed over to the Valley of the Queens. This is where the Queens and the children of the Kings were buried. We went into the Tomb of Amen_Knopshef and the Tomb of Queen Titi (wife of Ramses III). The tombs weren’t as impressive as the Valley of the Kings but they were still very elaborate.

On our way back to the ship we drove past The Ramseesum and the Colossi of Memnon.


We were back on the ship for lunch and launched off heading south (up the Nile). On our way to our next stop we went though a lock system. While we were waiting to go into the lock our ship got attacked! Attacked by merchants in row boats, that is! They would row up to our ship and throw things up to us that they wanted us to buy. It was funny to see people bargaining over the side of the large ship.


It was a long day and I really needed a massage… so I got one! : )

The night ended with a huge party. We danced (I won one of the dance competitions), played games (Dad won a potato game), and had a great time!