We arrived in Cairo on the 27th in the evening. After a long day of traveling we had a welcome drink in the lounge at the hotel, got something to eat and called it a night.
First thing in the morning on the 28th we headed to The Pyramids. Everyone was so excited! It is my 5th time in Egypt and I got excited like I had never been before. I enjoy the excitement and amazement of others. I watched as the group explored The Pyramids. They climbed and took photos. All I could see were smiles. Some of the group took camel rides near the Pyramids. It is always enjoyable to see both fear and joy when someone gets on a camel for the first time. The way a camel stands is awkward. They lift their rear legs first and you feel like you’re going to fall off forward. Then when they get up on their front legs you realize how tall they really are. Unlike other four legged animals they walk moving both legs on the same side together rather than the left front with the right rear. With everyone mounted the group was on it’s way. Bonnie took lots of photos so you’ll get a chance to see.
At the second Pyramid our adventurous group went inside the Pyramid. A very narrow and low passage that descends about 100 feet. You have to squat and walk to get to the bottom where you can stand. You then have to climb out the same way you went in. They only allow 150 people into the Pyramid each day and we were among the lucky ones. Every one returned exhausted and exhilarated. One of the group members said “I could feel the people who built the Pyramids and get a sense of what it must have been like.”
Of course we went over to the Sphinx, half lion half man. We walked the alabaster corridors and pretended we were descendants of Ramses. As we walked through I could hear the discussions of amazement of the construction and architecture that had been created and how all the movies and documentaries we had seen had now come to life.
We took a break in between touring and visited a Papyrus shop. Papyrus is ancient paper made from the leaves. The process is the same today, however the Papyrus is adorned with art work. Paintings of Pharaohs, Ramses, the Pyramids, the calendar, temples, etc.
After our shopping excursion we headed to the Cairo Museum. Of course, we saw beds made of gold, chariots and other artifacts but the highlight were the mummy rooms. We saw the mummy of Ramses I – IX, we also saw a Queen with spiral curls and double strand twists just like our African American ladies today. One of our group members came out in tears because she had just seen the mummified Ramses II.
Our day is finished and we head back to our hotel. Tomorrow is an optional tour day of Islamic Egypt, Coptic Egypt and Sakkarra. I’ll continue later to tell you all about it.
Some of the group took the optional tours. Bonnie was one of them. They visited the Mosque of Mohamed Ali.
Later that evening we met some friends (Mostafa) for dinner on a river boat on Nile River. We crossed over a bridge that is know to the locals as Lovers Bridge. Young couples walk along the bridge and hold hands and sometimes kiss. Public affection is not very popular in Egypt. It was nice to see old fashioned courting. It is Thursday night and the city is very busy. Thursday is like our Friday night. Since Friday is their holy day, everyone goes out Thursday evening. Mostafa told us it took him 3 hours to get to the city when it would normally take him 1 hour, because of the traffic. After dinner we went to Old Cairo, a walled city from ancient Cairo. The city is beautiful and there we no tourists other than ourselves inside. There are narrow streets antique stores beautiful mosques. It was a pleasure being in Cairo on a Thursday evening with the locals.
Friday morning we head to the airport for our flight to Aswan. As soon as we left the airport in Aswan it was a totally different scene. Aswan is south of Cairo and is a much smaller city with a lot less people. No traffic, the air is cleaner and no high rise buildings. We immediately headed to our ship after a stop at the Aswan High Dam. The Aswan High Dam was built in 1960 to improve Egypt’s irrigation and electricity it also created Lake Nasser, the largest man made lake.
There are over 300 cruise ships that cruise the Nile River between Aswan and Luxor. The port isn’t large enough to hold them all bow to stern so in addition they park starboard to port 4 to 5 deep in some cases. So when you board the ship you walk through other ships lobby’s to get to yours, as was the case with ours. Bonnie and I had to set up for our show while the others left for a felucca ride along the Nile. I’ve done this before. It is so peaceful. Small sail boats that meander along the Nile with Nubian sailors. Aswan is the most beautiful part of the Nile in my opinion. They often sing a tune which sounds like Oh A Lady, which means celebrate, so I’m told. It is now 6pm and time for our show. We are 7 hours ahead of Chicago and our show is “Live”. I hope we conveyed our excitement. Half way through our show the group returned and some got a chance to tell their story and experience. Rita Smith, tells of her emotional experience at the Cairo Museum in the mummies room. Pam Nelson, explains her argument of the intelligence and life form of those who created the Pyramids, Pat Stovall, tells of her overall excitement and Gina Jamison of her awesome experience at Abu Simble.
Later that evening we had dinner and went to the night club on the ship. Tonight was the Nubian Show. Dancers, musicians and singers and of course audience participation. Pam seemed to be the target of one of the dancers. My favorite is the Whirling Dervish. This dance originated as a religious expression from an Islamic sect. A mystical dancer who stands between the material and cosmic worlds. The movement would signify a higher plan of life and releasing all distracting thoughts to be in a trance. The form we saw and the one usually seen now is for entertainment value.
Each day as we cruised from Aswan to Luxor we stopped and visited temples. The Temple of Philae built for Isis. It stands in the middle of the River and we had to take a boat to it. Part of it still stands in River. Kom Ombo, where the crocodile museum and a mummified crocodile is located. Kom Ombo has two temples. Temple of Sobek and Temple of Horaisis. Crocodiles used to hang out on the river banks here in ancient times and the artifacts are in the museum. We went through the Esna Lock. While we were on the top deck as we went through the lock a bag was hurled up on the deck. Inside were shawls. There was some negotiation and more shawls of different colors were hurled up on the deck. As we kept moving the seller got on his motorcycle and met us at the next vantage point where the buyer put money and the unwanted shawls into the bag and hurled it back below. Shopping never stops. Our final days along the Nile River were in Luxor. We visited the massive Karnak Temple, the largest temple complex built by man. The complex was built and enlarged over a thirteen year period. The Luxor Temple, built mostly by Amenotep III and Ramses II, is in clear view from the Nile River right in the middle of the city. Alas, the Valley of Kings, Valley of Queens and Hatshepsuts Temple. These Pharaohs built Tombs in Thebes away from the Pyramids, to make them less visible and harder to find, therefore harder to rob. They consisted of chambers with the furthest one housing the sarcophagus. We visited King Tuts Tomb and Ramses VI Tomb. In the Valley of the Queens, we visited the tomb of Nefertari, one of Ramses II wives, said to be his favorite. The tombs walls are adorned with hieroglyphics and color. Blues, reds, yellow and yes, brown people. Hatshepsut, the female Pharaoh’s Temple is beautiful. Carved into the mountain with ascending steps to pillars and statues. Unfortunately, after her reign her stepson had her name and images chiseled off throughout the temple. Talk about family rivalry.
Egypt has so many wonderful sights to see and so much history. There was a question on our show about the possibility of aliens creating the Pyamids. What do I think? I think man created the Pyramids. Some where along the way we lost a lot of intelligence that we are still regaining today. The Library of Alexandria, said to be the greatest archive of knowledge was destroyed. Maybe the answers lyed there. I am in awe of the magnificence of our ancestors, what they created and how they left their stories for us to find. Most of what we are finding are pieces they created and collected for their afterlife so I can only wonder what they created for their everyday life. Click on the camera for the photo show!