A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: TracingTheWorld



View JORDAN & EGYPT 2019 on TracingTheWorld's travel map.

These iconic countries have long been at the top of my bucket list, full of mystery and history.
But the excitement of exploring these magical lands is tinged with a little sadness. I always thought I would be doing this journey with my Mum, she dreamed of visiting the Pyramids, the Cairo Museum and Petra, but passed away before she could fulfill that dream, I know she is beside me with every step I take. Once again as a solo traveler I have booked this trip with Intrepid, they have not let me down on previous trips through Africa and I feel safer knowing that they have organized everything for me, plus I know I meet amazing people and have great local experiences!


Why is my stomach in knots, so nervous and I don't know why, it's not like I have never traveled before!

I know everything is organized.

Check is a breeze the staff travel loads are excellent! I have a row to myself thanks to Emirates!

Ha I am not as organized as I think, left my phone on the coffee table, a quick but expensive taxi ride home and back to retrieve it is the last thing I need.

Luckily I live 10 minutes from the airport and make it back with plenty of time to spare!

Off to pick up my pre ordered currencies, and find that these currencies are not easily obtained her in Australia, they couldn't get the Jordan Dinar and only half the Egyptian Pounds I ordered, no big but I was hoping to avoid the extravagant exchange fees at the airport! (As airline staff we get a discount at home!) But I spose it can't be helped!

Security is a breeze and my stress levels abate as I sip my coffee at the boarding gate and book myself a little treat on the way home.

A stop in South Africa and 4 says in Kruger Park and why not, gotta have my Safari fix for the year!



The flight was great, tried to sleep but couldn't... Arriving into Dubai for a quick 2 hour stop over, couldn't see much it is so cloudy, I was hoping to catch a glimpse of the landscape as we landed as I have never been here before oh well.  The airport is great though easy to find your way around, WOW $5 US for a small coffee it had better be good!


The flight to Amman is only a short 2 hours, the Emirates Crew are really friendly, Thanks Rosie for the lovely service.

Finally after flying for 14 hours we land at Amman Airport, it is so small and getting out is so quick.  I have a driver waiting for me in arrivals and he insists on taking my bag, as soon as we get out of the main doors the heat hits you full force there is no wind just heat!

Finally Arrived!

The drive into the city was interesting Jordan is so dry and rocky I don't know why I was expecting it to be flat but it's a rolling landscape of rocky hills and valleys.  The roads are very modern there is development in varying stages a long the way.  We pass a sign for the Syrian and Iraq borders, wow I really am in the Middle East It seems they like to build using a specific type of stone as all the buildings are the same color which blends in with the countryside, there are slashes of color with advertising, signage and the occasional garden.

My driver doesn't speak much English and we communicate using Google Translate.  As we get into Amman City the traffic becomes crazy but there  does seem to be some logic to it as people follow the rules.  The city spreads out from a valley and over the surrounding hills, it is massive, chaotic and impressive! 

WOW I am actually here!

We drive down into an older quarter of the city and park on a side street as the Dead Sea Marathon is on (how anyone can run in this heat is beyond me) and the street the hotel is on is closed.  The Amman Pasha Hotel our meeting point for the trip is opposite the Roman Amphitheater, we really are in the center of the city!


The hotel is basic and quaint it has been around for a while, the owner is a Syrian who used to lived in Adelaide, he and his staff are very welcoming and friendly, he employs people who are facing hard times and in need of help, so many of the staff are from countries where they have had to leave and seek refuge, it is sad to think that in this day and age people still have to flee their homes and everything they know and love to stay safe.

They offer me a coffee and when it arrives it is a traditional  Arabic coffee that makes my teeth feel like they are dissolving it is so strong and thick.

The room is big and clean I have a great view of the the Amphitheater, but I haven't slept for....um over 30 hours so shower and a nap before heading out to explore!

What a View!

The free walking Tour I planned to do, well that didn't happen, I crashed out and woke up in time for dinner.

The roof top restaurant has amazing views of the city all lit up, even at night it is busy.  The restaurant is simple, the fresh air is lovely and i love the the herd of little animals wandering around, yeap the owner has rescued rabbits, guinea pigs, tortoises and baby chicks, it's so cute! Of course I share my dinner before heading off to bed! 

Hotel Inhabitants!


Woke up at around 2am and couldn't go back to sleep, Jet lag blah...

During breakfast I met some of my fellow travelers on the tour a lovely couple from Canada.  I am loving the falafels included in the free breakfast.  I chill for a bit before heading out on the 'Free Walking Tour' the hotel has on offer. 

My 2am View!

Our guide is great, and our first stop is the oldest bakery in Amman, the smell of baking bread delights the senses and he gives us all a taste handing out sesame biscuits still warm from the oven.  

As we walk along one of the busy main streets there is an unusual mural painted on the side of a building, he explains it's there to represent the equality of life in Jordan the equal balance of rights between men and women, a face half a man and half a women blending together as one, I like it, as you can often have preconceptions of countries like Jordan being a male dominant society, impressive!

Face of Equality!

We cross the road and I am glad he is here to guide us as in this traffic it's not an easy feat! 

Turning down a side street we come across an old Roman Baths the 'Nymphaeum' it is small little hidden gem and no entry fee!  It is only 2 levels with underground arches and columns.  Some of the carvings are still intact and you can get a sense of what it must of looked like.

Just tucked away on a side street!
Sending love from Amman!
Imagine it filled with water!
Would have been amazing!

We cross the street and wander through a fresh food market, full of fruit, vegetables, nuts, and spices.  The people are friendly, they don't harass you to purchase  and are happy to answer any questions and to sample what's on offer.

Coming out of the market we are walking through a cover promenade and notice there are dried teabags stuck to the ceiling, apparently if you throw the bag at the ceiling and it sticks you will get good luck, our guide says he has never tried this as he scared it won't stay there and he will have bad luck.

Lucky Teabags!

We wander down a street dominated by spice shops, you can smell the sweetness in the air, the colors are vibrant and the displays are fantastic.  We enter a quaint old store with beautiful old fashioned cabinets.  The owner points out the different types of spices in amazingly perfect pyramids tells us what they are used for, he hands out frankincense in it's pure form, it is crystal like and smells sweet.  

The smells...
The colors...AMAZING!

We stop on a major intersection dominated by the Grand Husseieni Mosque, it is quite grand with 2 towers dominating the skyline and colored glass.

The Grand Husseieni Mosque!

As we walk it seems each street is famous for what it sells, one street we walk down has jewelry and antique shops another clothing, another furniture, which makes shopping easy!

Turning down a side street dominated by cafes we come across a set of stairs decorated with open umbrellas creating a colorful shaded  roof to those taking the opportunity to stop and take photos, it is a popular spot.

A splash of color!

We stop outside a restaurant which boasts the best falafels in Amman, our guide disappears returning with a bag of fresh warm delights and they are good!

We take time out of the blazing sun and visit what was once The Municipal Building of Amman, it has since been turned into a museum, there is no entry fee and we are free to roam around at our leisure.  the original furniture is still there, and there are views from the large ornate windows of the busy tree lined streets below.

This is our last stop before heading back to the hotel, and I am thankful for the guided tour as I would never have found these wonderful little places on my own let alone discovered the culinary delights Amman has to offer.

City Life!

After a coffee I head down to lobby and ask the travel director the best way to get to the citadel and the hotel owner offers me a lift with his wife who is heading out to do some shopping, such wonderful hospitality. I am glad I accepted it is a long walk up hill.  She doesn't speak much English but is all smiles as we make our way up the winding streets to the top. She waves goodbye and races off back down the hill.

The view from up here is mind blowing, you really get a sense of how sprawling Amman is, spreading up and over the hillsides that surround the city.  Every house is built form the same colored stone, I wonder why no one has thought "hey I am going to paint my house so it stands out"

This city seems to go on forever!

As you enter the citadel the first you thing you see is the temple of Hercules, with it's giant pillars, which are larger than pillars at other historic sites and this is to pay homage to Hercules strength. 

The entrance to this ancient temple on the hill!

I am however disappointed to see people climbing all over them to take photos, why, these things are thousands of years old and should be protected not ruined!  It is so huge it would have once stood out boldly over the city for all to see.  The hand of Hercules as since been moved which I was hoping to see, oh well. 

It would have been magnificent!

There is an amazing view of the amphitheater below, you get a sense of how the city was built, spreading slowly outwards from the temple over the centuries.

Another amazing view!

 Walking around I find 2 pillars decorated with with olive branches and white fabric, it looks pretty in this ancient setting and as I enter the Archaeological Museum I ask a caretaker what they are for, he tells me they were for a wedding that was held the day before and that he should remove them, I reply with a 'No they look lovely' he promises to leave them be!

Ancient Wedding Tradition...!

There is a small Archeological Museum on the site and the air conditioning feels amazing, a respite from the heat outside.  The first thing that catches my attention is a stone carving of Medusa sitting near the door, it doesn't do her justice, as she said to be so beautiful that Poseidon came out of the sea to possess her in an act to make Anthea jealous, this made Anthea so angry she cursed Medusa with ugliness, by turning her hair into snakes and her gaze turning men to stone.  This is a sad tale as she was cursed for something that wasn't her fault, all because of male urges and a jealous goddess.

Poor Medusa!

Inside the humble museum is very interesting and set out to take you through the history of the region.  As soon you enter you are greeted by 2 water nymphs the details so clear and intricate. 

Head of a Nymph
Which goddess is this?

There is clear chronological order to the museum that takes through the centuries. In the center of the room is a coffin with a mummified baby, my first thought, how sad but it turns out the Romans used to bury their children under the floor of the living room, morbid, but was to keep their spirit close to the family, I can understand the tradition as today people are so nomadic we are always on the move from property or city to another that we lose that strong connection to the family bonds. 

Ancient Coffins

The number of the different tribes, cultures and nationalities that occupied this region make Amman one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world.

This museum has some the areas oldest statues

There is the restored Byzantium Church, built in the 8th century.  The domed entry is shaped like a cross has been restored with a large dome and the arched doors look out to the ruins of the of the palace I like it.  It is cool inside which is surprising considering how hot it is outside.  

It seems so small on the outside!

There is a small rosette on the floor at the entrance that catches my eye it is very quaint and ornate, I like it.

It's so quaint!

Leaving the church there is a view of what was once was the palace, it seems quite small but from the door you get a sense of the layout.  The of course the throne room was in the center. 

Thru to the Palace...!

Walking around the ruins in the midday sun you really feel how dry the air is air is.  I make my way back to the entrance passing burial chambers that are still under excavation. 

When I get out.side taxi drivers are touting for customers, I politely decline deciding instead to walk back when one of them starts to follow me, continuously trying to get me to change my mind, thinking that ignoring him is my best course of action he actually becomes quite aggressive and starts shouting at me, I didn't understand what he was saying but I got the jist of it. so I quicken my pace and head down the hill disappearing around the corner hidden among the houses I finally relax

Leaving the Citadel I walk down back to the hotel through the winding streets finding the short cut recommended by our city walk guide, the alley of steps cuts out the winding street but you get to glimpse of how the everyday person goes by their daily life in this bustling city.

Lovely little side streets...!

After sharing my lunch with the local feathered and furry friends, and meeting some fellow travelers I head off to the Museum.  Walking down one of the main streets the shops change from food to clothes to household items to building supplies they are grouped so well that shopping in this city must be easy, and not a mall in sight. 

Shopping like a local!

 The walk is only 20 minutes from the hotel and the museum is easy to spot, there is construction underway on the outside and it makes finding the entrance a little difficult but with the help of 2 lovely local, ladies, even with the language barrier take the time to try to understand me walk me there,  the entrance comes into view.  Unfortunately I do have have cross the road, but I lived another day!   It is a very modern and bright building and the staff are so helpful. 

I found it!

The museum is filled with amazing statues and friezes from the Roman Era, I love this part the Myths of their culture is so fascinating.  The changes in the region is so clearly laid out and to learn about the Islamic history is an eye opener. 

It's called Lion,,, HMMMM!
Made me think of the phrase"Two Faced"

I wish I had more time to spend here as I make my way to the hall with the Dead Sea Scrolls. The room is dark but there are 4 on display the first is from the book of Isiah, one from Deuteronomy, another from the book pf Ephesus and one that doesn't have a bible chapter associated with it. Also on display are these copper tubes covered in the ancient script, what else lays undiscovered in this massive region, when people moved around in freedom, how much could when learn about our past.

Roman exhibit
I like it!

Looking at the time I have to head back to the hotel for our group meeting. 

It must be peak hour as the traffic is chaos, so unbeknown to him I follow a local to get across the road and make my way back just in time for the trip meet. It seems like a great group with a mix of nationalities and ages. I meet my roomie for the first time.  She is from New York, she is chilled and friendly, I think we will get along well, I like her, she has a quirky sense of humor.  Our guides name is Husam, he gives us a run down of where we are going what we will see and do.  I can't wait!

After a group dinner and a chat with some of my fellow travelers, the lack of sleep, the early wake up and a day walking around the city exhaustion takes over.   I head to bed its been along hot day tomorrow, hopefully I will get a good nights sleep...

Posted by TracingTheWorld 04:58 Archived in Jordan Comments (0)



View JORDAN & EGYPT 2019 on TracingTheWorld's travel map.


It's up at 8am for breakfast, had a great chat with my new roomie.

After a good nights sleep and large amounts of coffee (I learnt my lesson and stuck with instant, I like my teeth) the jet lag has gone and we hit the road for the first official day of the tour.  As we head out of the city our guide Husam tells us about the Royal Family their history and how it works politically, I find it interesting and have a greater understanding of Jordan and how it works among it's neighbors, they  certainly have a good stable balance in politics and region.

We stop for petrol and some of us run to the nearest McDonalds for lattes, oh how I miss these, and we have dubbed ourselves the "Latte Ladies".

Leaving the city!

We continue out of the city and countryside although dry is not a  typical desert it is rocky and there are sparse planting of trees on the landscape.  We pass through the village our guide Hussam is from and you can tell it is still growing with varying stages of development it seems more colorful than the capital Amman with peoples homes having gardens and decorations to brighten up the décor.

As we drive up a hill you can look out over the valley and there is spots of green below.  Our stop is Mt Nebo, this is a holy place said to be where Moses left the Israelites before they set of into the Promised Land leaving him behind, quite sad really all that hard work of leading the people and he doesn't get to continue on with them.  Hussam points out a patch of green in the valley below where there is a spring, legend has it this is the place where Moses struck the rock with his staff and water sprung from the earth, one of his many miracles.

Mt Nebo!

The views are spectacular on a clear you can see Israel, but today there is a dusty haze on the horizon. 

Israel in the distance!

A statue of modern art dominates the entrance there are 3 faces carved into it of Jesus, Moses and the third is the profit Mohammed.

Statue of the 3 religious faces...!

As we go up to the top there is a perfectly round what looks like a stone wheel, but it is The Abu Badd stone used as door to byzantine monastery that is one heavy door!

Said to be the door to Jesus dwelling!

At the top of the hill is a little chapel made of light stone.  Small olive trees surround it.  The Byzantine chapel has been reconstructed and inside the mosaics are stunning, the originals unearthed from the 4th century, it was built to commemorate the place of Moses' death. The scenes in the mosaics depict the life of Moses some the flora, fauna and animal life from the region and most have been perfectly restored.

Such Detail!

Out the front is an artist depiction of Moses staff entwined  with 2 serpents made from bronze, representing the act of Moses removing a curse from the Israelites that was placed upon them for being unfaithful, which is now the symbol for medicine.

Staff of Moses!

We stop and take in one last view of the valley below, somewhere down there is Moses final resting place.

It really sucks that he spent most of his adult life leading the Israelites to the promised land and then God told him wouldn't be able to enter, all that hard work and suffering and no reward.  So here on Mt Nebo is where his journey ended... Not fair really!

Moses final resting place!

We head back to the bus and make our way to an artisan workshop that still makes mosaics in the same way since the 4th century. 

We are given a tour of the workshop and watch them at work, cutting tiny slices of marble from the region and glue them onto fabric stretched over a board, the glue is simple flour and water (like we used at school back in the day) and once the picture is completed they remove the cloth wash it and there you have a lovely mosaic.  This company prides itself on giving those with disabilities a chance to learn a skill which is unique to the area and that has been around for centuries. 

Such detail in the workmanship!

After a spot of shopping and wishing I had more luggage allowance, and after spending time browsing and, ok and a bit of shopping we pile back bus and make our way down into the rocky valleys to the Dead Sea.

Painted Ostrich Egg!

The roads twist and turn, the group is still getting to know one another, our driver doesn't say much but Husam is happy to answer our questions no matter how crazy they may seem.  I am surprised to learn that the wildlife in the region includes Hyena, and that even though the Asian Wild Cat numbers are on the rise they have been spotted here.

Where we heading next?!

The haze is clearing and the Dead Sea appears as we wind our way out of the hills glistening below. As we drive around the shore there is a mishmash of partly built houses, modern expensive hotels and shacks.  I wonder if people live there permanently or if they are temporary stops for workers and shepherds, who you see wandering the countryside with their herds of goats.

The Dead Sea!

We pull up in front of a resort complex, its not a hotel more like a day spa.  The swimming pool looks so inviting as its been a hot morning.  We change and have been warned not to get the water in our eyes and that high high salt density of the water will sting it we have any cuts.  Its quite a walk to the water and the black sand shimmers in the harsh sun.  They weren't wrong when they said it would sting OMG!

The rules!

The water is warm like a warm bath and feels silky on the skin.  It is a weird feeling  as the deeper you get the harder it is to keep your feet on the ground, and once you lay down it takes a yoga move to get back on your feet. 

You can hear the giggles of the group, some have paid the extra to be covered in the black mud which is famous for its healing properties.  It is bought from the center of the Sea now as the water level has dropped dramatically and made it more difficult to get. 

The small cuts on my hands start to really sting so I head out and into the pool... Ahhh that's better the water is so refreshingly cool, it is difficult to get some of us out as the temptation to stay in all day is so strong.

The Dead Sea Day Resort!

The resort restaurant has a buffet lunch included in the entry price, the food is delicious and plentiful, it gives us the opportunity to get to know each other better.

We say goodbye to the enticing swimming pool and drive around the Dead Sea to head inland.  In places you really notice how much the water level has receded leaving scars on the shoreline marking its decline.  While at the Jordan Museum there was display with plans to to build a pipeline, with the Jordan government working with their neighbors, to pump in salt water from the Red Sea to bring it up to its natural levels, will it ever happen, who knows. Will pumping sea water dilute the salt density?

Goodbye to the Dead Sea

We turn in land and make our way up into the hills once again.  The valley we are following is surprisingly green, we pass through villages and modern life hasn't escaped here in the countryside as we pass a boy lounging on his donkey talking on a mobile phone, this causes us to chuckle, the irony of modern life and cultural life collides, it gives a new meaning to "texting and driving".

As we head further up the Kerak Castle begins to dominate the skyline above a town that a first glance seems like a tiny village but as you wind your way through is a becomes a modern gleaming town.  But all roads lead to the castle entrance.  It is an imposing structure and easy to see why the Crusaders chose this spot to build as it would have been easy to defend and difficult to penetrate.

Kerak Crusader Castle!

The township is right next to the entrance and with tickets in had we head on in thru the only entrance which is quite well blended in from a distance.

It is made up of twists and turns, fantastic archways and tunnels, Husam is a great guide he knows what all the rooms where for and the has great historical stories.  You can tell he is really passionate about his job!

The inner courtyard!

The first part of the castle was built in 1140s and because of it's  perfect location east of the Dead Sea Kerak Castle was able to control the supply routes to Egypt and Mecca.  

When you look out over the wall you can see why it was difficult for invaders to win in a siege, until Saladin the first Sultan of both Egypt and Syria came along!  He tried twice but with little luck until his nephew in 1188 surrounded the castle and cut of supplies forcing the Crusaders to surrender without an arrow being fired.  He let the population of the township live and even left the chapel for them, which was unusual considering they worshiped a Christian god.

The large halls on the lower levels are fantastic, curved arches and long windows, they even had the stables down there.

The windows go up for 7 seven levels to let the light in, quite clever really!

Quite amazing!

It seems there was room for everyone.  Wouldn't wanna be in jail though those rooms were so tiny you can hardly move and with on a small vertical opening in the wall it must have been hot in there, eww and the smell cause there ain't no bathroom!  That's if you even made it to the cell, some criminals had their private parts cut which were thrown over the wall and their families were exiled... ouch!

It's a long way down!

The remains of the kitchen still show a clear layout of where the ovens were and the fresh water system, but it is quite a small dark place which had to prepare meals for everyone living in the castle, and I am guessing it wasn't the easiest of jobs!

The Kitchen!

There is a meeting room and the entry arches are extra low and it takes 2 or 3 steps to get thru them, Husan explains it was defence strategy, so that if anyone did get in and try to invade in their hysteria they would knock themselves out on the arch frame not thinking to duck!  We all laugh but it is simple and effective!

The Meeting Chamber!

We continue to explore the lower levels with the amazing stone work and winding corridors.  Before we head out into the sunlight.

How did they find their way around!
Crusaders air-conditioning unit!

Once we get outside the views across the valley towards the Dead Sea are amazing, patches of green farmland on the beige rolling hazy hills.

Looking out towards The Dead Sea!

The Fortress walls are dotted with symbols and carvings,  some are very worn and difficult to make out, others or so well preserved that the show how intricate and precise the engravings are.

Crusader Artwork!
That's along way down!

Husam rounds us up as it's time to go.  The minivan has arrived when we make our way out so do a spot of shopping for snacks and  cold drinks and we relax under the shade of shop awnings and enjoy the shade.

As we drive back down thru the town, I am glad I am not driving the streets are so narrow and they seem to twist in on themselves!

The drive to Petra takes us thru wonderful scenery.  As we descended out of the hills the desert opens up and the rusty  jagged rock formations break up the landscape, somewhere below is the ancient city of Petra, how did they find it, it looks like a maze that stretches into the distance fading into the horizon.

Dusk has taken over the valley when we arrive at Petra, and the twisting road into town is quite a feat of driving.

Ancient Petra entrance is surrounded by shops, restaurants and hotels, our hotel 'Candles' is on an opposite hillside directly across from the entrance and we get a great view of valley below, but it is hard to see the ancient city is, even from up here.

The view from the hotel, it's in there somewhere!

After we have checked in and found our rooms we head up to the roof top restaurant for a late dinner.  My roomie and I don't stay up too late as tomorrow is going to be a long day.....

Posted by TracingTheWorld 02:45 Archived in Jordan Comments (0)





Up early as promised, even though Diana and I chatted a bit we still managed to get a good sleep.  I am one of the first to the restaurant.... and coffee first and then food second.  It is a quite a good spread on the breakfast buffet and the food fuel will be needed today.  I will admit I am a little excited as Petra is one of bucket list items and I am really looking forward to this!

We all meet in the hotel lobby at 8am and it is short walk to the entrance and all down hill!

From the hotel you can see the entrance so when we arrive it is quite exciting.  Husam gets our passes and shows us on the map where we are going.

Come On... Let's Go!

Here we go! 

We make our way thru the entrance and the gravel road takes us past the horse stables in the valley below, but cut into the rock is our first taste of what is to come.  A tomb cut into the rock, which at first look like decorated blocks but as you closer entrances appear.

The first tomb
Ah... so there is more!
Up close!
Is it my imagination or does that look like a skull?!

The first tomb we see that is still in it's original form is cut directly into the rock, Arabic style with 4 pyramids carved a long the top representing the those who reside within.

This is just the entrance!
Burial Chamber!

The track takes us up a hill the entrance of natural rock alleyway, which can only really be described as an open cave, the rock walls look like they are curving in on themselves.  They glow ivory and orange in the morning sun, this is the Siq the narrow gorge is a natural formation but the arch that once stood at the entrance is no longer there, now that would have been a sight to see!

But are welcomed by 2 men in traditional costumes as we make our way thru the entrance. 

The welcome guard!
Siq Gorge!

The towering walls of the gorge guide us thru, the Nabataeans built water channels complete with filters, they built a dam in a that has long since dried up and disappeared, it is quite amazing how clever they were in the 4th century, yeap the 4th century!   You can see the remnants of these water ways as we walk thru.

It becomes quite narrow!

The further in we go the narrower the natural alleyway becomes, and it is nice to be out of the glaring sun the sandstone walls seem to act as a natural coolant.

When you look up, it's almost as though the walls are curving in on themselves at the top.  A sliver of blue sky appears at the walls opening, ah nature!

A sliver of blue sky!

And suddenly the gorge opens up and the way in widens.

We come across a small temple, and it is small, it makes me wonder how tall the Nabataeans were.  This little place of worship stands alone in the shade of the might rock walls. 

To the side steps have been cut into the rock wall and on an embankment openings appear in the rocks.  People used to bring offerings and sit on the steps listening to sermons.

The little temple!

The Siq is quite long. I don't know what I was expecting, but I had no idea of the vastness of Petra, it's not just the famous library there is so much more.  The rock seems to change from smooth sandstone to jaggered and rough in appearance.

Natures Alleyway!

Further along Husam stops and asks if we can see anything in the rock wall, at the end of the water channel is the lower half of a robed man and the front legs of a Camel.

When you step back and take a good look you can make out the rest, a man leading his camel!

A Man and his Camel!

The walk thru the Siq continues, then suddenly Husam stops and calls for to gather around, he has a bit of cheeky smile on his face, he tells us that we are half way and that he is going to catch up with us so we can go on with out him.

Then as we turn the corner, there thru the narrow split in the gorge the Treasury comes into view... WOW... It is awesome!

First Glimpse of that Iconic World Wonder!

It seems to glow in the mid morning sun.  

Then the gorge opens up to an open area, and there it is in full view, one of the 7 wonders of the world, I really wish Mum was here with me, she would love this!  It is simply fantastic!

The Treasury

It is as tall as I expected, but I thought it would be wider.

There is a crowd, understandably, it is an icon!  I just want to take in every detail, so I find a bench and stare...  WOW!

I made it!

Unlike the other buildings the Treasury hasn't been worn down by the weather, as they built it further back into the rock, protecting it from the elements.

Six pillars line the ground level, and it is hard to tell that the one on the far left has been rebuilt. the niches represent a clock, flowers indicate the days, weeks, months and seasons.

The Details are beautiful!

On each side of the lower lever are 2 riders one riding upwards the other downwards.  These are Castor & Pollux who lead the spirits of the dead to heaven or to hell, up or down!

Heaven bound!

The upper level has 6 smaller columns, in the center is a circular formation has a statue of a women, Isis Tyche - the goddess of wealth, holding a trumpet in one hand and a glass in the other.  On either side of her are 2 female warriors holding axes. 

Above Isis is an urn once thought to hold treasure.  There are bullet holes in the facade surrounding the urn where soldiers in the first world war tried to shoot it down trying to get the gold that was never there!

Isis Tyche!

It was discovered that it isn't really a treasury, it is in fact a tomb, dedicated to the Nabataean King Artis IV.  Muched loved by his people, under his reign the city was prosperous.

You could once go inside, but it is closed off now as Archeologists are discovering more burial tombs underneath as they excavate further down and further out.

I would so love to go in!

Opposite the Treasury is another little entrance, that seems half buried.  I spose this is a good indicator that there is more under our feet.

You can climb up the cliff to get a view of the Treasury from above, but my fear of heights kicks in and I just enjoy the view from the ground.

What is in there? !

Opposite the Treasury is another little entrance, that seems half buried.  I suppose this is a good indicator that there is more under our feet.

You can climb up the cliff to get a view of the Treasury from above, but my fear of heights kicks in and I just enjoy the view from the ground.

As the sun makes it way thru the sky the facade of the treasury changes color, but as the morning draws on Husam rounds us up, there is more to see and we must continue on.

The details have faded but you get a sense of how grand they were!
How did they build these?
Imposing in the details

We round a bend entering another walled gorge, and there is a small herd of donkeys catching shade in an alcove in the wall.  If I thought the treatment of the horses was bad enough trotting up and down the on the stone floor their hooves often slipping on the smooth stone being pushed with a whip and dripping with sweat in the harsh heat.

But what I see makes my blood boil.

One man is trying to make this poor little donkey move by beating him in the neck with a stick with such power you can hear the thudding over the crowds of people making their way.

I can hold my tongue no longer and I shout at him to stop.  He tells me it is none of my business how he treats his animals.  I am so angry so I shout at him to give me the stick so I can beat him with it so he knows how it feels.  

Husam is standing behind me, I think he is a little concerned as the man is telling me to mind my business and go a way.  I look around for a Petra tourist police as I shout at him that I am going to report him for animal abuse, his friend tells me I should as he is always beats his animals this way and tells me his name is Amed.  There are no tourist police in sight and as his verbal barrage at me continues I again vow to report him to the police, and he scoops up his belongings and disappears.

I am so angry I am shaking with fury, the abuse of any animal makes me so angry I really did want to pick up a stick and give him a taste of his own medicine.  Suddenly Husam is beside me "Am I going to have to rescue you from jail?"  All I can do is stare at him, but his words bring me to my senses, he smiles at me in and we slowly move on.

I have noticed signs all along the walk to report any animal abuse but when I so finally see some tourist police I wonder if they will actually do anything about it as they probably see this everyday. 

I am still trying to calm down as we make our way to the street of the facades.

They would have been magnificent in their day.  Tombs cut into the rock face beautifully decorated with columns and pyramids.

The Street of Facades!

It is a patchwork of entries and decorative carvings.  They vary in size but there is a large tomb that dominates them all, steps have been carved into the rock leading up to the entrance.  

Some of the entries seem to have an Egyptian style to their design, influenced by the nations the Nabataeans traded with, making them a once wealthy nation.

That's quite grand!

Along the street are little shops and stalls selling souvenirs and cold drinks.  Husam takes us to one selling spices, myrrh and frankincense.  The smells are sweet, strong and delightful.  With the shop keep they show us the differences, their uses, the differences in quality and their origins.  We try some myrrh perfume it is sweet, and the amber soap (ment to keep flies away, it aint working)

The sun is beating down and it is becoming uncomfortably hot, we thank our host and continue on.  The Facades on one side spread further down dottin the rock face the dark openings look like an invitingly cool relief from the heat.

Wonder what life was like back then!

Husam takes over to a women who owns a jewelry stall.  She is a a western women, when he introduces her, the name is familiar to me, Marguerite van Geldermalsen.  Ah she is a New Zealander she married a Bedouin and wrote a book about her life.  She was originally from Christchurch and together she and her husband lived in the ancient city until they were relocated to a near by village when Petra become a World Heritage Site.  Today she teaches the women in the village to make silver jewelry with designs inspired by the art and carvings found in Petra.

Saying goodbye we head down the wide open street Roman columns come into view, signalling the entrance to a Roman amphitheater that has been cut into the rock.  

With 7 stairways going up and 3 rows of block seating it was said to hold up to 4000 spectators.  It would have taken a lot of hard work to cut out all that stone!

The Roman Amphitheatre!

The winding street takes us to the Royal Tombs, they open up spreading  up the rock face.  Some of the tombs can be dated back to 70AD, there are 4 of them, the decorations on the facades have been worn away by the weather, it would have been amazing to see them in all their glory!

The Royal Tombs!
Grander than the others!
Would have been a sight in their day!

A wide avenue opens up lined with columns and pillars of various heights.  The original paving stones dot the walk way.  Grooves have formed where the Romans once rode in their chariots, the paving stones have smoothed over time, shining in the sunlight.

Archeologists are working on the Great Temple so it is closed off to tourists.  

At the end of the Avenue is a large gateway decorated with Roman style florals.  It towers over you as pass thru.

Passing thru the Roman Gates!

The afternoon heat is exhausting, and I am thankful for my frozen water, the way back is mostly uphill and in the full afternoon sun not the easiest of walks, but the views are unbelievable.  When you look closely there are all these little details, steps cut into the rocks, faded decorations and carvings, hidden entries set back into the rock walls forming little porches at the front of the tombs and houses.

Amazing what you see when you look beyond the surface!

There is a lot to see when you take the time.  But I look forward to getting back into the Siq Gorge and out of the direct sun.

The weather has worn the decorative details a way but the terraces on the rock where rooms have been hollowed are easily identified.  In places nature has formed the rock into weird shapes like the rock has melted and dripped to form natural pillars, you can almost imagine the towns people standing at the front doors greeting each other. 

There is so much more to Petra...!

The rest is welcome as my feet ache, but it's thru the gorge we go.

Horses some with carriages go rushing past with those to lazy to walk back, my heart skips a beat everytime I see one slip on the smooth rock surface, and I wonder how many have broken a leg being pushed to exhaustion in this heat.  One is so hot and tired his head is down and you can hear him wheezing for breathe.

I am really struggling with the cruelty I see around me, in such a beautiful place.  Don't tourist realise they are paying to have these creatures pushed to their limits, I would rather suffer myself than put my suffering and tiredness onto them.

We reach the robbed man and his Camel and sit for a while to rest my weary legs.

Can you see it now?!

As we come to the last bend before exiting the gorge, we com across a horse that has collapsed, it is still attached to the carriage, the poor thing his wheezing and foaming at the mouth.  The owner is just standing there with whip in hand yelling orders to his colleagues, I hope he is yelling for water.  To my disbelief the tourist is still sitting in the carriage waiting as by some miracle this poor horse is going to get back up and take them the rest of the way.

I can hold my tongue no longer and I step up the carriage and... "you might as well walk the rest of the way you've nearly killed one horse you want to kill another!", they are stunned and go to reply as I turn walk over to horse and slowly poor the rest of my water over his head.  But I am forced to stop as the owner starts yelling at me and with words I don't understand but gestures I do, I leave telling him I am going straight to the Tourist Police office to report him.

As we exit the gorge and make our way up the gravel track that leads to the entrance it occurs to me that I haven't seen one animal be given water all day.ba

The last hill that takes us to information center is the hardest, after 8 hours walking in this heat, a cold drink and a sit down are well earned.

Watching the people milling about, I find the Tourist Police office, I debate making a report, the signs say to report animal abuse, but do they really care, I can't help it I have to speak up!

I wait at the counter and a officer approaches, and greats me in English, whew, at least he will understand me.

I tell him about the Donkey owner and his over zealous whip, and the animals tied up at the fence unable to move with no water, he tries to assure me that they do get water on their breaks, and then I when I question this and inform him about the collapsed exhausted horse in the Siq Gorge, questioning if he thinks it would have happened if it had had enough to drink, he says he will look into these situations.  I thank him and say "I apologise if I am being pushy and sound angry but the cruelty to any animal is upsetting and I couldn't walk away without saying anything. 

He is actually quite understanding and gets on his radio to his colleagues.  I am hoping he is getting them to investigate but I think maybe he saying something like 'I have another crazy western lady here!'  I hope it is the former.

Having said my piece I sit outside and down another cold drink, and OMG is that Sylvester Stallone, no it's just some one who looks just like him down to the Rambo outfit and muscles.  I can't help but laugh to myself.  I wish I had snuck a photo!

Why is our hotel at the top of a hill...?  Arrggghh it's a bit of a slog I will admit, and when I finally get there all I can think of is shower...!!!!

Feeling refreshed I sit out the front with a coffee as the others slowly return, I am glad I am not the only one who is knackered!

Husam arranged for us all to meet in the lobby and we head out as a group for dinner.  We come to this non-descript shop front and make our way upstairs to 'My Mums Recipe'.

The place is fantastic!  Traditional fabrics and loungers decorate the room, beautiful traditional lamps hang from the ceiling, I love it.  

My Mums Recipe, best restaurant in Petra!

Freshly baked bread and a variety of dips cover the table and OMG they are sooooo delicious!   I try something new and order an iced Hibiscus tea, and one sip and I am addicted, so buying this when I get home!

Hibiscus Tea, it's red. it's delicious!

Sitting with my roomie Diana we start chatting with a lovely couple from England Hanna and Zoe, the great debate as to what to order as everything seems so fantastic.  I order traditional Kofta and I can't wait!  All that walking has worked up an appetite.  As the conversation gets louder and more relaxed our food arrives, and WOW, served on a little bronze BBQ it looks and smells amazing!

Koftah! So delicious!

It is as delicious as it looks, can't fault the food at all!  It is huge and too much for me!

You would think that after such a long hot exhausting day the conversation and laughter would quieten down while we eat but no!  These girls are a hoot and I can tell there is going to be some fun and antics on this trip with them involved!

Husam just sits back and smiles at us, I guess he is used to crazy tourists, he gracefully answers every question that is fired at him from across the table, sometimes just laughing with a shake of his head.

I am quite surprised when a storm hits, its like home in Queensland they hit suddenly and disappear as quickly.  But it is a nice relief from the heat.

With dinner over we head back to the hotel and it is nice walk in the soft rain... but there is that driveway again a steep climb up!

Diana and I chat for a while before we crash out.  Good nights sleep will help the tired legs!

Posted by TracingTheWorld 06:55 Archived in Jordan Comments (0)



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Yeah for the sleep in!  So needed!  My feet are still aching a smidge from yesterday.

After packing our bags we head up for breakfast.  Coffee please!  I am really enjoying these Jordanian buffets, fresh fruit, cheeses, cold meats and of course Falafels (must learn how to make these or at least find a good Middle Eastern Restaurant in Brisbane!)

Breakfast over we pile into the mini van and head out of the Petra Valley.  The sky is a little grey today and thank goodness it isn't as hot as yesterday.

As we drive out you get a better sense of life here.  Their lives revolve around the tourism trade that comes to Petra, everything is tied to the ancient city.

We get to the upper edge of town and stop at a lookout with amazing sweeping views of the valley below.  You can clearly see the entrance to Petra and that stoney road leading in.

The lookout has a strange monument, Husam explains it is a birthday cake to celebrate the Kings birthday, 3 layers with a giant candle on top.  When you take a good look... 'Oh yeah! So it does!'  To be honest it has seen better days, as had the children's playground and gardens, but that view!

We were there!
And there it is...!

Clambering back into the minivan, the winding drive down gives us fantastic views of the valleys below. The rocky formations in the below valley where Petra was discovered by a Swiss explorer in 1812 (it was a secret until he snuck in dressed as a local and revealed the location to the world) stretches out for miles. I ask Husam if any other hidden sites have been discovered since Petra, he shakes his head and I wonder what else is hidden in the maze of rocky formations that the sand has buried long lost from human eyes.

As we get out of the hills the land flatten outs and becomes sparse and rocky, the sandy landscape seems to go on forever.

We stop at a large tourist shop Husam shows us the traditional head scarves worn by the bedouin or the Kkufiya, he always has one on and so we shop! There are so many to choose from it is hard to pick! Luckily we have time to browse, you can't rush these things you know!

With scarves in hand we get a quick lesson on how to wrap them, luckily they come with instructions as I will never remember how to do it!

Which one should I get...!

As we drive thru the sandy landscape, someone asks Husam about relationships, and in an Islamic society, how do couples meet one another, there is a bit of a gasp of surprise from the back seats.  But as personal as the questions are to his credit he is not shy about telling us how he met his wife. 

He saw her crossing the street and when finding out where she lived asked his mother to visit the house of her family and speak to her mother on his behalf.  

It is difficult to concentrate on the beauty of the landscape as you listen to him tell his story.  The 2 mothers talk, and her mother tells her about Husam and she agrees to meet him.  The next week he and his mother are invited around and the 2 of them talk in the living room with their mothers in a another room.  They discuss the future, family children, or as he puts the important issues.  Which makes a lot of sense to me as they get to know each other before emotions grow and we all know that they can cause a relationship roll coaster!

After a week they get engaged, she picks the ring which he pays for, at first I think, 'what a week, that's quick'.  But being engaged is not like how we view in western society, a promise to marriage, now they are able to go out in public together as their family and neighbors know they  have permission from their families to be out together. 

Giving them time to get to know each other the engagement lasted over a year before they got married.  This gave them time, as if either of them had any doubts that they are not the 'right one' the engagement could be broken.  No wonder Jordan has a lower divorce rate than western countries, it makes sense.  I really appreciate his honesty and for sharing such a personal story with us, a bunch of virtual strangers, it can't be easy to do.

As we turn off the main road rock rusty colored rock formations appear, the Wadi Rum, the desert heart of Jordan.

Entering Wadi Rum!

It begins to look like we are entering another world.  No wonder this place has been used as a beck for many movies, Star Wars Rogue One, The Martian (with Matt Damon), Prometheus, Transformers Rise of the Fallen, Lawrence of Arabia (of course, no better place really!), and this year they are filming the new Star Wars movie The Rise of Skywalker.  

We park at the visitors that marks the entrance into this protected area, and as we do the clouds clear a little as the sun tries to break thru. 

The first thing we do is head up to the look out!

Welcome to the Wadi Rum!

We get a fantastic view of the Seven Pillars of Wisdom named from the movie Lawrence of Arabia, and I can't help but try to count the pillar like grooves.

We spend a little time browsing thru the shops before we head out into the desert to our camp for the night. And I for one am excited to explore this amazing landscape!

The 7 Pillars of Wisdom!

With our entry passes sorted it's a short drive to a Bedouin village where we stock on snacks for lunch.  The little local shop is stocked to bursting, and there is so much to choose from.  Fresh fruit, traditional breads and of course humus!

We are separated into Jeep 4x4s, and our driver is the only one with all female passengers.  Mohammad is a small man in crisp white traditional robes and a big beaming smile.

As we head out into the desert the colors jump out you, and you begin to see why it is such a popular place to make movies.

Desert Safari!

The rusty colored sand is a stark natural contrast to the rock formations that remind me of stacked pancakes dripping with syrup... definitely out of this world. 

The colors change when the clouds part and the sun comes thru, the weather seems ever changing today, it makes this place even more intriguing.

Mohammad is quite quiet, but is constantly smiling.  We make jokes with him, I think it was Diana and Zoe who started the joke, and we become the 4 wives of Mohammed, he turns and his grin is wide!

The 4 wives of Mohammed!

The joke takes on a life of it's own and as we pass dwellings he points and says "See this house?" we nod and answer and after a long pause "This not my house!" we all laugh and this continues thru our drive as he points out caves and enclosures for storage, finds the most run down ramshackle place "See this house...?"   With laughter we say "This not your house!"   All he says is "No this is your house!  I build it better for you!"  This is becomes the theme of our entire drive.  Mohammed our tiny Bedouin guide with a big sense of humor and a smile to match.

The landscape changes from flat to rolling sand dunes of beautiful rusty orange.

We stop at our lunch spot, Camels are lounging in the sand and a black and white covered area is set up at the base of a towering rock formation.

Bedouin Lunch Spot, perfect!

Our hosts have a fire going and large vast iron kettles steam away,  we are invited to sit on a stone bench covered with the traditional red and black cushions.  We are offered cups of sweet minted tea as we eat our lunch.

Thunder can be heard rolling across the desert, it seems to echo off the cliffs behind us.

Trying to capture a picture of the lightening... yeap I failed!

After lunch Husam takes us for a short walk, etched into a crevasse of the cliff is a set of ancient writing, just as we are about to walk away lightening strikes above the towering rock formation and the thunder rolls louder, it gives other worldly place and eerie feel and somehow adds to the atmosphere.

Ancient writings!

We have a little time to explore, and some of us try to get to know the Camels, they are unfazed by us and just lounge about, one or two lifting up their heads as if for a photo op, the others just ignore us completely. 

Just chilling...!
'Oh... Hi!'
'This is my good side!'

They are such gangly things, but they seem to have permanent smiles on their faces and those lashes...!

Thomas trying to make a new friend!
'Scratch my cheek Tracey!'

Bedouin and their camels are coming and going from, what I guess is called a rest stop.  Watching them in the distance with their white robes and shemagh (traditional head scarves) billowing in the wind is like stepping back in time. 

Past traditions continue!

The haze in the air, the threatening storm that is thundering across the valley and the unique rock formations it is easy to imagine life as it once was before the modern technology took over.

large_20191015_144110.jpgStepping back in time!

We say goodbye to our hosts and Husam has to tear us away from the Camels as they seem to be getting all the attention.  With one last chin scratch we leave them to continue lounging.

A Cheeky Close Up!

As we all pile into the 4x4s Husam makes the rounds talking to each of the drivers, when he comes to our drivers window, we are all in fits of laughter as the wives joke continues.  When he asks what is going we explain that we are the 4 wives of Mohammad, when Hussam tells him he can't have all 4 us he must take one, Mohammad's straight faced reply sends us into fits of laughter "No they are all mine!.. you can have 1 camel!"  he turns and looks at us grinning proudly, he is well chuffed.  This is going to be a fun afternoon!

Heading Out!

And off we good the Wadi Rum opens up before your eyes, it seems to have it's own moods, the sands change color in places and the rock formations dominate the landscape.

Yeap it does kinda feel like we are Mars!
They look like layers of burnt pancakes!

We stop at an orange sand dune and get out and stretch the legs, the sand seems to sparkle in the sunlight like children's glitter has been scattered across the sand and embedded itself into the rock.  

This is were they filmed Lawrence of Arabia and when you look out to the horizon you understand why.

Stretching the legs!

This is were they filmed Lawrence of Arabia and when you look out to the horizon you understand why.  It really would have set the perfect backdrop.

Stunning colorful contrasts!

It isn't has hot here today as it was in Petra and the threat of the thunder storm has been left behind.

We drive over sandy hills when suddenly a creamy sandy salt pan opens up and we drive over it you can hear it crackling under the wheels.

We come to a dry river bed we park to the side of a large rocky outcrop that looks like it has been split in two with a giant axe.

Camels relax and the distance is the remnants of a stone building, it is an eerie intriguing place.  Nature is trying to get a foothold in the sand and pops of scraggy grow along the once waterfilled river.

Hints of the past!

We scramble down into the river bed and Husam takes on a walk to explore the ravine, somehow from different angle the entrance disappears and blends into the surroundings but as we get closer it appears again.

We're heading into where?
Oh in there... somewhere!

Before we go further in Husam directs to us to turn around and look up, and points to a huge rock formation, "What do you see?".... Oh yeah it looks like a face with a crown watching over the desert... It really does!  the kings head as he calls it, is very distinctive, he looks like he is smiling with his eyes closed.

Watching over his domain!

We come to the entrance which doesn't look like much but opens up to expose a large ravine, with rocky layers like giant steps carved by nature into the sides. 

In we go!

Husam points out the wring and carvings on the walls, 1000s of years old.  The carvings of the people are so cute!

The little men stand with straight legs and the women stand with their legs apart, representing child birth.  Their are little animals, I can make out the Oryx like Antelope with it's curved horns and what I think is meant to be trees. Writing covers some places on the wall, I wonder what it says!

The little people...!
The Animals...!

We clamber down and Husam points out some of the writing, it is ancient Arabic, he says he can read some it, and points out the word "THE" the only difference from todays writing is the missing some of the dots and dashes.  He draws and example in the sand, oh yeah dots!

Historical site in the middle of the desert!

Unbelievably this gorge floods with water when it rains making it and important location for the traveling Bedouin, he sees the doubt on our faces and shows us a video of the ravine from the day before when it rained.  It starts off as a small trickle and builds up to a gushing torrent filling the river bed that is dry as bone today.  Such a quick change in such a short time!  He swears that it was just a shower not torrential rain that was the cause.  He is grinning at us, I swear he like surprising us.

We pile back into our 4x4s and head further into the desert, passing tented camps set against stunning rock formations.

Carved into the rock face is a little house and Mohammad grins and says "See this house" we nod, "Yes", he turns and looks at us "This is your house!". It turns out it is a storage location for the wandering tribes.

We come to a fantastic rock formation that is like a great natural bridge. But unlike most of the rock in the Wadi it is a golden ivory color.

People are climbing up to walk across, and even after Husam warns us that Intrepid recommends not doing this as it isn't covered by insurance, I still wouldn't do it, from down here I can see 2 large cracks, solid rock or not, nothing is going to get me up there!

After taking a group photo we have time to explore for awhile, what a fantastic place this is!

The Intrepid Travelers!

On the move again and we stop at a permanent camp in the middle of the desert, a rest stop Bedouin style. Men sit around under tents large black cast iron pots of tea are on the boil over fires, tables are covered with Bedouin souvenirs.

Bedouin Rest Stop!

Trust me to find a cat in the middle of the desert! A cute little ginger tabby is lazing on the tables.

It is loved a well taken care of, all purrs and very smoochy!

We spend time browsing before Husam rounds us up, having to drag me away from my new furry friend for the last part of our journey into the heart of the Wadi Rum.

Desert Friend!

As we drive deeper into the desert it seems to change. The short drive to takes us thru orange sand and dark ivory rock piles. Nature is trying to take hold out here, plants appear sparse clumps dot the horizon. It is a little bumpy but Mohammad doesn't seem to mind, I guess his butt is used to it!

From Red to Orange!

We arrive at our campsite. Wow it looks amazing. Nestled in the curve of a large rock formation, permanent tent structures are set up to one side and a dining hall at the end.

Our Bedouin Campsite!

The black and white tents, of you can call them that look more like cabins. They are quaint and comfortable. The inside walls and ceiling are carefully covered with red and black decorative goats wool fabric, thick and heavy and make great insulation. Two beds pile thick with blankets, we wont be getting cold tonight!

My little home in the desert, for tonight at least!

We even have a little window with little wooden shutters.

The View from the Room!

We unload our bags and say goodbye to our drivers then make our way to the restaurant hall for a cold drink.

Our hosts introduce themselves and tell us about tonight and the traditional dinner we will be sharing... sounds awesome!

Husam takes for a climb up to his favorite viewing point. The path up for most is easy, but me I don't like it so much, the whole fear of heights thing can be annoying, toughen up women!

We make it up before sunset. It is peaceful up here!

The vast landscape of the desert spreads out forever.

The Wadi Rum... WOW!

While we wait for the sun to set, we chat to Husam he tells us about the Bedouins and desert life, they have been around for centuries, and try to keep most of their traditions in this modern and fast changing world.


The sky is cloudy which sadly hides the sunset but the desert takes on a life of its own and changes color with the arrival of dusk. It seems to change moods, from burnt orange to dark umber, darkening with the cloudy sky.

Desert sunset...
... Sadly too cloudy for the full effect!

We climb back down to camp and relax before dinner.

Then we head outside to where dinner is being cooked. We watch as they dig thru the sand to the layers of rock, broken glass and hot coals.

They unearth a large metal cylinder and when the side is unwrapped there are layers of steaming chicken and vegetables, delicious smells fill the desert air.

The dinner is fantastic and the smokey flavors mix wonderfully with the herbs and spices, the chicken is so soft and tender it just falls off the bone.

With full bellies we make our way outside, blankets and cushions have been laid out around a blazing fire for us, and we lounge and chat under the cloudy starry night.

Husam tries once again to answer all our questions (I kinda feel sorry for him as we aren't shy about what we ask!)

Why do Islamic women cover their hair? The Koran tells them that their bodies are precious and should be treated as such and that they should only show themselves to those they chose to marry and love with all their heart as he is the one who will honor and cherish them for the precious beautiful creatures they are. It is actually a lovely thing and respectful. In fact men too should dress modestly, in Jordan they do not wear shorts or walk around bare chested, and both are expected to be virgins on their wedding night.

While we are chatting a shadow is making its way along the rocky cliff, and as it reaches the light emanating from the fire, it turns out to be a Camel, it casts long ghostly shadows on the rock walls. It kinda fits in with the mood of this place.

The conversation continues as he tells us about their traditional weddings, earlier in the day he told us that the man pays for everything and that is his responsibility to care for all the women in the family.

The future Groom pays for everything she needs on the day and for the rest of their lives together.

He will go with her and their families to the jewel merchant with a price agreed upon by both families, and she chooses that amount in gold.

The first night of the wedding is for the women only and she has all her friends and family together. The second night is for the men and they gather to together as the women do. The third night is the wedding feast and everyone is invited, the mother of the groom cooks and all the women in the family and the neighborhood come early in the morning to help prepare the banquet.

The groom greets all the guests and his best man makes a list of each guest and the gifts they bring, because if and when they are invited to a wedding they will bring the same amount.

The male family members help with the party serving the food, drinks and arranging the tables as there can over 2000 guests, a true neighborhood affair.

It sounds amazing, but the actually ceremony is done at her family home or city hall with only the parents to witness the event.

As the fire dies down we give Husam a break and head off to bed and these blankets are really snugly and warm. The thunder storm has long past and the Wadi Rum is quiet and peaceful!


We wake up relatively early and breakfast is ready fresh baked bread and fresh fruit.

We say goodbye to our hosts, and drive back to the small village.

Most of the group has opted for a Camel ride back, having done this in Morocco I thought I would give it miss this time! So we stop in the middle of the desert where the camels are waiting with their owners. I watch as they get organized and laugh at them as they screech and flail about when the Camels stand up in that weird rocky way they do.

I wave at them from the comfort of the 4x4 and enjoy the peaceful drive back to the village.

When we arrive people are milling about, Camels lounge in the sun and children are running about.

While we wait for everyone to get back Husam and I try to engage in a conversation with a young fella and his Camel but typical of his age he is surly and sullen, Husam just laugh it off and I wander about for a bit taking one last view of this amazing place.

A boy and his Camel!

Soon the group arrives and they I must admit some of them look a little uncomfortable, and there is even louder shrieks when it comes to the dismount! Yeap I remember that!

It certainly is entertaining to watch!

Camel Rest Stop!

While we wait for everyone to get organized I wait with my this handsome cream Camel who loves a good chin scratch, the expression on it's face looks like it's laughing, it is adorable!

My happy friend!

Finally Husam rounds us up and we pile into mini bus and leave this amazing place!

The drive out is quiet as there are a few of us who would have liked to explore for a little longer.

Once on the main road the desert passes by.

We stop at a small souvenir shop which is actually bigger on the inside. They have these fantastic paintings at the entrance, but first I need a cold drink, the shop is filled with all sorts of colorful trinkets.

When I go to pay for my drink I ask about the paintings. The shop asks me where I am from and when I tell him New Zealand he says "I know the New Zealand currency is low not good like here in Jordan, so for you I do a special price!"

Hmm I don't know whether to be offend or not! But since one of them doesn't jump out at me I leave it and head back to the bus.

How much baggage allowance do I have?
WOW but.... Na!

The highway starts to wind thru dry rocky valleys and after a stop at one of Jordan's large roadside service centers, the wives and I head straight for the cafe corner... ah nothing beats a good latte, but this will do for now.

Finally Aqaba comes into view the Red Sea glistens in the distance. Like Amman the houses are all the same color the ivory sandstone they seem to love here. Palm trees and Bougainvillea add spots of color on the city streets as we wind our way thru the traffic.

Our first stop is at a tourist shop as Husam must get our ferry tickets for tonight. Once that is done it is off to the hotel.

It is situated in the heart of Aqaba and quite fancy by all accounts. Three rooms have been reserved so we can shower and rest for the afternoon, pity it doesn't have a pool as it is an absolute scorcher today, so dry and hot!

Sadly we have to say goodbye to Husam as he is heading back to Amman but he promises that we have a guide who will help us with our ferry transfer tonight. He really has been amazing.

The wives and I head out for a walk we find this amazing street art as we explore, but it really is too hot to do much and when we discover a McDonald's (Yeah I know, but there really wasn't much else open) we head in for ice cream and air conditioning!

Aqaba wall art!
Adding color the city!
Didn't see an Oryx in the desert!
Oh we met them![i]

As soon as you walk outside the windless heat hits you full force, its like being inside an oven. We find our way back to the hotel and spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing.

Greetings from...!

We have time for dinner before we leave Jordan and there is a lovely restaurant just down the road from the hotel, so we sit outside and enjoy the cool evening air.

It is dark when the mini bus arrives and the drive to the ferry port takes over an hour. The road takes us around the bay and the city lights sparkle on the surface of the Red Sea.

Once we arrive our driver takes us in and speaks to the customs official for us. He hands out our visa passes to leave Jordan and takes us to a room to relax, and assures us that someone will come and take us to the ferry.

It isn't easy to relax in this old and yeah I will be honest dingy terminal, as there are a lot of police and security, and we have just watched them bring a group of men thru the terminal in handcuffs... umm, ok!

Finally and official comes and signals for us to follow, foreigners are being boarded first.

One of the girls in the group takes it upon herself to boss us about telling us all to hurry up, she hasn't stopped complaining since we got here (she is taking her obvious nervousness out on the rest of us), and no one speaks to me like a child and my reply seems so shocking to her she soon shuts her mouth.

The walk to the ferry takes us thru a graveled container area, where trucks and cars are parked and dragging your bag is not an easy task, wish I had opted for back pack!

As we are making our way up the ramp I am cornered by little miss bossy who apparently didn't appreciate the way I spoke to her, I informed her that I don't appreciate being bossed about by like a child and she huffs and mutters something under her breathe (which I cannot repeat as the language is bit too colorful repeat) making those within earshot uncomfortable.

We load our bags onto a trolley and make our way up to the deck. The lounge if you can call it that isn't very clean and has seen better days. But there is a small shop to by snacks and drinks. The wives find a row of seats and try to make ourselves comfortable.

You can feel the ferry engines roar to life and we finally leave Jordan behind. Any thoughts I had of snoozing is not going to happen as the place is packed and the chatter is loud, I think our group has the only women on board, it does make us feel a little uncomfortable!

An official comes over and asks us to register at the customs window, so we line up and I am very uneasy about leaving my passport with them but I don't have a choice and I will admit I never take my eyes off that window until my passport is safely back in my hands!

Believe me when I say don't drink too much as you really don't want to use the toilets they are filthy and the men have no issues using the ladies toilet, to the pint that one of the officials has to ask them to leave so we can use it in private... Thank you!

The journey seems to take forever but we finally reach Egypt in the middle of the night, as we left Jordan later than scheduled.

The walk to the ferry terminal is quite a distance and some of us a sleep deprived, but the terminal is modern, clean, quiet and huge! We are led by a customs officer to register in and the process seems to go quite smoothly until we get our bags scanned and one of the young Canadian boys has a Swiss knife in his bag, and we have to wait while he is taken away and questioned, if it was me I would be a nervous wreck! At least the lounge is comfortable!

When he finally returns we are guided out of the terminal and Mohammad our guide for the next few weeks is here to greet us.

So after loading ourselves and our bags into the waiting minivans and a quick stop for water we head off to our Red Sea camp. The drive isn't long but it's past 1am by the time we get there.

All I know in my sleep deprived state is that the camp is on the beach and we are staying in these little thatched huts, Diana and I have to share a bed and I am really glad I have my sleeping bag with me...!

Posted by TracingTheWorld 20:49 Archived in Jordan Comments (0)


The Red Sea, Egypt


October 17th 2019 Day 6

In the morning light we finally get a look at our surroundings. The camp is quite nice, it needs a little TLC but we are right on the beach. It is a little grey this morning which is a nice relief after the scorching heat of yesterday.

Poor Diana apparently I kept her awake, no I wasn't snoring, she reckons I fidget in my sleep and I hogged the bed, so sorry roomie!

The showers are hard to find but after getting directions from an Egyptian hippy I find them tucked away at the back of the main lounge area, they are basic and decorated with shells and fish scenes made from glass but at least the water is hot and helps to ease the tired muscles.

We drag our bags back across the sand to the restaurant lounge area, and breakfast is ready, it is a little underwhelming, but there is coffee!

Slowly the sun burns away the clouds and it becomes another bright beautiful day, we load up the mini bus and head for Dahab.

What... I slept in that!

The landscape is rocky and beige hills fill the horizon, unlike the colors of the Jordan desert we left behind. The roads are modern and make for smooth driving. We actually make good time time getting to Dahab and arrive around lunch.

Our hotel is lovely right on the water front, in fact the only thing separating the pool from the rocky beach is the footpath.

View from the hotel!

After waiting a bit to check in we dump our bags, the rooms have little balconies that overlook the pool and you can climb over the little railing and enjoy a cold drink from the pool bar and sip while you swim! Which is exactly what we do!

So we relax a little at the pool before arranging to meet up later. Roomie and I have to do some washing, I think this a new thing for her, handwashing your undies in the bathroom sink, but we have a clothes rack at the back door, handy!

The Pool, definitely a big improvement to the last place!

We meet up and head into town, the girls need phone cards so we follow the main road, at first it is nothing great, dusty and cracked pavements but once phones have cards we head into town.

Heading into town!

When you turn off towards the beach front, the shopping precinct becomes colorful and crowded, little shops stuffed with goods that spill out onto the street.

Must be where the locals shop!

A colorfully painted fountain decorates the square it is definitely prettier in the town center.

Found a cute little market square!

Dahab has a real beach vibe, some of the shops along the waterfront are really fun and quirky, with weird names and crazy art work.

Such fun little shops!

We cross a bridge to the esplanade restaurants line both sides of the precinct, we walk for a bit before we decide it is time to eat and after reading all the menus it is a really difficult choice as they seem to be quite similar, but a view of the Red Sea is a must!

Ah so this is where the food is!

We decide upon the The Green Valley their fresh fish cabinet has 2 of the biggest crayfish I have ever seen, the sign says they have "Lovely Food" so in we go.


We are greeted by the friendliest laughing waiter, he directs us to a table that is right on the water,in fact there is a set of stairs so you can go for a swim while you wait for your food!

Our table is right over the water!

Our waiter is fantastic, a funny short portly man with a range of facial expressions that belong in an Egyptian comedy.

For the first time in a while I have a beer, and I must say Egyptian beer isn't half bad. The manager comes over to take our order and offers 6 camels for Tracey (no not me the other Tracey!) and how quickly her husband replies "Yes!"

The atmosphere is relaxed and fun and the staffs humor is contagious. The table is soon filled with warm Pita Bread and dips.

The last 24 hours have been so tiring it is nice to relax with great company and have a laugh.

So Delicious!

The food arrives and OMG, the seafood plate I ordered is gigantic, I will make it thru... the fish is coated in a thick crust of herbs and garlic, calamari rings so soft they melt in your mouth in a tomato herb sauce and large king prawns in paprika, lemon and garlic, plus all the sides that go with it... believe me when I say it's fantastic!

Seafood, seafood and more delicious seafood!

We are so busy enjoying our food we barely notice the sun setting across the bay.

We have eaten so much that there is no room for dessert. And after thanking the fabulous manager and waiter we make our way back to the hotel.

But before we leave I just have to know how much that large crayfish costs, unlike the NZ ones these are black, and my Dad would be stoked to catch that in his crayfish pots, it weighs 2.5kg and costs $190US WHHHAAT!

We walk back along the waterfront, cats and dogs are roaming the streets, there are so many it makes my heart sad, we had a friendly little cat at the restaurant that we feed sneakily under the table and compared to these he was quite healthy.

A night stroll along the beach front!

The bars seem quite empty, I guess Autumn is their off season. The wives and I discover one that advertises Lazzto coffee, and with their assurances that will make us lattes, we head on in.

We find big comfy eats set up on the beach, settling into the plush cushions we have a fantastic view of the Red Sea, lights sparkle across the water and after many guesses as to what country we are looking at, it takes a Google search to find out that it is the city of Magna in Saudi Arabia.

The coffees arrive and after a sneak peak at the menu we are too tempted not to order some cakes, and share them between us.

Our little coffee spot om the beach!

The coffees were as good as they promised, it's nice to get away from the group, just the 4 of us. We chat for a while enjoying the views and the soft lapping of the water o n the shore. But it is getting late and we start to head back to the hotel.

Tomorrow we set off for a day of snorkeling, can't wait!

October 18th 2019 Day 7

That was the best nights sleep I have had on this trip! I am awake early and everyone is still slumbering and breakfast in the restaurant isn't open yet, so I head out for a walk finding myself back at the little coffee shop.

It is so peaceful sitting in the big comfy chairs watching he water lap at the shore. Dahab is quiet it hasn't quite woken up yet and I am enjoying the quiet for a while.

Breakfast is being served so I head back to the hotel and slowly everyone makes an appearance. The buffet is a large variety of goodies with everything from fresh fruit and cereal to eggs and sausages!

After a breakfast with wives we head to the our rooms and grab our day packs for a day of snorkeling!

we are separated into vans, and I must say it is a little uncomfortable, with the make shift built in wooden benches.

The drive isn't long and takes us around the bay, but believe me when I say you can feel every bump in the road on these seats!

Thank god that's over, there are a few bumped heads being massages as we clamber out!

It's a small tourist village and the Blue Hole sits just out past the rocky shore. It is bustling with visitors, so much going on there's Camels, divers, Tourist shops, equipment hired and restaurants (all rolled into one) line the rocky bank and we make our way to our spot for the day.

We order lunch before we get fitted for our snorkeling gear as it is going to be prepared while we out in the water.

Map of the Blue Hole area!

I step back and watch the chaos as the other members of the group get fitted, we are all going into the water together and so no need to rush. Getting the flipper size is a little difficult as their sizing is different to Australia but we get there in the end!

Getting geared up!

So with our snorkels and fins in hand we cross the road and make our way to the Blue Hole entrance! Which is starting to get crowded.

I don't know why I am nervous, it isn't like haven't snorkeled before, the ;last time was in Kaikora NZ when I swam with wild Dolphins out in deep ocean, although it was a few years and a few kilos ago!

I hope so!

There is a narrow split in the rock where you get in and I will admit my entry isn't graceful at all! Hey you try to clamber over rocks in bare feet and then try to put on your flippers on the sharp rocky edge and try not to fall over while others push past you!

I am in... and the water is lovely and the view under water AMAZING!

The Blue Hole is roped off so you cant get past to the shallow sharp rocks. The center goes down and looks never ending. As the water deepens it goes from a beautiful cobalt blue to a deep navy.

Even as you enter in the shallows pretty little blue and green fish swim around you darting in and out of the rocks.

I know it is a big cliche, but it's like being in another world!

Suddenly my vision is swarmed with these cut little black and white fish, I like to call them Zebra fis, hey I dont know what they are called...!

Swimming Zebras!

I stick to the reef edge and swim around, the rocks glow in the glassy water, bright blue fish with yellow tips dart away shyly between the corals, a black long snouted fish appears under me from out of nowhere. The pink, yellow and purple corals glow in the sun and sea anemones wave their multiply fingers with the movement of the sea.

OOOOHHH I know that one blue with orange and sliver stripes, your so fun!

Well aren't you pretty!

There is so much to look at, that I cant get the camera to organized quickly enough to capture them all (I so need to get a better one and learn how to use it properly!) I see this beautiful ivory colored fish with copper red patterns and it quickly becomes on of my favorites, it's so pretty!

A Bright blue one with weirdly large lips and a beautiful tail swims by... hey there funny face!

I turn towards the deep gaping hole and the sinks down and I watch the divers go down until they disappear, the only trace they leave behind are the silver bubbles rising up from the depths. I wish I had learnt to dive but I stay along the reef and enjoy the beauty below.

Your so fun!

No wonder Zoe and Hannie love to dive, it really is amazingly beautiful, it would be so serene if it wasn't so crowded. Clown fish dart away in fright flashes of orange in the corals.

But to be honest they are so quick I cant tell, I was so busy trying to get a photo that all I saw was orange!

Oh so they were Clown Fish!

Two yellow, kinda flat bodied fish with blue eye patches swim right past me as I try not to get to close to the shallow reef, I think I got them on camera... let's hope so!

I find a quiet spot at the far end of the Blue hole and just float in silence camera at the ready!

Oh WOW what a pair!

Yellow and black striped fish with elegantly long top fins swish around the rocks, stay still so I get a photo you lot! Hey, I recognize you... aren't you Angel Fish? Oh well you are fabulous... but somehow I think you know it!

Awww... So angelic!

My quiet spot is suddenly not so quiet as I am joined by 3 others so I swim away, it is difficult to find another spot and after swimming around for a while I find another person free spot and float.

Black and white fish with rather long noses and bright yellow tails dive out of my way, damn I don't think I was quick enough with the camera. But wow you are kind weird... pretty but weird!

I so gotta learn the names of these beauties! It's kinda like learning the varieties of birds when on safari except I cant bring a guide book with me!

Weirdly beautiful!

I guess we are on a time limit as the people are leaving, I pop my head up and the authorities are encouraging us to get out, all be rather politely, and encouragingly. So I take the long way round, I don't wanna leave I could stay in here all day.

I stop as little flashes of orange flutter through the coral, when I stop and try to float as still as possible, I notice how pretty they are and when the water still they come out and ignore my presence... awww they are so cute with their pink faces, flowing fins and tails!

It is amazing how much more you see when the sea is quiet of people!

Awww what lovely little things you are!

Of course I am one of the last ones out, it's easy to get distracted and loose track of time.

We sit upstairs in the lounge area, there is an open balcony that over looks the sparking Red Sea and the beige rocky shore line.

So once we dry off there's time to relax and with cold drinks all around we wait for lunch to be served.

Admittedly lunch isn't that great, I ordered the fish and it is a little dry and bland, but hey the view is beautiful!

The Blue Hole!

We spend a couple of hours relaxing before we grab our gear and walk a long the shoreline to a rocky out crop.

Set into the rock face are memorial stones dedicated to those that died diving the Blue Hole. Ok maybe that is something we should have know before we got in the water, but hey, I never felt unsafe!

Blue Hole Memorial!

The water out here is a little choppy compared the calm of the Blue Hole. Getting in is more difficult than this morning and once again a graceful and agile entrance is not happening!

Once out in the water I fiddle with my camera only to discover the battery is too low to take pictures and while I busy with that I somehow drifted onto the shallow corals. With the rough water pushing me closer it is difficult to swim away as the tide keeps pushing me forward, luckily our guide pulls me back "Big thanks!" didn't really want scratches all over my arms and legs... ouch!

We can see the little township from the water as we make our way around the reef edge!

One last pic before the camera died!

The view of the reef is amazing, the corals glow under water and the beautiful colorful fish dart in and out of the reef shelves. There are bigger varieties too...

WTF... OUCH... WTF...! Tiny little strands of Jellyfish hang in the water and yes thy sting! They are no larger than a strand of sewing cotton... but bloody hell they hurt! No wonder we are the only ones out here...!

On the face, arms, legs... well all over actually! It is really hard to enjoy the beauty of this underwater world below.

It gets too much and we head back to the Blue Hole, I try to stop enjoy the view but after more constant stinging it is time to get out.

We dry off and the pain lasts quite awhile, it is hard to relax, but I am glad to be in dry clothes once again!

It's back in the vans for the bumpy ride back to the hotel!

A hot shower feels good and the stinging has dissipated... thank god!

The view of the reef is amazing, the corals glow under water and the beautiful colorful fish dart in and out of the reef shelves. There are bigger varieties too...

WTF... OUCH... WTF...! Tiny little strands of Jellyfish hang in the water and yes thy sting! They are no larger than a strand of sewing cotton... but bloody hell they hurt! No wonder we are the only ones out here...!

On the face, arms, legs... well all over actually! It is really hard to enjoy the beauty of this underwater world below.

It gets too much and we head back to the Blue Hole, I try to stop enjoy the view but after more constant stinging it is time to get out.

We dry off and the pain lasts quite awhile, it is hard to relax, but I am glad to be in dry clothes once again!

It's back in the vans for the bumpy ride back to the hotel!

A hot shower feels good and the stinging has dissipated... thank god!

The wives and take a walk into town along the waterfront, we walk past the restaurants and explore further along, half built and abandoned resorts line the walkway, if they were finished this would look amazing. We reach the end and head back the main streets.

We meet up for a group dinner, Mohammad has arranged a table at the same restaurant we were at last night, by pure chance. but hey why mess with a good thing!

We have the same waiter as yesterday and if it is possible he is more comical tonight, he reminds me of an Egyptian Emmanuel from Faulty Towers. The restaurant owner comes over, Mohammad and he greet each other like old friends.

Again the table is filled with warm bread and dips, and because we returned they are on the house, that's so nice!

I change it up a bit tonight and order a seafood platter... but this time it has a whole crab! When the meals arrive it is huge! I will give it a go!

Don't look at me like that, I am still going to eat you!

OK... it beat me, i just couldn't finish it all, but I wasn't the only one and to our defense the portions are are mega huge!

We sit and enjoy the view. The night is so clear Saudi Arabia sparkles across the sea.

We walk back to the hotel, the shops and streets are bustling open late into the evening. this is such a fun little town!

No!.. I didn't buy anything!

We are a little quiet walking back, I guess it is because of the impending goodbyes to wife number 4 in Cairo.

It is a lovely night the sky is clear, the stars are twinkling and the air is warm.

Diana an sty up and chat for a while, I am going to miss this crazy fantastic girl!

Tomorrow we fly to Cairo!

Posted by TracingTheWorld 22:41 Archived in Egypt Comments (0)


Cairo, Egypt


October 19th 2019 Day 8

It is up early this morning and we take our bags to the lobby. Today we fly to Cairo.

The four wives of Mohammad have one last breakfast together as Diana finishes her trip in Cairo.

Our flight is at 8.45 so we don't have much time to eat.

The drive to Sharm El Sheikh airport is a bit of a drive thru the rocky desert. The landscape turns beige once more as we leave the sparkling Red Sea behind.

As we we drive thru the rocky hills, there are check points along the way and this according to Mohammad is normal in Egypt. Occasionally we pass half built or abandoned houses, how anyone or anything lives out here is a mystery.

Finally we reach the airport, it is modern and clean, but first we must clear a check point before we can enter to park the bus... OK!

Once we have our bags, we enter the terminal and they scan our luggage at the entry, then there is more security at check in!

But lucky for us things go smoothly as Mohammad has arranged everything, so all we do is show our passports, drop our bags, collect our boarding pass and head to security to be scanned again!

It is a small terminal and there is only one way to go, down the escalators to the gates, so easy, you cant get lost!

A quick coffee and it's departure time, I am surprised that I am allowed to take my coffee on board, with us that is a no, no!

Walking across the tarmac I go against all my airline safety training and take a photo of the plane (I ask passengers not to do this on a daily basis... SHHH don't tell!) there are no safety marshals here!

Egypt Air, now boarding...!

The flight is full, the staff are friendly and I have a nice window seat. A little gift bag is on the seat filled with travel goodies, if I am honest I am a little impressed wasn't expecting this on an hours flight.

Getting ready for take off!

We have a enough time for a snack and a coffee bags before landing!

As you get off the plane the heat on the tarmac hits you full force, like opening a large oven door.

The cool air conditioned terminal is a relief. The walk to the baggage collection is quite long, thru long corridors and lots of stairs. The terminal isn't as bright and modern as Sharm El Sheik, actually it is a little worn and dingy.

With bags in hand we head off the exit where our passports are checked once again, shesh how many times do they need to check our passport, it's only a domestic flight!

A mini bus is waiting for us at the door and as we leave the airport there is yet another security check point where our driver has to produce a passenger list and destination hotel before we are let out of the gate...!

The drive into the city starts of easily passing thru what seems to be the wealthier suburbs. High decorated fences with Egyptian scenes guard military compounds.

We along the edge of a sprawling Islamic cemetery, the tombs built to depict miniature mosques.

And there it is the Nile, glistening in the morning sun, boats and river cruise boats are moored on the banks.

Then we hit the city center entering the depths of Cairo, the roads are jam packed with traffic and people. No one cares about who is in what lane, giving way is non existent. They just turn and push into the traffic, no indicators just the blasting of horns! People just walking in amongst it all to cross the roads!

Every car has a dent or a scratch, apparently it is typical daily traffic.

Suddenly there is a loud bang at the back of the bus, someone has hit the back of the bus! Our driver stops in the middle of morning rush hour to inspect the goings on, he is pissed and has words with the driver and all the while the blasting of horns becomes louder and more insistent!

The streets are filthy piles of rubbish are everywhere!

The high rise apartments are jammed together like Lego blocks, covered in dust and grime. Washing hangs from windows and balconies, how they clean their clothes in this city is beyond me, they hang them out clean, but they must get dusty when they dry!

We stop in front of the University which is a beautiful colonial building with lovely gardens to pick up our guide for our trip out to Saqqara and Memphis.

The drive to the hotel seems to take forever, I just can't get over the rubbish, how can people live like this.

The government is trying outsource the trash collection and apparently there is a lot of back room dealing going on, and as Mohammad puts it there are fees involved which is code for bribes!

We pass the Cairo Zoo and my heart breaks, those poor animals locked away in this decrepit, filthy place! When I see a Zebra thru the fence so close to the noisy street, so skinny its ribs are showing its head down forlorn, I turn my head in shame, wishing there is something I can do about it! (there is the world organization for animal welfare, Oh and yes I did report what I saw)

After it feels like we have been going around in circles we finally arrive at the hotel, WOW it looks it's age, if you know what I mean!

When we get out of the bus we are greeted by at least 8 cats , so dirty and skinny. Two of which are the cutest little kittens, one has a big sore on it's nose the other has an eye infection. They crowd around our feet hungrily waiting for any morsel of food... oh my breaking heart.

The lobby is old world colonial all wood and worn furniture. We wait to be given a room and with key in hand we head up to our rooms, yikes that elevator is so old I don't know if I trust it or not!

The rooms are... hmm something positive to say... big! But very old and worn, the bathroom looks like it needs a good scrub!

So we dump our bags and it's back on the bus and we slowly navigate our way out of the city.

Donkeys, Horse and carts as well as Goats wander the streets in the grimy suburbs of outer Cairo, poor things! They look so sad all skin and bones, it is very depressing!

The country side traffic is a relief from the crazy, but if it is possible the rubbish is worse! The canals that come from the Nile are filled with it! At one point we see a truck pouring dirty waste directly into a canal... WTF! WE all gasp in horror as a few miles back we saw people fishing in the very same water! Why, would you? It turns my stomach to think of eating anything that comes out of that water, reminder to self do not order the fish! Ever!

Finally we arrive at Memphis, it was once the capitol of Lower Egypt.

Once we have our tickets we are greeted by a Sphinx, not as large as the one at Giza, but still impressive. Apart from some damage to one side of his head he is in fantastic condition you can see every detail! He looks so peaceful as if he is sleeping.

Meet... The Sphinx

The open courtyard is filled with broken pillars and stone artifacts and little shops line the edges, but the Sphinx is the center of attention.

The carving of this Sphinx was believed to take place between 1700 and 1400 BC, which was during the 18th Dynasty, the faces of Sphinx usually depict one of the Pharaohs but since there were now engravings found with this one it is unknown which Pharaoh he is.

Back in the day Memphis was one of the oldest and most important cities in ancient Egypt, located at the entrance to the Nile River Valley near the Giza plateau. It served as the capital of ancient Egypt and an important religious cult center. When the city was destroyed the Sphinx was one of the only remaining treasures to survive.

They are often regarded as protectors with the body of a Lion and Wings of an Eagle.

My new friend!

There is a little museum building which houses the Colossus of Ramses II.

The two story building is a little crowded and it is difficult to find a spot to get a good view.

It is filled with little treasures found at the site but it is Ramses that dominates the all the attention.

Colossus of Ramses II!

It is huge and he is still in fantastic condition. You can see every detail carved into the stone. It is quite amazing, arms by his side, standing with one foot forward, although that part is missing! Hieroglyphs decorate his wrists, belt, chest and shoulders, you can see every detailed line in his clothing, beard and headdress. He looks very regal and serene.

The details of the face are fantastic!

He is 3,200-years old and the view from the second floor you can understand why the call it colossus. It is made from granite and weighs 83 tons and is about 10m (33.8 ft) long, even though it has no feet. It was discovered in 1820 by Giovanni Battista Caviglia at the Great Temple of Ptah near Memphis, Egypt.

Wonder what that says!

After looking at some of the artifacts, I get a bit sick of being bumped and knock by people who have shopped at 'Tourists are Us' there is enough pace for everyone, patience people patience, I make my way outside.

Hey does anyone read Egyptian...!

Outside is quieter, hot but...! At the end of the open air museum is another statue of Ramses II not as colossal as the one inside, but this one has it's legs. The setting behind him is quite fitting, palm and date trees give him a a great backdrop. His features are a little weather worn but he still looks fantastic considering he is over 3000 years old!

To me he looks like he's smiling, and why wouldn't he be, he was after all a mighty ruler.

His name alone means something like "The Maat of Ra is powerful, Chosen of Ra". Often regarded as the greatest and most powerful pharaoh of the New Kingdom the most powerful period of ancient Egypt.

At age fourteen, he was appointed Prince Regent by his father, Seti I and it is believe he assumed the throne in

1279 BC until his death at the age of 90-91 years old and is buried in the Valley of the Kings!

Apparently he was he was quite popular, famous for building cities, temples and monuments but like most Kings he spent a lot of time at war. He led several military expeditions against the Syrians, Nubian and Levant (which today is Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Palestine!).

Ramses II... with both legs!

It's time to move on to our next stop, and as we are getting on the bus we get our first taste of Egyptian Entrepreneurship as all the store owners come out from the shade to try and convince us to purchase a little something!

So we evade them and jump on the bus... phew!

The drive takes us further out of Cairo and the canals don't get any cleaner! The landscape turns to farmland as we head to Saqqara.

Date Palms are everywhere, fully loaded with bunches of dates, some yellow others red, it is quite the view!

As we pull up the Saqqara security gate (yes, more security checks!) the green suddenly ends and the desert begins!

The view of the desert seems to go on forever and there is a hazy view of Cairo in the bright blue skyline, giving you a sense of just how large the city is.

After parking the bus it is a short walk to monuments and the first thing you see is a huge copper sand stone building, I wasn't expecting this it looks more like a brick box than an ancient Egyptian temple. Oh it's not a temple it's funerary complex that has galleries and tombs! Built by by the royal architect Imhotep in the second dynasty 2890 – c. 2686 BC... so very, very old!

Djoser's funerary complex!

The stone feels cool and smooth as you enter, on the left and right, there are reproductions in stone of a double doors, walking thru the doors a colonnade opens up and there are forty columns in this area and are thought to represent the provinces that would have existed during that time. It provided a place in which the daily rituals and offerings to the dead could be performed, and was the cult center for the king.

We head to the side and walk down an alleyway of pillars, on a rather wonky wooden walk way made from planks of wood.

Mind your step!

Suddenly a pyramid comes into full view, made of 6 large layers and 4 sides, this step pyramid was built in the 27th century BC during the Third Dynasty for the burial of Pharaoh Djoser. The architect Imhotep who was chancellor of the pharaoh and high priest of the god Ra, so he was quite the famous builder around these parts it would seem.

It was once the central feature of a vast complex in an enormous courtyard surrounded by ceremonial structures and decoration.

Pyramid of Djoser!

Looking out into the vastness of the desert there are 3 more pyramids, a smaller one stands in front of a larger in the distance, both a wonky and look like they are crumbling. The smaller one lots worse for wear, the larger one is bent at the top, not at a perfect angle and know one knows why, one theory is that it is a failed building attempt and it looks quite unusual next to the larger more angled pyramid to the right.

This is the oldest royal tomb in pyramid form built in the 4th Dynasty. The small crumbling pyramid was built in the 12th Dynasty and has been nicknamed the Black Pyramid.

It is hard to imagine standing here in the dust and sand what this place once looked like in it's glory days, but I am betting it was magnificent!

What else is hidden out there lost to time and the sand!

There is actually 5 of them out there!

There is time to wander around outside and our guide is quite insistent that we take a group photo in front of the step pyramid, which is taken by one of the locals. But with the rift that has been forming among the group isn't as easy as you think!

Intrepid Wanders, a Pyramid & a real live... Mummy!

The entrance to Mereuka Tomb is decorated with carvings around the the door frame, the are so fantastic, time has worn them down a little but you can still read them, if only you knew how.

Hmm is that him? Pharaoh Mereuka!
Khen-M-R-Oop, Umm think my dictionary is faulty!

We enter inside the tomb of Mereuka, and once your eyes adjust to the gloom we see our to first tomb on the trip. The grey stone is carved with effigies of the Pharaoh, they do like to depict themselves as larger than life.

There seems to be a lot of death and destruction, there is a Hippo fighting a Crocodile, under the Pharaohs foot is a Hippo eating a Croc.

Nile under water scene!
Go the Hippo!

But there are scenes of farmers working with their livestock or playing musical instruments on the river bank.

Taking care of the prized livestock!

The tomb is filled with twists and turns, and in fact it has about 26 rooms with 5 being dedicated to his wife.

Suddenly the a colorful statue of the Pharaoh himself appears and we get our first colored hieroglyphs, so bright with reds, blues , black and turquoise, what a sight! His facial features are worn and broken but he still has his hair...! It is actually quite comical in way!

The Pharaoh Mereuka!

In one chamber there are beautiful colorful scenes of everyday life fishing, farming, carpenters, hunting and goldsmith working and they are quite detailed.


There is so much to look at and so detailed!

Umm... A parade, dancing, not sure!

We enter another chamber and this one is also full of color, but here he has a lot of depictions of himself, and he is painting the seasons and playing a board game. This 6th Dynasty Pharaoh really was portrait well in his death!

Image of Pharaoh Mereuka!

We have some time to ourselves to look around, but it is not long enough, as there is so many details to take in!

But I will admit it is nice to have the time to take a better look!

Hmm... did the Ancient Egyptians put on underwear?!

As cool and refreshing as it is in here we have to make our way back.

But instead of heading straight for the bus the wives and I explore a little more. There is still excavating happening in the area, the workers have gone home so the place is quiet. I wonder what they will find in the future!

Excavation Work!

We take one last look at the amazing scenery before we head back to the bus. The local traders follow us as soon as we appear from the alleyway of columns. It is rather annoying actually as they won't take NO for an answer, but with the economy the way it is here, I guess you have to make a living somehow.

One last view from the excavation work, aren't the snakes fantastic!

The drive back is quiet, I think everyone is tired, it has been a long day.

As we make our way thru the suburbs of Cairo the joy of seeing the ancient wander soon begins to fade. Watching the everyday struggle in this bustling dirty city.

Goats are eating rubbish on the side of the road, Donkeys all skin and bone pull carts over loaded with goods that look too heavy for their skinny legs.

A women has set up a tale in the middle of what is a roundabout trying to sell small packets of tissues. All the while cars are honking their horns oblivious to her existence.

By the time we get to the hotel dusk is covering the city and we head up to our rooms to freshen up!

I meet the wives in the lobby and we weigh up our dining options and we decide to go to McDonald's. After what we have seen today it seems like the safest culinary option. Especially after seeing meat hanging on hooks in the open dirty streets, including under a motorway underpass. To be honest our appetites don't trust anything else but overly processed food!

Trying to cross the busy main street... whoa... it is like an extreme sport,drivers don't believe in indicators and most cars don't even have their lights on, let a lone care that pedestrians are trying to cross!

Luckily Hannie wife No:1 has google maps on her phone and Zoe wife No:2 is bolder than the rest of us and leads the way getting us safely to our destination!

We sit upstairs and I feel sad that this is

Diana's last night with us and the only place we can find is McDonald's! She has been a fantastic roomie even if she makes fun of my accent, the rest of the trip wont be the same without her!

The walk back is just as perilous as the walk to the restaurant but we make it back in one piece.

We chat for a while in Zoe and Hannahs room before we head off to bed.

As much as Diana and I try to stay awake and chat we can't... there's always breakfast!


At breakfast the four wives of Mohammad say goodbye, I really wish she was continuing on with us! We also say goodbye to the 2 young Canadian fellas who have given us a lot of laughs and bought a youthful balance to the group, their enthusiasm was infectious!

As we get on the bus I feel both excited and a little sad, today we are visiting the 2 places Mum really wanted to see and I really wish she was here with me.

We make our way to Giza on the outskirts of Cairo, passing the Islamic cemetery into what is the more wealthier parts of the city. The streets are cleaner wider and lined with trees. Suddenly top rate hotel begin to appear.

We drive up a steep hill and just as we reach the car park two perfect iconic peaks appear above the Palm trees in the morning sunshine!

Our first glimpse of those treasured wonders of the world the Giza Pyramids.

We walk up to the entrance and they come into full view!

The Iconic Pyramids of Giza!

There is security screening as we go thru the gates, and then the view opens up... there they are!

WOW... it is huge, so much bigger than you think! I am gobsmacked! I whisper to Mum I know she would have loved this!

It is blocking the view of the other two it is so huge! As you get closer you see how big each building block is.

When you stand at the base and look up you feel so small!

Walking in the shadow of these iconic monuments built by man is humbling!

We walk around to the right following the base,and the second largest one becomes visible. Not as large as the Giza pyramid but still fantastic.

It is quieter around the back away from the crowds and the street sellers and it gives you time to take it all in! All three!

Yeap, I am actually here, unbelievable!

The sun has risen above the smaller second pyramid, know as the Pyramid of Khafre was completed in 2570 BC, appears larger than the adjacent Khufu Pyramid because of its more elevated location, and the steeper angle of inclination of its construction, it is, in fact, smaller in both height and volume.

The Pyramid of Khafre!

Camel riders wander across the open ground which was once a courtyard filled with trees and water ways, the Giza Pyramid dominates everything. This huge great pyramid was built as tomb for the Pharaoh Khufu, built between 2580 – c. 2560 BC, there are 3 chambers inside that they know of one for him and another for his wife.

The Great Pyramid of Khufu!

We take our time, it's nice being away from the crowds and the overly insistent traders. You can just see the back of the Sphinx head across the sand.

Hey Zoe whose pyramid is that!

Up close you can see all the large blocks that were used in the construction.

It was built by quarrying an estimated 2.3 million large blocks weighing 6 million tonnes total. The majority of stones are not the same size or shape.

The outside layers were bound together by mortar. Primarily local limestone from the Giza Plateau was used. Other blocks were imported by boat down the Nile from Tura and Aswan weighing up to 80 tonnes each!

How perfect is his timing!

When you look out to the horizon the desert stretches on endlessly, but Camel riders seem to appear as if they have come out of the sand, there must be something out there somewhere!

You wouldn't want to get lost out there!

The further back you walk the better the views slowly all three begin to line up. The third is small in comparison to the ones dedicated to the Pharaoh Khufu and Khafre.

This humble little pyramid was the tomb of Pharaoh Menkaure who was Pharaoh in the 5th dynasty, building was completed in 2510 BC. Behind it is 3 smaller pyramids built for the queens... can' get a view of them from here though!

When you walk backwards from the Khufus great pyramid then...
Khafre's pyramid appears then...
Then the Pharaohs Menkaure's little pyramid comes into view!

Seeing all 3 and standing out in the desert is kinda surreal, as horses wander into view, it is hard to believe that we aren't far from the bustling city and on the other side of the great pyramid are hordes of tourists!

Feels like we have stepped back in time!

There is more out here than just pyramids, cemeteries and temples were all part of the vast complex.

Some have been rebuilt but there are still areas under excavation.

At firlst you think 'Oh look a temple' but....
....it turns out they are the public toilet!

We start to head back to the gate and take in one last view of the 3 pyramids and the desert view.

I can't believe my eyes when I see buses drive past, I mean... don't they know what damage they could cause, you would think they would protect better than this.

One last look at the amazing view!

As you make your way around the third side of the great, you get a view of Cairo in the valley below. The what should be blue skyline is grey with smog from the city. It isn't the prettiest of views as the buildings don't have anything architecturally interesting about them, they are just beige and brown bland high rises. The only spot of color is the red blankets on the wandering Camels.


We pass the eastern cemetery and as you follow the path Camels sit by the great pyramid in the sun, or being led around, their owners try to convince us to take a tour, yeap the peace and quiet is over!

Rest up buddy!

The pathway back is so close the outer wall of great pyramid that you can see how they stacked the stones. At first glance in places they look so haphazardly stacked but then you see how they were cut into blocks and placed exactly where they needed to be.

It was once covered smooth with white limestone casting, initially standing at 146.5 meters, now that must have been a sight to see. But over time the outer layer was removed, which lowered the pyramid's height to the present 138.5 meters.

It was built by quarrying an estimated 2.3 million large blocks weighing 6 million tonnes total.

The majority of stones are not the same in size or shape and are held together my mortar. Sadly today the blocks are worn and broken, crumbling away with time.

The outer wall is great place to relax!

The Pharaoh Khufur buried 5 Solar Boats in one of the 3 small pyramids and they unearthed on and put it in a small museum next to the pyramid. As we walk past the the museum I think about going in but to be honest I think I will give it a miss.

We make our way to the front and sit in the shade and watch the crowds.

The little museum!

The Traders are wandering around with scarves and trinkets and I think we got asked to buy something about 5 times within 10 minutes and they just wont take NO for an answer! An elderly women is selling water and she seems to be doing quite well.

Slowly the rest of the group have found their way back and Mohammad asks if anyone wants to go inside the pyramid to see the tunnels, it is a bit confining he says so if you don't like small spaces it is best not to go... so yeah... na... I will pass, thanks... small spaces not my thing, went caving once and lost my torch, freaked the hell out of me!

I am disgusted to see people actually climbing onto the large base stones to take photos, what a disgusting selfish act, don't they realize they are helping to destroy 1000s of years of history... idiots!

Once the group is back together we make our way back to the mini bus and drive to the back of the pyramids as Mohammad is treating us to a Camel ride. But I decline as... well... I have seen how some of them treat these adorable trusting creatures and it goes against conscience!

Some of the group goes and the rest of us stay behind and enjoy the view!

With the Camel ride over we get back on the mini bus, Mohammad wants to know who is going to Abu Simbel, and I wasn't really listening to the first part of the conversation, but "little Miss Bossy" from the ferry to Egypt has started an argument with those who feel it is a little expensive and to be honest at $100US I agree, poor Mohammad is in the middle of it all and when those who have decided to go make a snide comment about being able to afford 'unlike some'. Well lets just say it pisses a few of us off! And I can't stay silent anymore! How financial someone is, is not their business and they should keep there opinions to themselves. So, now there is definitely a rift in the group!

Lets just say I am glad the short drive to the Sphinx entrance is over!

You can just see the top of his head from the main gate. As you enter there is an open area filled with chairs, you can't quite see the whole Sphinx as it sits low in the ground.

Trying to get to wall that surrounds it is quite a mission as it is very crowded and lets say just people seem to have lost their manners! There is a lot of pushing and elbowing... what the hell!

Finally we get to the viewing wall, and there it is! Aaahh, thought it would be bigger! But WOW...! What a view...! With the pyramids behind it... just well... WOW!

The World Famous.. Ah you know who that is!

Finally we get a view of the 3 small pyramids, that were the Queens tombs, that were out of sight from the pyramid plateau!

So finally a complete view of the Giza Plateau!

He looks a bit... well aged, his body has worn with time, but hey, he is around 4,500 years old! He looks so proud, and he definitely has the body of a Lion, the huge front legs are shaped like paws, how amazing he must have looked in his glory days!

The body of a Lion!

Yes, he is missing his nose, there are many theories about how he lost it, one is Napoleon shot at it with a canon ball, another is that historians attributes the loss of the nose to Muhammad Sa'im al-Dahr, a Sufi Muslim from the Khanqah (a strict religious sect in the 15th century) found local peasants making offerings to the Sphinx in the hope of increasing their harvest and defaced the Sphinx to stop them from showing religious favors to any other god but his!

But his face is said to be a representation of the Pharaoh Khafre, who was in entombed in the great pyramid.

With the face of a man!

I walk around the viewing platform, but it is so crowded, one poor elderly couple are having difficulty making their way to the barrier, so I invite them to stand in front of me, they don't speak a word of English but the get the gist, ah... Italian and we get a fantastic view with the great pyramid peak and the Sphinx, and all I understand from their chatter is 'Grazie!'

Oh WOW the icons of Egypt!
At 4500 years old he still looks great!

I walk to the rear of the Sphinx but it is covered with scaffolding. So I make my way thru the thickening crowd to try and get a front on view of his face. I bump into Zoe and Hannie, and we push thru and up a set of stairs, like me they are a little fed up with the crowd, but it is kind worth it as the view is quite amazing!

Wow, how amazing is that view!

We head back out to the open seating area away from the crowds and enjoy the peace and the view! Slowly we spot the others making their way back to the mini bus. It is not until we spot Mohammad that we join the group.

I will admit the argument earlier has put a damper on the groups mood, and the 4 that started it sit at the back of the bus away form the rest of us, it's petty really, but hey if they want to exclude themselves, no loss on my part, I for one have had a great morning...!

I am in Cairo, and have just seen one of the ancient wonders of the world and the iconic Sphinx up close, with 2 fantastic new friends and the day is not over there is still more to come!

'It's just not the same without you Mum!'

There are a few stragglers, but soon we are heading back into the center of Cairo. Suddenly we turn off the main streets and down a side street, the bus so wont fit down there! But somehow our driver does, the streets are busy with pedestrians going about their daily lives in the tree shaded streets.

We have no idea where we are going, as Mohammad has a surprise for us!

We stop in front of a restaurant that is 3 stories high and takes up most of the corner block. Mo is treating us to lunch!

We make our way up the third floor and our tables a wait. As predicted the groups split and once settled a waiter quickly comes over and takes our drink order.

Soon they are placing condiments on the table... but hey we haven't ordered our food yet, don't we get a menu? Mohammad tells us we are all going to have a traditional Egyptian meal and we, in create it ourselves.

The condiments are our ingredients, chilies, roasted onions, lemon juice, chickpeas and jugs of a type tomato sauce... Oh OK!

So my curiosity is peaked, finally the waiters bring us steaming bowls of a type of pasta, and as the waiters explain how it is put together so we can flavor it to our individual tastes.

This is traditional Egyptian dish and this restaurant is famous for it!

So here we go, I hold of on the chilies, but OMG it is good! Filling, but good!


I am so full, but it's time to get back on the bus.

We make our way to the famous Cairo Museum, we park out side the main gate, the red brick and columns the old colonial building is quite impressive.

Once past the security check we sit under a tree in the lovely manicured front garden and wait for Mo to get our tickets. It doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the city, it is so clean and cared for!

Can't wait to investigate all those treasures!

We follow Mo up the large stone stairs thru the massive arched doors. Inside is cool and inviting. We are greeted by 4 giant statues of past Pharaohs.

Mo gathers us around and gives us a run down of the Museum, and yeah I wasn't really listening... I was distracted by... well everything!

Don't know who you are...
... or you...
...but these past rulers...
... are impressive!

Mo takes around the ground floor, this place is amazing, of the main hall are galleries for all the different Kingdoms and Dynasties, filled with unearthed treasures.

The first few galleries are dedicated to the Old Kingdom, they have discovered entire walls of hieroglyphics and the statues marble and beautifully carved.

We aren't allowed to use cameras but we can take photos on our phones. It is difficult to get good photos as I feel like we are being a bit rushed, but Mo assures us we will have time to ourselves later!

But the place is huge and I try to take in as much as possible because I don't know if I will get the chance to come back this way.

Protected by the wings of Horus!
Makes for interesting reading if you know what it says!

Some of the early statues look kinda child like. But there seems to be one theme that they all have in common, the Scarab which represents renewal and rebirth as well as the winged god Horus is prominent when they are buried. He is after all the god of kingship, and the eye of Horus is said to give protection to the Pharaohs on earth and in death would be united with the god as a god!

This Pharaoh has double protection for his journey to the afterlife!
All I can make out on this is Horus as an Eagle, a Scarab & what looks like lovers!

Slowly we make our way upstairs passing statues and engravings along the way. The Old Kingdom was an interesting time!

One catches my eye I think it is meant to be a more life like styling of the Sphinx. I can't help but laugh to myself it is a little comical and weird to look at, it is even winking!

Is this Sphinx winking!

We head up a large marble staircase and Mo takes us to the one of the most famous exhibits in the museum. King Tuts tomb! The famous boy king!

Apparently his tomb was one of the richest finds in history, and I for one am interested to see all his treasures.

The tomb layout!

In fact he was buried with so much treasure the museum has an entire hall dedicated to his discovery.

The first thing you see is are these 3 solid gold boxes, that were filled with treasure. They each are intricately carved with hieroglyphs that cover every inch. One is inlaid with blue lapis stone.

They must weigh a tonne.

Solid Gold!
No wonder they are behind glass!
Each filled with treasure!

We are enter into a separate room, that has museum security at the door and inside. The room that has his death mask and is decorated with semi-precious stones.

The security inside are to stop us from taking photos of the mask, which is magnificent, solid gold and inlaid with jewels. It is difficult to describe really! It is larger than I thought it would be, it is 54cm tall, weighs over 10 kilograms

An ancient spell from the Book of the Dead is inscribed in hieroglyphs on the mask's shoulders. The mask had to be restored in 2015 after its 2.5kg plaited beard fell off and was hastily glued back on by museum workers.

As much as I want to sneak a photo the security guards are hovering making it impossible (photo below is thanks to Wikipedia)

No, I didn't take this, too chicken to try!

After browsing thru all the displays finally a gap opens and I get to take a look at his solid gold sarcophagus, which is pretty spectacular. It was discovered inside a larger stone sarcophagus with 3 other coffins within each like a Russian doll, and here is one, the other 2 were also solid gold, and each carved on the inside as well as the outside.

That is a lot of work for one man, well teenager!

One of 3 coffins found in his sarcophagus!

Mo has left us to browse on our own, and OMG the boy king, was spoilt, they buried everything with him, golden shrines, jewelry, statues, a chariot, weapons, clothing, a boat, his throne, they really believed they would be taking it all with them into the afterlife.

Of course there is a statue of Anubis, he is after all the god of the underworld, he was the one who guided the dead souls thru the underworld so it makes sense he would have prominent place in the kings tomb.

The statue of Anubis found in King Tuts tomb!

The wives and I find ourselves in a hall filled with mummies under glass, rooms are filled with coffins, some very ornate and other not so much.

Some of the mummies are freaky, they look quite frightening, I guess they didn't think they would look all dreied and shriveled when they got to the underworld.

In some cases the bodies are quite well preserved in others... well not so much.

Anubis as well as being the god of the underworld he was also was associated with mummification.

In the Osiris myth, Anubis helped Isis to embalm Osiris, when the Osiris myth emerged, it was said that after Osiris had been killed by Set, Osiris's organs were given to Anubis as a gift. With this connection, Anubis became the patron god of embalmers, overseeing the rites of mummification.

But I swear if I see one of these mummies so much as twitch I am out of here, it is kind of creepy!

Yeah... your not creepy at all!
Your in pretty good condition for a dead guy!

From up here on the second floor you get a pretty good view of some the lower galleries.

There really is so much to see the place is like a maze, somehow I don't think an afternoon is going to be enough time to see it all!

View from above!

We ourselves in a hall filled with coffins, some very ornate and other not so much. The more ornate the richer you were.

The one thing they all have in common is they are engraved with the face of the deceased.

But the legend goes, that Anubis not only guided the souls of the living into the afterlife, he weighed you heart against the truth, the truth was represented by an Ostrich feather, Anubis dictated the fate of souls.

Souls heavier than a feather would be devoured by Ammit and once Ammit swallowed the heart, the soul was believed to become restless forever.

Souls lighter than a feather would ascend to a heavenly existence.

So really it didn't matter how rich you were or how fancy your coffin was, it was your acts in life that determined your fate.

This one was just a normal person like you and I!
Hmm... wonder if there is anyone inside!

As you walk around the mezzanine floor the coffins become more elaborate and decorative. You cant help but stop and study the fine details in the carvings and the colors are amazing, a lot of work went into these coffins.

Some of them are quite beautiful.

Look all those Scarabs, someone wants to be reborn!
So intricate and colorful!
Oh... OK I can make out Horus & Isis...!

As you walk around the mezzanine floor the coffins become more elaborate and decorative. You cant help but stop and study the fine details in the carvings and the colors are amazing, a lot of work went into these coffins.

Some of them are quite beautiful.

I head downstairs, the little galleries are dedicated to the New Kingdom this part of the museum is more modern and brighter.

In the main hall is a huge statue of a seated King Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye and between them is a small girl one of their daughters it is 7m high from Upper Egypt in 18th Dynasty.

It is so big I wonder how they got it in here!

A team of workers are attempting to move a large stone sarcophagus, it most weigh... well a lot!

They are relocating the entire museum to a new site opening in 2022, which is no easy task, looking at that statue of the couple... good luck to hem they have a lot of work ahead of them!

Family Portrait!

In front of them is a the top of a pyramid called a Pyramdion, this black marble peak was from the pyramid of Amenemhat III in Dashur, the inscriptions are beautiful, I love how delicate the hieroglyphs look!

Pyramid peak from the Amenenhat III pyramid!

I walk around to some of the smaller galleries, I find a room filled with this amazing statue of Horus, Seth and Ramses III.

Horus was the god of kingship and the sky with the face of a Falcon, Seth was the opposite he was the god of darkness, chaos, and confusion, in fact Horus defeated Seth in battle and it was thought that their battle was an eternal struggle between good and evil.

If Ramses III one of Egypt's greatest kings is the middle of these two did he struggle to do the right thing, I guess he was like the rest of us, human!

Horus, Ramses III and the evil Seth!

I make my way to the famous Rosetta Stone, the fragment of rock that was key to deciphering Egyptian text and hieroglyphs, was carved in 196 BC.

Written in the 3 languages spoken at the time. The upper text was Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, the script used for important or religious documents which was understood by only about 1% of ancient Egyptians. The middle portion was demotic, the common script of Egypt at the time used for writing records, letters etc. The lowest portion was ancient Greek, script of the Egyptian rulers of the time.

It was discovered in July 1799 by French officer Pierre-Francios Bouchard during the Napoleonic war campaign in Egypt.

It is so crowded I can only get a glimpse, so I explore another gallery, where I bump into Zoe and Hannie.

Ah there's my favorite Egyptian deity Anubis, he looks stronger more regal depicted here than he did in King Tuts tomb. Next to him is Horus they are both kneeling with a fist in the air. Who would these gods bow down to, Ra the sun god maybe, but... now they are my fav exhibit... I think they are awesome!


We browse a little long before we head out thru the gift shop... Noooo! I didn't buy anything, I am not a total shopaholic!

We make our way outside and the glare of the afternoon sun is harsh, we sit in the shade and have some cold drinks while we wait for the others.

Mo is the first to appear he is waiting patiently for us all. Soon we are back on the bus and heading back to the hotel.

My furry little friends are there to greet us.

We head off to buy snacks for the next part of the journey and before I head up and get my bags I feed my little friends the last of the cat biscuits. I really wish I could do more for them... yes I would take them home if I could!

Our bags are loaded onto the bus and we head to the train station.

Mo organizes our tickets and we drag our bags to the platform. There is a bit of a wait for the train so I grab a coffee, I know I wont sleep tonight so might as well.

Finally the train arrives and we are assigned our cabins, I have a new room mate she is new to the tour and doesn't say much at all. Which isn't going to much fun in such confined quarters... where on earth am I going to put my bag, it just manages to fit under the lower bunk!

I find Zoe and Hannie and a sit with them for a while until dinner and then head back to my cabin.

The train cabin... not first class then!

The food is... well I am just gonna say it awful, the rice and the chocolate cake were nice, that's about it! Luckily I bought snacks.

I head down to the toilets... Eeewww, really, that's not pleasant, but when you gotta go , you gotta go!

Ok so I think I will just go to bed, which isn't the most comfortable, but it will do, am I being picky, maybe, probably, guess I am just tired.

So with head phones in and a movie on my phone I try to get some sleep.....

Posted by TracingTheWorld 03:46 Archived in Egypt Comments (0)




OCTOBER 21ST 2019 DAY 10

Well as predicted, I didn't get much sleep, the constant tapping of the blind against the window kept me awake!

Breakfast is served and it is actually pretty good, pastries, who doesn't like pastries!

Farms pass by as I sit in the lounge car chilling!

The train arrives in Aswan mid morning and I am surprised how modern the station is!

We made it!

There is a bus waiting for us, but it would have been easier to walk to the hotel, as Aswan seems to be a system of one way streets and they are narrow.

The hotel seems quite nice, very fancy, the lobby is marble floors with old colonial styling. Once we have our room keys we head on up, I have yet another new roommate, as my train companion has paid the extra for the single supplement, but I know her Verta has been with since Jordan and is a really nice girl.

The room in no way lives up the expectations the reception set. It is small and it takes a call from the reception to get the air conditioning working.

We have the rest of the morning to relax and so I get some washing done, the little balcony with the view of well the next door hotel is perfect to dry the much needed clothes.

We all meet in the lobby and walk down to the river. We jump back in the bus for a short drive to the river entry for a boat ride to Philae Temple!

When arrive at the river entrance once again we are inundated with traders and their trinkets, but these guys are very persistent and do not take a polite no for an answer!

It is a relief when we have our tickets and go thru the gate.

Along the dock boats are moored and we hop on board our own little river vessel!

Off we go!

This is our first boat ride, excluding the nightmare ferry from Jordan.

What a nice way to start the afternoon! It is lovely to be out on the water, especially on such a hot day, it seems the further south we go the hotter it becomes.

On the Nile, at last!

As we get further out into the Nile we get a great view of the little Nubian village, with its lovely painted houses and traditional arched windows and stone architecture.

What a contrast the pretty little village and the sparking waters of t he Nile are when you see the dry, harsh desert that lays beyond.

The little Nubian Village!
Riverside views!

The temple comes into view, it sits on a little island in the middle of the Nile as it widens out.

The island of Agilkiat is actually in the reservoir of the Aswan Low Dam, downstream of the large Aswan Dam and Lake Nasser, this area was flooded when they built the Aswan Dam in 1902. When the building work of the Low Dam was completed in 1970, the temple complex was dismantled and move to the island by UNESCO to save it from being flooded.

Glad they saved it, we should never loose our history for modern life! While I understand that water is an important global resource, loosing beautiful historic sites is a tragedy!

First glimpse!

The boat takes us a long the side of the temple and we get our first view of the lotus pillars and large hieroglyphs on the towers.

WOW our first temple and this is said to be the burial site of the god Osiris, the god of fertility , agriculture, the afterlife, the dead, resurrection, life, and vegetation... jeez he was one busy god!

I can't wait to go inside!

They moved that brick by brick, impressive!

We come around a bend in the river and the front of the temple comes into view, it is impressive, it is bigger than you first think.

The boat is a queue to dock which is fine by me as it gives us a chance to study it from below, large carvings cover the upper walls and the pillars are so ornate!

WOW, those carvings!

Once we dock a wooden dock sways under foot, the temple looms above and we head up a set of stone stairs to the entrance.

A little info before we head in!

When you enter a large court yard opens up, lotus pillars line the sides, when you look up giant figures of Horus and Isis are carved on the outer wall.

Isis is Horus mother, she is one of the most important figures in the ancient world, she is the giver of life, a healer and protector of kings.

She he was associated with funeral rites and said to have made the first mummy from the dismembered parts of Osiris.

She was the enchantress who resurrected Osiris her husband, oh and brother and gave birth to Horus.

To the Egyptians she was known as “Mother of God”, to the Egyptians she represented the ideal wife and mother; loving, devoted, and caring.

Philae Temple is dedicated to her, but her cult like following spread throughout the Mediterranean world and, during the Roman period, extended as far as northern Europe. There was even a temple dedicated to her in London. She was a popular lady!

Isis & Horus!

After a brief stop in what is called the principal court are small temples, we enter what is the first hypo-style hall and light shines thru open ceiling and the side openings. It is surprisingly cool inside, a relief from the dry heat outside.

Every wall is covered with Hieroglyph, some still have a light touch of color, 8 large pillars dominate the center of the room, decorated to resemble the lotus flower, is a symbol of the sun, of creation and rebirth because at night the flower closes and sinks underwater, at dawn it rises and opens again.

Mo is showing us the little christian shrine, in the 4th century Christianity was making an appearance in Egypt and at first the 2 religions coexisted, but by mid 5th century worshiping of the Egyptian gods was considered pagan and outlawed, but somehow traditional worship at Philae appears to have survived despite the anti pagan persecutions by the Roman Empire.

But my attention is side tracked by a little grey stray kitten, so I sit at the base of one of the pillars with this skinny sweet thing and it climbs on to my lap, poor little thing just wants a bit of affection, I really wish I had something for it to eat.

Lotus Pillars!

Mo leaves us to explore, so I make my way into the small temple rooms, there are 4 entrances that lead you thru to inner sanctum. Every inch of the walls and ceilings are decorated, but the one thing that stands out as you enter is the Winged Isis above the door.

Entrance to the inner temple!

Entering the first antechamber, it is hard to know where to look, scenes of the Egyptian gods and hieroglyphs surround you, the most prominent are Isis, Osiris and Horus. Telling their life story, the story of the Pharaoh Nekhtnebef in the 13th and last native dynasty.

It truly is spectacular!

Amazing, they survived being under water!
Winged Isis!

Slowly I make my way around the little antechambers, there is just so much detail, you can't take it all in. The Second antechamber, the walls are row after row of hieroglyphics and cartouche (encircled hieroglyphs representing names).

The time it must have taken to do these intricate little details, you can't help but admire the patient and skill it took to do, and not just on the walls!

The next antechamber is just as spectacular, the images are stunning, you could spend days in each room alone just reading about the life of the gods.

What a story these walls must tell!
Bringing offerings!

You really get an understanding of how strongly they revered and worship their deities, in the care they took to create such fantastically beautiful places like Philae as a place of worship..

Not sure whose cartouche that is!
I think that is Horus in his Falcon form!

Once it has become less crowded I finally go into the Sanctuary House.

The images here are different, large detailed and life like, they even have... well lets just say it body fat!

Hathors image is dominate feature , the mother goddess, she was the daughter of Ra and the wife of Horus,

The goddess of women, love, beauty, pleasure, and music.

But she had a bit of a dark side, it was believed that Ra sent her to punish the human race for its wickedness, but Hathor wreaked such bloody havoc on earth that Ra was horrified and determined to bring her back.

He tricked her by preparing vast quantities of beer mixed with mandrake and the blood of the slain.

Murdering mankind was thirsty work, and when Hathor drank the beer she became so intoxicated that she could not continue the slaughter.

Goddess Hathor!

There are other gods & goddess on the walls, Anubis, Horus, Osiris, but the one that stands out has the face of a Lion, she is striking, Tefnut, the goddess of moisture, dew and rain... oh OK!

She is another of Ra's daughters and married her twin brother Shu the god of peace, lions, air, and wind.

Ummm there seems to be a lot of inter family marriage among the Egyptian gods... a bit creepy but!

Goddess Tefnut!

I head outside and head out thru the courtyard, I walk under the eaves, every pillar is ornately decorated decorated with musicians and even little monkeys.

This being Hathors temple it makes sense that there are scenes of joy and well partying as she was the goddess of pleasure and music.

Pillars in the Temple of Hathor!

Walking around the outside you get great views of the engravings on the upper towers, they are scenes of a pharaoh and wearing the Double Crown of Upper and Lower Egypt he is smiting his enemies in front of Isis and Nephthys, Horus and Hathor.

Egyptian deities are engraved in rows along the upper walls, they seem to be seated, I can make out Horus in his Falcon form but that's about it.

I really gotta learn more about who these gods are, need to get a book!

Outer Walls!

I head over to the Kiosk of Trajan, with its floral pillars, 14 of them! I wonder why it's called a kiosk?

The emperor Trajan (AD 98-117) is depicted burning incense in front of Osiris and Isis and offering wine to Isis and Horus.

Isis was worshiped by Egyptians and the Nubian people.

Amazing tales were told of her magical powers. It was believed that her knowledge of secret formulae had brought life back to her husband Osiris and that her spells had saved her son Horus from the bite of a poisonous snake.

She was the protector of all, countless visitors came to the island, where the priests in white robes would make their way into the temple of Isis with incense and burnt offerings. The statue of the goddess would be ceremoniously washed, clothed and adorned. Service after service, ritual after ritual, with humility, chanting and prayer, she would be suitably appealed to and adored until such time as she was undressed, washed again, de-robed and replaced in the sanctuary until the following morning.

If these visitors were lucky they could view the image of the goddess during the spring and autumn festivals in her honor. This was when the death and resurrection of Osiris was enacted... It was Isis who found the body of her husband that had been locked in a chest and thrown into the Nile by his wicked brother Set. She made Osiris body whole again thru spells and prayer to the Sun God Ra.

It was believed that her single tear, shed for Osiris, caused the annual flood, which brought life to the land.

Kiosk of Trajan!

Inside the pillars are even more ornate, and every wall is has been decorated with scenes of worship to Isis. It sits on the river edge with a great view of the temple.

14 lotus pillars!
Very decorative on the inside too!

I find this block with funny looking fat guy on it. He looks like mischief... big ears and a curly long beard.

He is the god Bes a dwarf like figure, he represents good times and entertainment, but was also considered a
guardian god of childbirth. Bes chased away demons of the night and guarded people from dangerous animals.

He looks like fun, I like him!

The god of entertainment Bes!

I take walk around the outside taking in the views of the giant carvings on the towers, and just enjoying have some time to myself.

Glad they rescued this temple it is amazing!

It is so hot outside that I head back into the main temple and explore a little more.

There are little side halls that over look the river, like large windows. It is nice to spend a little more time inside now that most of the crowds have gone.

I just can't get over how fantastic the artistry is in the writings!

Don't fall in... actually a swim would be nice about now!

I bump into the wives Zoe and Hannie and we head to the gift shop, there isn't much to see except for cats of all colors lazing in the shade or wandering thru. so we find a seat under a tree at the cafe and have a cold drink with a lovely view of the Nile.

Mo finally rounds everyone up and we hope into our boat and watch Philae temple disappear out of view!

Philae Temple, a fantastic place to visit!

When we arrive back at the dock. We say goodbye to the cool river water and we are once again inundated by the street vendors, once on land and it gets a little too much so we seek sanctuary in the bus.

But that sanctuary is soon broken when yet another argument breaks out about tomorrows activities, why do they care so much that we don't want to spend so much to visit the temple it's no one else's business but our own and when the wives tell them just that the usual pair get offended (yeap it's miss bossy from the ferry terminal, she now has an ally!), if you don't want to argue don't start one! I feel sorry for Mohammad being stuck in the middle of it all!

For those of us not going to Abu Simbel Mo asks what we would like to do for the day and suggests a visit to a Nubian village, it sounds like fun a day out with the girls.

The mid afternoon heat is too much so I have a little rest before meeting up with the girls to explore the city.

We head out down the market street, I love the perfect little pyramids of spices in a myriad of colors. The big baskets of dried Hibiscus smell lovely and sweet.

The further own we go the constant pesky "you buy" "come into my shop" "I give you good deal" puts a damper on our shopping mood, pity as the street is quite pretty with lanterns and colorful banners hanging over head, it would have been nice just to wander about and take photos.

Hmm... they do smell delicious!
Go nuts!
Hibiscus Tea!
The corner market!
Dates, dates... oh and more dates!

We meet up with the group at a local cafe, and sit outside, we are trying to figure out what to have for dinner, when Hannie spots a pizza place across the road, so we brave the busy road and get something to eat.

We take it back to the cafe and watch the craziness of the traffic.

I chat to Mo and feel I have to apologize for what happened on the bus, he seems a little embarrassed by it all.

We are last ones to leave as the others have to be up at 1.30 am (it's bad enough I have to get up at unholy hours of the morning for work, I ain't doing it on my holidays!)

We get to sleep in, with Mohammad's help we have made other plans!

OCTOBER 22ND 2019 DAY 11

I heard my roomie leave and went straight back to sleep... Aaahhh a sleep in!

I head down for breakfast, it is OK, eggs, fresh fruit, and eggs... of course coffee! The girls arrive and I admit it's nice being just us! No drama, a hassle free day!

Mohammad has arranged for us to sail on a Felucca to a Nubian village up river. Yesterday he introduced to one of the deck hands and we got all the info we needed for this morning.

We walk down to the water front it is teaming with boats, our Felucca is the one decorated with colorful flowers and is easy to spot among the crowd of boats.

Our Nile oasis for the day!

We are greeted by JJ our captain, or as he is known in Aswan the 'Rastafarian Captain' apparently he used to have dreadlocks!

He is a friendly smiling man in traditional white robes, and easily likeable.

We sit back relax and enjoy the river breeze. As we slowly sail up the Nile JJ tells is about Nubian life and how different it is from the Egyptians. The Nubian's originated central north Africa, near Sudan. At first life was difficult in Egypt but over the course of history they embraced education and business to become an important part of Egyptian life and culture.

JJ, the best Felucca captain in Egypt!

It is so lovely out here, a cool breeze, sunshine and passing boats.

The views are fantastic, the noisy bustling city of Aswan seems so calm and quiet from the middle of the Nile... reality check... I am sailing on the Nile!... Where for thousands of years, explorers, Pharaohs and Cleopatra herself once sailed, that is awesome!

On the Nile, what a way to spend the day!

As we leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind.

The modern mixes with the old factories, water towers and house line the river bank, we pass by the Mosque and a christian church with large curved arches and dome roof.

Sail boats pass us by silently gliding thru the waters.

I wonder if Cleopatra's boat looked a little something like that!
Take away the high rises and this could quite the view!

As we sail up the middle of the river and JJ points out our Felucca boat for our overnight sail to Luxor.

The Felucca looks amazing, we will be sleeping on the covered deck, wow it is going to be great, can't wait!

Our Felucca for 2 days!

We stop so JJ can chat with the crew. The Felucca looks fantastic, the covered deck has been decorated with cushions and completely covered with soft mats, there will be plenty of space for us to stretch out.

We have the option to sit up on the roof deck to watch Egypt pass us by.

WOW, We are spending the night on this!

As we sail to the west bank of the Nile we pass colorful little villages with shops right on the edge of the river.

They are so quaint surrounded by Date and Palm trees.

Cute little riverside cafes!
Village life on the Nile!

Continuing up river JJ begins to sail closer to the shore. and as we get closer to rocky bank he points out hieroglyphs carved into the surface of the smooth boulders.

They did this to mark the water levels, and to indicate where the water systems were built to water the farm land with the rising of Niles water level, oh they were a clever bunch!

Hey buddy is that you inscribed up there!
Survived for hundreds of years...
... thru floods and they are still here!

We sail past an old colonial brick hotel, this is where Agatha Christie used to stay with her husband.

The Old Cataract Hotel is where she wrote 'Murder on the Nile', and they still have the suite where she stayed and wrote.

Built in 1899 it still has that old world charm and I bet it isn't cheap to stay there either!

The Old Cataract Hotel!

The Nile splits in 2 as we sail past Elephantine Island with its ruins of the Nilometer. It was originally built to measure the Nile’s water levels and clarity during the annual flood season.

There was once the temples of Temple of Thutmose III and Amenhotep III on the island but sadly these were destroyed by Muhammad Ali when he took control over Egypt and enforced the Muslim religion throughout the country.

Elephantine Island & the Nilometer!

Slowly the trees disappear and the desert takes over. Ruins of an ancient temple lay on the riverbank. I wonder what they are. But I content to chill in the boat instead of walking out in the hot sun for one day. There will be plenty more temples and tombs to visit on this trip!

Temples appear lost to time!

The flow of the river is calm and relaxing. JJ navigates the Felucca thru large rocks and papyrus islands. Hotels and small villages dot the rivers edge, the dry desert sand looms like a large rolling hills behind, harsh and unforgiving.

It's so nice out here...!

We sail thru what is a cataract the water swirls around the little stone islands and a small domed building sits high on a desert hill. It looks a little lonely up there. JJ points out that it is the Mausoleum of Mohammed Shah Aga Khan.

He was the spiritual leader of the Islamic, Ismailis Sect in India, he was hugely influential in the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan.

He was one of the richest man in the world, and when he injured his leg he was advise to visit Egypt as it would help in his recovery, he loved the country so much that he spent his winters in Aswan for his health and wanted to be buried here after his death.

So there is his last burial place. He does have a great view!

Looking down at the beautiful Nile the Mausoleum of Mohammed Shah Aga Khan!

More of Egypt's crumbling history passes by as we wind thru the cataract, I try to figure it out what they are with the Nile map Mo gave us but they aren't listed.

So I just sit back and enjoy the scenery.

Weirdly domed brick houses line the river bank, JJ says the Nubian as the domes are a traditional way of building, helping to keep the inside cool... I really hope we are not bombarding him with too many questions, but he hasn't stopped smiling so that's a good sign!

Temples, temples everywhere!
Nubian... um houses?!

The river cataract begins to flow faster as the rocky islands become more in number. Palm trees and papyrus beds line the riverbank and smother the little islands. The golden sands of the western desert glow in stark contrast behind the lush green plantation, it really is quite idyllic and relaxing, is this how the Pharaohs felt as they sailed along the Nile surveying their kingdom.

We pass another Felucca this one full of tourists, and I really appreciate having JJ and his pretty Felucca to ourselves.

What a way to spend the day!
A landscape of contrasts!

After navigating our way out of the cataract we follow the west bank. Farmers are grazing their cows at the waters edge, grey Storks wander thru the marshes. There is even a Pied Kingfisher patiently staring at the river surface awaiting his next meal, it's good to see some wildlife.

The ancient Egyptians once inscribed Crocodiles or Hippos in their hieroglyphs but they haven't been seen in the Nile for a long time, which is a shame!

The local live stock!
Grey Heron!
Black Hooded Heron!
Wallowing solo!
Pied Kingfisher on the hunt!

As Nubian houses and riverside cafes begin to appear, with their decorative architecture and colors.

Wish we had time to stop and have a riverside coffee!

Riverside cafes, adding color to the landscape!

In places the desert has over taken and made it;s way to the Nile. But nature has it's way of surviving and the river bank is lined with lush green trees. The contrast between the 2 natural extremes is quite beautiful.

The Nile really does breathe life into the sands, and it is no wonder the Egyptians honored and respected it so much, they even had Gods dedicated to it.

Sobek! a crocodile god. He was a god of the Nile who brought fertility to the land, known as the “Lord of the Waters”

He was thought to have risen from the primeval waters of Nun to create the world and made the Nile from his sweat. One creation myth stated that Sobek laid eggs on the bank of the waters of Nun, thus creating the world.

There is also Hapi was the god of the annual flooding of the Nile which to the Egyptians was important as the floods deposited rich silt (fertile soil) on the river's banks, allowing the Egyptians to grow crops, he is typically depicted with a big belly and large drooping breasts, wearing a loincloth and ceremonial false beard.

There was also Khnum, depicted as a ram-headed man. He was a god of the cataracts, a potter, a creator god who guarded the source of the Nile. His sanctuary was said to be on Elephantine Island!

The colors of the Nile!

We sail past a village that has been built high up on the desert hills. The work it must have taken to build up there!

The views from your house must be spectacular, although you wouldn't want to walk to work!

Great views, but...!

We pass a stretch of beach, where the sands have taken over, the odd palm tree offers some shade, little colored boats lay upturned on the riverbank, I guess it is too hot for fishing in the middle of the day, I wander if there is much to catch in this great river, we are up stream from Cairo, so I am guessing the water is cleaner here...!

Fisherman's day off!

Further along we pass what I like to call the local rest stop!

Camels laze or wander along the river bank, there isn't much shade here but they don't seem mind. Their owners are nowhere to be seen.

Camel Rest Stop!

We sail around a bend in the river and the colorful Nubian Village comes into view. Unlike their Egyptian neighbors they really love bold decorations... the closer we get the more details you can see.

The buildings look fantastic each one has it's own individual colors and patterns.

I can't wait to explore!

Oh WOW those colors...
.... are so delightful!

The village is spread along the river, and they have built their homes right on the rocky bank.

The closer we get the more details you can see, the patterns and designs are so fantastic, they love to decorate their houses the colors are simple yet delightful , they have drawn shapes from their culture on the walls and arches of their houses, like boats, camels, stars and palms.

How petty is that!
And Camels just to make more authentic!

Where is everybody! The village seems empty from our view from the Felucca. The open air balconies that sit on the waters edge are empty.

JJ gives us a bit of a lesson in their traditional way of building, explaining that they build according to Nubian architecture from mud bricks which are a mixture of clay, water, hay, and sand. All of these materials are natural which make less prone to house diseases, are inexpensive, and the clay texture of the bricks is also less affected by heat.

Over each house, you will find a dome-shaped ceiling designed to distribute the sun’s heat equally throughout the inside of the house... we could do with more houses like this in Queensland save on the air conditioning bill!

Even the boats are colorful!
Imagine sitting out there in the evenings cold drink in hand!

We dock in front of a home that has been painted in every color of the rainbow. Shells and stones form the decorations on the wall, Palm trees, birds, stars and a crocodile over the door... hmm... OK!

As we climb the stairs up into the village center, you realize that every inch of the home has been decorated and painted, this home owner has taken such pride and care with every little detail.

JJ says each house is an extension of the families personality and creativeness... I love it!

Quirky... but so fabulous!

JJ invites us to take a look at the homes back door and roof top balcony, and it is just as colorful and decorative as the front. So much love and attention has been put into this home it is difficult not be impressed by all the details.

And this is just the first house...

Can we stay here... it's better than the hotel!

When you get to the top of the stairs the village opens up, there is a burst of color! Every home, shop, fence is painted and decorated. It is so pretty!

One home owner greets JJ and he proudly shows of his house, he is has a big smile as he encourages us to take photos.

The people are as colorful as their buildings, so friendly and welcoming!

Proudly showing us his home!

We thank our smiling friend and make our way into the village.

It is so clean, not only are they proud of their homes but the village too. There isn't a scrap of rubbish to be seen and the sandy street is swept clean to perfection.

Your eyes are pulled in every direction as each building is so unique, you can't help but stop and admire each one.

Some are grander, some are larger, but even the humble smaller homes are decorated with such individual flare... I am so glad we decided to do this, the others don't know what they are missing.

Large and....
... small they are all beautiful!

From out of nowhere a group of elderly ladies in black traditional robes, seem to surround us. They are carrying baskets filled with trinkets, at first I will admit I was a little overwhelmed, but their cackles of laughter and big smiles are endearing.

They are selling handmade traditional Nubian dolls, and... well I can't resist!

So I pick the smallest and most senior of the ladies and purchase one from her. She is so sweet, she takes my hand and gives it big squeeze, smiling and nodding she says what I guess is thank you in Nubian. She doesn't have any change and insists she will find it, JJ is translating as quickly as he can, she is chatting a mile a minute! When I try to tell her 'no, its OK you keep' she adds a key ring with a small version of the doll. JJ says she insists I take it as a gift for I have made her happy. When I accept her little frail arms suddenly surround me in a hug.

She has big toothless grin and the cheeky sparkle in her eye, and she is delighted when I ask if I can take her photo and with another enthusiastic handshake tells me "I am Fatima, you are my new friend" I can't help it I love this women!

The wonderful Fatima!

The ladies disperse and we wander further into the village, we find another group of ladies sitting on the docks with their feet in the water, chatting vividly among themselves, and they stop just long enough to look at us and then continue with what JJ calls their gossip session.

I can understand why they choose to sit at this spot, they have a fantastic view of the Nile and the east bank!

The East Bank!

The village market opens up and it is so quaint. and vibrant, just like the rest of the village.

But unlike their Egyptian neighbors they don't rush out to encourage us to buy their products, instead we have the time to actually browse.

The Local Market!

At the top of the street is a handsomely dressed Camel, he looks so adorable in his hand woven multi colored head piece and fancy saddle.

Rambo, his name is stitched on his saddle blanket, looks so chilled lounging in the sun. Do all Camels look like they are smiling, Rambo certainly does!

Well, don't you look handsome!

Upon our approach Rambo simply looks at us and closes his eyes again. He is such a placid fellow, not at all living up to his name.

I love this guy he is awesome, he is such a happy dude!

He is happy to have a wee chin scratch, and with a look of total contentment we leave him to his nap.

A very chillaxed Rambo!

On the corner is the local spice shop. The sweet smell in the air is divine! The owner has taken such pride with his produce.

There is such an amazing variety of colors, but when I ask about the bright blue it is actually a dye which they use in paint so is the yellow as are most of the perfect little peaks of powder.

I really wish I could take some home, but the Australians border restrictions wont allow it, it could be fun cooking with some of these ingredients.

How amazing is that display!

A little further up to the top of the street we are invited into one of the homes. It is just as vibrant and decorative as the outside.

JJ shows us the live Crocodile that is kept underground... What?... Why?... I can certainly think of less dangerous pets!

It isn't huge, but still!

He explains that living and Crocodile’s body are highly admired in Nubian houses. The affection the Nubian people have for the Crocodile stems from the ancient Egyptian belief that the existence of a Crocodile will protect them & their household, the Nile crocodile was worshiped in the time of the pharaohs as evil, envy and war god named Sobek, and that’s why to them a mummified Crocodile will prevent evil from entering the household they and adopted it as a tradition. So that is why every house has a mummified Crocodile above the door... that explains why we have seen them everywhere!

We are invited to sit by a smiling shy women, then she disappears. Their living quarters are upstairs.

Every wall has a hand painted scene depicting traditional Nubian life, the guest area where we sitting is open and cool, a welcome relief from the outside heat!

Wish I could paint like that!

We chat away for a while and our shy hostess comes back with a tray of cold drinks... oh yum Hibiscus tea!

JJ tries to answer all of our questions, but it is hard not be distracted by the interior, the dome ceiling is fantastic, every carefully placed brick has been painted and the effect is really beautiful, they really are very artistic!

That's fantastic!

He tells us about family life he is very proud of his children and their education. I ask him about the native language I heard the group of women speaking, it sounded different to the traditional languages we heard in Jordan and the Egyptian cities. It is their own distinct Nubian Language, which is unique to their culture, language is that they do not learn to teach Nubian to outsiders.

Suddenly a dog appears from upstairs, the effort of making his way down colorfully painted staircase must have been a little too much as he flops down, rolls over and falls asleep not evening giving us a thought. Some guard dog! JJ assures us he does his job well at night.

It's a hard life!

One thing I have noticed is, that unlike across the river the village is quiet, people aren't speaking with loud voices, no traffic noise... which is common for their way of life.

When you look out of the large open arch window the only thing you hear are the birds, it is so serene and peaceful, I can understand why JJ is so proud of heritage and traditions.

The village from above!

It is time to say goodbye to our quiet hostess and her little house hold, admittedly these are the most well feed and loved pets I have seen in Egypt, their cat has totally ignored us the entire time. It is good to see that their are people in this country that show love to animals...!

She doesn't say much, just a thank you with a smile and a nod of her head.

The most loved cat I have seen in Egypt!

We head back down into the village, but I just have to stop and say 'Hi' to Rambo who is still chilling out in the late morning sun.

I love this guy, he's awesome!

I swear this guy is the happiest Camel ever. After yet another chin scratch we leave him to his mid morning nap!

Rambo thinks I'm funny!

We walk thru the village, the ladies are still there chatting away.

There is amazing artwork painted on the walls and fences adding interest to every part of this beautiful little village.

The people are content you can see it on their faces. They greet each other as they pass, everyone knows everyone it is a tight knit community.

Amazing artwork everywhere!

We head back to the Felucca and sail along the village water front. The ladies sitting on the river bank wave as we sail by.

Our stop is a cafe right on the river, the desert sands loom behind this colorful rest stop.

JJ tells us we will have lunch here, the food, he promises is very delicious, as it is owned by his cousin and his wife is a very good cook... well he hasn't been wrong yet!

Our next stop, lunch!

JJ has to help us disembark as there is no dock just a set of concrete stairs, and I am not the most graceful or coordinated person, and I really don't fancy getting wet.

At the top an artist is working on a mural, according to JJ he is very famous in Nubian society for his artwork and travels all over the world to paint. He has done most of the artwork we saw in the village.

I wish we could see the final results of his work but somehow I don't think we will be here long enough, and sitting under a tree having a smoke, he doesn't seem to in hurry!

It isn't finished yet!

We have the cafe to ourselves and we grab a table over looking the river. It is a lovely spot, the trees and bougainvillea provide shade from the midday heat.

It is nice to have the place to ourselves, the peace and quiet of the day has been a welcome change from the hustle and bustle of the city crowds.

A lovely spot to take a break!

Once lunch is ordered we sit, chat and enjoy the Nile views.

I ask JJ about Nubian history and culture, they were known by another name Kush, and they originated from the kingdom of Nubia, located along the Nile in southern Egypt and northern Sudan, a kingdom famously known for its rich deposits of gold.

They speak their own language and still wear the traditional robes, they were once famous warriors, well known for their archery skills, but today they are are well known for their cheerful songs and dances. I ask hm to give us an example and he shakes his head and laughs, "No me I cannot sing, my wife she can sing, very beautiful"

Lunch views!

After lunch JJ asks us if we want to go for a swim, well we are shocked and we must have pulled faces and when he asks 'why not, what's wrong?' We tell him about the state of river in Cairo, the rubbish and the dirty waste pouring into the water. He laughs at us... "Oh that is Cairo, you are up river where the water is clean, it is safe to swim here!"

At first we are dubious, but with promises of 'you will be fine' we look at each other and say why not!

At first the water is a little cool and JJ was right is clean, the odd leaf and that's it. Once you get in and get used to it the temperature isn't at all bad, actually refreshing.

So we sit in the shallows and watch boats pass by, some of the local stare at us in either amazement or confusion, it's hard to know which.

A tour group of school girls sail by and the sight of western women bathing sends them into fits of giggles and whispered confusion. We just smile, and pretend they aren't staring!

It turns out the group of school girls are sharing our lunch spot and by the time they dock we are sitting back on land... yes in proper clothes. But somehow we still cause a stir, I am pretty sure it is Hannie and Zoe's blond hair that they find intriguing!

They are excited by our presence as they have not met western women before and fire questions at us "Where are you from?"... etc.

After a while they find the nerve to speak to us and insist on having a group photo with us. They are such vibrant lovely girls, typical teenagers all giggles and chatter!

Making friends!

Sadly it is time to head back to Aswan, as the West Bank passes by we sit on the roof deck watching the landscape glide by.

There are these strange dome like structures clustered together. I have no idea what they are but, they are interesting, by there style I would guess they as Nubian...

Interesting Structures!

We are sailing close to the river bank and we get a closer view of the Mohammed Shah Aga Khan, the small details of the dome and the walls, there are crumbling stairs from the river bank, it is larger than I first though.

No wonder his wife used it as a summer home, it does however need a little care and attention.

A closer look!

It is so peaceful up here in the sun, the views of sailing Feluccas, ancient ruins, Palm Trees and stone complexes provide an idyllic backdrop for the sail back. Truth be told we don't want to go back to the city, we could stay out here for the rest of day... wonder if JJ can convinced!

Idyllic Nile Views!

Slowly the Monastery of St. Simeon comes into view as we sail around a river bend.

The desert sands have taken over most of the ruins, we can only see some of the outer walls from our position on the river.

Founded in the 7th century and finally abandoned in the 13th century due to water shortages, it's one of the largest and best preserved Coptic monasteries in Egypt.

A glimpse of the Monastery of St Simeon!

Following the cure of the river we pass more small villages, houses painted in bright colors, nestled among the trees. But these are different to the Nubian style of the village we visited... Egyptian?

They aren't as striking but still prettier than the beige brick homes of their East Bank neighbors.

A village in progress!

Slowly we sail away from West Bank, the middle of the Nile begins to fill with boats.

Back in the shade of the lower deck we beg JJ to stay out on the river as long as possible, he laughs and says nothing.

But we are serious!

The view of the Tomb of Nobles, built into a stony desert hill, they are the Tombs of the Nobles, the final resting place of the officials who ran Aswan and controlled the lucrative trade with Nubia and Sudan.

Above it is a small dome building, 'Dome of the Wind' it is the tomb of an Islamic sheikh who built it above the Egyptian tombs.

Tombs of the Nobles!

After a while we get a better view of the tombs, they , built into a stony desert hill. Long stair cases from the river bank to tomb entrances have been cut into the hillside. That is quite the climb!

That is some set of stairs!

As we glide among the other sail boats the dock slowly gets closer, we try once again to convince JJ to stay out a little long at least until sunset.

But no matter how much we try we can't change his mind, he has to over see the arrangements for our sail tomorrow. While we understand, we are disappointed the tour is ending.

We reach the crowded dock, and how JJ maneuvers the the Felucca thru the chaos is beyond me.

It has been a great day and we can't thank him enough. He helps us clamber off the boat thru the crowds.

We really don't want to go back to the hotel so we take a walk along the river front.

We find a McDonalds (yeap I know!) it has a great view of the river so we find a table and relax with milkshakes and just watch the scenery sail by.

Relaxing with a cold drink!

We watch a group of boys jumping off the dock, typical of boisterous teenagers.

Trust me to make a new furry friend, this little grey cat has made my lap it's refuge for a while. Zoe and Hannie think I am nuts, but I can't deny this little creature a little affection that is obviously craves.

As the dusk draws near more and more Feluccas are out for a sail their colorful sails flap in the slight breeze. It is a lovely sight, now wonder Agatha Christie found inspiration here in Aswan.

Take us with you!

Our perfect position on the river bank has given us a great view of the Tombs of the Nobles and as the sun begins to set the hill side lights up. Giving the sand an orange glow. The little dome stands above it all like a sentinel standing guard, whoever is buried there chose a perfect spot.

The Tombs of the Nobles what a great view from here!

The sky glows gold as the sun sinks behind the Western Desert.

The Feluccas reflections ripple on the Nile surface, so far this is my favorite part of the Egyptian tour. Our stop inAswan has been fantastic.

This beautiful sunset is the perfect end to a lovely day.

A Fantastic Golden Sunset!

Once the sunsets the air gets a little chilly, so after a quick stop at the money machine we head back to the hotel.

WE stop and chat with the others who are back from Abu Simbel.

Turns out because of the festival they didn't get to see the rise hit the famous statues of Ramses II, which was the reason for the 1.30am departure, it was so crowded they couldn't get close enough and they are a little disappointed, but the temple was amazing.

To be honest I think we had the better day!

After a hot shower I meet up with my fellow wives and we head out for dinner, a first we thought we would try somewhere new, but the search became tiring because of the constant harassment. So we head back to what we know, our little pizza joint and sit at the same cafe as last night.

The traffic is just as crazy as yesterday, actually I think it is worse! But watching these crazies trying to maneuver with out road rules is entertaining.

It gets late and we head back to the hotel. My roomie is already asleep when I arrive back to the room.

I can't wait for tomorrow... tomorrow we sail the Nile!

OCTOBER 23RD 2019 DAY 12

After a welcome sleep and with bags packed we head down to breakfast.

Typical of the wives we are the last to be rounded up and we follow Mo the river front where our Felucca awaits.

There is a lot of chatter by the others but we have already been introduced to our home for the next 2 days and JJ is there to see us off. He is leaving us with a crew and won't be joining us no matter how hard we try to convince him.

Once on board we find a spot on the soft mattress floor, make our little corner comfortable and with legs dangling over the side settle in for the sail down the Nile.

Settled in for the days sail!

The crew put on a lovely lunch, fresh salad , warm bread and dips. It is laid out in the center of the boat and we sit and eat our own leisurely pace. There are cold drinks available, we just write it on the list.

With lunch over there is nothing more to do, to watch Egypt pass us by. The views are fantastic, I love how the green of riverbank winds thru the countryside bring life to the desert.

Oohh wonder what that is!

We head up to the top deck, well it's the roof of the boat and laze in the sun, the sail swings back and forth in the river breeze, admittedly nearly missing our heads! But we soon get used it and relax... this is the life... I could used to this!

Mind your head!

Towns and villages pass by, the one constant is the desert, even on the East bank it looms in the distance.

Every settlement we pass has a Mosque the towering minarets where the call to prayer can be heard from for miles around.

Village mosques...
... in every village!

Cruise boats filled with tourists make wave as as they pass. I like that we have this pretty little Felucca to ourselves.

Fishermen are out in their little boats, other white sailed Felucca glide by.

The Nile is quite a busy through fare it is beautiful the life line of Egypt.

Nile catch up session!

As the afternoon air heats up it becomes too hot to stay on the roof so I head back down.

My spot is next to the rudder, it is solid wood made of an entire tree trunk.

I watch the staff maneuver it as if it was light as a feather. How do they know when to catch the breeze, when I ask he just smiles and "I make this trip many times, I know where all the sandy banks are!"... sand banks what sand banks?

They make it look easy!

Slowly we make it to our village stop for the night, passing more small towns along the way. The rest of the afternoon is spent relaxing, somehow it is tiring doing nothing.

Small towns...
... Desert views...
... Mosque minarets!

We arrive at our stop for the night and the staff anchor on a sandy beach. We take our day packs and walk up to the village. It is painted like the one we visited, the colors are not as bright but the decorations and artwork are on every home. The sandy streets are swept clean and there is not a scrap of rubbish in sight.

Mo introduces us to our host family, we are staying in a home stay for the night. The ladies are shy and quiet. and show us around. The home has a large open air court yard, the room we are sleeping in is filled with beds and big woolen blankets.

The ladies disappear into the kitchen and Mo takes us for a walk up thru the village out into the desert.

With the setting sun the sky turns a dusty grey and pink, from the top of the hill you get a sweeping view of the village below and the Nile valley.

The Nile Valley!
Village Views!
We walk thru the desert sand and find a road that leads out into the vastness of the sand, where on earth does it go? What could be out there? Surely no one would live out there!

Luckily for us we take the road back into the village and when we arrive at our home stay a picnic blanket has be laid out and set up for dinner.

Our hostess invites us to sit and with Mo's translating she tells us what we are having for dinner and that all the ingredients are farmed in the local area.

It is a 3 course feast, starting with soup and fresh bread. Then pan fried chicken, stuffed vine leaves in a spicy tomato sauce and fresh salad. For desert there is fresh fruit and a vanilla pudding type dish, which is delicious!

In fact the entire meal is fantastic.

A Nubian Feast!

With full bellies we help clear away the dishes, but we are shooed away, but no one but family is allowed in her kitchen to help with the dishes.

I go for a little wander outside the main walls to look at the art work and I meet 3 lovely young ladies, we sit on a wall and chat, they fire questions at me about my life as I am one of the first westerners they have met. They don't know where New Zealand is and vow to look it up on a map, they ask me if it is near Egypt and I draw in the sand... badly, where I come from. They are learning English in school and it is pretty good, they giggle when I compliment them on it.

Suddenly a women's voice fills the night air, it must be Mum because with a flurry of thank yous they dash out of sight.

Such lovely young ladies!

Our hostess offers to do henna tattoos for us, she has a book and we can choose our design, of course most of us can't resist... hmmm... decisions, decisions... the eye of Horus, it well-being, healing, and protection, why not!

She gives us strict instructions not touch it until it is dry, and no shower until the morning... um OK!

My henna tattoo, the Eye of Horus!

The night air is becoming chilly so I decide to go to bed, I try to fall asleep before all the snoring starts, but for some reason I just can't. Luckily I have ear plugs that drown out most of the symphony of snores that are coming from certain areas of the room.

After a while I finally relax and fall asleep!

The desert sands slowly change color with the setting sun. From beige to copper, it is stonier than I thought and it goes on for what seems endlessly.

We stop and watch the sunset, the sky lights up bright orange as if on fire, when you see sunsets like this I can understand why the Egyptians believed in the king of the gods, the Sun God Amun-Ra, this certainly is beautiful display of his power!

My henna tattoo, the Eye of Horus!

OCTOBER 24th 2019 DAY 13

Admittedly I did not sleep well, for some reason I just couldn't get warm, I had plenty of blankets... the more I tried to sleep the less I could.

Breakfast is laid out picnic style like last night, fresh bread, boiled eggs, fruit, and most importantly coffee!

It seems I am not the only one who had trouble sleeping there are a few blurry eyed tourists this morning.

A warm shower helps a little and after thanking our lovely hostess and her family we head back to the Felucca.

In my little corner I settle in and relax ready for the days sail!

After a little mid morning nap I wake to find we are still in the Aswan area as we have just past the modern Aswan bridge.

Aswan Bridge!

Along this stretch of the Nile there is a lot of farm land. As I watch it go by I wonder what temples sit out there.

The wives and I spend the morning chilling, it is nice to have time to relax before we get to the city again.

Lazy Nile Morning!

Lunch is fantastic, fresh hummus and yogurt dips, and a lovely chicken dish, which I would love the recipe for, how on earth did they manage to cook this on just a little camping stove, for 16 people!

Delicious Lunch Spread!

As we get closer to Luxor the desert seems to take over, the lush river side vegetation struggles to grow.

This part of the Nile seems quieter, there are less cruise boats out this afternoon. Sometimes it seems like we are the only ones out here.

The desert meets the Nile!

The afternoon is much like the morning, legs dangling over the side of the boat, relaxing.

We stop in the late afternoon and they anchor the boat on a sandy shore. We get to stretch our legs and take a swim.

Tonight we will sleep on our little Felucca!

The dusk brings farmers and their donkeys down to the waters edge, I feel sorry for the poor donkeys they really are hard working animals thee farmers seem to show a little more care towards them than what we saw in Cairo, but they always seem to look sad.

They stare at the crazy westerners in bewilderment. It is nice to stretch the legs, although the water is a little cool it is nice to have a swim after such hot day.

The hardest workers in Egypt!

We are staying here for a while, to catch the sunset. On the East bank there is the presence of life a small village is tucked among the palms.

Slowly more and more boats appear, with the cooling of the day the Egyptians become more active, don't blame them really I don't like working in the midday heat either!

More little towns!

The water becomes a little too cool, so we head up to the roof to catch the last of the evening sun, to get away from the usual complainers, don't know what they have to moan about today has been lovely, you just can't please some people.

Plus we get a great view from up here, as the sun begins to set on another day.

Enjoy the view ladies!

As the sun descends behind the Western desert the landscape begins to glow and the sky line slow turns from dusky grey to bright yellow, I wish the photos did it justice!

The colors are stunning!

The sky blazes a golden orange as the sun disappears behind the palms.

.With the evening the cruise ships are making their way up and down the Nile so the smaller boats like ours must anchor for the night. This is to avoid accidents, this is fine by me.

Another glorious Sunset!

The crew put on another fantastic meal, fresh salad, rice and grilled chicken, with a seasoning I really wish I knew what it is, it is bloody lovely!

And chocolate cake for desert... !

We settle in for the night and chat till we fall asleep. The night air is chilly but the thick woolen blankets that the crew have provided keep me snuggled and warm.

Tomorrow we arrive in Luxor!

Posted by TracingTheWorld 04:19 Archived in Egypt Comments (0)



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OCTOBER 25th 2019 DAY 14

What is it about being on the water that is so soothing. I slept so well, those woolen blankets kept me toasty warm!

What a way to start the day snuggled in a blanket, steaming coffee in hand, legs dangling over the side of the Felucca, watching the the sunrise over the Nile!

After breakfast is not long before we arrive at our stop.

A small village just out of Luxor.

It is not easy disembarking on the wobbly wooden plank with a heavily packed bag. I am quite proud of the fact that I didn't end up falling in!

A mini bus is waiting for us and takes us the rest of the way to Luxor.

The roads are bumpy and it is slow going. The morning rush hour! The locals are out and about, donkeys struggle with heavy loads, the little local buses are packed with commuters.

It is quite a colorful scene, bougainvillea grow along colorful fences, traditional robes bellow in the breeze.

We turn closer to the river and suddenly we stop and park.

Oh OK this is interesting, we stop at gallery that authentic papyrus paintings... fantastic!

The walls are covered with beautifully painted artwork.

We are given a demonstration on how the papyrus paper is made the traditional way, it is quite a process of stripping the papyrus, soaking it and flattening it, they weave it into large sheets and let it dry.

After the demonstration we get to browse, we can purchase anything off the walls by writing the number of the selected item and then they will get it out of stock. Of course I am drawn to the most expensive in the gallery but in the end I choose a lovely scene of Osiris and Isis in golds and coppers. I really wish I had space in the luggage for more, but I still have other things I want to shop for!

The papyrus comes with a certificate of authenticity, as the majority of paintings on the markets are fake. I am so glad we stopped here, I would never thought about otherwise!

With paintings in hand it;s back on the bus. We cross the river and wind thru the chaotic suburbs of Luxor.

It is hard for me to watch the scenes that pass by, goats roam the streets eating from rubbish piles, donkeys with heads hung low as they struggle to pull carts laden with goods, their owners cracking the whip far too frequently. It is difficult for me to look so I put on some music and close my eyes... am I too emotional when it comes to animals... probably... but I wont apologize for it!

When we stop again I take out my headphones... I totally forgot that a visit to an animal sanctuary is on the itinerary!

It is a bright and modern complex and as soon as you walk in the door you are greeted by a couple of cats.

Children's paintings cover the walls, and we are greeted by a lovely young lady who despite what she must see is smiling.

She tells us about the education program the ACE, Animal Care in Egypt is doing in the community to raise awareness with the locals. They visit schools, farmers, traders to talk them about the treatment of animals.

I am glad to see someone is taking a stand, I know change takes time, but... I will never understand how someone can mistreat an animal!

Happy dogs with wagging tails have a large yard to run around in by the entrance. When we make our way out the back a large open area, shaded with trees has horses and donkeys in large fenced in paddocks, these are the healthy ones, those that have been thru their hard times and now live in peace.

The cats follow us as she takes us to the stables where those still in recovery from their injuries are kept. I am glad to see not all the stalls are full, but... one animal is too many, in my opinion!

Animal Care Egypt!

The horses are weary of being touched. The 2 gorgeous chestnut horses could be twins both have white blazes on their noses. They watch us with curiosity. One at least trusts me enough to have a quick head scratch, after what they have been thru... trust is hard earned!

Still weary of humans!
A little more trusting!

There is a sad little grey and white donkey who is still so skinny you can see every rib, he is the latest arrival, you can see the healing scares on his legs.

My heart is breaking for him, if people think animals don't show emotion then... they have no heart... the sadness and pain is clear to see in this poor animal.

He looks like he has dipped his nose into grey paint. He keeps his head down weary of humans, what happened to this poor boy that he wont even look at us... I feel sick thinking about it! I hope one day he will learn that all people aren't cruel!

Your safe now!

The cats follow us everywhere, such intelligent creatures, they know who to trust. It is like they are the protectors of the innocent and they are keeping an eye on us.

The ancient Egyptians believed cats were magical creatures, capable of bringing good luck to the people who housed them.

They honored these treasured pets, wealthy families dressed them in jewels, fed them treats fit for royalty. When their cats died, they were mummified.

As a sign of mourning, the cat owners shaved off their eyebrows, and continued to mourn until their eyebrows grew back.

Cats were so special that those who killed them, even by accident, were sentenced to death.

They even had the Goddess Bastet who was usually depicted as a woman with cat’s head, Bastet represented beauty, love, joy, happiness and was also the protector of humans.

The protector of the deserving!

A cheeky white donkey is happy for attention and loves a scratch behind the ears. His leg wounds are nearly healed and soon he will let out into the paddocks with the others. He has been here for over 4 months and when he first came in was frightened with deep gashes on his legs, but with gentle care he has earned human trust again and is now a happy, friendly boy who is loves attention... what a wonderful job these people do! The world needs more people like this!

I cant help but spend a little time with him, he is so adorable, after what he has been thru, taking 20 minutes to give him some well deserved affection is nothing.

He is so adorable!

difficult not to cry when you here their stories and see their wounds. Slowly I make way outside, the rest of the group has already left the the stables.

Out in the open air I sit with a couple of cat vying for attention and of course I oblige.

Mohammad rounds everyone up as it is time to leave, and yes I am the last one as it is difficult to tear myself away from my new furry friends.

They follow me into the lobby. As I drop a donation into the box a little black and white cat jumps up on the counter and rubs against my arm as if to say thank you, oh how I wish I could take you home with me!

We drive into the city center and the traffic chaos gets worse.

Our hotel is on the river front and we find out it has a swimming pool on the roof... Yeah!

From the outside it looks good, and the lobby is quite grand and old worldly with lots of wood, stain glass and marble, but if past hotels are anything to go by, the rooms may be a different story!

The Emilio Hotel!

We check in and find our rooms. But as predicted the rooms are a little tired looking, at least the air con works and the small bathroom is clean and in working order.

We are right on a busy intersection and the traffic noise is quite loud, I can live with that, that's what ear plugs are for right, it has a pool.... that kinda makes up for it!

Ours has a fantastic view of the Nile and Luxor Temple, there's that Avenue of the Sphinx I have been waiting to see...WOW! I cant wait to take a closer look!

Avenue of the Sphinx & Luxor Temple, view from the balcony!

Bags dumped on the bed and I meet up with the wives at the roof top, the pool is actually pretty good! Lots of comfy deck chairs and shaded tables.

The water is a little cool but welcome in this Egyptian heat, but first, what's on the menu?

The Hotel Roof Top!

With lunch ordered we sit and chat, you gotta admire the view below you can see right across to the West Bank, somewhere hidden out there is the Valley of Kings, that's tomorrows adventure! For now it's time to relax!

Roof top view of the West Bank!

Lunch is simple, it would have been nice to have a more traditional menu, instead most of the choices are western so steak sandwich it is, tastes OK!

We have a bit of time before we have to be downstairs so we swim and relax in the sun, before heading down to the lobby.

The drive to Karnak Temple is a short one.

It is huge, Mo arranges our tickets and then gives us a quick rundown of the temple and it's layout. Looking at the 3D map it must have been spectacular!

Karnak Temple as it may have looked like!

When you walk outside a huge courtyard opens up lined with souvenir shops the temple is unbelievable, the long pathway to the entrance is lined with Ram headed Sphinx.

Finally Mo has the tickets and ignoring the shop keepers insistence to purchase goods, yeap haven't missed that, we make our to the Avenue of the Sphinx.

It actually used to connect to Luxor temple that would have been a lot of Sphinxes!

The Entrance!

Up close they are even more amazing, sadly most of them are damaged but they are thousands of years old.

They have a are Ram headed, symbolizing the sun god Amun Ra and a small effigy of Ramesses II, in the form of Osiris (king of the gods), stands between their front paws.

Ramses II & his protector the Sphinx!

When Karnak Temple was connected to Luxor Temple it is thought that around 1,350 sphinx statues lined this road which was used for a festival once year.

They were all once covered in color, what an unbelievable sight that would have been!

The Ram a representation of Amun Ra the sun god!

Behind the Sphinxes are two domes, they look out of place among the giant walls and pillars of the temple, more African, I ask Mo, Oh it's a Mosque!

The Mosque!

What a sight when you enter the temple, or the 'First Pylon', even though it is not decorated the sheer size of it is unbelievable.

The north tower is about 71 feet , and the south tower 103 feet.

If the structure had been completed it would probably reached a height of between 124 feet to 131 feet.

It was built by 25th Dynasty pharaoh Nectanebo I (380-362 BC) who also built the huge enclosure wall surrounding Karnak.

But it is the view that opens up in front of you that catches your attention... the vast Great Court holds the Kiosk of Tahraqa and the 'Second Pylon', two giant statues stand on either side of the opening and a giant pillar so tall the camera can't get it all in.

It originally consisted of ten twenty-one meter high papyrus columns linked by a low screening wall. Today there is only one great column still standing.

Taharqa was the fourth king of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty and also king of his native Kush, located in Northern Sudan.

Heading into the...
... the Kiosk of Tahraqa!

To the side it is the giant statue of Ramses II that captures your attention,he stands vigilant, wearing the nemes headdress the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt and his arms are crossed, holding crook and flail, symbols of kingship.

At his feet, Princess Bent’anta holds a flower and wears an Uraeus crown of rearing cobras, they are worn with time but you can still see the shape of the snakes. She is the daughter from his favorite wife Isetnofret.

impressive 35 ft height and weighs 65 tons.

He really did like to promote himself!

Ramses II & his daughter Isetnofret!

Looking out to the north Obelisks pierce the sky, the walls are cared with scenes depicting the gods, I recognize Osiris but none of the others.

When Mohammad said this place was amazing he wasn't wrong, and we have only just start to explore.

Obelisks fill the skyline!
Ramses II and... ummm...!

Before I head into the famous Hypostyle Hall, there is a side hall that catches your attention, it is filled with statues, the Ramesses III Chapel.

The shrine’s entrance was fronted by a small pylon adorned with scenes of the king smiting his enemies and two six meter statues carved from red sandstone flanked the door way.

Chapel of Ramses III!

Further inside is a courtyard with a small enclosed hall at the far end.

He built this temple in dedication to Amun Ra, each side of the is court is lined with eight statues of himself. The statues west side wear the red crown of the south, while the ones the east side wear the white crown of the north.

was the second Pharaoh of the 12th Dynasty.

He is thought to have reigned from 26 March 1186 to 15 April 1155 BC and is considered to be the last great monarch of the New Kingdom to wield any substantial authority over Egypt.

The inner courtyard!

During his reign Egypt was attacked by the Libyans and even though he defeated them twice in great see battles. He has been described as a "warrior Pharaoh" due to his strong military strategies.

The economic cost to the country was devastating and his long ruler ship decline of Egyptian political and economic power.

His wife Tiye (he had two principle wives plus a number of minor wives) one of his minor wives, was the cause of his destruction. She hatched a plot to kill him with the aim of placing her son, prince Pentaweret, on the throne. She and her confederates stirred up a rebellion and used magic wax images and poison as their weapons. The conspiracy failed and the traitors were arrested but not before Rameses was mortally wounded.

Rameses III’s death marks the end of an era. He had ruled for 31 years.

Egypt’s decline was a break down in the fabric of society. There were disputes between officials and governors and infighting between the north and south. The priesthood became over powerful and eventually they took control of the government. From then on rulers from other lands would determine Egypt's destiny.

But when he was in power he was much loved by his people... well he certainly has portrait himself all mighty in these statues!

Egypt's last Pharaoh, Ramses III!

At the far end of the Great Court is an archway, there is a perfect view of an Obelisk, in is covered with inscriptions. It is perfectly shaped, hard to believe it is thousands of years old.

Must have taken a lot of work to get so perfect, especially when it's 21.75 meters high and is estimated to weigh 143 tons.

They were unbelievable builders

As excited as I am to see the Great Hypostyle Hall, I turn and enter the 7th Pylon, it's all very confusing all these halls and temples. It is easy to get side tracked, there are so many interesting and surprising details.

They decorated everything!
It's the little details that amaze me!

This court has a row of statues depicting rulers of the Middle and New Kingdoms.

I wonder who is who, some of them are quite damaged, but they look good for their ages!

The Pharaohs, hmmm whose who?!
The Courtyard Walls, don't forget to look up!

Along one wall is a scene of the Pharaoh who built this section, Tuthmosis III smiting his enemies in battle.

He was said he actually created Egypt’s wealth. Thutmose III was a brilliant general who never lost a battle, spent the long years of his aunt Hatshepsut’s (we are visiting her temple tomorrow) reign training in the army.

This kept him away from court politics but prepared him well when he became Pharaoh. great ability in war was considered an important quality in a ruler.

Egyptian pharaohs were expected to lead their armies into foreign lands and demonstrate their bravery on the field in person.

Tutmose III, smiting his enemies!

Against one wall is what is left of the giant statue of Tutmose III, it must have been impressive but all that is left now is his legs and if the size of those are any indication... Wow!

He had a great set of legs!

As we head back to the Central Court I get side tracked by the Hieroglyphs, the carvings are fantastic, there is a lot of the scarab, such a creepy looking thing, yes I hate bugs!

But the Egyptians saw it as a symbol of renewal and rebirth and was a symbol of the sun god Ra.

The symbol of rebirth!

As well as depicting themselves and the gods as larger than life , nature was a big influence on the Egyptian.

Being blessed by the Gods!

Animals were used a lot as symbols in their writing, birds especially, I can actually make out a few... don't know what they mean but, there's Anubis, an owl, ducks, a rabbit, lizards, even bees.

Its a very beautiful way to write, painstaking, but beautiful!

OK so the goose duck thing is Bah with a sun...S!
Pretty stork bird is Akh... bee is Bat..!
The owl is M... with an eye shape is R...!
Oh that's Anubis a what looks like a Pharaoh one feather is SW...!
Yeah... I give up makes no sense to me!

When you step into the Hypostyle Hall you can't help but be awe, each of the 134 pillars are decorated, there is still remnants of color, faded and lost in most places but touches are visible here and there.

It truly is spectacular!

Where do you begin to look...

Pillars to right...!
Pillars in front you...!
Pillars to the left...!
Pillars all around!

No wonder it is regarded as one of the wonders of the world... WOW!

It is 103 meters in width by 53 in length, the 16 rows of 134 columns.

The 134 papyrus columns represent the primeval papyrus swamp from which Amun Re, a self-created deity, arose from the waters of Nun at the beginning of creation.

Closed Lotus flowers... OK I can see it!
They engraved every pillar top to bottom...!
A sneak peak of the Obelisk!
Try to imagine it all enclosed... WOW!

The inner columns depict closed Lotus flowers, while the main walk way or nave is flanked by two rows of six open-bud papyrus-capital columns... and it once had a roof!

The inner columns depict closed Lotus flowers, while the main walk way or nave is flanked by two rows of six open-bud papyrus-capital columns... and it once had a roof!

Even the underside of the open top or petals of the pillars are decorated, the colors have long faded but you really get a sense of how grand this temple to Amun Re must have been, he was the Creator of the gods and mankind.

Initially it was designed by Queen Hatshepsut but Seti I began construction in 1291BC, I think they really did show how dedicated they were to the great Amun Re.

In Bloom, open Lotus flower pillar!
You can still see some of the colors!

When you look up that's when you see the colors, the underside of the beams haven't faded too badly, in fact some of them are so vibrant and clear, so remarkable!

Faded but fantastic!
Some are more prominent than others!

This entire hall would have been filled with color, it must have been unbelievable!

Seti I may have started construction but it was his son Ramses II that finished building the Hall around 1225BC, I think he did his father proud... I hope Amun appreciated it!

The details...
... are so beautiful!

Mohammad is trying his best to lead us around this giant complex, but we keep getting side tracked and wonder off. He takes us out of the Hypostyle Hall to what is the Forth and Fifth Pylon.

The Fourth Pylon is in quite the ruined state. It originally contained huge statues of Osiris set in niches and two obelisks made of granite erected by Queen Hatshepsut, the tips of which were covered with a mixture of gold and silver, now that would have been impressive.

Queen Hatshepsut Obelisk!

There is a broken Obelisk laying on it's side, there is hieroglyphs celebrating Queen Hatshepsut's power as pharaoh.

Roughly 25 years after Hatshepsut's death Thutmose III systematically destroyed his aunt's legacy, he stripped her name from obelisks, statues.

I wonder if he destroyed this too or if it was just time and nature?

Fallen Obelisk!

This complex is huge and I am really starting to wish I had bought a map, but as we wander thru what is the Fifth and Sixth Pylons, Mo mentions something about the Hall of Records, 2 of them.

As usual I am side tracked by the statues of what is called Wadjet... umm strange name...

But the giant statues have long lost their faces, I wonder who they once were?

They must have been important to have a statue this size!

There are so many little details to look at, it is sad that this part of the complex is so badly ruined. But there is beauty in the rumble, little carvings.

They really loved that Scarab...

Even the Scarab has it's own statue!
Love to see it reconstructed!

We walk thru what was once the Botanical Garden, animal Hieroglyphs are etched into broken blocks and pillars, the little scenes and details delicate and quite beautiful. I can relate to their love of nature.

The Botanical Garden...
... natural scenes cover the walls!

The once Hall of Records, actually there were 2 has two great statues of Amun Ra and the goddess Amaunet.

She is one of the original creation gods, thought to be the partner of Amun Re, her name means "The Invisible One" or "the mother who is father" the Egyptians believed the mother who is father, Egyptians she needed no husband to conceive children. The Goddess of air or wind.

To be honest I can't keep up with this whole god & goddess family tree, Atum Re, Amun Ra...

It's all very confusing... Atum was a creator god who originally contained everything within himself and emanated elements of himself to produce the world, “the one who made himself into millions”. Ra was the sun god, whose first rising was considered synonymous with the moment of creation. OK, so they’re not really the same, but they are closely related, both were connected with creation and the sun... Hmmm makes a little sense!

Amun & Amunet!

We head over to the Sacred Lake, that well... doesn't look like much of a lake anymore, more like a broken pond!

They are attempting to revive it, in the distance the towers are being slowly rebuilt and the trees are trying to regrow.

It was built by Tuthmosis III around 1473-1458 BC.

It measures 393 feet long an 252 feet wide and is lined with stone wall and has stairways descending into the water. It was used by the temple priests for ritual washing and ritual navigation.

It was also home to the sacred geese of Amun (the goose being another symbol of Amun) and was a symbol of the primeval waters from which life arose in the ancient Egyptian’s idea of creation.

Surrounding it were the storerooms and living quarters for the priests, as well as an aviary for aquatic birds.

I would really love to see this flourish again, but there is some much history to unearth and reconstruct in this country, I guess there just isn't enough money to do everything.

Such a shame that over the thousands of years we have let our history of the world crumble thru mankind's greed pride and greed. When will we learn to embrace our past and protect it?

The once Sacred Lake!

Mo points us in the direction to head back to the Hypostyle Hall and leaves us to wonder for the rest of the afternoon.

I decide to take some time out for myself, and wander thru the temple ruins, it is nice just to spend time studying the little details, I really do admire their artistry.

I want to see Knoshu temple (Konshu was a moon god, the son of Amun, he was believed to have the ability to drive out evil spirits)

I have to ask where it is, as apparently the colorful art is spectacular. I am going in the wrong direction, of course! Well sort of at least I haven't got myself totally lost...

But I have found myself at what was Thutmose III temple.

Festival Hall of Thutmose III!

I found it! But it is closed to the public... bugger! They are restoring the artwork and no one is allowed in side.

The walls are stunningly beautiful, the colors of the art work are so bright and vivid, so I am told, yes I am a little disappointed but hey...!

The outside of Khonsu Temple!

So I head back to the Hypostyle Hall and just walk around the pillars, in awe. I will admit my neck is getting cramped from constantly looking up... but you can't help it, is it just so amazing how they managed to do all this!

Every beam...
... every pillar...
... a work of art!

Weaving thru the maze of pillars I bump into Hanna and Zoe, and we wander around together. It is getting quite crowded, the hall is a cool relief from the afternoon sun and I guess everyone had the same idea.

You really could spend hours in here and still not see everything!

Zoe and...
Hanna and...
... and more artwork...
... more Lotus Pillars...
... more fantastic Hieroglyphs!

Now my neck is s actually starting to ache, but you can't help but to continue to stare upwards, and I am not the only one, my wives are saying the same thing...!

But despite ourselves we can't stop, it's like an addiction you just gotta look up!

Me & 134 Lotus Pillars!

As the sun begins to set the Hall seems to change colour, the pillars begin to... well... glow a burnt copper color. The change in light casts shadows on the pillars and the hieroglyphs seem to come alive, each curve and line deepen as the stone brightens.

... how the stone seems to glow!
and more hieroglyphs!
The light makes the...
... Lotus pillars bloom!

I wander around for a while, just enjoying time to myself before we have to meet up with the rest of the group. The air has chilled a little and it is nice being alone to admire the Egyptians handy work. It was built as a cult temple and was dedicated to the gods Amun, Mut, and khonsu.

It was the largest building for religious purposes ever to be constructed and decorated in Egypt, it was also served as a treasury, administrative centre, and palace for the New Kingdom pharaohs.

Mum would have loved this...

It really is an...
... amazing place!

I wander around for a while, just enjoying time to myself before we have to meet up with the rest of the group. The air has chilled a little and it is nice being alone to admire the Egyptians handy work. It was built as a cult temple and was dedicated to the gods Amun, Mut, and khonsu.

It was the largest building for religious purposes ever to be constructed and decorated in Egypt, it was also served as a treasury, administrative centre, and palace for the New Kingdom pharaohs.

Mum would have loved this...

One last glimpse of the Obelisk!

We head out of the Hypostyle Hall slowly other members of the tour group appear and Mo is waiting patiently for us at the Second Pylon.

While we wait for the rest of the stragglers it's I take the time to take one last look around, it looks different in the dusk light.

Slowly we head out and after a quick stop at the the gift shop we head back to the hotel.

The Avenue of the Spinx...
... and dusk falls!

It is dark when we get back to the hotel. I meet the wives in the lobby and we head out into the city to look for something to eat.

Walking thru the market street it is hard to ignore the shop keepers haggling for us 'to buy' so we head back to the main street that lines the water front.

There are so many horse and carriages lining the street, some of the horses are so skinny, the poor things having to work on these busy streets weaving in and out of the traffic... I hate seeing them like this.

We cant find much in the way of restaurants... so once again the only option is McDonalds, yeap I am getting tired of this stuff!

We sit up stairs and we actually have a great view of the river.

We head back to the hotel and chill out in Zoe and Hannahs room for a while before heading off to bed, tomorrow it's the West Bank!

OCTOBER 26th 2019 DAY 15

It's and early breakfast before we head off to the West Bank for this mornings tour... the famous Valley of the Kings, I am so excited! To see inside actual tombs...!

We cross over Luxor bridge, and drive thru busy little villages. The roads are bumpy along the river, the locals are out early, kids on their way to school, shops setting up to open.

The buildings are all sand stone a mix of old and new, palm and date trees pierce the bright blue morning sky, bougainvillea and the flowing robes of the locals add flashes of colour to the ivory landscape.

One of the locals!

We turn in land towards the desert, passing tourist factories and two giant sitting statues, but we don't stop to take a look... umm I would have liked to but the tombs await!

As we leave the little towns behind, the landscape becomes an ivory desert of sand and stone.

Up on the hills openings appear in the rocky hillside, what is hidden in there? How much history is still buried under thousands of years of sand lost to time?

More discoveries!

Half an hour of desert hill roads and we arrive at the entrance. We are in the middle of nowhere, how they found this place is beyond me... all around there is nothing but sand and rock!

While Mo explains the layout with the large 3D map that is in the lobby, the excavation area is huge, and they are still uncovering more tombs.

Map of the Valley from above...
... how they look underground!

We get our tickets, to see King Tuts tomb is extra, but hey so what, it is meant to be amazing, plus it is only $18...

There are these little yellow... well let's call them road trains, to take us up the valley to the tombs. they look like a children's train ride in our local park at home.

With tickets in hand and cameras away we head up the valley, yeap no cameras allowed except for your phone! Doesn't make sense to me but rules are rules!

Our ride awaits!

The drive up takes about 10 minutes, and once we arrive it is bustling with visitors, the café is already packed.

We get to see 3 tombs plus King Tuts. the only decision is which one to see first.

Mo gives us some tips on what to look out for in each tomb, little highlights and hieroglyphs that we may find interesting.

I decide to leave King Tuts tomb for last and so it's Ramses IX tomb first up!

The first tomb of the morning!

He was the 8th Pharaoh of the 20th Dynasty, and he ruled from 1129 to 1111BC, for 18 years, which actually doesn't seem that long. It is believed he is the grandson of Ramses III.

The long declining tunnel leads down to the chamber of his tomb. Every inch of the walls and ceilings are decorated with colorful hieroglyphs... WOW!

Going Down!

The first thing you notice is the ceiling, it is bright blue, to depict the night sky. The cross beams are beautifully decorated with a sun disk with Isis and Nephythys, both goddess were the protector of the dead.

The walls as you walk down have passages from the Egyptian Book of Gates, this was their guide thru the underworld, and how to navigate the problems one might face on their journey.

Wow, now that's incredible!

The underworld, makes sense Anubis presence is very where.

The colors on the walls are not as vibrant as the ceiling, but the hieroglyphs are clear and colorful.

Snakes are a prominent feature along the walls, to the Egyptians the Cobra was a symbol of protection, it guards the gates of the underworld, wards off the enemies of the royals and guides the deceased pharaohs on their journey through the underworld.

No wonder they are everywhere!

That's a lot a little Anubis!
Being led thru the underworld!

A lot of work went into Ramses IX tomb when he was alive, but he died before he could oversee the completion so some of the work was finished quickly after his death.

The cross beams and ceiling must have been done before his death as the details are wonderful, I find the winged Isis that Mo mentioned and she is quite beautiful!

Winged Isis, the goddess in her natural form!

Three headless figures stand out clearly, they are only found in this tomb. Apparently these 3 are going to hell... hmm wonder what they did to deserve that!

Going to Hell!

About half way done there are these small alcoves or annex the frames are decorated with cartouche, I have no idea who they are for, but I find them interesting... I wonder what mind would be... hope it's as interesting as these!

Love the little details!
Who are you...?
That's me!

Suddenly the hieroglyphs change, the walls are covered with miniature detailed writings, it is so quaint and beautiful. The time it must have taken to chisel and color all these symbols!

Rows of gods appear, collages of royal scenes and text fill very space, it is easy to become mesmerized by all the details, no wonder these tombs were an archeologists dream!

The walls are covered with little detailed...
... and colorful...
... and artistic...
... and fantastic little scenes!

The actual bury tomb is sunk into the ground, the ceiling is gets your attention straight away, a striking black, white and gold, apparently Ramses IX tomb was completed quickly after his death, and the work wasn't as detailed as the the rest, for a rush job it still looks amazing.

It is quite crowded which makes it hard to get a good photo, one without tourists heads in the way and so I stay awhile, taking in the details, finally...

Ramses IX, final resting place!

The actual burial chamber it is surprisingly small, now you can see it is unfinished as it isn't as well decorated as the entrance corridor. Apparently there was meant to be a larger burial chamber, but due to his early-ish demise they buried him in a chamber meant for someone else.

After taking in all the fantastic art work I head out as it is getting crowded, I take my time as the intricate scenes are hard to pass by.

The glare of the sun hurts your eyes and the temperature difference is astounding! I head across the open crowded valley floor to the Tomb o f Merneptah, the 13th son of Ramses II who was already an old man when he ascended to the throne at the age of 70 because is 12 older brothers died! Ruling for 10 years from 1213 - 1203BC.

Merneptah... don't ask me to pronounce that!

Above the entrance is a fantastic relief of what I think is Khnum the creator god and a large scarab, if this is the entrance then inside must be pretty amazing...let's see!

What... No photos!

The stairs descend down into darkness, at first it is pretty bland but soon hieroglyphics cover the walls.

More Hieroglyphics...

As go down further the ceiling becomes covered with blue and white stars, they love the night sky. As with Ramses IX tomb the scarab is everywhere.


Next to one of the arches is a beautiful depiction of Merneptah and Osiris the richness of the colors is quite amazing.

Merneptah and Osiris...

The first is the Well chamber, the walls are lined with gods, and some of them are very recognizable.

Merneptah stands on the left of the door, Osiris on the right. On the rear wall, Anubis is on the left.

The Well Chamber

On the left wall, there are finely painted standing figures of Imsety (the god of Funerals, who protected the liver of the deceased), Duamutef (the protection god of the canopic jars, which were used in the mummification process), Anubis, Kherty (earth god and a god of the underworld who sailed the boat which carried the decased on their last journey), Isis, and Neith (the goddess of creation, wisdom, weaving, and war).

On the right, god Hapy (his role is said to be protecting the throne of Osiris in the Underworld), Qebehesnuef (god of protection), Anubis, Nephthys (goddess of the air), and Serqet (goddess of the dead).

All the Gods and Goddess!

The old fella certainly covered all his gods and goddess for his journey to the underworld.

Passing under a squared arch a large pillared chamber opens up, 2 large white pillars flank the descent, the decorations are patchy some are missing, the back walls are decorated with scenes from the book of gates the Egyptian funerary text describing the passage of a newly deceased soul into the next world.

Passage to the underworld!

Swallowed by the Serpent of the Underworld!

Further down we reach the burial chamber. In the middle of the sunken floor is one of the outer layers of his sarcophagus, there were four... behind it is the inner sarcophagus depicting the man himself arms crossed over his chest, he seemed quite short! He actually doesn't look that old... a bit vain really!

One of the sarcophagus layers!
Inner sarcophagus!

Sadly time has taken it's toll on the decorations and they are very faded and patchy. Only the barest traces remain of the elaborate astronomical vaulted ceiling.

Merneptah Burial Chamber!

It's time to go as the crowds are pouring in and I managed to snap some pics before they all arrive.

On the way out, like in Ramses IX tomb there is so much that you miss on the way in.

The winged vultures in red and blue on the ceiling, the little details, you could spend hours just staring at the walls!

But it's off to the next one!

I am saving King Tut for last so, I head over to visit Ramses III tomb, which is said to be quite spectacular!

It certainly is bigger than the others!

Apparently he was considered to be the great monarch of the New Kingdom. His reign was from 1186 - 1155BC. Defending Egypt against 3 invasions, so for most of his time in power he ensured tranquility throughout Egypt, but the cost of war led to a bit of an economic decline.

He was assassinated by a secondary wife & her son due to conspiracy amongst harem, I guess that's what happens when you have too many women for one powerful man, greed and jealousy fester!

Heading in the first thing you see is an amazing depiction of Ramses III and Ra represented in his Hawk form with a giant red sun disc. The colors are still very vivid, it is almost like they are having a conversation.

Having a chat with Ra!

The long entrance down to the first chamber is fantastic, along with row upon row of intricate hieroglyphs there are vivid scenes honoring the multitudes of gods.

Gods, Goddess and oh more of em!
They love to write about themselves!
Amazing... right!

The walls are washed with white paint and the artistry is quite simple and almost childlike, but still amazing in the details, you can still make the representations of each deity!

Of course Ra is a prominent feature, scarabs are everywhere in the writings from the book of the dead. Mo told us to look out for the 3 headed serpent which you have to pass to get to the afterlife and apparently his judgment of your deeds decided which way you went! This is the only tomb where this serpent can be found so I guess I will know it when I see it!

He looks a bit menacing!

A chamber opens up and there are beautifully colored paintings on every inch of the walls, some look like

Just thought it was kinda interesting!

Ramses daily life as the Pharaoh, others look like he is talking to the gods, whatever they are depicting... they are so amazing in the details and colors!

Is it me or does it look like he is about to like up a pipe!
Hmm... making an offering perhaps!
I know that is Ra but I think the other is Sobek!

The ceiling is fantastic bright yellow and black covered with writings and what I am guessing is celestial representations.

The Corridor Ceiling!

It is difficult to know where to look first, it is quite crowded, but bugger em all I am going to take my time it's not everyday you get to step back into history...

Some of depictions are easily recognizable, Anubis, Ra, Isis, but others I just can't figure out... I am so buying a book!

Wonder who this is!
Yeap I know who you are!

Yeap this is pretty magnificent and we are not even half way down yet!

Finally I have to get out of this chamber as it really is getting too crowded.

Another corridor and the wall are like the first are covered with writings and gods and goddess, but unlike the chamber the style of the art work is more simple and less detailed again.

They really had a lot of gods to worship!
Another scarab for luck!
I think the little guy was a bit naughty!
Anubis judges you!
The next chamber has side rooms and pillars the large scenes show Ramses III interacting with the gods fill the spaces, the walls are colorful and well fantastic!

On one wall Ramses stands wearing the crown of Lower Egypt offering incense to gods Atum and Ptah. On another wall, King Ramses III is shown the King is standing offering what I guess is incense before a seated figure of Ptah, Sokar (the Memphite god of the dead, but he was also the patron of the workers) and Osiris.

Offerings to the god Ptah, the god of Craftsmen
The one god you really want to please!
Is that Amun? Think so...!

It is hard to get around as it is crowded I bump into Tracey and we don't really say much just sort stare at the scenery and smile at one another.

They really did make a lot of offerings!

So many details to see, the time it must have taken to do all this work and we still haven't got to the burial chamber yet!

Don't judge me too harshly, I've been good really!

Another corridor and the walls are like the first 2 are covered with writings from the book of the dead and the journey to the under world.

Boats and serpents seem to play major role in this journey, the snake symbolized divinity, sovereignty, and the right to rule. It was also a symbol of protection, both for pharaohs and for everyday people

That's different!
... oh and there's more of them!

The Egyptians took this belief very seriously, I mean they mummified themselves and put their organs into canopic jars for safe keeping, with lids in the shape of the heads of protective deities who were the four Sons of Horus.

Being or been judged?
Another scarab for luck!

I find the 3 headed serpent it is quite prominent and easily found, I wonder how he would judge me, not too well I guessing, I mean I haven't lived a bad life but hey I have enjoyed it OK!

Ah the serpent of the underworld, been looking for you!

Oh WOW...! They weren't kidding when they say this is one of the most spectacular tombs to be unearthed...!

Ramses III burial chamber is unbelievable!

Ramses Chamber...
Imagine discovering this!

Large white pillars fill the space, all of them are decorated with giant distinctions of gods and goddess, the walls are filled with magnificent colorful scenes of the King making tributes to a multitude of deities, it really is fantastic... it is hard to know where to look first!

How awesome is this!
More of the underworld journey!

So I start with the least crowded corner and work my around... some of the gods are instantly recognizable others not so much and will require a little homework.

Mut, Nephythys, Qebehsenuf and Imsety

The more you study each scene the more you notice the little details, the things they hold in their hands or the decorations in their garments and head dress. Whoever painted these did so with care and attention... remarkable!

That's one I do know... Toth god of wisdom
Horus, the son of Osiris!
Imsety funerary deity and one of the Four sons of Horus!
Bastet, goddess of pleasure, of course she has to be here!

The chamber is huge eight large pillars dominate the space, you can't help but stare at the giant gods that loom over you.

I think that is the King himself, making an offering!

This room once house his red quartz sarcophagus which is now in the Louvre in Paris, hmmm... I don't remember seeing it there!

Nephythys, protector of the dead!
I think that is the King himself, making an offering!
Ra, I think!
Khepri, god of the rising sun!

I would really love to spend hours in here but the morning is getting late and there is still one tomb left. The echoing voices of the crowd is starting to get annoying and when someone actually pushes me aside I know it is time to go before I loose my cool so to speak!

I pass Zoe and Hanna on my way out. At the entrance the large carvings of Ramses and Ra loom over you as you exit.

The king himself!

Even the orange stone door frame is delicately carved with animals, I missed that going in.

Just thought it was cute!
The entrance stone work!

The outside air is dry, still and hot. The entrance to King Tuts tomb is unassuming. The short corridor takes you down to the burial chamber but unlike the others it isn't decorated and at first you wonder what all the fuss is about...

The most famous tomb in Egypt!

But when you get to what is called the Ante Chamber color fills the room!

When Howard Carter discovered this small tomb in 1922 it was filled with treasure, the Ante Chamber contained house hold items that he would need for his journey to the afterlife, furniture clothes, food, a chariot, even mummified ducks... eww! Some if it we saw at the Cairo Museum.

The walls are a bright golden yellow rows of Baboons and scenes of the boy king in the afterlife cover the walls in vivid color.

The boy king lays in cased in glass in the center of the room a white clothe covers his mummified shrunken body so all you can see is his head!But when you get to what is called the Ante Chamber color fills the room!

When Howard Carter discovered this small tomb in 1922 it was filled with treasure, the Ante Chamber contained house hold items that he would need for his journey to the afterlife, furniture clothes, food, a chariot, even mummified ducks... eww! Some if it we saw at the Cairo Museum.

The walls are a bright golden yellow rows of Baboons and scenes of the boy king in the afterlife cover the walls in vivid color.

The boy king lays in cased in glass in the center of the room a white clothe covers his mummified shrunken body so all you can see is his head!

King Tut!

Due to his untimely death at the age of 19 the tomb was hastily prepared for the sickly boy. So compared to the large tombs of the pharaohs before it is small. But the artwork is amazing.

One wall depicts the his funeral procession, another the sun god Ra and his journey thru the under world.

There are 12 Baboons that represent the 12 hours of night and to the Egyptians they signify wisdom, strength, judgement and defense against danger.

On another wall King Tut is with Anubis, Hathor (the goddess of sky & fertility) Nekhbet (the goddess of the Upper Nile) and Wadjet (goddess of the Lower Nile) they protect Tut on is journey thru the after world.

There is a scene of him entering the realm of the gods, he is depicted as larger than life, godlike when in reality he was a cripple with a wedge foot and required a cane to walk. He was sickly boy and was plagued with malaria and scoliosis.

His burial chamber where the large 4 layered sarcophagus we saw in the museum was found.

There is a smaller room off to one side, this was the treasury contained mostly funerary equipment, jewelry, model boats for the trip through the netherworld, images of the gods, and gilded canopic shrine that held Tutankhamen's internal organs.

King Tut embraces Osiris!
The 12 Baboons!
The boy King looking larger than life!

There were 5,398 items found in this tomb, I try to imagine what it was like for Howard Carter seeing it for the first time all the gold and finery, Tuts coffin and death mask which we saw in the museum were solid gold, it must have been a sight, no wonder it is considered to one of the greatest finds in history.

I head out and make my way to the cafe to get a cold drink but the prices are extortionate so I stick with my bottle of water. I sit in the shade and wait as the rest of the group slowly gets to together.

We make our way back down the hill to catch a ride on the little mini trains.

The Valley of the Kings, doesn't look like much from the outside!

Back in the bus once again and we wind our way out of the hills and stop in this village at a souvenir shop and factory, where they produce the stone statues and carvings.

A group of men are sitting out the front carving the quartz stone they use from the area when suddenly they break into song, and they are totally deserving of the of the applause that they receive!

We browse for a while, but I think I will do my shopping in the markets as quartz is a little too pricey for my budget!

So it is back on the bus again and we turn off and head up into the hills once again, I thought we were heading back into the city but I am delightfully surprised when pull up in front of another temple.

It is huge and dominates the hill side, it is a stunning colonnaded structure built into the rocky hillside.

The temple of Queen Hatshepsut (yeah I can't pronounce that!) on!e of Egypt's greatest Queens!

Mo organizes our entry while we get a layout of the area from the 3D map.

The Temple as it would have been!

When you walk outside the temple looms over you from it's setting high on the hill. It is pretty spectacular!

A large open walk way takes you up the large stone stairs, to the colonnaded temple.

It seems different to the other temples where the pillars are round and decorated like Lotus flowers. The pillars here are squared Osiris statues stand with arms crossed in the forefront some in different stages of deterioration!

Hatshepsut's Mortuary Temple!

Hatshepsut was the 5th Pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty and the second historically confirmed female Pharaoh, ruling between 1507 and 1458BC. Her name actually means "Foremost of the Noble Ladies" which is kind of ironic since she disguised herself as man during most of her reign, even affecting a false beard, but it was never her intention to pass herself off as a man, rather, she referred to herself as the “female falcon.” Her success was due to the growth of Egyptian economy which flourished when she expanded trading relations on the African coast at the southernmost end of the Red Sea.

She become famous for all her building work throughout Egypt including this beautiful temple which she named the ‘Most Sacred of Sacred Places’.

At the base of the large stone staircase a Sphinx and Falcon stand vigilant sadly they are not completely intact, I love the Falcon it looks strong and determined, like the Queen in a male dominated world!

Sentry Falcon...
Is this guy smiling?!

When you get up close to the Osiris statues they seem quite feminine, they have the face of the Queen but still have the curling beard, must have been hard to rule as women in a man dominated society, although she did take power from her what I guess you would call a step son, her husband Thutmose II had a son to one of harem girls, the boy became king Thutmose III when his father died. She was not content to be the power behind the child king, Hatshepsut soon proclaimed herself pharaoh, and the boy was kept away from the court. He was sent off to join the army where he grew up. As the self-proclaimed daughter of God, she further justified her right to the throne by declaring that the god Amun-Ra had spoken to her saying “Welcome my sweet daughter, Thou art the king"

I head left to Hathor's temple columns fill the courtyard, they have Hathors face, the goddess of love and music. She looks a little comical with her cow shaped ears.

Her little temple!
The goddess Hathor...
... she looks mischievous!

When you look at the hieroglyphics on the walls cows seem to be a big theme, these represent Hathor in her animal image.

There are scenes of dancing and even one of the Queen drinking from Hathors... well umm udders! Strange, yes definitely strange!

Is it me or this a bit weird!
Hathor in animal form!

Hieroglyphics cover every surface, neatly carved into the rock walls and pillars. I can't help myself, I just love the intricate workings of the symbols. The Egyptians were so clever and artistic.

I think they are...
... so fascinating!

Walking along the colonnade the main wall is covered with scenes of her life and rule as Queen. They are faded and worn, red is a prominent color with touches of blue.

Many of these portraits were destroyed at the order of her stepson Thutmose III after her death.

OK that's strange!
More of the goddess Hathor!

A small room is hidden behind barred doors, you can get close enough to have a peek thru the ceiling is painted blue and celestial scenes cover entire thing.

The walls are covered with colorful writing and cartouch. I can make out the wings of Isis and many different animals, but I can't stay too long as the security staff are watching us closely and I quickly snap a pic before moving on.

Ohh... a hidden chamber!
A sneaky peek inside!

The Osiris statues loom over you, standing with crossed arms in the sun, you can still see patches of color on some of them but like many of Queen Hatshepsut portraits they were destroyed at the order of her stepson Thutmose III after her death, revenge maybe for taking his throne!

What's the plural of Osiris?!
Imagine them in full color!

It is a fantastic temple, it's nice just wandering along taking in all the artwork. Being an artist must have been a great occupation for the Egyptians, it must have taken a lot hours to cover every wall, column and archway they way have.

Every inch...
... is decorated like this!

When you look out to the valley you can understand why she chose this place to build. You can see Luxor in the distance back in Hatshepsuts day the Nile would have glistened in back drop now it is hidden by the city.

Bet the view was better in Hatshepsuts day!

The temple complex is long and another chamber opens up this one we can go into. The door frame looks like it has been cut directly into the rock, it is so solid and the artwork framing the door is intricate 2 figures frame the door and it is hard not to be impressed when you step inside.

I love these!
Don't forget to look up!
Another chamber to explore!
I wonder who...
... they are?!

The curved vaulted ceiling is fantastic, the red stars and the black background are striking.

Sadly the scenes on the walls are not intact patches are missing.

Small chambers are closed off to the public and security is there it make sure we don't break the rules.

But at least we get to spend time in this little chamber!

I make my way to the Anubis temple, it is the part of the temple I am looking forward to seeing, he is after all my fav god!

And I am not disappointed!

The art work is fantastic, the colors are amazing, so bright and vivid! There are 12 columns ans yet another, night sky painted ceiling, this is the best part of the temple complex.... well that's my opinion!

In one scene Anubis receives offerings from Hatshepsut but while the god himself is in good condition, poor Hatshepsut has been completely erased. The prime suspect for the damage is Thuthmosis III.

You can't help but feel sorry for her, having to insert her power by dressing as a man, then having the memory of reign wiped from history out revenge by her stepson!

Here he reigns supreme!
Anubis in his glory!

I make my way back to the stairs and take in the views, I try to imagine the temple with with all the gardens and water features, exotic trees and shrubs from Hathsepsut’s trading expeditions to Punt (thought to be in the region of Sudan) it must have been stunning!

Sadly the green is gone & the desert took over!

Saying one last good bye to the Horus Falcon statue I head back to the entrance.

Most of the group are there already and we seek refuge from the afternoon heat and sit in the welcoming air conditioning on the bus.

Proud Horus!

Heading back to Luxor we stop to take a closer look at the 2 seated statues we passed on the way to the Valley of the Kings. The Colossi of Memnon!

They are badly damaged and the faces barely recognizable. But they are both Amenhotep III (from the 14th century BC) in a seated position, his hands resting on his knees and his gaze facing towards the river. Two shorter figures are carved into the front throne alongside his legs these are his wife Tiye and mother Mutemwiya, although I cannot for the life of me make them out!

Amenhotep III times two!
He looks kinda bird like!

The original function of the Colossi was to stand guard at the entrance to Amenhotep's memorial temple, very little remains today of Amenhotep's temple. It stood on the edge of the Nile floodplain and the huge temple disappeared over time, plus it was not unusual for future Pharaohs to destroy others temples as we know from poor Queen Hatshepsut.

The inscription at the base, now I see them, wife & Mum!

We don't stay too long and head back to the hotel. Dumping my day pack I head up to the pool and meet up with the girls, ah thank goodness for the swimming pool!

We spend the afternoon relaxing by the pool side, this trip is a little non stop going from one iconic historical site to another so it is nice to enjoy a lazy afternoon... plus the pool is a major bonus!

After changing I meet the girls in the hotel reception and we head out.

The street is really chaotic and trying to cross the road is a major feat. I hate seeing the horses and carriages they look so sad and tired some of them are so thin and to work in this traffic must be so horrible for them... so heartbreaking!

Finally we weave our way thru the traffic, they certainly don't believe in zebra crossings, not that they would stop they are crazy drivers!

Can't wait to see it up close!

The sun is beginning to set and the tall Palm Trees cast fantastic black silhouettes against the golden skyline!

Somehow we manage to get a little lost trying to find the entrance to Luxor temple, trust us!

Luxor Sunset!

It doesn't cost much to enter and once again it is pretty amazing! The first thing that catches your attention are the giant Ramses II statues. Two are seated either side of the temple entrance, there are 3 more along the right main wall, he certainly liked to promote himself!

Hey there Ramses!
Ramses II in all his royalness!
A little self promotion!
There are more of him!

There is a huge Obelisk towering the entrance, there was once 2 of them but the other is now in Paris. But before I look around what is called the Pylon of Ramses II, I really want to see the avenue of the Sphinx. It is one of the sites on my list of "must see"!

Will take a closer look later!

There are so many of them! I was really hoping we could walk down the avenue as the Pharaohs once did but sadly it is closed off to the public.

They are all in differing states of ruin, but I can imagine what they would have been like in their glory days! When this road was used once a year during the Opet festival when the Egyptians paraded along it carrying the statues of Amun and Mut in a symbolic re-enactment of their marriage.

The Avenue of the well you can see what they are!
They are so cool!

The construction of the Avenue of Sphinxes was begun during the New Kingdom and finished during 30th Dynasty, but sadly it doesn't connect to Karnak temple anymore, modern day living has buried much of the past!

Wish I could get closer!
Good thing I have a zoom lens!

I head back to the Ramses II Pylon to take a look around, the statues are fantastic, the details on their faces make them look like they are smiling. I guess it was good to be King!

Amazing details!
The story of his great battles are etched into his throne!
He doesn't look that tough to me!

The entrance alone is over sixty-one meters wide! The statues line the front wall, construction was begun by Pharaoh Amenhotep III and was completed by Pharaoh Tutankhamun. It makes me wonder if all of these statues of are Ramses II, they do seem to look alike to me!

And why is one of them facing the wall?

Quite a proud Pharaoh!
So many!

I head over to study the Obelisk up close, I saw the one in Paris but never got to see it up close, I wonder if they are identical.

The etchings are so clear on every side all the way to the top! The 25m pink granite obelisk was built by Rameses so it's not surprising his name is carved into each side.

Does that say Ramses... Probably!
Love how they use animals in their alphabet!
Still so amazingly intact!

There are 12 what look like Baboons at the base, yes I counted them, and they are... well let's just say they added all their bodily details! So detailed in fact I actually laugh out loud and get a few strange looks from passers by!

Well... they are anatomically correct!

Heading in the Court of Ramses opens up, the sun is setting and the lights are slowly being turned on. The huge courtyard is surrounded by pillars and statues. the lights seem to make the glow, it is pretty spectacular.

Ramses Court, WOW!

At 57 m long and 51 m wide, with 74 papyrus columns it is no wonder it is classed as one of the most amazing temples in Egypt.

Every Column....
.... every Beam...

Like Karnak this was once full of color, it is hard to imagine now as a lot of the statues are missing limbs and heads. Every column, beam and wall tells a story of the Pharaohs life, the battles, worship to the gods and family there is a smaller statue of his wife a diminutive Queen Nefertari, who was quite famous in her own right, his first wife they married when he was 15!

... tells his story...
and it's impressive!

I really want to get a closer look at the hieroglyphs on the columns but they are roped off, so I sneak thru an opening, the details are really amazing how they survived the thousands of years of weather, burial and time is well... amazing.

The fun for me is finding interesting little hieroglyphs that I haven't seen before, how did they read this stuff?!

Water + disc + hill + Bee = NTBIT no idea what the rest are!
Owl = M... umm I think!
That looks like and anarchy symbol and a vulture =MERA
That's too complicated!

I finally get caught and a security guard gives a me stern look and points the way out I apologize and smile and he just laughs a little... phew not in any big trouble then!

The next courtyard is dedicated to the Pharaoh Amenhotep III, a colonnade takes your there and it's just as impressive. It is 45m wide 56 long, with double rows of papyrus columns on three sides. The northern end was originally the entrance to the temple.

The dusk light make it all the more impressive as the stone seems to glow and the hieroglyphs and their shadows come to life, the stone seems to change color turning a shade of pink.

Statues in the Court of Amonhotep III

At the back of the court is a Hypo style hall like at Karnak filled with more columns, in fact even the chambers and sanctuaries have columns, walking thru to the chapels dedicated to their various gods, each section is filled pillars.

The back section was once enclosed with a star decorated ceiling, now that must have been a fantastic sight to see.

I can't help but admire their work, the etching in the stones feels smooth and cool to touch. The pink of the stone has become quite obvious with the setting of the sun.

Rows upon rows of pillars!
The shadows seem bring them to life!
Hmmm... who are you?!
The symbol of the common people!

I duck into a small chamber it is crowded and just when I think about leaving I hear a tour guide explaining the hieroglyphs to her group. She points to one that represents Alexander the Great who apparently was crowned here at Luxor as great leader, so I stay and eves drop for a while.

Inside the little chamber!
Mirror image, wonder if it says something important!
The Cartouche of Alexander the Great!

I stay for a while after the group in gone to enjoy having this little chamber to myself before the next chatty group piles in.

I head back to the entrance, night has taken over and the whole temple is lit up with spot lights. It looks fantastic.

Leaving the Hypos style Hall!

The statues bask in gold light and shadows cross their features giving them an almost serine look. The hieroglyphs on the pillars seem stand out even more under spot light.

Proud Ramses II
Casting shadows!

The Obelisk looks fantastic under light, the writings on it are even better at nigh they seem to stand out more. What it must have taken to cut this out of the rock in one piece, then float it up the Nile from Aswan to here, clever!

I head over to the Avenue of the Sphinx and bump into Zoe and Hanny. It looks fantastic all lit up the little Sphinx glow gold as they sit silently and serenely basking in the light. Damn I wish we could get closer!

They built over most of the avenue with a Mosque and so most of it was lost, what a shame!

Cleopatra once paraded down this avenue, along with many other Pharaohs in celebration of Amun and Mut in a symbolic re-enactment of their marriage... that's a party I would have loved to attend!

They have a glow about them!
Opps someone is still in the dark!
Me and these guys!

We head back towards Ramses II courtyard and to the left is this little, what looks like a small temple, a headless statue stands in the center, it is one of the only standing Roman temples left that was built here. The headless statue is of Isis in Roman dress.
When the Romans took control of Thebes and the Luxor Temple in about 250 AD, they turned the whole of the Luxor complex into a fortified garrison, and this is the only remnant of that time left, apart from the graffiti they left behind!

Isis... well part of her anyway!

We take one last look at Luxor Temple, it is pretty amazing, especially all lit up in gold, you can't help but admire the Egyptians for their artistry, engineering skills and their dedication to their gods.

One last look... Luxor Temple... AMAZING!

This is the last ancient site of this trip, you would think I am all templed out... Na!

We leave the temple and make our way into the Bazaar, we really need to get those souvenirs and we have time to kill before dinner.
The Bazaar is actually really pretty with the bright lights and neatly displayed tables but then.... arrr!

Luxor Bazar....

It is busy and as we expected the shop owners see us coming and the hassling begins, but we push on thru and make our way into a couple of shops and I get some of those little statues I promised myself. I really don't like to haggle but this time I didn't care as the constant "you buy" "come into my shop" hardened my reserve!

It's a bit of an effort!

With the shopping over we head to the restaurant, once again thank god Zoe knows what she is doing and we find the Al-Sahaby Lane Restaurant, where we are meeting some of the group for dinner.

The front doesn't look like much, and we have to climb up 4 flights of stairs but the restaurant has a great view of Luxor Temple!

Dinner View!

We find some of the others are already there and once we settle in it's time to eat. Everything on the menu looks so great, and I will admit all that walking today has built up quite the appetite, so I can't help but order the lamb kofta thingys I love the way they come out on their own little BBQ!

Dinner... yum!

We chat for a while relaxing in the cool river breeze. Then head back to the hotel. We leave Luxor tomorrow and have quite a long drive and my plans of a good nights sleep fail me, now you think after a long day walking in the sun I would crash out but... NO!
So I read for a bit...

Posted by TracingTheWorld 01:13 Archived in Egypt Comments (0)



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OCTOBER 27TH 2019 DAY 16

It's up with the sun this morning and I drag my bag downstairs, I swear this thing gets heavier every day... I haven't actually bought that much! All I can say is thank you for the elevators as ancient as some of them maybe.

Breakfast isn't exactly moreish, a boiled egg and some bread is about as exciting as it gets but there is coffee... yeap can't start the day with out it!

The staff help us load the bags onto the roof of the mini bus (If it falls off I will not be happy, I have another trip after this!) and it's not long before we are on the road.

The drive takes us across the river out of the busy city to those little suburbs we went thru yesterday.

It isn't long before we hit the desert highway our way to Hurghada on the Sinai Peninsula.

The desert is a constant of rocky hills with the occasional hut or tiny village. The motorway is wide, modern and easy going, not what I expected but this is the main route from the Nile to the Peninsula and trucks are a more common than cars!

The Egyptian Desert, you don't want to go wandering!

It is bloody hot out here and not very comfortable being in the bus and I am thankful when we stop at a large service center. I think cold drinks are required for the rest of journey... Ooooh they have lattes!

It is nice to stretch the legs for a bit, but Mo is rounding us all up and it's back to the bus.

As we are about to leave a group of local elderly ladies are out the front with their donkeys and goats, the goats are hitching a ride on the backs of the donkeys, it is quite amusing but it is a tourist trap, take a photo with them for money so I sneak in a shot or 2 as I get on the bus, I had to it's is comical!

A little comical!

After anther couple of hours we finally reach the outskirts of Hurghada, the wide streets are lined with Palm trees and it is quite clean and modern.

We stop at a ATM before we wind our way thru the sloped narrow streets of the city center to our Hotel.

It is a huge sprawling place, the hotel lobby is old worldly with a marble, brass and wood interior. It takes a while to get our rooms organized, so we wait by the pool. It seems we have the lace to ourselves!

The rooms do not live up the expectations the reception area set, they are very basic and the bathroom... well let's just say is run down and in need of some maintenance!

We do have a little balcony which has a view of the pool!

I dump the bag on the bed and head back down stairs to meet up with the girls and we head out, we have a pass at one of the beach front resorts to use their beach facilities... ooh fancy, wish we were staying here!

We find a spot on the beach and spend the afternoon relaxing, the water is warm, but it becomes a little over cast so we just chill out chatting until the sun begins to set!

Relaxing spot!

We head back and I catch up on some washing there is no where to really to hang the wet clothes so the balcony table and chairs will do!
There is time to relax before I head sown to meet the girls for dinner.

The hotel pool!

Hanny is and expert at finding the right places to go and we discover this funky little pizza place not far.

The interior is quirky and fun, with a kinda hippy vibe. The cold beer and pizza goes down a treat, in fact the pizza is bloody lovely!

We slowly make our way back to the hotel stopping at a little shop for supplies on the way.

The rest of the group are sitting outside by the pool finishing dinner so we join them and have a drink.. yeap you guessed it Hibiscus Tea!

Suddenly Tracey and Mo are standing beside with a birthday cake! I thought I had kept that quiet, I don't remember telling anyone!

The cake is amazing made up in quarters with 4 different flavors, Chocolate, Mango, Cherry and Hazelnut. I really wasn't expecting this at all, what a lovely surprise! Mo and Tracey make everyone sing much to my embarrassment (I really try to avoid birthdays hate the reminder that I am getting old!)

The Wonderful Birthday Cake!

After blowing out the candle we all share in dissecting it and it is delicious! THANK YOU EVERYONE!!!!

We sit around chatting for a while but after a long hot drive and a overly full belly of yummy delights it is time for bed...

OCTOBER 28TH 2019 DAY 17

After a good nights sleep I head down for breakfast. Some of the group is ready to go. The buffet is OK lots of fresh fruit and salad stuff... they really like their cucumber here!

I sit with the girls and we chat, Mo rounds us all up to get into the mini bus, today we set sail, can't wait!

A short drive thru the city and we stop at this small harbor where our boat is waiting. Before get on board we get our snorkeling gear then it's a clamber onto the boat and off we go!

Hope we spot those!

Once on board Mo introduces us to the Captain and he shows us around the boat, lunch will be served on board in the lower deck later but we are welcome to help ourselves to cold drinks!

We head up to the top deck and watch Hurghada disappear in the distance. The Red Sea is beautiful bright blue, when the sand banks appear beneath the waters turn a lovely turquoise.

The sea breeze feels lovely after days sightseeing in the dry desert sun!

Goodbye City, Hello the Red Sea!

The views are fantastic, so this is the Sinai Peninsula! Sandy Islands dot the horizon and we are heading for one for a relaxing morning at the beach.

I love how the water changes color with the depth.

Sinai Peninsula!

Other boats are out and the Island we are heading for is already quite crowded!

We stop at the edge of what is kinda like a boat parking area to set down the anchor, and I am thinking do they want us to swim to shore from here! When suddenly this guy jumps out of the water on the back of the boat Tracey and I jump back in shock and just look at each other with a raised eyebrow... what the hell... where did he come from! Plus he isn't too bad on the eye, if you know what I mean!

Stopping here for a swim!

We climb into a small motor boat that take us to shore, so yeap don't have to swim... I don't think I would have made it that far!

Once on shore we find a nice semi non crowded spot on the beach and lay out our towels, then it's straight into the water!

It's bloody lovely! So refreshing and cool! It is so great to be at the beach again! The water is the perfect temperature, little fish swim around our legs, a great way to waste time!

We spend the rest of the morning relaxing before heading back to the boat for lunch.

Once on board we set sail again. The Buffet lunch is actually a full on cooked meal, but I opt for the salad, hey we are going snorkeling soon and Mum always told us not to swim after eating!

Lunch over I sit up on the top deck with the girls and watch the islands pass by.

We stop in the off shore from sandy island and Mo tells us it's time get our gear and get off the boat!

First Stop... for snorkeling!

Our guide is the fella that docked our boat at the island, and once we are all ready to go we jump straight in.

The reef below seems so calm and serene compared to the slightly choppy waters above. As we swim out from the boat and the beautiful world opens up below. I forgot how fantastic it was to watch.

Well aren't you amazing!

Large brightly colored fish dart between the corals... I manage to get a few photos but got sick of fiddling with the camera so I just enjoy watching these colorful creatures dart around me! It is so much fun!

Such a pretty one!

I am so enthralled with the scene below I hadn't noticed the others swim off ahead of me, but I kinda like having this time to myself, uncrowded, like being on my own personal safari!

The fish at the Blue Hole were smaller and the populations were dense, but the varieties are bigger and just as colorful! A rainbow of colors and weird shapes... I love it!

Love the stripes!

I look up and notice the rest of the group are turning back, they soon catch up to me and we make our way back to the boat. I don't really want to get out but it's time to go!

Yes I am the last one on the boat and we set off for the next spot.

I just sit on the deck with a cold drink in hand and the salty water making my hair frizz into an unmanageable tangle and watch the world go by... Relaxing!

What a way to spend the day!

We come to our next stop and it's back in the water, I am a bit cautious as this reef is quite shallow and the wind has picked up. I don't really want to cut myself on the corals so I take it slow and steady.

Once again I get left behind but I am happy too! I like having this spot to myself, how can you enjoy the view if your constantly rushing!

Your unusually weird!

A huge brown fish darts out of the corals right in front of me and I will admit I got such a fright I lost my balance for a bit and tasted salt water! Cheeky bugger!

There are these strange long fish with weirdly long snouts that make me giggle into my snorkel. But it's the blue one I see that I have to try to photograph it's so bright and fun looking... I hope I got it.

Ah the gorgeous blue fish!

I wish the others weren't coming back, I know we have been out here for a while but it is easy to loose track of time in this under water garden!

s this how fish sleep?!

Sadly the afternoon has drawn on and we slowly make our way back to Hughada. We sit on the top deck and chat, enjoying he view! It has been a wonderful day and we beg Mo to let us stay out on the water for longer... sadly no!

Our snorkeling guide and Mo!

Hurghada comes into view and the Mosque is the dominant feature on the skyline. It's nice being out on the ocean, it reminds me of fishing with my Dad, wind in the hair and the smell of salt in the air.

Back to land!

Sadly we dock the boat and we drop our snorkeling gear off.

The bus takes for a visit to the local Mosque, Mo tells us we e that must cover from the top of heads to our toes, so the remaining wives of Mohammad stay outside... I don't know I am not anti religion, and yes I know that in this country it is their religion, but it feels wrong to me.

Maybe it is my western up bringing, but I am proud to be free to live life on my own terms and seems to me that to enter a building where you have to hide who you are is a bit... well... anti women.

It is quite a lovely building!
The Minoret!

So typically me I sit in the open courtyard and find a cute little stray cat in much need of affection, the cute little grey fluff ball just wants some attention, Mo and the girls make fun of me, but hey even our 4 legged friends deserve a little love and care.

When the others return Zoe and Hanny have to drag me away calling me 'the crazy cat lady' they are not too far off 'crazy animal lady' would be more precise!

The Mosque courtyard!
But think I will wait outside!

Back at the hotel and after a shower to wash the salt out the frizzy mess I call hair, their is time to relax. I sit on the balcony watching the sun set then head down for dinner.
The table has been set u p outside for the entire group, the usual snooties are not there, which is a good thing as they haven't stopped complaining all day.

Dinner is another buffet and it is rather good, al lot of variety... the desserts are delicious!

We chat for a while but there is something about the sea air that rests the mind and tires the body, so it;s off to bed for me!

Posted by TracingTheWorld 04:30 Archived in Egypt Comments (0)



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After a breakfast it is back into the mini bus and we drive back to Cairo. The 3 hour drive thru the desert seems to take forever, and there is nothing much to do except watch the desert pass by. The highway is smooth going and at least today it isn't sweltering hot!

We stop at a restaurant complex for lunch. It is actually really nice, and it does feel good to stretch the legs.

We enter the familiar suburbs of Cairo but instead of going to the hotel, we head to the Islamic parts of the city, the Frenetic back streets of the Khan El Khalili Bazaar.

The parks just in front of a huge Mosque, the streets are filled with people and you can smell the spices in the air.

Cairo Mosque!
The older version I'm guessing!

Mo guides us thru the market. the buildings are old and quite ornate. The Domes and Minarets fill the skyline. The sandstone used to construct most of these buildings make them look like decorated, well... sandcastles!

Cairo Skyline!

The street vendors tables are packed with souvenirs. It is so crowded that we easily loose site of each other, luckily I have my trusty wives of Mohammad to keep me from getting lost!

Believe me they sell everything from carpets to trinkets, I am excited to have a look around!

Entering the crowded Bazaar!

Why are we going so quickly we hardly have time to stop and browse, even the shop owners don't get the chance to entice us in!

Another main street opens up, and Mo takes us past little side alleys filled with vendors.

The Bazaar has an old world feel to it, which is not surprising since it has been here the 10th century!

What's in there?!

Mo takes us to 'Perfume Street' and we turn off down an alley and climb up a set of rickety wooden stairs... ummm... is this safe?

The second floor looks down into a courtyard and little shops displaying their goods line the veranda.

We find ourselves in a long narrow shop filled with trinkets, ah now I see why we came here, shelves of Egyptian glass line one wall! They are so delicate and beautiful, the smell of spices and flowers fill the air.

I wait for the others to come out as we don't all fit in the tiny store, and yes I make a wee purchase! The store owner wraps it really well. I hope I can get it back home without it breaking!

You would buy one too!

We get back to what is one of the main streets and walk thru to what is the Bronze Market. The buildings are so fantastic, a remnant of Egypts past.

The Sandstone buildings are sadly ruined by the unsightly... and as my Dad would say "bloody dangerous' electricity wires and antenna. But when you look past all that you see how beautiful they are, delicately carved window frames and decorative features carved into the stone.

Must have quite a beautiful place before modern society took over!

Look past the chaos...!

Walking thru archways to narrow streets lined with bronze pots, lamps, plates and jugs, they hang everywhere... even above our heads.

Admittedly most of them need a good clean!

Bronze everywhere!
Genie Sized!

For a country whose history once revered the cat as a guardian, they don't care much about them now. Stray cats are everywhere, some are even sleeping on the displays, at least these ones look healthier than my friends back at the hotel!

Aww... so cute!
Sorry I don't have anything to eat!

The further thru the market we go the more you see of Egypts past. The buildings really start to look like decorated cakes!
The carved out details on the turrets and domes are lovely. You can almost imagine yourself stepping back in time!

Amazing Architecture when you look around...
... to see the beauty!
The details are fantastic!

The lattice work over the windows is fantastic, and the roofs look like someone used a piping bag and decorated them with icing!
You can't help but look up!

Wonder when these were built?!
12th or 14th Century?!
Love the details on those windows!

Some of the wooden features have been restored, the shutters and balconies, some painted blue to add a spot of color to the beige sandstone.
I am so busy looking up I almost get left behind.

Now that's a balcony, way cooler than mine!
Keep looking up!

We come to what was once an entrance gate "the Wikala al-Qutn" it is has been carved with what looks like Islamic symbols or writing. Street vendors are set up all along the narrow street.

Entrance gate and remains of the Wikala al-Qutn

Behind heavily laden tables of tourist trinkets the shops themselves are actually beautifully decorated with wooden cared lattice work and etched glass.

Beautiful old shops....
... with all the tourist trinkets!
Some not so appealing![i]

In the past this was the trading center of Cairo, merchants would travel from far and wide to sell their goods.

With the expansion of Cairo and it's growing population in the 14th century It become so crowded with make shift market stalls that the Sultan and the authorities were having difficultly regulating or controlling their activities, so areas were progressively replaced by fixed stone structures with built-in spaces for individual shops.

[i]Once a thriving trading center...

... now one of Cairos main tourist spots!

This meant the authorities could impose greater control on commercial activities, fixed structures could be counted, taxed, and regulated more easily.

These types of buildings were centered around an inner courtyard, like where we visited the perfume shop. Merchants could store their goods, while the upper levels were used as living quarters. Their street facades typically had spaces for shops at ground level.

This is lovely little corner!

Today many crafts workshops continue to operate within the bazaar and in the surrounding districts as they did in the past, manufacturing some of the products sold here.

More architectural history!

After wandering thru the streets, we seem to have lost Mo somewhere, we find were at another gate or entrance, it has a beautifully carved vaulted ceiling with this little shutters that seem to have no purpose but as decoration. A street vendor has set up shop on the stairs and when i stop for a photo... ah there it is... the sales pitch! No, thanks, more interested in the arch!

Bab al-Ghuri, the ornate southern gate!

I feel like we have turned around on ourselves but luckily Hanny knows where she is going, I would never find my way back on my own this place is like a maze!

We sit and have a cold drink while we wait for the others.

On the bus and to our surprise the driver has to maneuver thru the narrow streets of the market and make a turn that seems impossible. How he did this without knocking over a display or running over a local... who by the way don't care about the giant bus coming their way and just walk in front of it as if it isn't there. Not to mention how he managed to get out onto the road that is so packed with traffic that even the fire trucks with their lights flashing are at a stand still!

We finally get back to the hotel, with bags dumped in our rooms I head down for a coffee and my little furry friends come out of hiding for a visit. I give them what is left of my sandwich and more come out of hiding!

My furry little friends!

There is one little fella that is crossed eye making him visually impaired and it breaks my heart... I actually get online to see what the regulations are about bringing a cat into Australia, but animals from Egypt are forbidden, I seriously would have arranged to bring him home.

Wish I could bring you home with me!

When I see the little fluffy kitten that is so skinny and has scares all over his face, I look up Cairos version of A.C.E (the animal welfare center we visited in Aswan) and send them an email with the details of the cats, their injuries and location. I feel like there is something more I should do, I really hope they do something to help them.

Poor baby...
Such a pretty little girl!
I hope they come to help!

There is a little supermarket down the street so I pop down and by a box of cat biscuits with my shopping and feed them out of the way from the prying eyes of the hotel staff.

I meet up with the wives and we head out for dinner. After a bit of a debate we choose the simple and safe option, when you drive past slabs of meat hanging out in the open under the motorway bypass you really think about what and where to get your food!) and head back to McDonalds!

Yeah I know but it isn't far, to be honest I have never eaten so much of the stuff before but at least you know what your getting!

We head back to the hotel and chat for a while in the girls room. I leave them in peace and head to bed. Tomorrow we have along drive to our last city stop on the tour.

I just wish I could sleep, I don't know why I am so restless! So I sit on the balcony for a while and watch the crazy Cairo traffic. the car horns don't stop not even during the night.

Finally I head back to bed, jezz I hope I can sleep on the bus tomorrow... 2am and still awake!

OCTOBER 30TH 2019 DAY 19

After a really bad nights sleep and many cups of coffee this morning we swap our lovely bus for a mini van.

Leaving Cairo behind we head north to Alexandria. I doze on and off as we drive thru the desert.

We stop for lunch and snacks along the way and it is mid afternoon by the time we reach the outskirts of Alexandria. The drive into the city center isn't as complicated as the wide streets make it easy.

The sparkling Mediterranean Sea comes into view and the locals are out strolling along the water front, or simply sitting on the stone wall, some even have picnics with them... how chilled!

Our hotel is on a side street off the main square. Trams are the local public transport and there is a stop just around the corner.

The Misr Hotel is tucked away down a side street above an office complex. The ancient lift, that looks like it has seen better days opens up to the top floor. When you walk it is like stepping back in time, the old world charm of the place is a lovely surprise! An old wooden staircase and Queen Victoria style sofas fill the room. The staff are wonderfully friendly!

The Misr Hotel reception area!

To be honest this is the best hotel yet! The room actually lives up the expectation set by the reception area! Modern, a bit small but it has a clean bathroom with a fantastic shower.

Our Room!

The view from the large windows is the busy street below and if you look to the left a bit you can see the waterfront and how sprawling the city is, as it stretches around the bay!

The View to the right...
... view a little to the left...
... and of sprawling Alexandria!

I meet up with the wive and we head out for a walk along the waterfront. But first we have to cross the streets... yeap the traffic, although not as bad as Cairo! Once again Zoe takes the lead and bravely leads us thru the chaos.

We cross to a grassed garden with a statue of Saad Zaghloul who led a civil disobedience campaign with the goal of achieving independence for Egypt and Sudan from British rule in 1922. He served as Prime Minister of Egypt from 26 January 1924 to 24 November 1924 when he resigned!

The statue of Saad Zaghloul!

We make it across the main street that follows the shoreline. It is really nice, vendors with their little carts are selling snacks, ice creams and drinks.

Old colonial buildings mix with the traditional Arabic architecture which gives the city a collectic vibe. Like most of the cities here a lot of the buildings need TLC but unlike Cairo the streets are clean, I guess the workers aren't on strike because the local government won't pay the union "fees or as Mo puts union "bribes"

Old World Charm!

We do a U turn and walk towards the university quarter, it is such a beautiful afternoon, the Mediterranean sea breeze cools the air down. People are chilled, it seems to have a relaxed vibe... must be the sea air!

The wives of Mohammad and the Mediterranean!

The University complex backs on the Alexandria Library, date trees line the street and they are choker full of bunches of red dates. They are quite amazing... saying that you wouldn't want to be walking underneath when the fruit drops!

Dates, Dates and...
... bunches of Dates!

This part of the city is very modern with glass art work decorating the side walk. I am actually quite surprised by Alexandria, it is very different from Cairo, people here seem to be used to seeing westerners they don't stare at us like they have in the other towns and cities, considering they are more touristy.

The University Quarter!

We stop at the Movenpic Cafe which has a great view of the bay. We treat ourselves to Caramel Ice Lattes... OMG it is bloody delicious, so decadent... and so worth the calories!

Afternoon decadence with the girls!
Caramel Ice Lattes.. YUM!

After treating ourselves we slowly make our way bake to the hotel. Like the locals we stop and sit on the stone wall that lines the shoreline. It is nice just to relax and watch the scenery as the sun sets, it has been quite a jam packed itinerary, always on the go.

Relaxing with the locals!

Fishermen in their little boats sail across the bay as the sun dips behind the city landscape turning the sky a beautiful gold... no wonder it was a color favored by the Pharaohs if the dusk was like this everyday.

Alexandria Sunset!

We head back in the direction of the hotel, Mo has given us a tip for a place to eat and once again Hanny and Zoe find the way. It isn't easy, as the entrance is kinda hidden in one of the small back streets... well done ladies!

It isn't fancy but the roof top dining has a great view of the bay. We find our own table and a waiter brings us a menu. The options are quite good, some local dishes which I have no idea what they are, as well as western... hmmm roast chicken... yeap that will do!

The place seems very popular with the locals, we are the only tourists here. After a good meal and cold drinks we head back to the hotel.

I still don't trust the lift, but buggered if I am climbing 5 flights of stairs.

The girls head to the restaurant and I head to bed after last nights sleepless night I crash out early!

OCTOBER 31ST 2019 DAY 20

I am one of the last ones to make it for breakfast, slept so well. Today unlike the other hotels there is no buffet to this morning, it's a served breakfast... coffee please! Oh OK both!

Breakfast with a view!

We head out for the bus, today we are visiting the El Alamein War Museum and the Commonwealth Cemetery.

It is quite the drive to get there. As we enter the outer suburbs we pass a circus and it breaks my heart to see the caged animals... that should so be banned worldwide!

The museum and the cemetery are out in the desert and we arrive by late morning.

First stop of the day!

We park out front and the collection of tanks and guns are the first thing you see. Standing amongst them is a wonderful peace memorial dedicated to all the soldiers lost in the unnecessary second world war!

Unnecessary weapons of war!
Thought this was quite beautiful!
The lovely peace memorial!

The museum is modern, light and cool. The exhibits represent each country that Egypt fought along side in world war 2. As part of the allied forces in a desert campaign that saw the needless deaths on both sides.

Desert front lines!

Along with Britain New Zealand, Australia and many other countries have a dedicated display honoring the men... well boys really, they were all so young.

Honoring the fallen New Zealanders!
The losses!

Sad doesn't begin to describe it... how have we not learnt from our blood soaked past.

The treaty that ended the war... sadly not future ones!

Outside I wander around the military hardware that is on display, but I will admit planes and tanks are not my thing... death machines don't really interest me! They make me sad, no angry that families lost loved ones because of greed and prejudice!

Military hardware...!
Memorial wall!

Once everyone is back at the bus we drive a little further out into the desert to the El Alamein Commonwealth cemetery.

El Alamein!

Climbing up the steps you enter thru a large archway, row upon row of headstones stretch out in front of you.... there is just so many!

So many lives lost!

They have put them into sections that represent where they come from. Australia, Canada, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, America... the list goes on...

The sad truth of war!

I find where the New Zealand soldiers are, they have done them proud. A curling silver fern adorns the headstones a long with their name, age, rank, birth date and when they passed away, it's just so tragic.

New Zealand Soldiers!

I take my time to read all the names... they were just boys some as young as 18. I think of my brother at their age and how lucky we are that our generation didn't have live thru this, and the poor families who lost sons, fathers, brothers...

Someones family!

There is a gazebo at one end of the cemetery and after wandering around for a while I sit in the shade and stare at the loss.

I know that the campaign in North Africa played a significant role in ending world war 2. The Allies held out against the advancing Afrika Corps of Rommel, it was a long and bloody fight which turned into victory for the Allies, it was their first victory of the war.

Knowing this doesn't make it any less upsetting, reading all those names on the hundreds of headstones. I can't believe the world hasn't learnt from all this death and wars are still being waged over land, for religion and for power, humans can be so stupid and selfish!

Back on the bus we head back to the city, we drive a long the water front to the Qaitbay Citadel where the once great lighthouse of Alexandria once stood before it was destroyed by a n earthquake.

Mo organizes our tickets and while we wait people are staring at us, you would think they have never seen westerners before.

Entering thru the main gate built into the large outer defense wall a large courtyard opens little gardens lead up to the fortress which stands dominant in one corner. The outer wall is built directly at the edge of the sea cliff, the perfect set up to defend a city!

Qaitbay Citadel!

A bus load of school children have arrived and as we are walking up the steps of the citadel, we are... for use of a better word mobbed! They want to have their photos taken with us.

Hanny and Zoe have it the worst, their blonde hair is like a magnet!

Just when you think your all done with one group you take another few steps and and another group of girls taps you on the shoulder! It becomes a little exhausting to be honest. I don't know how famous people do it!

Once inside the citadel wide open halls open open up with large vaulted ceilings. The corridors lead to more vaulted rooms with arched door frames and little windows, just big enough to shoot from but not be shot back at!

What's with the dead end?!
The main corridor!

There is a little mosque, which is the oldest in Alexandria. the little naval museum has relics from sunken ships of war, some dating back to the Romans.

It is quite a climb up the stairs of one of the towers, looking out of the slit windows the Mediterranean glistens below... wow that's quite a drop, wouldn't want to fall!

Citadel Courtyard!

After walking around the sea defense wall I meet up with Hanny and Zoe, once again we are mobbed by school children, lucky for me they are more interested in them.

We finally make our way outside to the bus and there is a debate as to where to eat lunch, most of the group stays and has lunch from the market stalls set up along the road.
The wives and I hitch a ride on the bus to Alexandrias most famous seafood restaurant. Celebrities from all over the world have eaten have eaten here, and the collage of photos in the entrance is proof, some I recognize, politicians from the middle east others not so much!

It has a fantastic view of the Citadel and the bay, and our table is right by the window. We are given menus and at first it is a little confusing, but the waiter explains how it works. You choose from the buffet... which is a seafood lovers dream!... then you pick how you want it cooked and which sides to go with it... simple!

What to have... what to have?!

After some Umming and Arrining... hey it's not an easy decision you know! I go for fresh grilled calamari and prawns, with lemon butter fish fillet!

While we wait for our main course fresh warm bread and dips are brought out with our drinks.

The food is fantastic, just love fresh seafood!

The restaurant view of the Citadel!

With full bellies we walk back to the hotel. The late afternoon commute has begun and the streets are busy. the street vendors are out people are relaxing on the sea wall... seems to be a popular hangout!

We pass a memorial dedicated to the unknown naval soldiers who lost their lives in the sea battles.

Alexandria Naval Unknown Soldier Memorial!

Just like last night we sit on the sea wall with the locals and enjoy the cool evening air. Once again Egypt puts on another spectacular golden sunset sunset!

Another glorious sunset!

As we head back to the hotel a group of men are doing their evening prays in the middle of a market square, we stop to watch for a bit.

I say goodnight to the girls and head off to bed, not feeling too great a bit queasy to be honest, probably just tired, a full belly will do that!


I just can't seem to get going this morning. So for breakfast I stick with eggs, bread and copious amounts of coffee!

It's back on the bus and we are given our lunch box for the day ahead.

This morning we drive to thru the back streets of the city to the Catacombs of Kom al Shoqafa. This little site is in the middle of high rise suburbia.

It may not be a grand temple, here they found remnants of the Roman Empire that once reigned the country, even the Greeks put their stamp on the place.

A hidden Gem!

As you head thru the gate fantastic Roman frescoes have been put on display, the human faces and central figure are well... quite life like.

Well isn't that... tiny

There are these really fantastic lion heads with wide gaping mouths, once use as water spouts they make me chuckle!

Happy fella... aren't ya!

To the right is a little Roman Chapel, but inside the colorful artwork is an Egyptian burial scene, here the 2 cultures have blended together. The typical gods are depicted on all 3 walls, Horus in falcon form, the wings of Isis and of course it wouldn't be a burial without Anubis!

A peek inside!
The painting style is different!
Roman depiction of Horus!

Just to think this little gem would never have been found if a poor unfortunate donkey hadn't accidentally fell down one of the shafts leading to the catacombs in 1900, jezz I hope it survived the fall!

We head across the open area and climb down into the catacombs, the stairs wind down large open circular shafts, it is quite a way down, and the view up is impressive! Even the large hooks used as a pulley system are still intact!

So that's how they got stuff down!
Hey, hey there Hanny!

The shaft leads to maze of tombs even the roof has been decorated kinda like a shell.

That's a ceiling!

Entering the principal tomb the entry is decorated with typical Roman columns, but these are topped with an Egyptian lotus bloom, the mix of the 2 cultures is fantastic the Roman sun disc with the wings of Horus and a ornately carved snake decorate each side of the entry... that snake looks very imposing!

Entrance to the first decorative tomb... must've been wealthy!
Not in any way menacing!

Inside the tomb on the back wall is a mummification scene, Anubis is weighing the organs, Osris and Toth are each holding a canopic jars, but they are all wearing Roman style robes and the departed is on a lion headed table, it is quite the scene... really don't know how I feel about this whole mummification process, organs in jars!

The back wall inside the tomb!
Mummification Scene!
Anubis preforming the mummification ritual!
Osris, not only god of the underworld but the big boss!
Thoth god of wisdom took note at every mummification process!

There is a second richly carved tomb Isis spreads her wings over Apis the bull worshiped ancient Egyptians as a holy deity, even the Romans thought it important to sacrifice a bull or calf to appease their gods. The blending of two cultures in one scene!

The second large chamber...!
... is Isis worshiping or sacrificing Apis?!

Carved onto the wall at each side of the tomb are two very Roman looking Egyptian gods one looks like Anubis but the muscular depiction of him makes it confusing to tell and the other could be Sobek or Seth it is really hard to tell, oh well they both look really... manly and buff!

I think that is a Roman looking Anbus...
... that is either Sobek or Seth!

It really is like a maze down here! Each corridor has row upon row of open tombs dug into the walls. These aren't decorated, I guess this is where the commoners were buried!

Oh hey... Tracy!

After exploring the tombs you end up in this room with a glass case filled with bones... is that a leg? Oh wait the inscription says they are horses found with their owners!
Oh, I knew the Romans valued their horses... but to be buried with them, now that shows devotion!

Box of bones!

We make our way up the winding stone staircase and wait outside for the group to gather, so I wander around taking in the small details of the stone remnants having time to take in all the delicate details.

I really love how they blended the 2 cultural styles, it's kinda neat when you think about!

Hieroglyphs at the base of a Roman Statue!
The delicate details are fantastic!

Once everyone is back in the bus we head back to the waterfront. The drive back takes us thru side streets and bustling suburbs. Life here is so different, sort of old worldly.

Men sit outside cafes sipping tea and playing dominoes. Cars mix with piled high bicycles that slowly avoiding cars and motorbikes.

And they say women like to sit around gossiping!

Vendors have goods stacked outside shops from bales of wool to shoes, while street carts get set up for the thirsty and hungry.

Setting up shop!
Getting ready for the lunch rush!
Shoes for sale!
A bit of... well everything!

Walls are colorfully decorated with what look like Christmas decorations... they really love their signage it is everywhere covering store fronts and any empty space to advertise... well only they know!


The streets change from narrow and crowded to wide and ornate. It is almost as if the suburbs are tucked away from tourist eyes hiding the hectic true lifestyle of the locals.

How the locals live!
The closer to the waterfront the more ornate the architecture!

The difference is quite remarkable. The waterfront displays ornate and decorative old world architecture like it is a show piece for the tourists. The date trees in full fruit give it a relaxed atmosphere.

This is an Embassy... um for which country... no idea!
Streets lined with... Dates!
Concert barriers... spoil the the views!

We stop for a visit to the Morsi Abu El Abbas Mosque... behind large gates the Mosque is huge. A fountain dominates the front courtyard from the outside it is quite a lovely building.

Morsi Abu El Abbas Mosque!

As women we have enter by the side small inconspicuous entrance, segregation... not used to it! We have to take our shoes off and are given a number to collect them when we leave.

When you step inside a quarter of the Mosque is closed off for the women by a large wire fence draped with blankets so they cant see each other. I suddenly feel like a lessor person and we don't actually get to see any of the interior which we are told is quite grand!

Women stare at us and they aren't friendly looks, like we shouldn't be there, we have all covered our hair and aren't exposing our shoulders or legs... I feel very uncomfortable and very unwelcome.

I hand my camera thru the fence to one of the boys so he can take some photos for me. And as soon as I get it back I leave... I just can't stay any longer I feel so discriminated against.. I know they have their beliefs, but isn't the point of religion to promote community by welcoming newcomers, to spread peace and joy.. and what I felt was anything but!

Ornate Ceilings!
Quite beautiful!
Where the men worship!
Shame I never actually got to see it for myself!

Back at the bus I chat with the girls while we wait for the others, slowly everyone clambers on board. We have time to relax before we go the Alexandria library unsure of where to go we suggest the Movenpic cafe and so there is where we end up. Mo disappears to organize our entry to the library, while we enjoy iced caramel coffee goodness!

Coffee Break!

It is nice to relax enjoying the ocean breeze, fisherman float by in the early afternoon sun. I go for a wander along the waterfront enjoying the views!

Sea views!
Waterfront Artworks!

We drive to the Library, it isn't far... we could have walked! It is a modern building of metal and glass... I wonder what the old library looked like? We have to wait for a bit for it to open which gives us a chance to look around the exterior!

Library Exterior!

Finally the doors are open and WOW the inside is huge the circular design has a mezzanine level looks down into the center of library. It is the open floor plan is filled with modern artworks and glass cases. The rows of book shelves flow outwards. You have to go down to into the center where you find yourself looking up at a large staircase to more levels and more book shelves!

The Alexandria Library!

The artworks are a bit well odd but kinda cool... the machinery on display isn't something I am interested in really so I head up the stairs only to find it's all books and desks... pretty much just your typical library, I was kind of expecting to see more historical remnants from the ancient famous library on display.

Called the "Key of Life"

Wandering around the stacks I find the section on Hieroglyphics and browse for a while. I find one that has translations of each image and still can't figure out how to read them... I need to get me one of these books!

How to read ancient Egyptian!
The alphabet!

After an hour or so I head outside and sit on a garden wall waiting for the others. A group of teenage boys are being loud and rowdy proving they are the same the world over.

Finally everyone is accounted for and it is back on the bus for the drive back to Cairo. The afternoon has turned grey and dark and the long straight highway stretches before us, it is going to be a long drive!

I suddenly realize I still have my lunch box, that was provided by the hotel this morning. Fresh fruit and a chicken roll, I pick at it but the chicken roll sits heavily in my stomach... it doesn't taste right so I give it a miss!

We make it back to Cairo, the cats are there to greet us at the hotel so I give them my leftovers, waste not want not!

After dumping our bags I meet up with the girls and we chill in their room for a while!

We meet up with the group at a restaurant across the road for a final group dinner. Upstairs a table has been set up for us. I can't believe the trip has come to an end already. I have made wonderful friends! Had a blast with the wives of Mohammad!

The dinner is very nice I have my usual Kofta... not as good as the meal in Jordan, but still delicious! After dinner Tracy, Zoe, Hanny & I head down the road for coffee and end up in a doughnut cafe so we just have to try one!

Heading back to the hotel we say goodbye as some are leaving really early in the morning... I am going to miss these lovely ladies!

Once we are at the hotel we set up a group chat and promise to keep in touch.

Heading up to bed I feel tired and drained... I promise to meet up with the wives for breakfast for a final goodbye!


Oh good go no! Not again! I spend have the night on the toilet... Yeap... I knew that chicken roll didn't taste right!

Luckily for me my roomie is a doctor and she takes me over to the pharmacy across the road, I barely make it, the effort is strenuous my legs feel like lead but she helps me to get some medication.

I keep my promise and meet the girls for breakfast all I can manage is water and a little coffee. We say our farewells before they head out to catch their morning flight. I will miss them... you can never have too many friends!

At reception there is a mix up as I know I booked a late check out as my flight is at 11pm and I am told I can't stay in my room Mo tries his best but it is a no can do. Luckily one of the guys in the group is staying an extra night and has made plans to go out for the day so he lets me crash in his room for the day!

Bless his heart... I am not good at all. I try to nap, I have nothing in my system at all I am empty, so all I can do is drink water! I am thankful his TV works as sleep alludes me!

How am I going to deal with my flight tonight?

I rest the day away the medication I got from the pharmacy is helping a lot, the cramps have subsided.

At 8.30 I am on my way to the airport, I stare out the window watching Cairo pass by. Every bump in the road is painful... No problem, I got this... I think!

Luckily for me the driver isn't chatty... but he does drop me off at the wrong terminal! It takes every ounce of my energy to drag my suitcase to where I need to be, that is after I get lost and have to ask for directions from the airport security!

Finally... oh security at the front door, so I dig out my passport and make my way in! OK where do I go now? So this is confusing, signage people, where's the signage? It does help!

After wandering around the terminal I finally find my check in counter, luckily the line isn't too long as I am having trouble standing... all I want to do is sit down in a corner and suffer in silence!
Why is this taking so long... it actually isn't I am just grumpy! The staff are friendly and efficient, now with boarding pass in hand I head to security! Now that takes forever!

I am too tired and weak to shop so I head straight to the gate... why are they always such a long walk away? Good god are you kidding another security check!

Finally a seat and next to the bathroom... WHEW! I sit and try not to fall asleep don't want to miss my flight!

The boarding process is slow and feels like it is taking forever, but I have a great seat, aisle with extra leg room! I wrap myself in a blanket and fall asleep right after take off!

Goodbye Egypt!

Posted by TracingTheWorld 23:57 Archived in Egypt Comments (0)

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