Sunday, 8 March 2015

Ready for another trip to Egypt?

Morning all!
Last time I promised you a few photos from our previous Egypt trip didn't I?
Well - I thought I'd better pop in with those while you're still in the mood! In 2010 when we went the first time on a Nile cruise, we did every trip we could fit in. There were included excursions almost every day, and we fitted in a couple of extras which we both really wanted to do, so here we go on a whistle stop tour!

Fasten your seat belts and off we go......

First stop - our boat for the week - the MS Grand Rose.

Bedouin children on the way to Luxor.

Egyptians on the river bank as we passed upstream.
 Catching your daily food.

Edfu Temple
Kom Ombo Temple heiroglyphs
Kom Ombo Temple Interior
Kom Ombo Temple is unique in that it celebrates two Gods - Horus the falcon headed God and Sobek - the crocodile God. Each has its own temple within the grounds and one one side there is a well where the temple crocodiles were fed. Nowadays, since building the the Great Dam at Aswan, there are no crocodiles in Lower Egypt (ie the area from Aswan to the Delta in the Mediterranean Sea). 
More fishermen
A perfect Nile view.

Countryside showing how the area around the Nile is cultivated. And also how close the mountains come to the river. You can understand how the farmers used to rely on the Nile floods to cultivate their land. Nowadays they use water pumps and irrigate the land to grow crops further inland.

 Sunset at Aswan.

Philae Temple
Philae Temple heiroglyphs
Right now we are moored at Aswan and the serious sight-seeing can begin!
Philae Temple is dedicated to Isis (the wife of Osiris and the mother of Horus). This temple was nearly destroyed when the Aswan High Dam was built as it would have been covered by the waters, However UNESCO stepped in and in a joint project with the Egyptian Government it was moved stone by stone to its current position - Agilka island near Aswan. The most famous temple which was moved? Abu Simbel - see photos below for this marvellous place.

Sound and Light show at Philae

Abu Simbel is one of the most well known temples of Egypt. People talk about the Pyramids at Giza as being a wonder of the ancient world - but to me - the two temples here are a wonder of both the old and the new world. Firstly how did the ancient Egyptians manage to build these two temples side by side without the benefit of our modern tools? Two temples - one dedicated to Rameses II and the other to his wife Nefertari - which were destined to be flooded until UNESCO and the Egyptian Government stepped in to save them. They have been faithfully rebuilt in an artificial "mound" to replicate their original setting. We took an early morning flight down to see them, and the first glimpse of them from the air is awe-inspiring. The interiors are still magnificent in their colours, and painted walls and ceilings are everywhere.

 Sun Temple of Rameses II 

 Nefertari's Temple of Hathor

After that breathtaking sight, we take a slow boat back upstream (heading north again now). Finally we moor at Luxor again. We just have time for a quick visit before dinner! First stop is Karnak Our guide is adamant that we should call it Karnak Complex rather than Karnak Temple. It is an accumulation of temples added to over the years by various Pharaohs which has made it the impressive site it is today.

 The colours on some of the pillars is almost as vibrant as the day they were painted.

Dusk is beginning to fall now quickly as we make our way to Luxor Temple Our guide is anxious to tell us all about it, but we rush off to take photos before the sun finally goes down. 

Finally we all gather to listen to the history of this building - photos securely taken. The temple was built by Amenhotep III (1390-52BC) worked on further by Tutankhamun and Horemheb and then added to by Rames II (1279-13BC). At the rear of the building is a shrine dedicated to Alexander the Great (332-305BC). For thousands of years the temple buildings were buried in the sand, and even a mosque was built over the site - the doorway which was used as the entrance is to the left of this photo - and that's Mike's head in the bottom left corner! Just to demonstrate how deeply it was buried!

We woke early again in order to make a Hot Air Balloon trip over the West Bank. To the ancient Egyptians, the East Bank was the city of the living, while the West Bank was the city of the dead (think sunrise and sunset). The West Bank is where the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens and the other important mausoleums are. 
Each basket could hold about 12 people plus the pilot, so they were not small balloons. Can you spot the people at the mouth of the balloon?

 Hatshepsut's Temple from the air.

Madinat-Habu temple from the air

Our early morning take-off allowed us to see the sun rise over the East Bank of the Nile. "Would you like to fly in my beautiful balloon?" Not that I want to worry you, but we missed a wall by about 6" on landing and ended up in a rubbish tip! Still we all landed safely and had thoroughly enjoyed our adventure.

Following that trip we hopped onto a bus which took us to the Valley of the Kings We were disappointed in as much as we were told to leave all cameras and even phones on our coach as the authorities do not allow photographs to be taken on site. However we did see some tourists taking photos, and we were assured that they would be asked to delete all images and have to pay a fine as well. So we have no photos of our own from there. Tutankhamun's Tomb is open to the public for an extra charge. It is quite small by comparison to some of the others on the site, with just the sarcophagus left inside. His other treasures are in the Cairo museum.

Back on the coach now for our last two stops. First we stop at the Colossi of Memnon. These two gigantic statues are all that remain of the Amenhotep memorial temple. Stones from here were used in the construction of other temples or even taken away by farmers!
Last stop now - it's almost mid-day and the sun is beating down. Our feet are weary and we are almost ready for our lunch. But as the coach draws to a stop, we are all bustling to get off. The magnificent Hatshepsut's temple is in front of us. 

Queen Hatshepsut was the only female Pharoah. She reigned for 22 years over 3,500 years ago. Her temple is built directly into the cliff face - a series of colonnades and terraces which it is believed were planted with gardens .

So now we make our weary way back to the boat where refreshing drinks and food await us. After our very early start, we are tired, exhausted, footsore but extremely happy to have completed our trip. 

But was it worth it? Undoubtedly YES! Would we go again? YES - we did! And although there were plenty of police around (all of whom were armed) we encountered no trouble at all. Since the start of the Revolution in Egypt in recent years, there have been no accounts of trouble in any of the places we visited. The majority of Egyptian people are happy, welcoming of foreign tourists and want nothing apart from peace in their country. On this visit we saw so many Nile cruise boats which have been laid up and stripped of their furnishings - a testament to how their tourist trade has suffered. I would encourage anyone who is able to take a trip to the ancient world of Egypt - we did - and it was a holiday never to be forgotten.

Better go now before I make you all fall asleep!

Saturday, 7 March 2015

On our travels ..... AGAIN!

Evening all.
Not much has been happening on the cross stitch front for a few weeks now. It may be something to do with the cold weather, but I've also been suffering a bit with my health. For some years I've had issues with an intermittent pain in my left leg. I've come to the conclusion that it's similar to sciatica, but not exactly the same - so I've been doing some Googling! Fatal really if you're a hypochondriac! But luckily I'm not! I think I've narrowed it down to something called "Meralgia Paraesthetica" - but as I'm due for a doctor's review of my Blood Pressure meds next week I shall ask then. It's basically when a nerve gets trapped near the hip, and subsequently pain shoots down the outside of the thigh. It comes and goes, but when it strikes - BOY!! It's a burning pain or else it feels like someone reached in and is twisting the muscle! When it strikes, there's no way to alleviate it either. And when it wakes you at night - it's all I can do not to scream sometimes. Still hopefully the doc will have some suggestions for me to help.

Last month Mike and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary!
Our wedding day in 1975! (I made that dress myself!)

We decided to make a special trip to celebrate. Since we went on the Nile cruise back in 2010, we have always said that we would like to go back and relax on board rather than getting up at silly o'clock to dash off to visit all the sights! So that's what we did. We took one of our friends with us who has never been to Egypt. We stayed 3 nights at the Makadi Spa hotel, then were driven across to the Nile where we met the boat (MS Grand Rose). After 7 nights on board, we then went back to the Makadi Spa for another 4 nights. Now I shall bore you with some of the photos we took!

From here it's a bit photo intensive, so I shan't be offended if you want to skip these!
Front of the Makadi Spa hotel at night 
View of the Red Sea from the Makadi Spa hotel
Edge of the infinity pool at the hotel
The infinity pool looking out to the Red Sea
The beach
MS Grand Rose reception
Karnak Complex

Pillars in Karnak - this location was used in the James Bond film "The Spy Who Loved Me"
Avenue of Sphinxes which is believed to run from Karnak to Luxor Temple 
Entrance to Luxor Temple 
Luxor Temple
3 views of Nile boats 

Komombo Temple 
The Old Cataract Hotel, Aswan - Agatha Christie wrote part of "Death on the Nile" here.

As you can see we didn't go on many trips off the boat. Maybe next time I write, I'll add a few of the photos from our previous trip too. The only one we went on this time was the Karnak and Luxor temples - in 2010 it was getting to dusk when we arrived, so I wanted to see it in daylight! 

Well after that whistle stop tour of Egypt, I'd better let you get on with your daily life! Next time I'll bring you up to date on my stitching!
Take care