Location: Heading Home, Egypt
We have travelled by plane, car, bus, train, boat, dokey, horse and Carriage, jeeps, shanks pony (feet), climbed 10375 steps, felluca, water ferry, metro, opportunity to go camel, but passed on that.
We have met many different colors, creeds and races. All with different personalities, but all with smiles on their faces and always welcoming us. The children we have met in the 3 different countries makes us think that the future is good for Africa as they seem to be so keen on learning and communicating with the rest of the world.
I now realize that when you come to a country, you must have enough time to get to know the culture and the people to appreciate them.
It will take us many days of revisiting our pictures and stories to remember just all what we did.
I know we will have more to add to our travel journal when we have time to recap, so please check back at a later date to get the updates as well as more pictures. We welcome any comments you may have to share with us.
Klaus and Karen
Location: Cairo, Egypt
It is our last day here and we made the most of it, after our breakfast, we headed out with a few from our group and rented a driver for the day. He took us first to the Citadel, which is like a fort with a couple of mosques and museums and palace in it. It was most interesting, we visited the oldest and teaching mosque in Egypt. It was a fun day as all the school children were there and they had alot of fun with us. They wanted to practice their English and had lots of laughs with us as well I am sure laughing at us, but it certainly made our day.
We then drove through the City of the Dead where the family mosoleums are built and now some of the families have moved into or built on top and are keepers of the moseleums, but mostly because they are so poor they can't afford to live anywhere else. We heard it is very active and poor, but we were ther ein the morning and was quite quiet, but a bit eerie.
We then drove to the Khan el Khalili market, the largest in Egypt. It was most interesting, we went for smething to eat and of course being Egyptian time, it took forever, but it was delicious. We then went through the market and it consists of very small and crowded shops interwined between streets, nost colorful, crowded, sites and smells very interesting, men trying to get you to just come into their stores, no hassle, haha. We proceeded to do a few more purchases and did quite well using my new found Egyptian skills, I wonder what Kelowna shopkeepers are going to say when I try these skills on them!! I have quite got the technique down as well as figured out my prices, we had 25 minutes before we had to meet the driver, when we came upon a carpet store..Klaus thought we were going to make it out of Egypt without buying a carpet...they were jut waiting for us, so we went in and did some very heavy bargaining and came out with a couple of carpets. I think we got a good bargain, but by the smile on the shopkeepers face, he also got a good bargain. it was a good way to end our days in Cairo. This morning I was ready to come home, but I know have my energy back and could stay a few more days and get into Egyptian life.
We decided to go out for a pastry and cappaccino tonight for a farewell, just back and going for a 4 hour sleep, then wakeup at 11 p.m. for a 4:30 a.m. flight back to Amsterdam.
Arriving in Kelowna at 8:45 or there about on Nov 29, so you all in a few days.
W are now back t the Santana HOtel, have quite a nice room, which is great way to end the trip. Klaus and I slept for about 4 hrs, then went with a few others by taxi to a little coffee shop L'Amour for latte and chicken caesar salad. Nice afteroon.
We are getting quite good on dealing with the Egyptians, I must say I have changed my opinion on them as they are very friendly and helpful and even though they want to make money, they want you to have a positive experience...if that is not true, they certainly come across as such.
Tomorrow is last say site seeing and we are coming home. OUr bved, home cooking, cleanlines is very welcoming but will also miss the friendly faces.
Will send one more message tomorrow,
Location: Aswan, Egypt
The rest of the tour is either driving 3 hrs to Abul Simbel or flying to see the temple. This temple was moved because they would have been flooded by Lake Nasser. We decided we had enbough temples and opted out (that is the benefit of age...you can choose to do what you want!!). Everything is squeezed into 6 hrs. So 3 of us tayed back, slept in had a delicious breakfast, then took a taxi to the Nubian museum, which is a 10 out of 10. It displayed the full Nile River and all the mummies, tombs , how they were moved, they carved momuments out of the mountain and moved them to high ground. It also depicted the numbian life throughout the dynaties an dhow the Nubians were Coptic Christian and were later converted into Islam. This museum is compariable to the Terrell museum in Alberta.
Our driver took us to his church, Coptic Church and had a tour. We learned 20% of Egypt is Chritain which was a surprise to us.
We were then taken to the market for lat minute shopping 94 scarfs later) and of course driven to the driver's cousin "just look no hazzle".
That afternoon Amanada arranged a faluka ride and lunch. It was a beautiful afternoon, we sailed and at lunch on a huge mat on abou5t a 30 ft sail bot. Beautiful scenery. Couldn's Spot Lawrence yet, so guess he just usn't going to show!
We said our good byes to the Melodie and her crew. They truly were a fabulous and fun crew, headed to the train station, settled in, had dinner and got ready for bed, then the rocking and bumping began. It was the roughest train ride, we think the cuplings between our car and next were not set right, when he slowed down or stopped we banged into the next car and all went flying. This went on all night...it was a great relief to see Gisa station.
Location: Aswan, Egypt
Aswan is a major trading centre and the end of where the cruise ships go. Very busy and has the 2nd largest bazaar. Went for a walk thru the bazaar, made a few more purchaes, then a water ferry picked us up off our boat (now that is service) and took us along the Elephantine island to a Nubian village, where we visited a school,l then wen for a cold ddrink and hybiscus tea with a family. They have managed to keep their culture, they have more African features, curly hair and quite dark,. The family lives together and simply grows thru marriage and children. Most of the families were further down the Nile and had to be displaced due to the flooding of the dam, half went to Sudan and the rest to Aswan area. They are educated until Gr 6 then go to Aswan, they marry within their village, very little furniture, mainly mats to sit on. They have only 47 students in a fairly large school. AFter we saw a school smaller in Ethiopia with 1800 children. The women made beads and nubian hats to sell. The scenery is spectacular. Fairly wealthy throughout the world are buying land from the Nubians, high on ridges a\overlooking the Nile and building homes. The city has approx 200K people. Aswan came alive at night. We counted 110 ships from our area nad that less than half, so we figure over 300 ships are in at one time.
The Nile was full of water taxies abnd fulookas touring people around.
Location: On the Nile, Egypt
.6:14 a.m. wake up call, it is Klaus' birthday, he seems to be on these exotic trips for his birthday.
In early Egyptain times the pharoahs believed the sun rose to the East for the living and they pass to the West with the sunset for death. I have pased from the West to the East today as i have been sick for the pat 2 days, but I am back..
We went to the Edfu temple this morning and back to the boat by 9 a.m. for breakie. This temple was the best preserved. In side once the Coptic Christians took over the temple, they defaced the hyroglyphics. It tells an excellent hitorical tory. In the main hall the roof is blackened where the Coptic Christians did their cooking.
We saw a strong similarity with India how the mogals changed the Hindus beautiful workmanship by plasturing over the jewels.
There appears to be a fin dust in the air today and the desert comes right uyp to the edge of the Nile. Lawrence has still not appeared on his camel.
Along the river are sandbars with grass and cows grazing. They bring the cattle over by pulling them behind the small boats
We had several hours of cruising down the Nile, getting reenergized, lunch on the outdoor cafe, french fries...I had to go back for 2nds. I do have to say the food is not that great here in Egypt, same thing each meal, but our crew makes up for it, very friendly and fun. ... Kimberly we have found you a potential Egyptian husband, Meheb, he works on the cruise ship and wants to move to America. We thought hwas quite nerdy but have come to enjoy his sense of humqan and he can really dance!!!
We went to another temple, The temple was very interesting. The best part was outside of the temple was an outdoor bar and we all ordoered ice cream and smokled sheesha. Lots of laughs, Klaus and I ordered banana sheesha. AFter that we went bartering again. I have enough scarfs to go into business.
It is Galibahya party night tonight on the boat. While we were shopping we dressed one of the single guys in a belly dancing outfit! Everyone went back to the boat and dressed for the evening. Thanks Jean and Dale for lending us your outfits you used a few weeks previously. Dean and the other tour director dressed in drag and it was quite humorous.
We all arrived outside the idning room to loud Egyptian music and everyone was dancing with the staff, Egyptian style, then went in for dinner. AFter dinner the staff turned out the lights and banged on pots and brought a cake fo rKlaus, they go thim up and carried him around the room, then go tme up and made a big deal out of the birthday. lots of fun. I am not sure how t top this brithday next year...better yet how does Klaus top mine!!!
After we had dancing, but had another early night. Too much acitvity in the day time. We set sail while everyonwas sleeping, headed fo rour final destination Aswan.
Location: Luxor, Egypt
Up at 6 a.m. to get ready for our donkey ride...yes we are riding donkeys. Gib...you would be proud of us!!
We got on our donkey, hoping to balance all the way to the Valley of the Kings. We both made it without falling off. It was about 1.5 hrs and our legs and butts were very sore. Riding a donkey is like driving in Cairo without a horn, the donkey knows where it is going, but the driver doesn't and they don't follow any lane, if he wants to take the lead, he takes it whether you want him to or not!!
The Valley of the Kings is most interesting, it is the tombs where the Kings were buried. It was discovered by a British fellow in 1917 and they are still finding more King. We were able to go into 3 of them, the hyroglyphics is very tunning and we had a tory about each King. Our tour guide was actually an actor for a movie "Death of the Nile" very dignified , colorful and knokwledgable. He made us feel like like were part of the history.
Klaus and a few others then climbed over the mountain and crossed a plateau and came down to join us (we took a taxi) to the artist tombs and homes. These tombs were very steep and deep inside the mountain, rough steps and more primitive, but the artwork was beautiful.
We returned to our boat and set sail immediately.
I am now sitting on the sundeck, writing and looking out at the banks of the Nile, waving at the passing boats...now this is the life "Cruising the Nile", beautiful lush and Palm tress along the bank with the desert behind. It is like being in the palm Springs valley with Sanata Ana mountains behind.
Klaus is going to interview and film the Captain this afternoon.
Going to High Tea now, will join you again later.
We arrived at the locks just before dusk, we had to wait about an hour for our turn. About 20 small row boats quickly attacked our boat along the sides and started throwing clothing, scarfs up to the top floor, we checked them over and if we were interested we would start bargaining. I quickly bought a thorw for what I thought was a goo dprice, then discovered someone go tit for 1/3 of what I paid, that brough the bargainer out in me and we had a great time from then on. I managed by the time it was dark to see the boat, to buy another throw for a great price, averaging down ...so flet better.
It was then our turn to go thru the locks, I couldn't find Klaus only to discover he was at the front wit the captain. I was invited to join them, when I went into the small helm, there were 4 crew intently looking forward, I thought they were watching the locks, only to turn and see they were all watching a soal opera on a small egyptian tv. We chatted with the Captain , dress in a galbahya (men's long robe).
It was most beautiful going thru the locks, then going thru the gates heading to the source of the Nile.
Location: Luxor, Egypt
We arrived at our boat, a mid size boat, holds about 80, another group is joining us in a day or two,so will have a total of 29 people. The boat definitely needs upgrading, it was suppose to have been done 4 years ago, I think they added fire extinguishers.
We went by horse and carriage to the Karnak Temple of Amun. This has beenb the highlight of the trip. It is made up of 134 gigantic columns iwth granite tatus of Ramses II. It was built in 2000 BC. It is beyond our comprehension how old everything is.
Klaus and I decided to go off on our own for the afternoon and went to visit the Luxor temple, again truly mangificant. We did some quick bargaining for scarfs, went to a jewely store and did our purchaes. Everyone is trying to sell you something and you have to drink tea in their shop to begin negotiations and above all you must smile. It actually makes it a very pleasant experience. We had an early night as it is early rising.
Getting to know our group and truly enjoying them, right size and right mix of people, lots of laughs.
Location: Cairo, Egypt
(Nov 26 - we just arrived back from Nile trip so will update you on our trip from NOv 20 - today)
We met the other tour members and seem like a good group. Five singles plus tour leaer, 5 couples, several people from Australia. Went out fo ran authentic Egyptian meal, nnodes, rice with chick peas, fried onions pour tomato sauce over top, actually quite good (I say that now, but after having a few times, it is like having hamburgers every day!!)
We were up early in the morning and off to the Ciaro museum, most interesting. So much to absorb. The Rosetta stone, the key to unlocking the history of Egypt was the only items not original. It was written in hyrogliphics and told the story of Egypte. Saw the King Tut display. Artifacts went back to over 3100 BC up to 30 BC, the last dynasty, many mummies and caskets. Every pharough spent his life building a place to die, large statues as to how they wanted to look, they lkeft jewels, food and inside th tomb were hyrogliphics depicting his life.
Every site we saw was even more unbelievable. We left and headed to th epyramids. I had to pinch myself that we were actually there. Unfoprtunately there are so many tourists and it is so commerical it takes away the magnificance of it, but I was able to take myself away into imagination land and looked for Lawrence riding on a camel coming over the sand dunes!!! He never appeared, but alot of egyptians trying to get you to take a camel ride appeared, not quite the same image.
It truly is amazing at the size of th epyramids. We didn't go inside as we were told there is nothing inside and you have to bend down to get through. We then drove over to see the Sphinx and it as magnificant as the pictures.
We headed back to our hotel, got ready to go o our next adventure...the TRAIN for Luxor, 7 p.m. we departed, just use your imagination of what a train station in Egypt would be like and it is probably twice as hectic. We hung around for a n hour and watched several trains pull thru. I was a bit concerned they were our train. There were actually many tourists doing the same as us. Klaus found a few new friends (German) while waiting. Finally our train arrived. 1 hr late (getting to understand Egyptian time) in the second car is a guy with his head hangout out holding a gun, gave me a lot of confidence... As I was standing there, I could only think...no one will believe we are doing this and why we are doing this!! We rushed onb and found our roms. We had our own car. The rooms were quite nice, the beds came down and we had a little sink, towels, etc. We were served our dinner, again quite good or maybe we ere just hungry. Then bedtime, I slept great, smooth ride, next thing I knew a knock came waking us up for morning, had breakfast then time to get off the trian.