Location: Luxor, Egypt
Egypt. Installment II
I left Cairo on the overnight sleeper train to Aswan. The travel agent
had booked me a private cabin complete with bed, dinner and breakfast.
I arrived in Aswan at 8 pm the next morning and then on to my hotel
The first trip was to the Aswan dams. Lower (older) and the newer and
more grand upper dam. I would have liked to have got a photo of the
full sweep of the dam, but that was not possible. It was however
impressive in its magnitude.
Back at the hotel in the afternoon I decided on a swim and foolishly
went down to the pool in bare feet. Big mistake as the temperature was
in the mid forties and when I decided I had had enough (the pool was
great) I found the stone area around the pool too hot for my tootsies.
It got worse when I took a short cut over the glazed tiles. Geez it
was as if someone had stuck hundreds of needles in my foot. Luckily I
had a towel and had to inch my way to the doorway with the towel on
the ground and me standing on it. Talk about frying eggs on the
footpath, you really could have here.
The next morning I had to be ready by 6am so that meant a 5 am call
and breakfast in a box. We flew out to Abu Simbell at 7.30 am and
arrived at Abu Simbel nice and early 8 am. I reckoned we would be the
only people there at this time i the morning. WRONG! there were at
least twenty buses in the car park when we arrived and more were
following us. Nevertheless it was a remarkable achievement. When they
built the high dam, this Egyptian temple was in danger of being
inundated as they filled the dam, so they cut it -by hand - into
blocks and transported it 200 mtrs up the slope. They reassembled it
exactly as it had been, but even more they built an artificial
mountain around it. Quite remarkable.
Back to Aswan and onto the boat for the nile cruise. There are some
280 of the huge boats, each having between 75 and a hundred cabins
that cruise between Aswan and Luxor. We had only done 20ks and I had
counted 40 boats passing us in the oppostie direction.
They are quite luxurious and the meals as good as the ones on board
the Pacific cruise Jan and I took a few years back.
The most gripping moment was the second bridge. On the upper deck is a
set of sunshades about 3 mtrs square that stand on hinged poles about
8 feet high. To prepare for this bridge, these shades had been laid
flat and as we went under the bridge, all the maintenance men on the
top deck crouched down - as did anyone else standing - as the boat
crept under the bridge with very little to spare. If I had been
standing I would have been decapitated. Don't know what they do when
the river is in flood!!
We also went through flood gates. This boat is around 100 mtrs long
and 30 mtrs wide and the gate we went through would be 31 mtrs wide.
The captain steered through very carefully and didn't touch either
We stopped at Kom Obom -golden hills temple - and then on to Efu for
more temples eventually arriving at Luxor at 8 pm. Very warm still and
beautifully clear skies.
This morning visited The Valley of The Kings where there are 62 tombs
again it was an early morning start and by now I have given up trying
to beat the crowds. When we got there at least 20 coaches and as many
mini-buses were there. I went into 3 of the tombs full of
heirogliphics except for Tutankhammen's. The reason being that though
he is probably the most famous of the kings, he only reigned for 7 or
8 years and as they commenced building the tomb for the king as soon
as he was appointed, they didn't have time to finish his. Some took 25
years to complete.
His was famous because it was the only one found that was intact
complete with the treasure. That was in 1922 and up till then had been
covered by the debris from the other tomsabove that had been
systematically robbed. ( I reckon it was the butler!)
We have a couple more temples to see tomorrow and I have managed to
get some good photos, but I am afraid I can't put them on the web page
until I get back to Farnks in Guisely. This place costs a fortune and
he doesn't charge so much. He'll probably have raised his prices due
to the war in Georgia!
I leave the boat tomorrow for one night in a hotel and then back on
the sleeper train to Cairo and eventuall arrive in Manchester on the
Not sure whether you will get any more from Egypt.
Location: Egypt. Installment I, Egypt
Egypt is a place I have always wanted to visit and so here I am.
My first observations are that it is pretty hot!! Around 40 degrees
Here they drive like maniacs, they will overtake on the left, on the
right and if there is space, between cars. It doesn't matter whether
they are in town or on the expressways. It can be hair-raising as they
hurtle past at great speed. You would think that pedestrians wouldn't
dare set foot on the road, but no. They will edge across -expressways
included - and the cars will either swerve or slow to allow them
accross. The streets in town can be narrow and women with small
children walk alomg as cars career along at alarming speeds and just
miss. No one bats an eye.
The taxi drivers are the worst. I know I say that about every country
I go to, but I've never seen anything like these guys. There doesn't
seem to be any road rules that they adhere to. They weave in and out
of the traffic lanes to get a small advantage . When they do get clear
road they become Schumaker. One guy even went up a one way street 500
mtrs in reverse to get me to where I wanted to be.
Police are everywhere here in Cairo anlthough it is hard to tell what
they do. The wear a white tunic tied around the waist with a belt a
little like a sack of potatoes!! They have a berret perched on their
heads and of course carry guns. The traffic can be in total chaos
around them, but they ignore it and chat amongst each other.
On our way to Alexandria I notice some houses in the country with
these elongated beehive shapes on top. Apparently they are built 2 to
3 times the height of the house for the pigeons to roost in.
There are 9 million people in Cairo thats twice as many as New
Zealand. Alexandria has just 4 million and I think they were all at
the beach yesterday. Just like Benidorm. The difference here is the
family go to the beach and mamma still wears her black burkah, and
even swims in it.
On to the Pyramids. They really are impressive and it is obvious you
are on a touristy trip as you go from one to the other following tour
buses and vans. I saw four all together form the first built of stone
How they got them that high I'll never know
One other interesting point. Several times we have come across
didturbances in the street between men and each time others have
rushed in to intervene and keep the parties apart. I can't help but
think if that was Dublin or Auckland everyone would have joined in and
knocked seven bells out of each other.
Wen to see cultural show, mainly music and dancing by all male troup.
The highlight - it was all good - was a whirling Durbishire. He wore a
heavy wide skirt and he spun himself around for some twenty minutes
without a pause. My guide said he had once counted te turns and gave
up after 1050. It was truly amazing. The show was performed in a
600year old market hall. which made the performace easy to see, but
loud. Absolutely beautiful.
Off to Aswan tonight.
We have now been in England just over a week and the beauty of the
place hasn't diminished. From June and Graham taking us from Stanstead
airport to their home in St Albans, to the moors of Yorkshire, I have
revelled in the lovely countryside and quaint villages which are to
me, the essence of England.
June and Graham have a beautiful garden and during the time we were
with them the weather was lovely, we ate all meals alfresco style
emersed in the fragrance of an English garden on balmy summer
evenings. It only rained once, and that was at night, so it didn't
affect our activities one bit, it was very warm (in the high
twenties), sunny and very enjoyable.
We visited Hatfield House, an old stately home in Herfordshire, where,
or at least in the old house next door, Queen Elizabeth I, heard of
the death of Henry VIII, and that she was to be queen, We also visited
Woburn, where the Duke of Bedford has created a safari park. I
initially thought the £20 entrance fee was a bit steep, but we spent
most of the day there and it was exceptional, with visitors allowed to
drive the circuit as many times as they wish. We went around twice,
and each time got a different view of lions, tigers, zebras, giraffes
and monkeys as well as other species. It was a very interesting,
enjoyable and a great value for money day. Thanks to June and Graham
for the hospitality and the chaufeuring.
Next we moved up to Yorkshire by train, to be met by my long time mate
Frank at the Guiseley station. Unfortunately our welcome to Guiseley
was wet as it had started raining as we journeyed up on the train, and
by the time he met us it was teeming down. Fortunately we weren't too
wet by the time we arrived home and Brenda, his wife, greeted us.
Frank also has a beautiful garden and takes great pride in it. he and
brenda put in the hours to make it beautiful. Nice gardens just don't
happen. Anyway it looked a picture the next day when the sun came out,
Jan immediately went looking for weeds, fortunately Frank and Brenda
had done a good job and Jan couldn't find any.
After settling in for a couple of days, and doing some essential
business in town, we were ready to take another look at my beautiful
Yorkshire. I think it is the most beautiful of all the English
counties, but then I am biased (but it is still the best) having been
born in this blessed county. We decided on some exercise and so Jan
and I agreed we would 'do a walk', and as Frank and Brenda live almost
on the edge of the moors, we would walk over to Ilkley. Frank took us
to the traditional start for the walk over Ilkley Moor which is Dick
Dick Hudson's is a pub on the very edge of the moor and in the late
1800s and early 1900s, the 'mill lasses' and 'lads', families and
courting couples would escape the 'dark satanic mills' and industry of
Bradford and, on Sunday, their only day off, would flock to the moors
to clear their lungs of the grime and smell of the mills and breathe
the fresh air . Consequently the path over the moor from Eldwick to
Ilkley is well worn from their's and later generation's feet.
Apart from the path, the moor is covered with purple heather either
side, almost as far as the eye can see. The path winds gently upwards
and the exposed moor can be quite windy and cold, but today it was
breezy but freshening. No doubt the exposure one could get gave the
inspiration for the writer to pen the Yorkshire anthem, "On Ilkla Moor
Baht 'At", a song that describes the result of going on the moor
without a hat. The story is : first you die of a cold, then we bury
you, then the worms eat you, then the ducks eat the worms, then we eat
the ducks and so in fact we eat you, should you be foolish enough to
on the moor without a hat.
Jan and I had an enjoyable 2 hour walk over the moor and so far we are
still in very good health. We walked over to Ilkley and caught the
train back to Guisely. It is an easy walk on that well trodden path,
but the number of people using it has diminished even from the time I
was a youngster, let alone Victorian times. The next day we walked
over Shipley Glen, another popular (in my childhood) spot for an
outing. Shipley Glen is a valley clad with beech and silver birch
trees,with lots of fern or bracken for ground cover. A stream wends
its way along the bottom and the 'glen' and is part of the moors walk
for the more hardy. Once again a lovely refreshing walk unblessed by
the masses. It used to have a cable railway, maybe it still does, that
took people from the village of Saltaire up to the start of the glen
all for a penny.(All this reminiscing, I must be getting old!!)
I couldn't help but wonder if 'more' people (no pun intended), and
especially the young, got out from in front of the tellie and walked
these walks now and again, there might be a little less obesity (and
crime). Lecture over!
England is a beautiful place. Rolling hills, leafy lanes, majestic
oak, elm, and beech grace the hedgerowed fields. Whilst here in
Yorkshire dry-stonewalls replace the hedgerows. England and especially
Yorkshire,replete in all its calm splendour almost beckons me to
return to live here, then I remember the rest of it. I think I'll stay
in beautiful New Zealand.
Next stop Egypt