Saturday, January 15, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!  Wow, its been a while...I think since November!  I made a New Years resolution to stay in better contact with people, and this is one way to do it! I hope 2011 has started off well for all of you!

My dad visited me here over the Christmas holidays and we had an amazing time. After getting all caught up in the snow and major delays in Europe, he finally landed 1 week late here in Cairo, and we headed off to Upper Egypt to explore Aswan and Luxor.  It was amazing- for the first part to get out of Cairo!  Cairo is such an assault on your senses, the constant noise, smells and crowds can be intense, so it was nice to head south to the calmer waters of the Nile and where the Nubians are not pushy- they actually take no for an answer!  We did our own trip, I booked a few tours but we caught taxis and trains.  Don't think I would advise travelling on your own if you have never spent time in Egypt- its intense!  My dad would not have done it like this if I had not been there.  I have a basic understanding of Arabic so I could at least get us around, and I am starting to understand the people! 

We started at the Philae Temple in Aswan, the temple dedicated to Isis.  So many of the temples were moved in this area when they build the Low and High Dams that just standing at these places and thinking about how they moved and entire temple made of stone, with hieroglyphics covering the walls and there was barely any damage done is almost too much to comprehend.

Philae Temple


The next day we ventured off to Abu Simbel...on yet another terrifying car ride! To get to Abu Simbel you can fly or drive. If you drive you have to go in an armed convoy- yet another way the government is protecting the tourists here (although they didn't protect the bus that crashed and killed a few the day before...) The rules of driving to Abu Suimbel- don't pass the lead vehicle. And that's it!  You can drive 140 km/h, you can pass pop and tea thru the window from another car at this speed, you can drive 5 across the single lane highway, and if someone is coming the other way, the lead vehicle signals so everyone gets back in line. Oh and at night, when you are driving back, don't use your lights!  After this ride Abu Simbel was almost a letdown, since I had devoted most of my energy to trying to make the backseat driver brake work!  Really, Abu Simbel was fantastic, and was another temple that was completely moved from its original position.  It was a beautiful tribute to Ramses, who loved himself so much he had numerous temples built to himself!

After our visit to Aswan, and 2 marriage proposals (we turned them down, I felt that 200 camels, a house and a felucca boat weren't worth it!) we took the staring train to Luxor.  I say the staring train, because I was one of the few white women on board, and men here, well they like to stare.  A lot.  I have gotten used to it here in Cairo, its usually a stare in passing as my bus goes past them on the motorway or when I walk past.  But there was no escape on the 3 hour train ride!  My dad was afraid to leave me alone!  But we made it, without any holes burned into my head or anywhere else, and after an argument with the taxi driver we arrived on the Corniche at our hotel.  We never stopped here in Luxor!  We visited Karnak Temple, which is actually a temple that was built on and built on by different pharaohs. 
Karnak Temple, East Bank

The Ramesseum, another temple dedicated to Ramses 2

The next day we visited the Valley of the Kings where all of the Tombs of the Pharaohs are, as well as Hatshepsut's Temple, the most famous female pharaoh- look at the nice straight lines of her temple!

 After a great week, we finally returned to Cairo, and I headed back to work while my dad explored the city!  It was a great trip and finally, after so many years of both of us wanting to see this history I have learned so much about, I got to see it.  I can't wait to see it again!