The River Nile, Luxor - Aswan Cruise
Luxor Travel Blog› entry 5 of 94 › view all entries
May 4th, 2010 – by: Saskia007
So what have I been up to since my arrival in Egypt ….
Well …. In Cairo I got to climb to the top of the Cairo Tower, which provided stunning views over the city and for 70 L.E (Egyptian Pounds which translates to about USD$14) it was well worth it. I also had time to experience the Cairo Museum and saw only a portion of the 120,000 artifacts they have on display.
A highlight of Cairo was visiting the Giza Plateau. Words like majestic, magnificent, tremendous, awesome, amazing are superlatives that do not does do these colossal giants any justice. They are simply indescribable close up and I got to walk around them. While on the plateau I paid the extra fee (30 L.E) and was able to enter the Second Pyramid (or the Khafren Pyramid), however to most this pyramid is simply known as the ‘Large Pyramid In The Middle With The Limestone Still On The Top’ or the ‘LPITMWTLSOTT’.
The wait to enter this pyramid was long as someone had collapsed at the bottom of the shaft and was in need of evacuation, which due to it being a narrow tunnel system with ups and downs, it was a slow process. So here we were waiting to enter and a lot of tourists were pushing forward with their cameras and video cameras trying to record this for posterity. Having passed out only days earlier, I was quite vocal in telling off several of them and my ‘teacher voice’ did make an appearance.
Entering into the pyramid is somewhat of a strange encounter, and although I had already experienced this on a previous visit to Cairo, it was still worth repeating. You enter this huge colossus of a structure, which has been built thousands of years earlier, and you are literally walking in the footsteps of the Ancients.
The trip to the end is made up of several stages; a long set of steps going down for what feels like 10 metres followed by a straight boardwalk and then a climb up of about 12 metres to one of the tombs. There is nothing to see while in the tomb, just a big dark room with stale air, but it is the fact you are in the pyramid makes it pretty cool, surreal even. However, what adds to the dizziness of being in the pyramid might also be the sweet aroma of sweat as you pass others who are venturing into the area.
During the time you are descending and climbing there is limited room for one western let along two westerns traveling in either direction with sweaty bodies. It gives new meaning to ‘Too Close For Comfort’ and more often than not you spend some of your time bending down close to strangers’ bottoms (not because you want to, it’s because you can’t stand up) or you slip past people as your sweat and theirs collide providing a lubricant. Yes, I think I might need to rethink my first statement about travel having its perks.
After the intoxicating experience of pyramid traipsing, I traveled by overnight train to Luxor.
The journey on this train from Cairo is relatively easy, compared to other train rides I have experienced. Train rides are always a lot of fun. It builds strength and resilience and allows you to handle any situation that comes your way. The reason for this is the toilet. Toilets are always exciting adventures on their own when overseas, but when you add in train movement, wet floors, pungent smells and doors that don’t lock, it makes it more thrilling. However, I was impressed that this toilet offered white gold, or toilet paper, as not all do.
So arriving in Luxor meant a visit to Karnak Temple to reenact the scene from the James Bond movie ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ and look at the stunning architecture and what better way to travel there but by horse and carriage. The ride is through the city, along with the street peddlers, tour buses, cyclists and walkers.
After that huge day, I slept very well only to wake up very early this morning as I had a date with a hot air balloon. The balloon ride took us over the Valley of the Kings and having never been hot air ballooning before, as the cost in the Cappadocia and on the Serengeti Plains was exorbitant, I thought it was the best hot air balloon ride I’ve ever had. Others who had been on other balloon rides further confirmed this. It was well worth the USD$105, especially when you add in the fact that Aynsley, one of my traveling companions, vomited over the edge raining apple juice onto the peasants farming the valley below.
I felt like a princess at the start of the balloon ride. As one side of the basket was considered too heavy, I swapped to the other side, but I got to do without walking. One of the men, whom I’ll call him Mohammed because that is probably his name as the majority of people here are named Mohammed, lifted me out over the basket and around to the other side and to back into the basket. I was floating on air, even before takeoff.
After the balloon ride, I hitched a ride on a donkey to the Valley of the Kings. I felt bad he had no name so I called him Darryl. Darryl the Donkey - he had a sweet personality and seemed to enjoy the donkey noises I was making throughout the one hour ride.
If you get a chance to see the Valley of the Kings, do it. The tombs that are on show are vibrant, full of colour, hieroglyphics that look like they were only painted last week not 2,000 years ago.
So now I’m experiencing another Pharaohnic adventure - a cruise down the Nile. For three nights I will be traveling down the world’s longest river to Aswan, waving to children who run to the edge to greet us. It’s a real treat to unpack my backpack and do some handwashing. However, since I’m pretending to be part of the royal family, I’m not sure if the Pharoahs had to do their own washing, perhaps I should ask this gentlemen here …. ‘Mohammed…?”
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