09.01.2008 - 09.16.2008 0 °F
Well, we’ve been delayed again in writing this blog for a variety of reasons which we’ll get to in future entries. We finally made it to India and are traveling through Varanasi and Agra. We apologize to all those waiting for our entries.
So, Egypt. Well, it started out alright. We flew from Turkey to Cairo and then to Luxor to start our week-long Nile cruise aboard a dahabiya, called the Lazuli, which is a reproduction of a 19th century sailing vessel that has a shallow draft. Kind of swanky, and quieter than the massive, motorized cruise ships carting very white Danish people up and down the river.
The first good bit of news was that because we were there at the beginning of their season, we were the only ones aboard the entire boat (normally holds about 12 passengers). The bad news is that it was 40,000 degrees Kelvin in Egypt during that part of the season. We also got upgraded to a cabin in the stern which had, for want of a better word, a back porch close to the water. Nice.
Basically, we spent each day visiting temples that line the river, like Edfu, Kom Ombo, and Philae. At first, seeing these temples, especially Karnak, proved to be a mind boggling experience, but after awhile, it’s embarrassing to say, we found ourselves getting a little templed-out. Ancient temple? Who cares. One thing we loved was the amount of graffiti on the walls of the temples. Over the centuries, people who visited found the need to write that “they were there,” Napoleon’s Army, a notable example. One of our favorites was one that a Roman with a bone to pick scrawled in one of the temple pillars: “B. Mure stultus est” meaning B. Mure is stupid. Poor guy. Forever known to history as being a dummy.
Sadly, Will, in his obsessive desire to “organize,” deleted the photo card that held most of these pictures. When we reached Aswan, we decided last minute to take the short flight south to see Abu Simbel, Ramses II’s (the rock star of Egypt’s pharaohs) massive temple complex that consists of his own and his wife, Nefertari’s monuments. His is the more impressive of the two, of course. The amazing thing was that when they built the Aswan Dam, Abu Simbel was going to be submerged by a rising Lake Nasser. In the 60s, several nations carved the thing up into blocks and moved it uphill. It lends the site a slightly artificial feel, but it was still impressive.
Aswan was our turning-around point, and we headed back "down" the Nile to Luxor. On the way, Will decided to swim in the river with some of the crew. It was fun for Carina because the crew was underwear-clad. Because Will was already taking massive amounts of anti-bacterials to fight the "Pharoah's Revenge," it was deemed safe. The water was surprisingly refreshing and fast-flowing. Overall, the cruise experience was very pleasant, the crew and guide very friendly, despite the fact that it was Ramadan and they had to fast until sunset.
After staying in Luxor for another couple days, we headed up to Cairo in an overnight train which was fun. And then....CAIRO!!!! Holy s&*t!!!!! CAIRO!!!!! Insane. Too much. Too long. Too hot. Too dusty. We know we're being complain-y here, but it wasn't our favorite place. Perhaps we had been on the road a bit long at that point and maybe would have had a great time with a native Cairene. Walking through town and traffic is a real treat. At the pyramids, Will experienced the final melt down after we were propositioned for the 567th time to buy postcards, ride a camel, see someone's shop, just look at a carpet, ride in a taxi, have a tour of the city, etc.
Unfortunately, we needed to stay there much longer than we would have wanted because we needed to get our visa to India which required four days processing time. Plus, the "Revenge" continued to work its magic on Will, so a lot of time was spent in the safety of hotel rooms. Ahhhh. Silver lining: the best Peking Duck we've had in years. The hell with you, GI system.
More silver linings to follow in our next entry. Our trip to Jordan. Ah, Jordan.