The Egypt Trip

Note: THIS IS A WORK IN PROGRESS!! If you have any questions about anything we did, or the photos, let us know what they are so we can add that info for others. And then maybe check back later for anything that anyone else asked….

We definitely realise how all of this can be a bit confusing. Endless pillars, mosques and temples, so we’ve put together this wee guide to help you work out just what you’re looking at. We think we’ve got it all right, but no guarantees.

The pictures should be roughly in the order that we took them, so we’ll step through the holiday and give you references to the photos as they come up. It might pay you to print this out when you’re going through them, but you’re big kids now, you’ll work it out…. For those of you that don’t already know, we ended up with about 1,200 photos from the trip. Well, you wouldn’t want to miss anything, would you?! We think we’ve managed to pull out the best ones, with a few arguments here and there, but if you ever want boring with the whole lot, just let us know!

Where we’ve found decent links, we’ve included them in this doc. They can tell you more than we can about each place. It amazing how confused you get with all the different pharaohs, gods, and temple names! But we didn’t look to hard for links, so you might be able to find better if you’re particularly interested in something.

Right. Enough already! On with it.

On the first day of the holiday we arrived in Cairo about 11:30pm, so we’ll just ignore that day!

(Day 1) Next day was the first sightseeing day. No mucking around, but then it’s only a 4 hour flight from here anyway. First stop was to Coptic Cairo, where we saw various churches, synagogues and stuff. The pictures show: Wall of Babylon (0768)

Then it was off to the Citadel and Mohammad Ali’s mosque (0780-0802). No, not the boxer, as all the Egyptian guides kept telling us whenever they mentioned it. We visited the Police Museum there for a laugh. It’s absolutely crap, but funny for that. A great view of Cairo from that area though, if you can see through the smog (there was a lot of smog).

Across town a bit to see the Ibn Tulum mosque (0808-0827), and for a small fee we got to climb up the minaret there (0823). Not for those scared of heights. Health and Safety be damned! Once again, a great view. (0829)

Just next door to the mosque, if not really part of it, is the Gayer Anderson house/museum. A really interesting collection of stuff. Different rooms done out in different styles. And what’s more, it was where they filmed some of “The Spy Who Loved Me” (a James Bond film, for the clueless”) We went back to Jey’s and watched those scenes later on. (0836-0856)

Then a first look at the Khan al Khalili (grand bazaar), where we bought a fez each as a souvineer, while watching them be made. (0858)

(Day 2) Next day, a trip to the camel markets at Birqash. Fantastic, interesting and educational – not too mention somewhat intimidating amongst all those tall camels! Having a local driver Jey employs to drive them to all these out of the way places was great. He collared some young guy who knows about all the in’s and out’s of the market and camels to wander around with us and answer all the questions we had. We learnt a lot about camels. We can bore you with all of that some other time! Three types of camels at markets – Eyptian, Sudanese and Moroccan, but be warned the Moroccan camels don’t come from Morocco. (all the 0894s oops!) On the way back we stopped in a village (0920) that sells the traditional Egyptian dress, the gallabeya, in all sorts of styles and colours. A dress, basically! We didn’t buy one, no matter how comfortable they looked.

Then we took our first trip to the pyramid area. An hour long camel ride around the pyramid area, with drinks at a rooftop restaurant (“Barry’s”) with views out over the pyramids and Sphinx to recover. (0926-0959)

(Day 3) Next day a day trip to Alexandria taking in the catacombs (no photos allowed there, sorry!), an old library and Pompey’s pillar etc. Also views of a lot of the palaces of King Farok. Also had a great seafood lunch there. Yum, yum! (0981-1081)

(Day 4) A relaxed shopping day, taking in some of the main shopping areas and getting a few souvenirs. We also went to the Cairo museum and had a look around there. A bit of a sit in the sun by the embassy pool during the afternoon. (1083-1091) Then we caught the overnight train down to Aswan to start the 3 night Nile boat cruise. A long, long trip, but on a sleeper train it was OK.

(Day 5) Pretty much as soon as we arrived in Aswan and got to the boat and dumped our stuff, the tour around Aswan began by van with about 10 of us. We were whisked off to see the unfinished obelisk (1105), and for some strange reason, the two big moderin(ish) dams that they built there. The dams were all very impressive, but with all the other stuff to see around, you wonder why they bother. Not really a highlight of the tour. The dams’ main claim to fame is that in building them, they flooded a whole lot of ruins, some of which were relocated by international teams, such as the Philae temple (1122-1177), where we went next.

Getting to the Philae temple involves a boat ride out to an island on which the temple has been relocated. Even getting there was entertaining as the boat we were on ran out of petrol, and watching the ‘rasta’ looking dude in a dress run around to fill up and restart the engine was a laugh.

(Day 6) The next day was a “free day” on the tour, with nothing planned, a bit to our surprise. So while the guide tried to sell us some extra day trips to other things, we decided to do our own thing and went to visit the Tombs of the Nobles over the other side of the river. This involved us negotiating a felucca ride across the river from the most persistent dude on the waterfront. And then he made Bec drive all the way across and back. But we made it OK. (1184-1219)

(Day 7) First stop the next day, after sailing overnight, was Kom Ombo temple. All the others that had been on the tour with us the previous day had all caught the train back to Cairo, as they had done the trip the other way, so it was just the two of us and the guide for the rest of the tour. Good really. We weren’t having to wait for anyone, or listen to the dumb questions that they asked. We could ask our own dumb questions. (1237-1280)

Then we sailed off down the river some more (1292-1329), stopping off at Edfu temple. (1331-1378). Then another sail, at one stage going through a big lock. First one ever for both of us. Interesting to watch, especially how fast the water dropped. Then continued sailing overnight. (1385-1447)

(Day 8.) Next day we woke up in Luxor, and back to sightseeing. We started off at the Karnak Temple (1456-1498).

Then a quick 5 minutes at the Colossi of Memnon for a coupe of pics. (1507)

Then up to the valley of the kings, where all the tombs are, visiting the tombs of Ramses I, Ramses IV, and Ramses V. Ramses V&VI . No photos allowed in there, though I did end up with a couple of accidental ones from the hip… It was hot. Damn hot. Even though it was so early. I’m not sure you can see it in the photos, but there is something about the shape of the place that means, at least at the time we were there, there is no shade anywhere, other than under a few man made shelters. Worth a look, but a bit manic. (1512-1517)

The onto the Temple of Hatshepsut, otherwise known as Deir El Bahari. It was an interesting place that been has restored onc , if not a couple of times. (1531-1545)

Oh and before we moved onto our final sight the tour guide put in an extra stop to a local shop to educate us on the process of how to make alabaster (marble) vases, sculptures etc. And then of course a visit to the shop so you can be conned or talked into buying a souvineer….. oh but you do get a free drink – and when its that hot we were pleased for a drink and an air con room

The last visit of the Nile cruise – organised tour was Luxor Temple. Another pretty amazing place, we thought we would get sick of all the temples, but ‘no’, they are all quite unique! It was hot, very hot, and it was only midday……. so the faster the guide talked the better. (1553-1582)

Then off to our hotel, The Winter Palace (Luxor) for some rest and relaxation. After check in straight to the pool area and a few beers and its only just passed midday! (1585-1587). That night we went for a wee walk to take some pictures of the Luxor temple at night. They light it up, and it’s quite impressive. (1602-1609)

(Day 9) About 10am off to the pool. Most of the day was spent between reading by the poolside, taking a dip, having a beer and smoking a sheesha in sheesha corner….. what more can you ask for! And the beers and pool were well worth it in the 40 degree heat. We did leave the hotel grounds. for 5 minutes, until we decided it was just too hot, and went back to the pool.

(Day 10) Oh and another day much the same as day 9, pool and beer and sheesha. Unfortunately, it was the day we had to depart our relaxing lifestyle and catch an overnight train back to Cairo. So off we set, Mike on the top bunk and Bec on the bottom bunk. (1630-1648)

(Day 11) Arriving at Cairo at 7am, we were met by our tour guides (hosts Jey and Sharmini and driver Tarak) and straight off to the famous Giza Pyramids. Fantastic to actually see them, people say they are not as big as you expect, but we thought they were pretty impressive. Clambered inside the pyramid of Khufu, the great pyramid (i.e. the biggest one, even if it doesn’t look it, but it just starts a bit lower than the others. Whilst there we even managed to see a police camel pursuit after some unwanted camel rider – very entertaining. A visit to the Solar Boat after that, which was how some pharaoh’s body was transported down the Nile to his final resting place. Then a wander around the Sphinx. (1650-1746)

Then we headed back out to the pyramids, and went on another camel trek. We even managed to get Jey `and Sharmini on camels! They have been in Egypt for about a year without getting on one (in fact, Jey swore he wouldn’t!) (1747-1786)

A short car ride later, and we were at Dahshur. Another pyramid area, but nowhere near as popular and busy as the main Giza pyramid site. In fact there were only a few tourists there. We climbed 65 ft down in the darkness into the Snefru pyramid, only once inside to climb up again on a man made wooden staircase in order to get to the burial chamber. The burial chambers are always situated at the top as this is closer to the gods.

And our last pyramid, was a drive along a sandy road to the bent pyramid, which were the first built. Here we spoke with the local tourist police and managed to even get friendly with the police camel. (1790-1830)

Dinner back a Barry’s followed, and from the balcony restaurant you can hear the sound and light show (and even see most of it) that they run at the Sphinx just down below. It’s great! So old and dramatic. Superb entertainment! (1841-1849)

(Day 12) Our final day in Cairo consisted of a shopping trip to the ‘Khan al Khalili Bazaar’ and a bit of bartering with the local shop keepers We bought a few souvineers to come home with. Then onto some other local shops for a few more nic nacs….. yes a couple of bowls for Bec! The afternoon was spent lounging around our hosts pool and drinking beer! (1854-1863)

(Day 13) An early start and off to the airport and then reluctantly back home to Londontown. So this doesn’t really count as a day!!

And that’s it! We can’t thank Jey and Sharmini enough for looking after us so well and letting us have such a great holiday! Looking back on it now it’s amazing that we managed to cram so much in!

We can’t wait to go back!