19.09.2009 - 23.09.2009
19th September 2009
The Qantas flight from Germany via Heathrow arrives in the early hours of the morning at the Cairo Old International Airport to a very warm, humid and busy Cairo, it is the end of Ramadan so the streets are packed and it is worse than peak hour. Chaos reigns. The tour guides meet me inside the Customs area and we manage to get through the pushing, shoving crowd of men at the front door, it is really scary and I am in the middle of this crowd trying to avoid the hands, drag my case, make sure no extra hands are in my shoulder bag and keep an eye on the guide and where he is going. No help is being offered by him. I wonder if this trip is not a good idea. He takes me outside and then down into a very dark tunnel and all of a sudden I am a little fearful of where him and the mate are taking me. I suddenly see the car park lights and feel much better and a little more in control. All visitors are not allowed in the airport and only males were in the crowd but they must wait for their relatives/friends arrivals outside the front door. Again chaos as no one appears to follow the traffic rules- if there are any rules. They toot, drive without their lights on, whole families perch themselves on the two seater bikes, no helmets, no seatbelts, no lines on the roads to separate the traffic but then again there are no traffic rules and cars duck and dive. Cars look like they are unregistered and covered in dinks and dings. I just sat there with my mouth wide open and not quite believing what I was seeing. The trip took about 60 minutes to the Oasis Resort and another surprise. Every street corner has an armed Tourist Police guard and all Western Hotels have them on the front gates and in the Hotel foyers. A little frightening at first. I am showed my room and I hit the bed as I am just so tired and know I have to be in the foyer next morning at 8am. After a light breakfast I meet up with the two Ipswich people who flew in from Italy the day before, a Trafalgar guide, Mohommad, meets us and we head to the airport again to collect the rest of the Tour that have just flown in. I have spent the last 5 weeks in Europe with my husband who has chosen to fly home alone. It is still early and the heat is incredible - around 45 degrees. After we collect the tour we head to the pyramids and Egyptian museum which houses the Gold Mask of King Tutt. No cameras are allowed. Interesting to see the building is not air conditioned and so many priceless artefacts are on display, the room that holds the mask is the only room with heating control. The crowds are horrendous and we just have room to file in and have a quick look and back out. By this stage we are all starting to wilt but more pyramids to visit and see before we can head back to the hotel. The filth is horrendous and hygiene is nearly non existent and dirt everywhere, and then there are the vendors. The pool at the Hotel is very inviting and I am looking forward to a very early night but the tour decides to go and see the Light Display at the pyramids - a bit over dramatic and not worth the money.
20th September 2009
After breakfast we head to the tour bus as we are going to the main Pyramids and displays. The Great Pyramid of Giza, also known as the Pyramid of Khufu or the Pyramid of Cheops is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza Necropolis bordering what is now El Giza, Egypt. It is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only one to remain largely intact. Around the pyramids are men and children begging /touting for business and they are very insistent and will not accept NO, sometimes you need to be very rude to them. Camel rides for hire but I decline and they do not allow photos of their camels. We make our way through the countryside and the heavy traffic and stop at St Georges, the ancient Greek Orthodox Church and Convent perched on a rock outcrop. Such a dainty little church and Convent. The day is so hot and dry, sand and more sand everywhere. A quick visit to the Cheops Boat Museum which requires special little bootie shoes to be put over our shoes. The museum houses a Khufu ship which is an intact full-size vessel from Ancient Egypt that was sealed into a pit in the Giza pyramid complex at the foot of the Great Pyramid of Giza around 2500 BC. The ship is now preserved in the Giza Solar boat museum. The Khufu ship is one of the oldest, largest, and best preserved vessels from antiquity. Onto The Sphinx of Giza, a limestone statue of a reclining or couchant sphinx, a mythical creature with a lion's body and a human head, that stands on the Giza Plateau on the west bank of the Nile. The face of the Sphinx is generally believed to represent the face of the Pharaoh Khafra. An interesting time inside a perfume factory where we sample many varieties of perfume but I am not tempted. I feel a little overpriced. The bus takes us back to the hotel where we have free time after lunch but we are warned not to go outside the Hotel grounds as it is not safe for westerners to walk around on their own.
21st September 2009
A 3am wakeup call and we put our luggage at the door as requested by the staff for a pickup, we have a flight to Luxor. The hotel has prepared a prepacked breakfast box and then straight to the bus and the airport. The flight is about an hour and we arrive after a very interesting take off and even more interesting landing - not sure where ther pilots got their flying wings. A bus ride to the Valley of the Queens which is located on the West Bank of Luxor near the Valley of the Kings, The Valley of the Queens is the place where wives of Pharaohs were buried in ancient times as well as princes, princesses and various members of the nobility Nefertari’s tomb, Ramses II favourite wife, is the most famous attraction. The tomb is said to be one of the most beautiful in Egypt. 50 degree heat, I have a look around but need to go back to the bus and the girls are all feeling the heat so I gather them together and warn them to stay close, we start the walk through the crowds of male hawkers. It is really scary as they keep touching you until I become very rude to a couple of men. This is something I do not normally do but I have had enough of these guys. I have never experienced such intense heat. After everyone is back on the bus we head to the Luxor Temple. This temple is a large Ancient Egyptian temple complex located on the east bank of the River Nile, it was founded in 1400 BCE during the New Kingdom. We wander around among the pillars of ancient stone and then off to the Nile and a cruise up the river, we all disembark on the other side at a rather expensive looking hotel where we are to stay. The Nile is a very dirty river with sections of fast flowing waters, small islands, shallow waters and rocks with kids swimming and cattle bathing in it, logs and bits of timber and rubbish floating in it. After we settle into our rooms on the 9th floor with exceptional views of the Nile, some of the tour members and Maryanne and I head to the outside bar for a nice cool drink and to watch the sun setting over the Nile, a lovely end to my 55th birthday. After a meal we find the night show and the Swirling Dervish Dancers, they are exceptional to watch.
22nd September 2009
Another very hot day and an early start to the tombs and museums of Luxor. Luxor has often been called the world's greatest open air museum, as indeed it is and much more. The number and preservation of the monuments in the Luxor area are unparalleled anywhere else in the world. Onto the temple of Karnak which comprises a vast mix of decayed temples, chapels, pylons, and other buildings but is actually three main temples, smaller enclosed temples, and several outer temples located about three kilometres north of Luxor, situated on 100 ha (247 acres) of land. Karnak is actually the sites modern name, Its ancient name was Ipet-isut, meaning "The Most Select (or Sacred) of Places". This vast complex was built and enlarged over a thirteen hundred year period. The architecture is incredible and to think it is of such an old age. We go to the Stone Palace for lunch., the heat is incredible. The guide picks us up later in the afternoon when it has cooled down and we go to a paper factory where I purchase some parched scripts to frame when I get home to Australia. We also go to an Alabaster factory where I make a couple of small camel purchases and then a jeweller but the items are very expensive and the staff are very pushy so I head outside to the bus to wait for the others. It is too congested inside. Last on the stops is a Bazaar and what a fiasco. Again I do not wait in there too long - I really do not like bartering with the shop owners - what an eye opener.
23rd September 2009
We fly out of Luxor at 8.30 am, about 40 minutes late but this is quite common in Egypt, the next plane is waiting for us in Cairo and then another 2hr flight to Istanbul and a Turkish guide is waiting for us at the airport. The next part of the tour is to commence.