Posts Tagged With: Aswan

Postcards from Egypt

Here are my postcards from Egypt. There are a lot so it took some time to get them all uploaded. Hope you enjoy them! You can read about my trip to Egypt here.

To view some of my other postcards click here

Categories: Africa, Egypt, Egypt, History, Postcards, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Day I was Mistaken for an Egyptian Queen’s Soul

8/2/13

Surprisingly we did not have to wake up at the crack of dawn to catch a plane to Abu Simbel like all the other Contiki tours had to. I skipped the cruise’s breakfast and ate my cereal on the bus. We drove to the airport in Aswan. We went through security which was a metal detector and xray machine. Our waters were allowed in. Sherif showed us a picture of Nefertari that we would see in the temple. He also complimented my dress. He had us sit down and he gave us some background info on the temples. I wanted to look around at the shops in the airport, but he said we didn’t have time. So I chose the bathroom instead as did some of the other girls. We ran straight from the bathroom to our gate. We were boarding!

Once on the plane I realized that I was on the wrong side of the plane to see Abu Simbel. I needed to be on the left side. Sitting to the right of me was an Arab man who didn’t seem very nice. To the left of me was Janelle. Then Sherif calls me and asks me to move. He has me take an empty seat in the row behind him on the left side of the plane. He moved me so I could see Abu Simbel. Lexi moves and sits next to me. The plane ride was smooth. They offered us water. I got a great picture of Abu Simbel from the air. I played some American music for Lexi. We landed after what felt like only 15 minutes, but was really over 30 minutes.

Abu Simbel from the air

We got on a shuttle bus to take us to the main airport. Then a bunch of us ran to the ladies room. We boarded a coach bus which we shared with the Trafalgar group. We drove to a little food area and had to walk from there. The walk to the temples was hot and grueling. I felt like I was melting. So I joked around and prayed to Shu (the wind god) and at that moment a gust of wind hit my dress. The light breeze stayed with us! I turned a corner and there was Ramesses’ Temple. I was in awe. It was so incredible! We took some pictures then we went to a “shaded” area with a bench to listen to Sherif. He talked to us about the moving of the temples and the alligator that walked right up to people at night during the light and sound show. He asked us who wanted to buy the Abu Simbel pictures for 20 LE. I told him that I wanted them. Then he let us wander around for an hour.

The girls and I headed to the right aka Nefertari’s Temple first. It was breathtaking. We took a lot of pictures of the outside. We wandered around the inside of the temple and examined all the glyphs. Everyone was trying to sneak pictures, but I was too scared to. I finally worked up enough courage to do so and right when I went to grab my camera I saw the guy coming. Scott got caught and the temple guy deleted the pictures. See the pic below of him getting caught. Towards the entrance I started to read the hieroglyphs to Janelle. The temple guy’s face lit up when he heard me. He asked me if I could read them and I said yes. Then he went on and on in Arabic about me. He took my arm and guided me to the famous image of Nefertari and made me rub her lotus flower a couple of times. You are not supposed to touch anything so I was shocked he wanted me to touch the walls. On our way out he asked if I wanted a picture with the ankh. I did, but didn’t want him to ask me for money. I thanked him in Arabic and he wished me blessings in both languages while bowing his head towards me. The little Arabic I could understand, his behavior, and what I wound up finding out from others made me realize that he thought I was Nefertari’s Ka. A Ka is an Egyptian’s double. There are stories about people’s Ka’s tricking people into believing they are the original. Maybe that would make sense as to why the gods granted me wind when I asked for it. 😉

Picture from Sonja

We then headed to Ramesses’ Temple. We took more pictures and I looked at some of the glyphs on the outside. The entrance way had Ramesses statues/pillars that were made to look like Osiris. We looked at all the famous scenes like Ramesses on the chariot shooting an arrow and smiting his enemies. There were back rooms as well that were covered in glyphs from floor to ceiling. Some of the back rooms smelled like something died in them. We started to get hot and dehydrated so we decided to head back.

Fallen head

Usermaatre Setepenre

The walk back was uphill and was torture. At that point it was the middle of the day and the sun was beaming. We finally made it to the rest area and were so happy to see water and food even if it was overpriced. I bought a water and a kit kat. We took seats with Sherif and filled him in on our temple experience. We then went to the bathroom where we had to pay. We waited a while for Paul and Mike. We eventually gave up. We walked through a row of vendors who liked my galabiya and didn’t try to sell me stuff when I told them no thank you in Arabic. At the top of the hill was Paul and Mike. Sherif got into a bit of a tiff with Paul. We boarded the bus and headed to the airport.

Security was a joke this time. We got our tickets and used the bathroom. This time I was on the left side of the plane. I was between Meg and Mat. Aussie sandwich. They gave us water again. Meg, Mat, and I spent most of the time talking about Australian politics and how it is compulsory to vote in Australia. The conversation was interesting, but the 3 of us were scared because the plane was experiencing extreme turbulence for the entire flight. The plane couldn’t land soon enough for the 3 of us. It was because of the intensity of the heat. We were all so thankful to land. We all felt a bit queasy.

*The picture below was sent to me by Contiki because when I came back from Egypt I sent Sherif a NY Yankees shirt. He’s wearing it in Abu Simbel below.

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Categories: Africa, Egypt, History, Travel, Trip with a Tour Group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Haggling in Aswan

8/1/13

We drove to the perfumery. It was really pretty inside. I was determined not to buy anything. After a long presentation about the oils and perfumes we were allowed to shop. The presentation had some funny moments. I caved and bought a small thing of papyrus perfume. Before we left a bunch of us changed into longer more covered outfits so we could go to the market. I wore Lexi’s skirt.

Photo credit Sonja

Picture from Sonja

Photo credit Sonja

Photo credit Sonja

Photo credit Sonja

The perfume guy drove with us for a bit and then we let him out so he could go and get dinner since Ramadan was done for the night. It was interesting to see all the shopkeepers sitting in the streets eating instead of tending to their stores. Sonja and I had indicated to Sherif that we wanted to go into the bookstore in the market. He took us to the store and stayed with us while we shopped. I was looking for Zahi Hawass books, but didn’t see any. I was also looking for the Egyptian Museum book I passed on in Cairo and was told by other bloggers to buy it here. I didn’t see it. I saw many books I had already read or owned. Sonja picked up a book on Egyptian Mythology. I decided on the book I had seen Sherif with and I bought some cool pens. Sonja and I then met up with the rest of the group.

This market was for haggling! We all needed to buy costumes for the party and we all wanted them for a cheap price. I was upset that I had to buy one since I already had a great one in my suitcase. Sonja was the first to get a skirt. Alli was next. The twins were great hagglers and got whatever they wanted for ridiculously cheap. Paul bought a bag. I also wanted a bag since I was sick of carrying everything around in a shopping bag. Every backpack I looked at was very expensive. As we walked around people called out to us with the following phrases: Free to Look! No hassle! My friend! Lexi bought a skirt and then I did as well. We were trying to get them for between 15 and 25 Egyptian pounds. It was so hard to haggle without asking how much it cost, which Sherif told us not to do. After buying our skirts Lexi and I bought chocolate and water. She paid me back for the skirt and some guy tried to pinch our butts.

We ran into Michael who joined me in search of a bag. I knew we were timing it close, but I figured we could make it back in time. I found a drawstring bag that I liked. The guy wanted over 200 Egyptian Pounds for it. It took me forever, but I finally got him down to 75 Egyptian pounds. It was still more than I wanted to spend, but I needed a bag (Later Sherif said I could have got him down to 60). Then Michael wanted to buy cigs which took forever with the haggling. He got them down to 15 Egyptian Pounds, but he didn’t have it on him. So I paid the guy. On our run back to the bus (we were now late) he told me the guys offered to sell him drugs and they offered him 1000 stuffed camels for me. I wonder how much that is in American dollars. We got to the meeting spot and the van was nowhere in sight. Crap!!! Then I spotted it parked a couple blocks away. We ran to it and Sherif refused to let us on. He pointed to his watch and shook his head. I pleaded with him and he let us on (with a smile on his face). I apologized even though we were only about 7 minutes late.

After being fake angry with us he explained that we were still waiting for Nicole. We waited and waited. Then we started to get worried. Janelle and Sherif went out looking for her. Meanwhile some little boy was attempting to sell stuff to Michael through the window of the van. It was funny at first. Janelle and Sherif came back empty handed. Now we were running into a problem. The boat was waiting for us, Sherif hadn’t eaten all day, it was very dark out, and Nicole was alone. Sherif told the van to take us back to the ship and come back for him. We gave him food and water in case he missed dinner.

I went straight back to my room and dropped off my stuff and then headed down to dinner. Sherif and Nicole showed up. Nicole didn’t have a watch so she lost track of time. So she wound up being an hour late. I had some pita bread, which was my first piece of Egyptian food.

We then went to the Nubian show which consisted of dancing, drums, singing, and chanting. I started not to feel well and went back to the room to lie down. I felt better and came back up to catch the end of the performance. I would have preferred the whirling dirvish. O well.

After that we hung by the pool for a bit. It was quite lovely on the top deck at night. The shop guy came up and dropped off our necklaces. That was fast! I went back to my room and organized my stuff for the next day and went to bed.

Categories: Africa, Egypt, Travel, Trip with a Tour Group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sailing on the Nile

8/1/13
We get off the train and it is hot! We need to go down a long flight of stairs and then up a different flight of stairs. Thank goodness I didn’t have my suitcase at that moment. Surprisingly everyone managed to carry their suitcases up and down all those stairs. We got out of the train station and there was our bus. While on the bus, Sherif spoke to us about the day’s schedule and clothing.

We wound up on the MS Miriam and not the Madea or Carmen. We got upgraded!!! We were with Trafalgar and Insight Vacations. We boarded the ship and were told to wait in the lounge for our room assignments. I was room 314 on the third floor. To the right of me were the twins and to the left was Sonja and Lexi. Alli was across the hall. The room was big and beautiful!!!! I was so happy to be able to settle in. I washed the one and only outfit I actually owned (the one I wore on the plane). I had a mini fridge, so I put all my water bottles in there. I was excited to have cold water everyday. I skipped lunch and ate my snacks in the room. I watched the cruise info channel and started to explore the ship.

I ran into the twins who were going to get massages. I went to the basement level in search of the shops. There were two guys working in the jewelry shop helping Nicole. I walked in and picked out a gold cartouche with my name on it. I chose the 2nd smallest size. I looked around to see if I could find anything for my mom, but I couldn’t figure out what she would like. There was a 5% service fee for using my AMEX.

I then went to the other shop in search of clothes and gifts. I picked out a bunch of postcards for myself, a tut mummy, magnets, and key chains. Then I started to focus on clothes. I asked to see a Galabiya, but every one he showed me was either ripped or stained not to mention ugly. He finally pulled out a dark blue one with Nefertiti on it. It was clean and pretty! Now time for shoes or should I say sandals. There was a red pair that were my size that I decided to get. However, right when I went to purchase them I changed my mind. I tried them on again and started to walk around in them and realized they really hurt. I saw a black pair that were in my size and tried them on. They were thong style and were more comfy then the other pair. I charged everything and went back to the room. Lexi stopped by to discuss the price of her necklace. She got hers in silver and I started to wish I had as well. Then we stopped by the twins’ room and discussed it with them as well.

We left the ship and boarded our felucca. Janelle originally started to steer the boat, but then the real guy took over. It was so beautiful and calm! We passed a beautiful mosque. Sherif had the boat guy take a glass and dip it into the Nile so we could see how clear the water was. We passed the botanical gardens on Kitchener’s Island and I was so glad that we didn’t stop to see them. We started to approach the Mausoleum of Aga Khan. He was an imam and his wife would place a rose on his tomb everyday. It was considered very romantic. Then we stopped so we could walk on the sand dune. We boarded the felucca again and Sherif talked to us about the places he had been and his education. He got his BA in Roman and Greek Studies and his MA in Egyptology. He speaks several languages and has never been to Australia or the U.S. While on the felucca Sherif got a call about my bag. They predict it will arrive tomorrow. Somehow I doubt it. We passed the Temple of Khnum (the one in Aswan not the one is Esna). Next we passed the Old Cataract Hotel where Agatha Christie wrote Death on the Nile. We talked about archeology for a bit. We passed a man who was in the Nile all the way up to his head. However, he had a small head so it just looked like his hat was floating.

Kitchener’s Island

Mausoleum of Aga Khan

Old Cataract Hotel

Temple of Khnum

Old Cataract Hotel

We got off the felucca near where a bunch of boys were swimming and hanging out. I suddenly felt very uncomfortable in Megan’s short shorts. We went to a little street bodega. I bought water, chocolate, and postcards. Then we hopped into a van.

Categories: Africa, Egypt, History, Travel, Trip with a Tour Group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wait a Minute…This isn’t the Hogwarts Express

7/31/13
We boarded the bus and caught our last glimpse of the pyramids. We were headed to the train station. Right before we got to the station Sherif read us our car and cabin numbers. Originally I was alone, but then he realized and added Alli. I was car 13 cabin 11/12. We got off the bus and everyone had to make sure their bags were unloaded. The porters came and took the bags and followed us into the station.

We walked the whole length of the station and everyone looked at us. We got to the end and waited and waited and waited some more. While we waited we watched a lot of trains pull in and people fight to get on. It was crazy! People were even hanging off the back of the train! Paul, Nicole, Michael, Megan, and I did a comparison of the work environment in Australia vs. USA. Australia’s is so much better! They have lots of freedom and time off. We also entertained ourselves by making fun of the guy hanging over the ledge leering at Megan. Paul kept going, “Special Price”, “Good price for you my habibi”, “Buy one get one free”, etc.

The train was over 1.5 hrs late. The car we needed to get to couldn’t be reached by the station. We had to go to 9 or 10 and walk. This was very difficult since the train space was tight and people kept pushing. We finally found our car and cabin. The cabins were not marked with #’s, which caused some confusion. However, we eventually got it all sorted out. Alli and I were next to the twins and on the other side of us were strangers. The cabin was so small! I don’t know how we would have fit two suitcases. Alli and I were crawling over each other. Paul, Michael, and Alli agreed with me that it was like Harry Potter’s train car to Hogwarts. Sherif showed us how to work the lights. He dimmed the lights and cracked a joke about romantic lighting. Alli and I declined dinner and tried to get ready for bed. That was easier said then done.

Megan lent me a pair of booty shorts to sleep in. Alexis brought me a skirt to wear the next day. We called for the porter to put down the beds, which gave us even less room. I finally got to see the bathroom and it wasn’t so bad. The toilet flushed and there was a sink with water. It was also somewhat spacious. I went back to the cabin and Alli and I proceeded to cough our lungs up over the cigarette smoke coming from the other cabins. We climbed into bed and I leaned outside of my bottom bunk to blow my nose when the heavy metal ladder came crashing down on my knee. THANK G-D IT WASN’T MY HEAD! The bruise started to form right away and I was in so much pain. We laughed about it though. What a night! I put on my headphones and called it a night.

8/1/13

Around 4 or 5 in the morning I wake up. I sneak out of the cabin and use the restroom. I walk the hallway a bit to ease my stiff legs and knee pain. As I walk the hallway I get a flashback of the train to Thessaloniki and seeing Mt. Olympus. This time however I see Re. I watch as the perfect orange red sun orb rises above the Nile and the land. It was beautiful. I could see why the Egyptians worshipped it. I sneak back into the cabin and eventually fall back asleep. Hours later Alli’s movement wakes me and I get up as well. I stay dressed in Megan’s shorts so I don’t drag Lexi’s skirt in train station nastiness. I knew Aswan would be hot in August, but the window is burning. They bring us breakfast. I pack up the bread for later and give Alli some of mine. Instead I have animal crackers and such for breakfast. Sherif comes around and warns us that we are getting close and should get ready to leave.

Images from the train in the morning:

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Egypt

I went to Egypt with Contiki, a tour company for people age 18-35. My friends had gone to Egypt with Contiki and had an amazing time. I booked the trip in October of 2010. In January of 2011 the Egyptian Revolution occurred. The friend I was going with had second thoughts and decided not to join me. However, some of the Australian girls I met through Facebook were still going so I kept my plans. Plus I have been dreaming about going to Egypt since I was 5. I went at the end of July. Not only was there no government, but it was the hottest time of the year to visit and it was also Ramadan. There were also no tourists, which was a plus. I loved experiencing Egypt during Ramadan. For more information about Contiki, Contiki’s Egypt tour, the revolution, and Ramadan see below. You can also see my videos from Egypt below. Please be patient as I slowly post my Egypt entries.

Contiki

Contiki-Egypt and the Nile

Postcards from Egypt

Reflection on my Trip

Revolution

Ramadan

My Videos from Egypt

Egypt Map

Categories: Africa, Egypt, History, Travel, Trip with a Tour Group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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