Feluccas on the Nile River
Sitting on a pyramid!
Al-Montazah Palace, Alexandria
Entertainment and belly dancers
Cairo Egyptian Museum
www.WillhiteWeb.com: Hiking, Climbing and Travel
The shores of the Nile
Inside the Pyramids
Trying to fit in
Abu simbel - Ramesses II Temple
The Colonnades - The Luxor Temple
Karnak Temple - Luxor
Karnak Temple - Luxor
Streets of Alexindria
The Edfu Temple - Luxor
Streets of Luxor
View out the window in Cairo
Memnon Colossis - Valley of the Queens
Sitting on a camel at the pyramids
With an extra day in our itinerary at the very start of the trip, I tried to include a historic hike up Mt. Sinai into the plans. The only problem, itís a 12 hour bus ride to the mountain from Cairo. My grand solution was to take a night bus, arrive at 3 a.m., climb the mountain in 4 hours, then return on the 8 a.m. morning bus back
Most western tourists arrive at this remote location on the Sinai Peninsula by a tour bus and guide. Our experience was nothing close to this, as we took a public bus. Our Cairo guide took us to the bus station, had us wait in the car, while he got 2 tickets to the little town at the base of the mountain. He waited with us until the bus was loading, and then walked us onto the bus. He couldnít believe this was so important to us that we were willing to take such a long ride. He actually seemed a bit concerned about us. I have no pictures of the bus; I was too concerned about looking like a tourist, trying to keep a low profile. Basically, this was a true Egyptian bus with decorative curtain rugs with tassels blocking all the windows. The whole way there, an old TV was playing old Egyptian produced movies. I swear the same movie played three times. If the TV wasnít on, the Egyptian music was blasting, one tape, over and over. Once on the Sinai Peninsula, we started picking up people in the middle of nowhere. Many were Bedouin wifeís, still reeking of campfire smoke. Most of the women had full black burkas, covered from head to toe with only their eyes exposed. How their little children could separate who was their mom I donít know. The bus would stop at the most awful rest stops with the most foul toilet holes Iíd ever seen. We finally arrived at the town at the base of the mountain where the worst thing possible happened. I could not locate the trailhead. It was dark, and not a soul was awake in this little town. We walked and walked looking for any sort of sign to point the way. Nothing! I only had a basic description of the route but nothing getting me from town to the trail. Soon our time was upÖ.no room for error. We went to the bus station and waited for our long bus ride back to Cairo. This by far is the top traveling blunder of my life.
This maze-like medieval quarter of Cairo is exciting to walk through as the narrow streets are just full of people going about their daily routines. The area is full of Islamic monuments and really old Mosques. The Khan Al-Khalili market (in use since 1382) is the most popular market for tourists in Egypt to visit. If youíre looking for something, this is the place as they have everything you might need like belly dancing equipment. Egyptians are excellent at taking advantage of people, haggle down at least half of whatever they offer as the price.
Pyramids of Giza and The Sphinx
What a sight, over 4500 years old and there they were. We first went to a photo location to get our picture taken on a camel. Our guide negotiated a price and up we went for the classic camel shot. Walking around, even sitting on the pyramids of Giza was fun but they do not allow anyone to climb them; too bad. We went inside one of the pyramids, a long narrow passage full of wall art ending at a tomb. Also nearby is the Great Sphinx, formed from one piece of stone with the head of a woman and the body of a lion.
With 107 rooms and well over 100,000 exhibits, this place is packed with the worlds best ancient Egyptian relics. Youíre sure to get your fill of mummies here. The Egyptian Museum also displays collections ranging over 5000 years of history. Most guidebooks will tell you to give it several days! We swept through in a few hours, weíll learn about what we saw on the Discovery channel when we get old.
Dinner Cruise and Entertainment
We went on a dinner cruise with our guide. He booked a good one as we were the only tourists on the boat. Most were local families celebrating birthdays or whatever. The entertainment was interesting; our guide seemed to really like the belly dancer.
With an extra half day, we got up early and went to the train station. We bought tickets to Alexandria, a 3 hour train ride away. Known as the Pearl of the Mediterranean, this is the biggest summer resort in the Middle East. The city has a waterfront that was an amazing sight. As far as you could see along the curving shoreline were buildings and minarets. We walked the streets and saw two sights. Pompayís Pillar and the Al-Montazah Palace and Gardens. The palace is the former summer residence of the royal family.
Cruise down the Nile
We spent 3 days on a Nile cruise boat floating down the river. There were hundreds of these boats all taking tourists up and down the Nile to the different temples.
Luxor (Ancient Thebes)
Luxor is a bit blurry in my mind. There is so much to see there. I know we saw three temples (Temples of Luxor, Karnak and Edfu) and on the other side of the Nile, the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens. Each temple had massive rows of columns (sometimes in the hundreds), giant statues, inscribed walls, extensive chambers, courtyards, rows of sphinxes and obelisks. These are the largest temple complexes ever built and given how amazing they were in our day, I canít imagine what the people long ago thought about them. Across the Nile from Luxor is The Valley of the Kings, where the royal tombs are located. A tour of this area is interesting knowing there are still buried tombs full of treasure hidden. The Valley of the Queens has the Theban Necropolis holding 70 tombs. Itís an amazing structure built for the women who ruled ancient Egypt. Pharaohs decided to be buried in these places because traditional pyramids would get tomb robbers.
In Aswan we saw the Unfinished Obelisk in a granite rock quarry. Itís believed that this would have been one of the biggest hand-carved monuments weighing more than 1,100 tons.
Near the Sudan border is this temple dedicated to the Pharaoh Ramesses II. Ramesses II reigned for 67 years during the 13th century BC. The front has four enormous statues 67 feet high of him sitting. Archaeologists saved this massive temple in the 60ís from going underwater when the waters of Lake Nasser would rise behind the Aswan High Dam. Inside are more immense statues, one is Ramses II. The sun only shines on his statue 2 days a yearÖhis 2 birthday and his coronation day.
Abu simbel - Ramesses II Temple
Valley of the Queens