Egypt: Nile Cruise - Page 2
This, the second page of our Egypt
trip, focuses on the middle
of our visit. Specifically, this includes the west bank of Luxor
sailing to Aswan
, and part of Aswan
I'll continue with some of the generalities here. The
weather was mostly cool and breezy. This is apparently unseasonable, and
surprised our guide. While we got to see the sun a lot, there were days when it
was cloudy. And so we spent less time on the top deck of the ship than we would
otherwise. This is just as well, because the ship gave off a lot of diesel
exhaust. Not surprisingly, the Nile
also has a lot of pollution.
So, the food, the food, the food. The ship had its own chef
who prepared meals. (We saw them bring on raw vegetables and ingredients
several times from land.) All meals (except one) were buffet style, which was
good in that you could pick and choose. The dishes were almost all attempts at
European dishes, and even looked like them. However they tasted very different.
It is too bad because it was clear the staff was trying very hard and was very
nice about it all.
Let's begin by saying that Westerners cannot drink the Nile River
water. It causes them to get very sick. Being a desert, the only alternative is
bottled water. Note also that water is used surprising often in cooking - as an
ingredient, washing, boiling, steaming, etc. Now, does this sound like a recipe
for trouble? I got sick midweek, and had trouble drinking bottle water, but
recovered. Robin got sick near the end of the trip, and so did I (again). About
half of our party got sick at some point!
general, there is a great deal of agriculture alongside the Nile.
The water must be pumped up to the soil; otherwise the desert sucks everything
dry. Without the pumping, the desert comes right up to the river. The main
crops are sugar, wheat, and cotton. We took a big bus from the east bank to the
west bank of the Nile to visit the hills
Colossi of Memnon face the river Nile, backed
by the hills containing all the tombs. The Pharaoh Amenhotep III is enthroned.
It is 60 feet tall, and used to guard a huge temple which was later plundered
for building material. The statue on the right was a big tourist attraction in
Roman times, because it was heard to sing during sun rise. This was probably
due to whistling effect caused by damage sustained during an earthquake. The
singing stopped when the monuments were repaired in 199 CE. In the background,
you can see colorful Egyptian houses.
Valley of the Kings
houses at least 67 Pharaonic tombs, including Howard Carter's 1922 discovery of
Tutankhamen. That discovery was the most significant, since it was the only
tomb not plundered. The most recent tomb was found in 2006. The reason this
spot was chosen is because the mountain shown in the background appears to be a
pyramid- a very holy symbol in ancient Egyptian culture.
Only a few
of the tombs are open at any one time. Robin and I entered the burial tombs for
Ramses IV and Ramses IX.
the entrance to a tomb, although this one is closed. Of course, the exterior is
no impressive. The inside of the tombs we entered were carved with hieroglyphs,
many with paint still. They usually consist of long corridors that occasionally
open up into big rooms where treasure was stored. One had an enormous square
sarcophagus, covered with magical texts and pictures of the gods. None of the
tombs have any treasure now, and only one (Tutankhamen) still has the mummy
Here I am,
not feeling very good. After the Valley of the Kings,
we went to an alabaster factory, where pottery is hand made. We did not go to
the Valley of the Queens or Tombs of the
nobles, but they are in this same area.
Temple is built against a cliff, very close to the Valley
of the Kings. It is obviously very large, and has three big
terraces. The dark area on the right is a cafe for tourists. Hatshepsut was an
important female ruler of Egypt.
on the left was a temple of Montuhotep II, who united Upper and Lower
Egypt. There was also a Temple
to Tuthmosis III. Within the Hatshepsut
Temple is a chapel to the
cow-headed goddess Hathor. Also, there is a chapel to the jackal-headed god
Anubis, the god of mummification. The shrine of Amun, the sun god, was built
into the cliff.
are allowed into the top two terraces. The bottom one is closed, probably
because it supports so much weight. When Hatshepsut died, her brother defaced
any statue or temple to her. The temple was later turned into a Christian monastery.
looking out at the Nile valley from Hatshepsut
Statues of Hatshepsut depict her, as usual, as a male king with a beard! These
have been reconstructed from fragments recently excavated.
these are tombs that stand in the valley where Hatshepsut temple exists. People
were going up to these, but we didn't go.
Wednesday afternoon we set sail upstream on the Nile.
The ship sailed very, very smoothly throughout our journey. Unfortunately, our
ship produces a great deal of diesel exhaust, which runs up near the sides of
the boat. As you can see, the weather turned cool and cloudy. We sailed to the
Esna lock, and then waited our turn to go further upstream. We passed the lock
in the middle of the night and did not see it in operation.
I got to
know this very well since I was feeling increasingly sick. After a sleepless
night and not eating for 2 days, I started to feel better. I'm sure it was
something I ate, but what? Anyway, I mostly stayed in the cabin during this
time and Robin took most of the rest of the pictures on this page. She also did
we visited Edfu Temple, dedicated to the falcon god Horus (or Haroeris). To get
to Edfu Temple,
you must take a horse-drawn carriage, just a bit different than the taxis you
find in New York.
of the sacred barque of Horus is in the sanctuary at Edfu Temple.
temple was used about 50 years ago as a place that escaped prisoners would
hide. The blackened ceilings comes from soot from their fires; not the ancient
Edfu Temple is a temple to Horus and this is his statue. The statue is
carved from granite.
missing areas are windows.
brick wall in this picture surrounds the temple and is a part of the ruins.
at the entrance have extremely well preserved carvings of Horus and Pharaoh.
The temple at Edfu is the best preserved Ptolemaic temple in all of Egypt.
So we set
sail to Kom Ombo temple upstream. This is very, very common sight to see along
Temple of Kom Ombo
at Kom Ombo temple after sundown on Thursday. The temple is perfectly symmetrical,
with two entrances on opposite sides. One side is dedicated to the Falcon god
Horus and the other side is dedicated to the local crocodile god Sobek. This
famous hieroglyph shows medical tools in use by the Egyptians. You can see
scissor-like objects and spoon-shaped instruments.
little better, I ventured out for this temple. They keep several crocodile
mummies from the nearby crocodile necropolis in the Chapel of Hathor, which was
neat to see.
faintly see Kom Ombo temple above the bazaar. This shows how one must pass by
the entire bazaar on the way from the ship to the temple, and the return trip
also. I remember some running around here as we were all trying to find our
ship, which had moved! Anyway, after everyone returned, the ship set sail
again. We headed to Aswan, a large city on the Nile.
Aswan Quarry and the Unfinished Obelisk
morning, with Greg staying on the ship, some of the rest of us went on
excursions around Aswan.
Actually, about half the people in our 20 person group got sick (mostly the
men). Looking at part of Aswan
from the Quarry.
ancient Egyptians carved their obelisks in the granite quarry and then
transported them on the Nile to their final
location. They cut the obelisk by drilling holes in all the necessary
dimensions. They then put pieces of wood in the holes and soaked the wood
forcing it to expand. They would repeat this process until the granite piece
they were working with split away from the quarry wall.
obelisk was begun, but the process was abandoned when a crack was discovered in
the granite. It is believed that the obelisk was probably started during the
reign of Ramses II.
stream from the High Dam at Aswan.
Lake Nassar; the biggest man-made lake in the world. It stretches for
the Lower Dam at Aswan.
It was completed in 1906 by the British in attempt to control the flooding on
the Nile. It didn't work. The High Dam was
necessary to finish the job.
Temple of Philae
Philae Temple is on an island. It was moved from its original location
because it kept ending up under water. The Egyptian government along with
UNESCO moved the entire temple to this island.
one of the boats that you use to get to Philae.
a temple to Isis. The figures on the pylons
were chiseled by Christians fleeing the Romans at about the same time as the
temple was built. By defacing the carvings, the temple was not completed and
could not be used for tax collection.
left, the Coptic cross; evidence that Christians used this temple as well. On
the right; carved graffiti, in Greek; those people who paint their names on
bridges didn't really invent anything new.
There is a
smaller temple on the island dedicated to Hathor the goddess of mirth and joy.
have been a tropical paradise if it hadn't been so cold!
A view of
the Nile from our ship docked in Aswan.
We stayed in Aswan
for several days.