Saturday, March 3, 2007

Aswan, Abu Simbel and Sailing to Luxor

We arrived in Aswan after taking a bus from the oasis and then a sleeper train all the way in the south of Egypt (they call it Upper Egypt). Not much to see here, it's a smallish city. we wandered around the town after we got there (and showering after going 3 nights without) and went out to Elephantine Island, just another Nile island, a 2 minute boat ride from town. There is an ancient Nubian village there, and we just walked around the island for a while, before sitting on some rocks and just watching the felucca's (sail boats) go by. We woke up the next morning at 3 am to go further south about 3.5 hours to Abu Simbel (just 40 km north of Sudan), site of Ramses II great temple and the smaller one he built for his wife Nefertari right next to it. They were really impressive to see, really huge statues, carved right into the rock, sitting along the shores of Lake Nasser. Then we got back onto the bus and drove the 3.5 hours back to Aswan. Don't ask about the ridiculous time we woke up, it was due mandatory police convoys they make the tourists stick to. These were put in place after about 60 tourists were killed by terrorists in 1997 in Luxor (where we are right now), and are mandatory for tourists all over upper Egypt. We spent the rest of the day in Aswan, again just wandering around the Souq area, getting hassled to buy all kinds of crap as usual.

In the morning the following day we headed down to the water, and boarded our felucca for a 2 night trip up the river to Kom Ombo. We were really looking forward to the trip, as some rest, relaxation and most importantly, escape from the shopkeepers was what we needed. Our trip, which we were accompanied on by 3 other tourists and 2 captains. We spent that day and the one after sailing for a few hours each day, mostly just laying about in the sun, enjoying the trip, and ignoring the cruise ships that also use the river. The food cooked by our captains was again delicious, and sleeping on the boat was also a fun experience. It's hard to complain when you get to enjoy the sunset and sun rise while floating on the Nile. Our trip ended this morning at a town called Kom Ombo, famous for another massive temple, this one dedicated to the crocodile god, Sobek. Then we got in a van with our other boat mates and drove another 60 km's north to Edfu, where there is yet another massive temple sitting on the river banks. After spending an hour there, we got back in the van, and convoy drove the rest of the way to Luxor.
Tara and I decided to stay at a hotel in the West Bank, where all the famous tombs are, because it is far quieter on this side of the river than in the main part of Luxor. We went for a walk this afternoon along the Nile, and met a very nice Nubian man, who invited us into his home for tea and we ended up chatting with him for a couple of hours, meeting his family, and having another cup of tea. Before we left, he invited us to come back and have lunch with family on Monday and enjoy some Nubian food. We're looking forward to it! Tomorrow we are going to spend the day seeing the Valley of the Kings and the other ancient sites here on the West Bank
Hope everyone is doing well.


Judd Blitt said...

Great photos! Keep 'em coming!

Michael said...

Great pictures. I just set one of them as my background picture now. Sorry, the one without you two in.