1998 Mystery of History – Day 10

Cairo to Luxor to Edfu – cruising down the river

Monday – up early, making sure we don’t leave anything behind, we go down to the lobby to meet up with Walid.  We are introduced to our Tour Guide and the rest of the group.  Anyway, our Tour Guide’s name is – wait for it – Mohamed. (Every one we meet is named Mohamed except for Walid). He is a qualified Egyptologist and has a wicked sense of humour.

There are only six in our group. WOW !!!!!!!!! This is just like a personalised tour and I can’t believe how lucky we are. The group consists of another 2 Aussie ladies – Jean and her daughter Carolyn (who we shall call Britannica); 2 Americans – Joe and Judy and Kylie and me.

We leave Cairo on flight MS115 departing 6.45am. Egyptian Air – nice airline and nice staff.  Was glad in a way to get out of Cairo – but sad also. The mornings were great but as the day went on the pollution and the mists and haze off the desert took over the city.

Still it was exciting and I would do it again. And saying that – our tour will bring us back in about 8 days.  Waiting, waiting on the tarmac, our flight is delayed for about an hour and a half so they can change a tyre. They really should have checked the tyres when they did a service.

Another photo opportunity but the windows are greasy and grubby from the sand and junk. However we do see some Egyptian Air Force fighters that have their little homes in bunkers under the sand.  Anyway the tyre is now OK and we taxi to finally take off – faster, faster down the tarmac – up in the air and we strain our necks to get a glimpse of the pyramids and sphinx in the early morning light.  No photo opportunity – we are going the other way – bummer.

We land in Luxor about 10.00am.  Our little bus from Spring Tours is waiting for us and we head off to the boat. We arrive at the dock and there are loads of boats and we wonder which one is ours.

Unfortunately we cannot see it because to get to our boat we have to walk through two other boats that are connected by gang-planks.  This is going to be fun and we will get to see what the other boats are like inside!  When we get to our boat – ‘The Giselle’ – she looks like sheer luxury afloat.

Huge chandeliers – carpets, wooden handrails on the sweeping staircases and then we are shown to our cabins.  Very Agatha Christie I must say!

In our cabin there are two large comfy single beds, a lovely bathroom and a huge panoramic window the length of the room.  WOW. That will certainly come in handy as we cruise along.  I tried to find a photo for you (I didn’t take one can you believe it?) but everything is after the renovations in 2006. The windows are only half the size of what we had.

After unpacking and relaxing a bit we are to meet and get to know one another.  We go downstairs to the lounge area and we are served hibiscus tea – very refreshing and then Mohamed says that every tour group has to have a name – so he calls us the Nefer group.  Nefer means beautiful. How appropriate – because we are – well, some of us anyway.

After a bit of a chat about what we will see on the tour – he says we can relax in our room for about half an hour or so before heading off to The Temple of Luxor.

The Nefers meet in the lobby – and then it is back across both boats and onto our little bus. The heat is stifling – not a breeze anywhere but there is no humidity.  I am onto my 12throll of film. I can’t stop thinking I am finally here in Egypt looking at all these places.  Everyone is so nice.  We arrive at the Temple of Luxor and I can’t believe it.

HISTORY LESSON : On the east bank of the Nile lies the magnificent Temple of Luxor which is dedicated to the great god Amun-Re, his wife Mut and their son Khonsu. These three gods are known as the Theban triad.

The earliest parts of the temple seen today date from the 14th century BC and the time of Amenhotep III (18th Dynasty).  The temple was added to by many pharaohs including Amenhotep III, Tutankhamen, Horemheb and Ramses II.  

At the entrance to the temple is an avenue of sphinxes that leads up to the first pylon.

These sphinxes formed a 3 kilometre avenue connecting the Temple of Luxor and the Temple of Karnak. At the entrance pylon there is an obelisk (the other one is in Paris France at the Place de la Concorde) and a colossi of Ramses II (Ramses the Great). Originally there were 6 colossi – today only 3 remain.

We go inside and Mohamed gives us a little tour and then leaves us to explore by ourselves. I know I am going to have to pinch myself every half hour just to make sure I am not dreaming. The camera is working overtime and I hope I have brought enough film with me.

Once we enter the courtyard inside the pylon we see the Festival Court of Amenhotep III (left) and the colonnade also built by Amenhotep III with hieroglyphs inscribed during the reigns of Tutankhamen and Horemheb.

The columns are so big that I have my photo taken with my arms held out sideways and it doesn’t go anywhere near the width. The hieroglyphs on the walls are incredible : apparently they depict the annual Opet festival during which the god Amun visited his southern harem – I wish I could read them.

There are lots of palm trees and they, along with the blue sky, make a great backdrop to the temple. After about 2 hours we meet back up and it’s back to the boat so we can get cruising – not to mention have lunch. We have all worked up an appetite.  We arrive back on board – there are nice hot towels to wipe our hands and face and we are given a cup of refreshing hibiscus tea. Apparently this is also good for blood pressure.

Back to our cabin to unload our cameras and stuff and then down to the dining room for an incredible lunch.  The boat is about half full as it is just the start of the tourist season. This is going to be great. We have left the dock and begun cruising south down the Nile.  Lunch is a full self serve buffet with lots of salads, scrumptous olives, meats, fruit, breads, juices, water and alcohol if required.  A real feast.  Some people watch what they eat because they don’t want to get what is known as ‘mummies tummy’ – I don’t.  After a great meal I head up to the pool deck to lie in the sun, relax and have a swim –

Cruising past little villages on the banks of the Nile, it is amazing to think that people actually live on the West Bank where the desert is.

As you can see – there is not much greenery!  One thing I have noticed is that one side of the river is like this and the other mainly near the river it is green and there is a lot of little farms.

Anyway back to the boat, it is very hot so it’s time to try the pool.  The pool is at the front of the boat on the top deck and there are lots of deck chairs for relaxing.  My first day on the boat – and I am in heaven.

I have applied loads of sunscreen and after a leisurely lay about in the water and then a nice sun bath to dry off I start to get a bit tired.  Maybe it’s because of getting up at 4.00am so decide to go below in the cool and have a little sleep.

I think Kylie is on the other side of the boat in the shade.  I open the window – more villages go by – some more photos – there is a little breeze and I can hear the water lapping the sides of the boat. Zzzzzzzzzz!!!!!!  Some hours later I am woken up by all these guys on paddle boats yelling out to the boat because they are selling galabeas and stuff.  This should be interesting if it happens every day.

Downstairs for dinner – a great 5 course extravaganza.  I get a bottle of wine – very expensive – – it doesn’t taste that great but the bottle is nice with ancient Egyptian dancing girls adorning the label.  I don’t finish the bottle – Kylie and I have a glass each – so I take the bottle back to the room.  This will go with the Amaretto to kill all the tummy bugs.

Going back to bed early as I am so tired.  Mohamed says we are going to have early starts to the day because it gets very hot and we also we have to get back to the boat for lunch.  We will cruise most of the afternoon – sounds good to me.

We left Luxor about 1.30pm and are still cruising south at 9.30pm. We moor at Edfu late in the evening for overnight and apparently it is against the law to cruise the river late at night because of all the tourist boats.

Highlight of the day :  Standing beside those huge columns

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