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Published: November 26th 2019
Sailing The Nile
What a beautiful night
So our boat trip on the Royal Ruby along the Nile from Luxor to Aswan was 4 nights....though the boat was actually docked late at night in Aswan so we had 2 nights there. After leaving Luxor and heading through the Esna Lock we docked at a small place called Edfu and sailed through to Aswan the next day. En route we had gorgeous views and sunsets on the lush Nile with a very rich green delta each side of the river with lots of crops, veges etc. Whilst sailing sellers would come along in their tinnies and throw their ropes and hook onto our ship....they were hilarious...yelling out from the water to 4 floors up selling their wares....they would throw the item all the way up in a plastic bag and you returned money back to them in another bag they threw up...many transactions were done!!! We called into Kom Ombo which was another and different temple with a Greco-Roman influence and we are still pinching ourselves that we are seeing all these amazing things. In Aswan we visited the Philae Temple which is on an island in the lower Aswan dam/nile.....the three of us took a taxi, and what
an experience that was, We laughed so much we felt like the Flintstones on an outing....Mark was all cramped up in the front seat...head half bent over...not much room! Mandour was telling us about his BEAUTIFUL car (hardly) that is 52 years old, he inherited it from his father and he loves that car....a bombed out Peugot and he drove like Michael Schumacher....arriving at the port to get a boat across to the island to see the temple, it was quite easy to negotiate a boat and away we went! Spent a couple of hours out on the island seeing another amazing building/temple. Then went to see the unfinished obelisk, a huge obelisk carved out in the granite quarry but before they finished it, it developed a crack, so there it has sat for hundreds of years, interesting story and great to see it. Back into town to stock up with beer, this is pretty much a dry town, so had to go to the local duty free shop to buy some beers....where there's a will there's a way! Food has been fabulous on the boat, certainly not gourmet but really good hearty meals with good variety of Egyptian, fish,
SAILING THE NILE
Daily life on the Nile
chicken, beef, salads, pasta, soups and desserts.
Friday our last day in Aswan, we headed out to Abu Simbel. Getting up at 3.30am was not great but the excitement overtook and we were all ready by 4.30am to hit the road and once on the main road out we weren't the only ones, there were dozens of buses large and small. It took about 4hrs to drive there through the Sahara with a toilet/coffee stop about 2hrs into the journey, the hotel had packed a box breakfast so we munched on that on the way.....nice little mixture of things but they packed lovely looking apples etc but we were too scared to eat them as had nothing to give them a good wash or clean so had to throw them out. Everyone was getting very excited about the thought of seeing Abu Simbel and boy was it worth everything we did to get there, it was absolutely magnificent carved into a hill on the edge of Lake Nassar, the largest lake in the world, 555sq kilometres, stretching from Egypt into Sudan. Our guide was building us up saying no photos until he gives us the speel down in front
Lots of boats
of the temple, so everyone was very controlled and waited until Ahmed gave us his talk on the history of the temple. This would have to be one of the most amazing sites we have seen and spent a marvellous two hours exploring the two temples one of Ramses and his wife which was beautiful too, as well as taking in the lovely Lake Nassar. Then for the big drive back to Aswan, lots of snoozing on the way, then later in the afternoon a felucca ride for a sailboat ride around the neighboring islands, passing by the stunning botanical gardens of Kitchener's Island, it was fabulous watching the sunset over Aswan from the boat. There were a lot of kids on surf boards that waded their way towards our boat and asked us our nationality and proceeded to sing us all these old songs, they were so funny and happy little chappies! As we had checked out of our boat this morning, tonight we were booked into the Basma Hotel perched up on the hill above Aswan overlooking the Nile, it was an old hotel but kept quite well and had a great pool and terrific views over the
SAILING THE NILE
Farmer cutting grass for his animals
Nile. We walked into town which was about 2klm to top up our phone with some more data as internet is really non existent, if you want to use your social media or whatsapp you really need to buy a sim card on arrival and top up as needed. So after visiting the Vodafone shop, off we went in search of a restaurant/bar that sold beer, few and far between, we had picked our restaurant to eat at and called in there early to be told they don't serve alcohol but said the Hotel Oscar around the corner did....so to Hotel Oscar we went...the receptionist said yeesss they sold beer and proceeded to take us into a dingy courtyard out the back where sat about 6 locals drinking beer and scotch.....so we sat down and had two beers each which were great; icy cold and much needed....I am sure they thought I was prostitute or something...but shocked I sat there drinking beers with the boys!! Oh well....whatever they think! Then onto El Masry for dinner, been there since 1958, and it was a lovely dinner, more food than you could eat, you ordered a main and then you got soup,
SAILING THE NILE
These sellers hooked up to our boat
3 vege dishes and 3 dips and bread with each main.....lots of food and lots of flavours....thoroughly enjoyed it and flagged a cab back to our hotel to fall into bed for an 8am take off to the airport for flight back to Cairo. Exciting but exhausting few days....late nights and early mornings but packing everything in. Aswan airport would have to be one of the most strict and ridiculous airports we have been in the world...only a domestic flight and worse than if you were going International!!! Rude, inefficient and lazy staff!
Our Cathay captain who was part of our group was not overly impressed with the landing in Cairo but we made it! Once landed and collected baggage in Cairo straight on the bus to a very old mosque near the city centre, the mosque itself was 8 acres, nice to see but nothing spectacular and thats when our guide gave us the big lecture on how SIMILAR christians and muslims are in their religion....are you kidding?.....boys were not impressed and left the mosque soon after.....been there done that! Then off to the Khan al-Khalili Bazaar for others to get souvenirs or other things they wanted to
SAILING THE NILE
Beautiful tablecloths for sale
buy....we just bought some saffron and spices....huge bazaar that sells everything from old relics and perfume to spices and clothes. Back to Mercure Le Sphinx for a night and off to Alexandria tomorrow 8am by bus...another 3-4hr drive.
The four hour drive to Alexandria was mainly desert but also sprinkled with areas of hot houses, grape vines, fruit trees and other vegetables.
Alexandria is second biggest city in Egypt on the Med seafront.....looks lovely from seafront but go back a few streets back to dirty, dusty and like everywhere else...after arriving in Alexandria and visiting the catacombs, which is another amazing find, we did a 10klm walk soaking in the city and watching people go about their business as well as tracking down a Drinkies store for beer $2 500 ml can here as opposed to $12 in hotel. Ice is as scarse as rocking horse shit but hotels were very obliging giving us ice for our bacpack esky!!! Next day en route back to Cairo we visited El Alamain, the site of battles in World War II.....very moving place to visit..out in an area of desert in the middle of the sand but such a terrific museum and cemetary
SAILING THE NILE
Hooking up to our boat
maintained and built by Commonwealth inckuding Australia...our guide really didnt put much emphasis on this site but for all us Aussies we could have spent a lot more time here having had relatives fight here. This site is about an hour and a half west of Alexandria all the way on the right side of road concrete jungles of resorts can be seen where Egyptians go for summer holidays. We think it wont be long before the cemetary will be surrounded by highrise flats the way the rate of building is happening. Back on the bus to chaotic Cairo for our last night...we spent some time on a rooftop restaurant watching the goings on of Cairo life....lots if overloaded trucks heading to markets and with the pyramuds in the background it was a magical last night. Sorry if this a bit wordy but hard to fit it all in...so many highlights! We have thoroughly enjoyed our trip and think we are absolutely so lucky to see all the magnificent sites in Egypt.
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