Thank god for ash clouds & the Icelandic volcano, Egypt & Jordan April 5th-23rd 2010

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Africa » Egypt
April 5th 2010
Published: August 15th 2010
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Egypt is a place I’d always wanted to go to, who hasn’t?

The pyramids, the Sphinx, Karnak Temple, some great dive sites, the list goes on and whilst there I though why not visit Jordan, home of the Temple that is in the Indiana Jones and the last crusade (I’m such an 80’s baby) and also home to the Dead Sea, where you can supposedly float unassisted.

We started off on a 4 day cruise along the Nile aboard the Viking Princess. We started in Luxor where we spent the night after our flight and woke up bright and early for our first trip, a visit to the Colossi of Memnon, 2 huge statues along the Nile.

After that we went to the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens. We all got told to leave of cameras and video cameras on the coach as we were not allowed to take pictures inside any of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings or Queens, I bought a new SLR camera for this trip so understandably the thought of leaving my new baby alone on a coach almost bought on a heart attack.

It was a bit rubbish that we couldn’t take pictures of inside the tombs as the colours are still so bright on the walls but I’m sure they had their reasons for not letting people take pictures, they probably told me too but I can’t remember lol.

From here a visit to Hatchepsut’s Temple, this was where the excitement really got started for me, I finally got to use my new camera to take pictures of a huge Temple. From past experiences of asking people to take pictures of my fiancée and I decided to bring my tripod so I knew I was getting the shots I wanted. I set it up and took picture number one and could hear shouting. “Have you got a ticket for that?” no I didn’t have a ticket for the tripod, lesson one learnt, you need a ticket to use a tripod.

Our guide gave us some free time to explore and take pics and said to meet in an hour, we went and took some pics and before we knew it it was time to meet the guide again but he was nowhere to be seen, we couldn’t see any of the group either, where did he say to meet again? We saw a couple from our group so didn’t feel totally alone, after a couple of minutes we decided to walk to the car park to see if they were waiting at the coach and after walking past about 20 coaches that all looked like ours we found our coach with everyone, including the guide inside, lesson two always meet back at the coach.

The rest of the group went back to the ship from here but as we were on the short 4 day cruise we were off to Karnak Temple followed by Luxor Temple. Karnak was amazing and visiting it in the hottest time of the day made it slightly less busy than the visits to everything we had already seen, although we were sweating buckets.

Before I had come to Egypt people had told me how you envisage these ancient monuments being huge and when you get there they are small in comparison to what you imagine, when I got to Karnak I was blown away everything was huge, what were they on about, we spent a long time walking around but it still wasn’t long enough to see everything, on to Luxor.

Now I wish we’d have seen Luxor Temple first, Karnak was huge and awe inspiring, Luxor was big but nowhere near as awesome as Karnak. We saw the row of Sphinx outside that used to connect Karnak and Luxor temple. At the entrance to Luxor Temple as you look up you can see where a Mosque was built, years ago before Luxor Temple was discovered it was completely covered by sand and when people moved there many years ago they built a mosque not realising that Luxor Temple was underneath. When it was excavated many years later they decided to leave the mosque where it was and just move the entrance. End of day one, my feet aren’t too tired but my shoulders are RED, always remember sun cream lol.

Day two, a little further down the Nile and we visit Edfu Temple and Kom Ombo Temple, Edfu was by far the busiest place we had visited so far, it was impossible to get any pictures without people in the background. Kom Ombo had some funny hieroglyphs on the walls, one showed a woman giving birth. This evening on the boat was an Egyptian themed fancy dress party you had the choice of buying you fancy dress from a market, if you like to haggle, or on board the boat. There were games for everyone to get involved and the boat was split into 3 teams, I was nominated as the captain of my team, this involved tying a potato on a string around your waist and having to swing it through your legs trying to hit a potato on the floor, first one to hit their potato over the finish line wins.....I won, woohoo! Lol

Day three we visited the unfinished obelisk a 40 metre half carved obelisk that due to having a hairline fracture, could not be used as an obelisk, then onto Philae Temple which had been moved from its original position many years ago. After lunch we visited a Nubian village, taken there by a camel through the Sahara, those things can run fast so be prepared, lol.

We had the option on day four to wake up early and go to visit Abu Simbel but when they created Lake Nasser years ago with the dam they put in they had to move Abu Simbel from its original site, so for me the romance had gone, yeah it was thousands of years old but it got taken to pieces and glued back together so I opted to relax on the boat in the sun before we headed to the airport to fly to Cairo.

24 hours in Cairo and so much to do, we arrived just before sunset so had just enough time to check in (our hotel was awesome, you could see the Pyramids from our window!), get changed and go to the sound and light show at the Sphinx and Pyramids. We had heard from friends that the sound and light show was rubbish but I always like to make my own mind up about things and I’m glad I did, my fiancée and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

First thing in the morning we woke up and it was straight to the Pyramids, it was quite hazy but we could still see everything just not as clear as we’d have hoped. We went inside a tomb and it was a less visited tomb so we were the only people in there, we managed to get some cool pics but couldn’t spend too long inside as it was very hot, then on another camel ride so we could pose for the iconic pic of us with the Pyramids in the background. Now the Sphinx, we’re making good time, this was not the first time this trip I got camera rage, there were so many people everywhere it was impossible to get a pic without someone in the background but after a short time spent here we were off to the Cairo museum and then the airport to fly to Jordan.

On our way to the museum we had to drive along a motorway, all of a sudden BANG. We pulled over and found that a tyre had blown, I had never seen anything like it, it was like the tyre had been peeled like a potato. Now the stress started to kick in, are we going to be able to make it to the museum and airport in time, luckily it didn’t take long and we were back on the road to the museum, the treasures from Tut’s tomb were amazing, the gold must have weighed an obscene amount, we bought an extra ticket to see the royal mummies before making our way for flight number 3 of the holiday.

We landed in Jordan and were amazed at how clean everything was compared to Egypt, now for our long drive to the Dead Sea and it’s all downhill as the Dead Sea is the lowest place on earth. We arrived at our hotel and received a free upgraded room and were taken on a golf cart to our room but not without a tour of the hotel grounds first!

We were too tired to eat so went straight to sleep (well after a look around by the sea) so we could wake up bright and early and see if you really can float unassisted in the Dead Sea, when the alarm went off we were exhausted but knew that there was only a few more days of sightseeing before we could relax on a beach.

We went to the beach and there was only 3 people there, it was really misty and a little bit cold but the sun was still coming up so we were hoping it would get warmer, my fiancée wanted to go in first, I laughed at her face as she got in as the water was freezing. She had a big grin on her face as she was floating but she doesn’t weigh much, I weigh twice as much as her. I took some pics of her floating and then she found the mineral enriched mud, oh no this could take a while, she put some on her face and then dried off a bit so I could get in the water to see if I could float, the water was so cold, I tried not to show how cold it was but my fiancée laughing alerted everyone to the look on my face, I got in and it felt like someone was pushing my legs up, it was such a surreal feeling. Now it was my turn to try the mud, if there was a chance it was going to make me look younger I wanted to try it so I covered myself from head to toe, after we washed the mud off and relaxed on the beach for an hour or so we had a very expensive lunch before making our way to Petra.

We arrived in Petra with just enough time to go into the Rose Red City and walk around for a bit before dinner, we were the only people going in everyone else was walking towards us leaving and they all looked exhausted. We walked for about 30 minutes until we caught our first glimpse of the Treasury, the temple from the movie Indiana Jones and the last crusade. We didn’t go any further into the city as we knew we were going on a trip the following morning and would probably see all the same stuff. Another early morning wake up call, this one was so early they hadn’t even stared breakfast in the hotel, our guide took us to the Treasury and passed it to the foot of what I would call a mini mountain “follow the steps and you will get to the Monastery at the top” the guide said, only problem is the steps branch off is several directions so up we go and then oops dead end, up the other way oops dead end. It is supposed to be 800 steps to the Monastery but by the time we eventually found our way on the uneven rocks we must have put at least 200 on top of that, because we woke up so early and were the first to the top we actually managed to get some pictures without anybody else in them.

After two days in Petra we were taken back to the airport for our flight to Sharm el Sheikh for our “relaxing” part of the holiday. First thing we did on arrival is go straight to the closest dive centre to book our dives, the main reason we booked to go to Sharm is because the SS Thistlegorm, a wreck from world war two, is there. We only did a few dives, but managed to go to 3 wrecks (we love wreck diving), SS Thistlegorm was amazing, by far the best dive site we have been to so far, there were alot of people diving at the site but you hardly saw any of them under water and I’m told that compared to some days it wasn’t that busy. We saw trucks, motorbikes, tanks and even unexploded bombs, our first dive was along the outside of the wreck and our second we actually penetrated the wreck, words cannot describe how awesome the dive was.

We spent 3 days out of 6 diving so in total our 2 week “holiday” was actually pretty nonstop, after our first day spent relaxing we put the TV on in the hotel whilst getting ready to go out and that was when we first saw that the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland had erupted. My fiancée was stressed about how we would get home, me.....I loved it, extended holiday! Woohoo. Yes we had to pay for the new hotels we had to stay in and food (two hotels in total as we kept getting moved around due to tourists still being able to fly in from outside Europe), luckily we had the money, some people had budgeted so that they just had enough to last their holiday so when they got told all flights were cancelled there was a lot of panic, but it is amazing how people come together to help out others when they need it. After our 6 day stay in Sharm was extended to a 10 day stay and now feeling very relaxed we eventually boarded a plane home.

This was probably one of my favourite holidays ever!

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