Category Archives: Egypt

Luxor, Egitto – Secondo Giorno

Luxor, Egypt – Second Day

Day 2 began with a carriage ride to the Mummification Museum.

Boys' Carriage

The Museum itself was relatively small – and not exactly earth shattering given the other things we had already seen. But it was interesting to learn a little more about the process, and see some more of the tools and accoutrements.

Mummification Museum

The major tourist site for day two in Luxor was the Karnak Temple – apparently I took a million pictures.

Entrance to Karnak Temple

As usual, the scale of this place was unbelievable. Apparently it was built over time, with each pharaoh adding their personal touches.

Ryan in the Ruins

The Collonnade was probably my favorite part of the temple. There were several rows of columns, all covered in hieroglyphics, telling different stories. They used to be painted all over with bright colors – and on some of them enough color remained to allow you to imagine what they must have looked like previously.

Collonnade

Hieroglyphics

At the base of a Column

Showing Scale Again

Pharaohs and Columns

Leading up to the temple is a classic, in my opinion, row of Sphynxes.

Sphynx Row

All in all, an amazing trip full of history, and hugeness. :)

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Luxor, Egitto – Primo Giorno

Luxor, Egypt – First Day

Luxor is a better looking city than Cairo. A little bit more tourist clean, a little bit more walkable. And there was a lot to see.

We got to see handmade alabaster vases (of which we bought a few that look amazing with candles inside them).

Hand Made Alabaster Pots

The first main attraction that we saw in Luxor was the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut:

Hatshepsut's Temple

Queen Hatshepsut bucked tradition when she did not bear a son to be heir to the throne, and instead of stepping aside for one of the pharaoh’s other wives who had borne a son … she assumed the throne herself – as a female pharaoh.

Being Silly with the Mummy

The sheer scale of it was amazing. It was literally carved right into the mountain.

View from a Distance

We took a quick stop on the way to our next destination, to see the Memnon Colossi:

Memnon Colossi

Felucca Boat at Sunset on the Nile

Sunset on the Nile

Sunset on the Nile

In the evening, we decided to take a walk through town. The kids stopped to get some fresh squeezed juice – to go – in a plastic bag twisted around a straw. We also stopped in a little store and picked out a selection of Egyptian pastries.

Egyptian Pastries in the Park

The park we stopped to eat in was right in front of the major item for day 2’s itinerary, the Karnak Temple.

Preview of Tomorrow - Luxor at Night

Side View - for Scale

At the end of the evening, Ryan and I went out for a great Egyptian dinner, complete with amazing fruit juice mixes (apparently banning the consumption of alcohol encourages creativity with the remaining options).

Dinner - and Fruit Juice

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Egitto in Treno

Egypt by Train

Enjoying Dinner

To save money on one night in a hotel, and in the spirit of adventure – we decided to take an overnight train from Cairo to Luxor. We slept most of the way on the train … or tried to anyway. It turns out that an overnight train is great for someone like Ryan who likes rhythmic noise and lots of light when he’s trying to sleep – not so much for me.

Luxurious Quarters

The biggest adventure was waiting on the platform for the train. Our tour guide dropped us off at the train station in Cairo, tickets in hand, told us the train would probably be late and wished us luck. Ooookaaay. Sure, we can figure this out, right? I mean, no one speaks English, we know no Arabic, and there are no signs … soooo … yeah. No problem.

On the bright side, from Cairo, the train only goes south. So we had a 100% chance of going in the right direction.

We set ourselves up in the middle of the platform, and waited. Right when our train was supposed to arrive – a train pulled into the station. Well, that makes it easy! Wait … uh, that train looks very crowded. And there are people hanging out the window, and it’s not really stopping, and people are running alongside it and just jumping on and hanging off the bars on the outside. That … uh … that’s probably not our train. And if it is … maybe we actually want to stay here.

Looking down the platform a large group of Japanese tourists made no motions towards the train. That confirms it. Definitely not our train. They know what they’re doing.

Twenty minutes pass, and another train pulls into the station. We squinted as the headlight blinded us, but strangely the rest of the train looked dark. Oh, it is dark. No lights in the train. This train is all but barren of furniture inside … but this one is packed as well. With soldiers. Who apparently really like blonde hair. (Turns out you don’t have too understand Arabic to get the gist of what they were saying.) Definitely not our train either. Definitely.

The Japanese tourists look disconcerted. You see, in Japan, the trains literally come exactly on time. To the minute. Always. We’re now approaching 30 minutes after the train was supposed to depart, and there’s no train. The Japanese tourists got up and left.

Now I look disconcerted.

But ten more minutes and all became clear … a shiny new train pulled up. With what were clearly sleeper cabins inside. And best of all, in every doorway, a man in a vest, bowtie and white button down shirt – and a soldier with a really serious looking gun. This … This is our train. Now we can go to Luxor.

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Cairo, Egitto

In December Ryan and I were lucky enough to have an opportunity to take a trip to Egypt with some friends. Even better – the friends did all the planning, and we got to tag along!

Cairo at Night

Our first tourist destination was the Egyptian Museum – which was full of huge stone statues of pharaohs and sphinxes. The highlight of the museum though was clearly all of the finery that was found in King Tut’s tomb. It was amazing. There were four sarcophagi that fit inside each other, covered in gold leaf. The outermost one was easily 10 feet high and twice as long. And they had incredible coffins as well – they were person shaped and ornately designed – the inner most one was solid gold. The jewelry was incredible too – inlaid stone and gold. Just amazing.

Egyptian Museum

The next item on the tourist track were the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx (which I can’t seem to find my pictures of). Amazingly, you can see the Pyramids from Cairo – there are skyscrapers and buidings, and then sand, and then pyramids. It was pretty surreal. Most of the developed area in Egypt is in a narrow strip along the nile, the rest is just desert.

Humongous Pyramid, from below

The pyramids were unfathomably huge. I mean, you know they’re going to be big … and they’re still amazingly big.

Playing with the Pyramids

We took our standard ‘look, I’m touching the top of the pyramid picture’, and then … we actually rode camels through the desert. We never would have done it if we had gone by ourselves – but the people we were travelling with had kids who couldn’t stop talking about riding the camels so we went along. And I was so glad that we did! It turns out that sometimes kids have really good ideas. We got to be big kids.

A Poorly Posed Picture, Pyramids Protruding from Posterior

We took a ride on the Nile too – just because. ‘Cause you can’t go to Egypt without taking a ride on the Nile.

Ryan, looking cool on the Nile

Our tour guide had to go to the Mosque for prayer in the afternoon, so he dropped us off to go shopping in the markets. It was quite a sight, just to walk through and see what there was. And we were heckled ceaselessly to buy stuff – which resulted in us not wanting to buy anything at all. But we had a great time walking through. It was pretty fascinating, because the market was right near the Mosque, they were broadcasting the prayers over speakers, and people set up prayer mats right in the street between the market stalls.

Egyptian Bread, balanced on a head

After a lot of convincing, we managed to get our tour guide to take us to a specific restaurant for Kusheri – a popular, every day, cheap Egyptian dish. Our tour guide said it would be hard on our stomachs, but we were convinced otherwise. I’m glad we won the argument, ’cause it was great. It’s basically pasta mixed with Rice (weird, I know) with lentils. And then you add tomato sauce, hot sauce, lemon juice and crispy onions yourself. (http://www.recipezaar.com/Kusherie-Egyptian-Rice-and-Lentils-134402) in case you’re interested.

Putting it all together

In Cairo we didn’t really spend any time mingling with the locals, we were on the tourist track. But we did catch glimpses from the car …

So, that’s one horsepower?

The last stop near Cairo was the Step Pyramid – supposedly one of the oldest pyramids in the world.

Step Pyramid, and us

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