Aswan Day 7
Today is our last full day aboard the boat. We fly from Aswan to Cairo tomorrow afternoon.
Craig was up and about at around 6.30 this morning but l slept in until nearly 8am. After breakfast we met Hany in the reception area where we left the boat and boarded a mini bus for the 40 minute drive to the granite quarries which supplied the ancient Egyptians with most of the hard stone used in pyramids and temples, and still holds the huge "Unfinished or Broken Obelisk" The Obelisk would have weighed about 1,168 tons and would have been the biggest obelisk ever made (approx 137 feet high) however it was abandoned in the quarry because of a fatal crack. It's pretty hard to see how huge it is in the photos. There is also other evidence of where they extracted the rock for their monumental buildings and obelisks. They created these giant single pieces of rock out of the mountainside by making a row of holes app. 4 inches wide, and inserted wood in the holes. Then they poured water on the wood. The wood then expands by such force because of the water that the rock splits. Production, transport and erection of smaller obelisks (about 30 metres high) reportedly only took months. Pretty awseome stuff!!
On the way to the Philae Temple we passed through the main street of Aswan and it appears a more modern town than Cairo. For instance, the buildings were finished and operational; there was no rubbish in the street, no donkeys pulling carts, not so much traffic and street vendors and l even noticed a fairly new oncology centre. Of course the further out of the main centre we went, the donkeys appeared again and the houses were unfinished etc.
So, Philae Temple is south of Aswan on an island which is accessible via a 10 minute motorboat ride off the mainland. It has been moved off the original site as after the completion of a second dam in the 60's, the temple complex would have been completely submerged to a depth of 4 meters. It took 10 years of painstainking work, each individual stone was numbered and it's position noted so as to allow a faithful reconstruction of the monument. This temple is dedicated to Isis and was built during the 3rd century BC.
After we finished here we went to an aromatherapy academy where we were told a little bit about the history of the oils and how they're made. Of course l bought some for Deb and Sarah and also a delicate coloured bottle to put the oil in. It cost 520 pound which is about $49. Then we drove back to the boat for lunch on the deck. We've been given the option of visiting the Temple of Abu Simbel tomorrow before we fly back to Cairo but have decided not to take it up. It adds about another $600 onto the trip and we still have to pay for our day trip to Alexandria on Saturday. I think we'll just try to relax and get a bit of rest. This afternoon we had a leisurely ride on a, felucca, a typical Egyptian sail boat , around Elephantine Island, Lord Kitchener's botanical gardens and the Agha Khan Mausoleum. It was very relaxing. Tonight's farewell dinner will apparently be a gala event with white gloved waiters serving gourmet cuisine. Craig's not looking forward to putting on a suit but once we're seated he can take the jacket off and he'll be right.