We caught the 2208hrs. train from St. Annes on Sea for Manchester airport on the 11th Jan... Our flight to Egypt was at 0945hrs.the next morning,so after a somewhat chilly & sleepless night of using the seating at the arrivals floor in terminal 1 we were extremely happy to be the first to check in for the 5hr approx. Thomas Cook flight TCX525K to Luxor....We boarded our boat the MS Nile Saray in the evening & checked in to our fairly comfortable twin bed cabin on the middle deck before heading for dinner and our first experience of the great variety of meals that we had been treated to for the entire trip.....We both crashed for the night having not had much sleep the night before & perhaps not much more than an hour or two on the plane......
As it's said,.... There are certain things that we must do at least once in our lifetime & I believe the Nile Cruise has definitely got to be amongst the top of the list..!!!! ..It's got to have been one of the highlights of our travels so far & even though we missed out on visiting the Pyramids near Cairo,our heads are still spinning from what we have learnt of a culture & custom in Egyptian history that dates back to more than 5000 years of an Ancient Kingdom.....through the period of Pharaohs to the country's conversion to Islam.....Even though we are both happy to plan most of this year long journey independantly,this was a nice break to have a number of excursions to famous temples,monuments and other points of historical interest included with full board for this week long cruise from Luxor to the city of Aswan. We were extremely fortunate to have met & had Mr A Nazeer as our guide for the entire cruise,who is also an experienced Egyptologist with an amazing amount of knowledge & passion of his country's past...."A real assett to Thomas Cook tours"....
On Thursday morning we visited the Karnak and Luxor temples in Luxor with each visit ending in the endless amount of persistent vendors trying to sell us the usual souvenirs from t shirts,shawls,postcards,maps etc. to even toilet paper if we needed to pay a visit to the toilets ... The key things to remember when approached we were advised, was to behave like a camel with it's blinkers on and make no eye contact or show any interest,unless you did want to stand & barter for a price you are happy with,which usually ended up with 80% less than you were first offered ... It's amazing to watch these guys at work once they grab the slightest of attention from you,but they can test your patience if you are not a collecter of souvenirs or limited to how much you carry,as us budget backpackers are..!!!!! .......We were taken to a perfume & Egyptian glass making factory in the afternoon with yet more attempts & in most cases succeeding at trying to part us with more dollars & pounds,with offers of a free Egyptian tea/coffee and snacks...... After an early breakfast on Friday, we were taken to visit the Valley of the Kings (including those of Tutankhamun & Ramses) and then on to the Valley of the Queens and the famous Hatshepsut Temple........We ended the with a trip to an Alabaster factory and the Colossi of Memnon amongst the ancient temple builders cottages in the mountains and set sail after lunch for the city of Edfu.......Saturday morning was spent with a visit to Edfu Temple before our next port of call at Kom Ombu with an evening moonlit visit and yet another history lesson at the temple,where we gained an insight on the health,well being and medicinal knowledge of an ancient Egyptian Kingdom.....Saturday night on board was celebrated with a Galabaya party,where we were all invited to dress in traditional Egyptian clothes, so I spent a hard earned $10 to play my part in "Walking like an Egyptian"...!!!..Fortunately,Songhi has an Indian shirt which was close enough to pass for the night.....Interesting,Different and a good evening was had by all ..!!.. Sunday was a busy day with visits to the Temple of Philae near Aswan and an unfinished Obelisk in a granite stone quarry from where the granite was used for building most of the temples and monuments along the Nile region and beyond ...!!!..Hard to believe and take in ...!!!..During the afternoon we visited a Papyrus Institute & shown the incredible ancient artform of using the Papyrus plant (indeginous to the area) to make a paper....Once again Song & I had to be strong & refrain from being trapped with temptation......
While in Aswan, Songhi and I visited the city by night with a walk through the spice markets.....where you could buy almost any spice,herbs or scented oil at less than half the price you would probably pay back home.....Still not too sure about trying the so called root of Viagra in warm water we were all offered at the spice store ..???? .."I still don't think it's your back that is supposed to go stiff, Andrew"...we shall blame that on the beds in the cabins shall we..??..or maybe,just dodgy stuff they were selling,past the use by date..!!....Before getting back to our boat,us and our little group of friends we'd made on board met up for an Egyptian coffee while still being constantly bombarded with the locals trying to sell us anything from dodgy watches,to native musical instruments,more postcards and probably anything they thought might earn them a dollar....!!..If your patience is at a low by this stage & you are souvenired out, we were told a stern but simple "Mafish Flo, Shukram"is usually the last resort in a polite way of letting them know to leave you alone.....Simply means,"I have no money,thankyou" or words to that discription ..!!
A small group of us took the optional tour the next day to a Nubian village on the island near Aswan....Now considered as Egyptians they are a minority who originate from the neighbouring african states, mainly Sudan.....Distinctly different to the average Egyptian the Nubians seem to have carved out a simple lifestyle with a small amount of help from the Egyptian government.
We started our retun sail to Luxor on Monday after lunch, to be back for Wednesday afternoon......Apart from a belly dancing show on Tuesday evening,not much was done except eat,sleep or just sit around till we got back to Luxor......With not much chance of sitting down to update this diary online, it gave me a good opportunity to at least go through and edit & categorise all the images I had captured on the cruise while also sneaking the odd shots of village life and activity along the Nile,(without being haggled for money)including a few candids of the crew working as we sailed, at the typical & average Egyptian style and pace......
It's now 0050hrs.of the 21st Jan. & I'm concientously and quietly determined to finish writing this part of our diary before we fly out to Morocco this afternoon at 1600hrs.....The fact also is that this hotel (Cresta Court) in Mancester has free WiFi..."A real bonus eh"..!!!
Anyhow,in a nutshell.....this has been a memorable part of our 12 month journey & though I would not hesitate to return and do a similar trip thru. Egypt again,I'm not sure Songhi feels the same....She has been known to change her mind though,so we think Cairo could still be a strong option in the near future..!!...No pressure Song....!xxxx!!
"Marrakesh here we come.....................!!!!!!!."