Thursday, 29 May 2014

Idle times in Cairo

Just to let you all know that I have not been idle in Egypt, whilst waiting for trains, planes and automobiles. Before departing our fair shores of Australia, I was busy doing a lot of pre departure preparation, so that I may have lots of hand sewing available when we had some down time. I have a number of rows completed at home and took this opportunity whist on holidays to sew hearts, hexagons, crosses and pentagon flowers together. This quilt is designed by Christine Book as a monthly project or to purchase the pattern all together. This quilt is designed as a row by row.

Below some eye candy for this quilt.
Red hearts
Hexagons, pentagons and crosses.
Hexagon lozenges.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Onto Aswan and Abu Simbel

The last few days have been an adventure since leaving Cairo and Alexandria. In Alexandria we had a faboulous seafood lunch, a must do when in Alexandria, being close to the sea. The next day saw us travelling back to. Cairo to visit the Antiquities museum for a few hours, wonderful to see the tomb that Tutankaram (1353bc) was found in, as well as all the wonderful jewellery, statues and mummies dating back to 3,000 BC. The museum is heavily guarded by the army, mainly to keep the peace and to protect all of the ancient antiques inside the museum. The museum is situated opposite the square where all the protests and demonstrations take place in Cairo.

Late afternoon we visited a little village tucked away in Cairo to have a grilled chicken lunch then travelled to the train station to board the train at 8 pm travelling to Aswan.
Our train to take us to Aswan.

After lunch our tour group was on the hunt for some alcohol and ice to have on the train, after a search, their mission was accomplished. We were all allocated a sleeper carriage. meals were served in our carriages and comprised of dinner and breakfast. The journey to Aswan from Cairo is 13 hours. We arrived into Aswan at 1030am and the was driven to our hotel to check in. The temperature was hot at 40 degree's, 10 degrees hotter than Cairo and Alexandria.

The view from our hotel in Aswan.
In the afternoon we sailed by felucca to a Nubian village on the Nile, where a local family was preparing a meal, so that we may experience Nubian food. When asked where the Nubians originally immigrated from, no one is sure, but it may have been Sudan. The meal we shared was enjoyable, chicken is cooked with a variety of herbs and spices, that tasted delicious. Rice accompanies the meal and was flavoursome and moist.

Our fellucca, being prepared for sailing.

The narrow walkways in the Nubian village. The houses are built with a barn attached so that the animals are housed close to the family.
After the meal we had a visit from a local henna tattoo expert so that we may all have henna painted onto our hands.

Our host, Mahmoud a Nubian local.

The next day we travelled by air to Abu Simbel, and visit Ramses II temple.
The flight from Aswan was 25 mins and the tour of the temples went for 2 1/2 hrs, plenty of time to view the temples, paintings and grounds. No photos were allowed to be taken inside the temple.
The second temple in Abu Simbel is close to Ramese II , this temple was built for his beautiful queen " Nefertary"

This is not the original site where the Egyptians first built Abu Simbel.

Below is the hotel " Cataract", where Agatha Christie, wrote "Death on the Nile"

Abu Simbel was relocated before the Nile dam was built in 1956.
The monument below is dedicated to the countries that helped Egypt fund the dam project.

 After our visit we flew back to Aswan, checked out of our hotel to board our boat for the Nile cruise. No complaints so far our trip has been first class all the way, delighted to find out that our group was treated as VIP's on the cruise ship, top deck.

Our cruise ship, a floating hotel!. The Easadora II

After we were settled into our rooms, our guide took us to do battle in the local market with the store keepers, time to shop for some souvenirs. Believe me not a pleasant experience, although not many tourists, the stall holders are persistent.

Tony sitting with Mudi, enjoying a shi sha,  waiting for us girls to finish shopping

Each morning on the cruise ship with our room being cleaned, we were left a surprise by our cabin attendents.
A puppy dog and below a monkey!
Phila Temple (Isis) Aswan.

We were entertained by a belly dancer and a man that twirled like a spinning top for 10 mins, amazing!
This dance is called "tamuoro".

Tony and Leslie was also picked to be part of the show with one angry man! I have not laughed so much in a long time, the participants were not well behaved
We docked in Luxor and remained on board until the next day! a fun time to chill out, play some cards and have a few drinks and to catch up on some sewing.

Monday morning our van picked us up to drive us the Valley of the Kings.

This was the only photo allowed, the entry to Valley of the Kings,  no photos could be taken inside the tombs, we visited 3 tombs and was amazed at how the drawings are still brightly coloured. I purchased a book to identify each tomb and the historical facts is also included.
Our next visit was Hatshbsut Temple, the only female king who ruled for 20 years, dressed as a man and achieved many great things before she was killed.
A close up of her temple, this temple is close to the Valley of the Kings and not situated in the Valley of the Queens.

After visiting Hatshbsut we went to an alabaster factory and was entertained by a chorus of men! Delightful!
Nothing purchased, the Egyptians do not know how to price correctly, due to very little tourists their prices are extremely sale!

Our next stop was the Colossus of Memion, they stand 13 metres high.
Toured until early afternoon, then back to hotel for a swim and a rest.

Tuesday we visited Karnak Temple, so different to the other temples, the pillars were amazing.

Karnak Temple.
Pillars from Karnak Temple.
Below is Keheber, god of good luck beetle. Legend has if you walk around the beetle 7 times your wish will be granted.
Time has come for the end of our trip, so a visit to Luxor markets and a meal of pigeon! A local delicacy.
Leslie enjoying our pigeon meal. 
Mudi our tour guide had two and had great delight in showing us all how the locals eat pigeon.
Our flight on Wednesday was early am, arrived back into Cairo after dropping off our one of our Aussie mate, Matthew who is flying to Jordan. we then  proceeded to our hotel for a 2 night rest before our flight to Istanbul on Friday.
A last evening enjoyed with our new American friends, Leslie and Kisha, enjoying shi sha!, I had a puff and was surprised at how smooth the lemon and mint tobacco was!
My last meal was delicious, Tagine, shank  kandoz.
Farewell Egypt, hello Turkey.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Cairo adventures

 Arrived into the chaotic city of Cairo and had our first taste of traffic, more like rafferty rules. The ride from the airport to the hotel took nearly 2 hours. interesting architecture, very similar to the favalias in South America, squares structures just appear on any vacant block of dirt, made out of bricks that are not well made, these structures are similar to a mound of bricks built with  four walls, has no windows on either side, except at what I imagine to be the front of the house which has a large opening, no building permits required.

Our experience at the airport was one of ease, speaking with the locals, we are assured that it is safe, so enjoy your stay The political unrest is settled at the moment due to the upcoming election, held on the 27th May. On gaining our visa for entry to Egypt, was not painful, just hand over $ 50 US dollars for two and off you go. On arrival to the hotel, was quite excited to see our first glimpse of the pyramids from our hotel.

On offer hooka/shisha (fruit tobacco) anywhere.

Day 2, saw us visiting the pyramids and sphinx, what an enjoyable day, riding a camel through the pyramids is a must do and I would highly recommend doing it, what an experience. The pyramids are an amazing feat of architecture built in 3,000 BC. In the whole of Egypt there are a total of 138 pyramids and in Cairo there are 12, one being the great pyramid. 
The locals do some amazing shots with the pyramids in the background, all at a price!
Our little group of five!

visiting the Sphynix
more clever photos!

After the morning spent at the pyramids we travelled to Alexandria, on the way stopped at the monastery of St Bishoy, a Coptic /Christian monastery, where we were given a great history lesson by Father Joakim.
father bishoy's body was in this casket.

 After our visit we experienced falafel and flat bread and fresh fruit from a local market. On our travels to Alexandria, we drove on dirt road, covered with rocks at quite some speed so was not a surprise when we got a puncture in the front tyre, well spotted by DH, so after a delay we finally arrived into Alexandria 7.30 pm.
Day 3 we visited the Catacombs, Pompeii Pillar and the national library.

Mahmoud giving his preliminary history talk.
Pompey's. Pillar
The amazing reading room in the national library 
Outside of the national library 

Tomorrow we head back to Cairo, to catch a train for 12 hours to Aswan, tour members are good company, having an amazing time, will post again when we have WiFi.