God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Moon Goddess and Philae Temple

Flying from Abu Simbel to Aswan didn't take long at all--short hop. We were met at the airport by Mohamed who would be our guide throughout the cruise and the rest of our time in Egypt. It was nice to know that we would have that continuity through the various temples and places we would be the next few days. We had elected to have our personal guide rather than using the ship's guides as we wanted to set our pace a little and, theoretically, learn more. I say theoretically as we were very impressed with what we saw of the ship guides and their knowledge of ancient Egypt and sites. It was nice, though, to not be in groups.

Us with Mohamed

The Nile cruise is fairly unique as it travels only about 200 km (124 miles) which is an interesting feat when you are on a 4 night cruise. Actually, we were on board for 4 nights but the first night was spent in Aswan where we boarded and the last two were in Luxor where we ended. The one other night was in the Edfu Temple area. Our ship was the Moon Goddess which was quite nice--pretty laid back and comfortable.

This was another instance of how decimated tourism is right now. We were there at high season when normally there are hundreds (so I am told ) of cruise ships sailing the Nile. What we saw were untold ships tied up along the shore with curtains drawn and no sign of life. When we docked, there were only 6 or 7 other ships when normally there would be a long shore line of ships docked 6 deep. Even then, the Moon Goddess was less than half full. Some friends we made on board who had just traveled the opposite way from Luxor to Aswan told us there had only been 8 people on board then. We were glad that there were more going our direction--they were, too. It was more fun--particularly as they had a 13 year old daughter who became Casey's constant companion. Problem being that they are from Singapore. He always has these long distance interests, it seems.

For those of you who know Casey, it may make you smile that his friend's name is Camille

Of course having fewer ships plying the waterways made our cruise much nicer, having the river almost to ourselves. Rarely would we pass or see another ship. We could sit on our balcony watching the banks of the Nile pass by imaging we were seeing what Ramses or Cleopatra or Caesar had seen millenia ago. We could watch the fishermen in their tiny boats, beating the water trying to scare fish into their nets. Surely much like as has been done for centuries.

Shortly after boarding the ship, we had a felucca sail ride--a must do experience when on the Nile. It was relaxing and a nice quiet interlude after our several days of site-seeing. After the sail, Mohamed took us to downtown Aswan where we stopped for tea and he spent some time on a water pipe. I had thought I would try this but Casey adamantly did not want me to; in fact, he was nothing short of panicked about it. So...guess I will never know what that is like.

Once we went back to the boat it was time to dress for dinner (well, dress meant a clean pair of jeans and shirt) and go to the pre-dinner show which was pretty not good. Can't even remember what it was; however, I am certain it was better than the belly dancer the next night. Dinner was good and then it was time to relax with books before bedding down.

The next morning, we were trundled off by Mohamed and the driver to board the little boat to take us to the island of the ancient Temple of Philae--dedicated to Isis. This temple is similar to Abu Simbel in that it was moved from one location to another--from an island very close to where it now is. After the construction of the first Aswan dam at the beginning of the 20th century, the waters slowly took over Philae and for many years it was pretty well submerged. In the 1960's the effort began to move the temple, block by block, to where it is now--another marvel of 20th century know-how.

Philae, like all the temples, is impressive in size, carvings, doorways, pillars and stories spelled out in pictures and hyroplyphics. Again, no crowds, no people--strange places these days. In years gone by, only the gods and royalty could come here. That must have been somewhat like it is these days--except now gods and royalty have become rare tourists from far away places.

Pyramids, temples, tombs---these folks sure did things big. Next: Kom Ombo and Edfu. 


B.J.Greenwaki said...

What a great experience for the three of you. Each day I hope you will do a blog post because this trip is so fascinating!

Susie L said...

Jane, I am just catching up with your blog. What a fascinating trip and so well planned! I look forward to reading more about the trip.

sandrac said...

Fascinating, Jane! And why was Casey so worried about the water pipe? V. interesting!

Jane said...

Thanks friends. Sandra, Casey was worried about the water pipe because I am an ex-smoker and he was afraid it would make me start again. He hates smoke and makes a scene if ever around someone smoking.

B.j. and Susie, another one will go up today.