Scotsabroad's Weblog

December 27, 2008

The Nile Valley

Filed under: Holidays,visits — scotsabroad @ 6:10 pm

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Before setting off for Upper Egypt we all visited Dr. Ragab’s Pharaonic Village on Jacob’s Island in the centre of Cairo. Dr. Ragab rediscovered the art of papyrus making in 1967. Jacob’s Island was originally intended to be a papyrus plantation but transformed in to an Egyptian theme park. Ian and Linda got their photograph taken with Cairo and Lucas dressed in pharaonic costume. I did enjoy the Nasser Museum  that included personal photographs, his camera and radio. It is claimed that Gamal listened to the headlines on his radio and then switched it off moments before he died, his last words being, I did not find what I expected.  

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The Nile Cruise was not what I had expected but returning to the Nile Valley was still well worth it. We flew to Aswan to join our cruise boat, The Sonesta St. George. We had booked late and the only flight we could get didn’t get us there on time to join the Temple of Philae and the High Dam tour. All we got to see of Aswan was a felluca sail to Kitchener’s Island before setting sail up the Nile to Kom Ombo. We then sailed further for a night walk round the Temple of Horus at Edfu. We then docked outside Luxor. For the remainder of our cruise we then spent the next two days on a whistle-stop tour of monumental sites including, Karnak and Luxor Temples, a papyrus shop (thank you Dr. Ragab), the Colossi of Memnon, The Valley of the Kings and Queens and Hatshepsut. I managed a long run on the West Bank, crossing over the new bridge and through villages and towns. Memorable.

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We then decamped (escaped) to the Nile Valley Hotel on the West Bank. Unleashed we hired bikes and used the National Ferryboat to explore both sides of the river. We visited Medinet Habu (my favourite temple), Luxor Museum and Deir el Medina (worker’s village).  A highlight was a family decision to climb the mountain behind the worker’s village (as the inhabitants had done thousands of years ago to work in the Valley of the Kings) to be rewarded with stunning views of the East Bank, the Valley of the Queens and Hatshepsut and (at the top) the Valley of the Kings. The views were better than the balloon ride in April. The West bank is the setting for the Luxor half marathon in February. I will be fortunate to be running the route stuffed full of monuments and memories. Both boys did remarkably well to climb the mountain as did Shona in a pair of Birkenstocks! Great day finished well with the discovery of a bar called the Sunset Cocktail Bar floating on the East Bank. We watched the sun set with a few beers while a magician performed tricks out of his suitcase for our benefit.

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Cairo and I visited Medinet Habu twice. The second time we all went and found the temple full of Egyptian children (dressed in their finest clothes) and their teachers exploring their own heritage – magic. 

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The West Bank is a little uneasy at the moment as those in control seek to build and alter existing tourist facilities. These changes are done at will and often overnight. As we visited,  the last remaining part of Gurnat Mura’i village had just had its water and electricity cut off. The residents had been told to move so that their houses could be demolished. They were considered an eye-sore for the thousands of tourists being bused in and out of the West Bank each day. Even the owners of the hotel  we stayed in were unsure of their future. Major work has been done in the area outside near the National Ferry dock and there are rumours that the road is to be widened. It would be an enormous loss to see the Nile Valley Hotel disappear as it offers excellent accommodation and food. We have spent a few hours on the roof using the restaurant and drinking a few beers watching the sun set. Ian introduced the boys to the game of pick-up-sticks (using toothpicks coloured with felt pens) while on the roof and the game was competitively played by all. I don’t think you could ever get tired of visiting Luxor but this trip was made extra special having a set of  grandparents to share it with.

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Then it was off to the station for the sleeper train back to Cairo. We had two ajoining compartments with bunk-beds. Not the Orient Express but tolerably clean and romantic. The boys loved it. We pulled in to the station at Giza to be met straight away with a welcome-back-to-Cairo moment; passengers had to get off with their luggage on the opposite platform from the exit. They had to descend a steep flight of stairs to go under the tracks and come back up another flight of steps to the surface. Some very bewildered tourists arriving for the first time to be met by a swarm of porters offering their services. Genius.

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2 Comments »

  1. Thanks that was a great description of your Nile tour. Why can i not blow up the photos to have a closer look at them? you all must have had a great time …..

    Comment by Gordon — January 1, 2009 @ 7:12 pm | Reply

  2. what a fab holiday and time with parents. How nice. Everyone looks healthy and happy.x

    Comment by shari — January 12, 2009 @ 11:19 am | Reply


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