Steve n Jen's UK adventures

UK and European adventures. Read on my pretties, and discover what two stray Aussies can get up to on their travels.......

05 January 2011

Dec 2010 b

Thu 23 Dec 2010
This morning we opened one or two Xmas gifts each from under the tree. Xmas part two will happen on our return home. Shortly after, we headed off to Heathrow. Althought the plane was delayed about an hour, we're lucky enough snow has melted in the past day or two that flights had resumed.
We arrived in Cairo late in the evening. The hotel unfortunately had windows which did not 100% close, and our stay is marred by sleeping with mosquito repellent on face and hands each night. But for all that the hotel was OK.

By the way, no museums we visited during our holiday in Egypt allowed photos to be taken, fair enough.

Fri 24 Dec 2010
Today is a non scheduled day. And it's just as well, because we're sprung with the surprise that the hotel's credit card machine is broken. When will it be fixed? The shrug of shoulders left us wondering if they're a cash only hotel actually. So after buying a local SIM card and a few calls to the UK later, we managed to withdraw the extra cash needed for the next few days. We also familiarised ourselves with the local Metro system which is very cheap at £1 EGY per trip.
Here's a nice pic of the Nile in Cairo:

Sat 25 Dec 2010
Christmas day.
As independent travellers we've booked four half day tours with a personal tour guide. Today we visited the Pyramids at Gaza, the Solar Boat, Sphinx, and a papyrus making display and showroom.

The morning fog had us standing about 20 metres from the Great Pyramid and wondering where it was. The fog burned off about 45 minutes later. We went inside the "small" pyramid (Menkuare) as the length of the passage down was short compared to others... after all its very cosy-going for the likes of Mr Steve.

At the end of the tour, we were relieved Mariana (our guide) helped us to sort out our booking of overnight sleeper train to and from Luxor, at the train company's office in Cairo. We'd booked it months ago (phone, email and fax!) but they'd failed to make the booking for us.
In the evening we took our guidebook's suggestion of a lebanese restaurant in the area called Taboula. Big thumbs up.

Well here are today's photos....  Mariana is our tour guide, and reminds us of our friend Melisende, just a really lovely lady.

Above: Great Pyramid in the mist.  Mariana and Steve.
Above: Camel riding by the Queens' pyramids.

Khafre Pyramid floats in fog, Giza.
Approaching the viewing area for the Sphinx
we see Khafre Pyramid.

Tourists just can't get enough of the Sphinx!
Here's our quick little panorama of the Sphinx and pyramids:

Above: Ancient Egyptian boat
construction (rope) system.
Click to view larger.

The Solar Boat is around 3,500 years old, and possibly the oldest complete boat in the world. It was stored disassembled, in a stone walled pit at the foot of the Great Pyramid, ropes included (the whole thing is a roped together type of boat) and its 1,200 pieces were lovingly pieced together over 14 years. The boat is now housed in situ beside the very pit it was found in! 

Solar Boat!
 Sun 26 Dec 2010
Half day tour seeing old Coptic Cairo (Coptic means Egyptian Christian) including the Coptic Museum.  The textiles were truly fabulous, such as a lovely 4th century tunic still in lush vivid blue with fine detailing seemingly woven in.

Ye Olde door, 2nd C AD

Our tour guide Mariana is herself Coptic, and mentioned to us that the Copts kept the ancient Egyptian language but write it in a greek alphabet. She then demonstrated by speaking some Egyptian to us - kinda cool.
She also explained her theory of what the Ankh symbol means. The vertical line from bottom upward, the passage of your life, the horizontal line as the end or the threshold of death, and the circle at top, the circle being eternal, so symbolising eternity. In the museum she showed us a 4th century Ankh with a Christian cross inside the circle at top.

At the Hanging Church (built on part of a Roman guard turret), our guide demonstrated and explained how the Coptic cross has equal lengths - with Christ symbolised in the centre and the 4 spokes being the directions taken by the apostles, to the four corners of the globe spreading the message.
Anyway, during the tour we walked through the old walled Coptic precinct, past Coptic homes with doors such as this one, 2nd century AD! and still going strong.

Mon 27 Dec 2010
Today we visited Cairo's Museum of Antiquities - no photography allowed inside.
There are two floors and today we "did" the ground floor. This took about 4 hours! No photos allowed, but most impressed with the statues of Prince Rahotep and Nofret (2600BC) very finely executed statue with life-like eyes.   Check out these photos of the eyes (scroll down the page), they aren't photoshopped!

Tonight we hopped on our overnight sleeper train toward Luxor. The train journey was jerky but better than 24 hours in economy class on a plane.

Tue 28 Dec 2010

And so we arrived in Luxor. We had an afternoon half day tour starting with the great Karnak Temple, moving on to Luxor Temple. Our tour guide is a young archaeologist named Aladin ("Ala-Dean").  Aladin's theory of the Ankh symbol is that it is a primitive map of the Nile River, and that the ancient name of the Nile was Ankh. The horizontal line of the Ankh are the two major canals built by the Pharaohs (east-west) in the north and the circle being the mouths and coast of the Nile / mediterranean. He mentioned the meaning of the river's name being intertwined with 'life' as it is essential to life in Egypt even today. In a museum a few days later we saw a plaque stating that Ankh means mirror - so perhaps there were many related/similar meanings.

Here's a bunch of Karnak Temple photos.....


Amazing - the paint's still going strong!
Above: Leaving the Karnak Temple complex.

Here's a bunch of Luxor Temple photos.....  (click "read more" at the bottom of this page)

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