I guess I post way too many photos, and videos so my wordpress account is full yet again. I will have to upgrade to a Business account if I stay with WordPress, which means bigger costs, so for now have elected to keep the cash in my pocket for more travel, and try blogging with Facebook. If that doesn’t work. I will just have to share photos of our adventures on my private page like everyone else! LOL check it out at https://www.facebook.com/
Any photos that you would like to see larger, just click on it, and the double click to zoom in. With the tools they had, the details are incredible, I have problems with a pen making such details!
We left home on February 16th 2022 for another bucket list trip. We chose to go with a tour company again as the complications of COVID and language just seemed easier. Everything was taken care of for testing abroad to ensure our return to Canada would not be delayed, more about that later. We went with Exoticca Tours as their pricing were exceptionally good, and reviews were good as well. Again, more about that further in the blog.
Strangely enough, we ended up flying to Calgary, then to Edmonton to start the trip, we overnighted Edmonton, went back to Calgary, Frankfurt and then Aman, Jordan. Long story short, Exoticca was going to charge us close to a thousand each to change our tour to start out of Calgary. Go Figure. We stayed at the Corp Amman Hotel. Day 1 we leave Canada, we arrive the night of day 2. Hardly saw anything!!! Our Exoticca Rep was there and We, along with several other flight loads of people were whisked into a hallway where we all underwent a COVID test. and then transfered to the hotel. We arrived late and missed dinner, but they were kind enough to send up not one by two LARGE pizza’s to the room! I must admit, they were two of the best pizza’s I’ve ever eaten! It is a nice enough hotel, and security was extra nice during a little mishap that not only I had, but Gary had also while we stayed there on our return trip before going to Egypt. ‘Nough said about that for now. Amman is bustling city of 4.8 million people, with a long history as evidence of civilization dates back to the 8th Millennium BC. But since the 2005 suicide bombing of hotels in Amman, everything is about security! It is everywhere, you must pass all items through an x-ray machine, and walk through a detector before going indoors (2 different spots at airports) and the military is everywhere you look, standing on guard, and ready to protect. In both Jordan and Egypt we traveled with at least one, if not two weapon packing guards, in black suits and sunglasses.
Day 3 we boarded the bus to explore a few sights in the area, the Ajloun Castle was the first stop. A 12th Century fortress that was built under the rule of the sultan and military leader Saladin. Two major earthquakes struck the castle in 1837 and 1927, and although restoration are well underway, there is so much more. Apparently on clear days you can see the Jordan Valley, not so much on this day, but it was warm, and still beautiful.
Our second stop of the day was Jerash, known as the “Pompeii of the East”. There is evidence of a settlement in Jerash at a site named Tal Abu Sowan, In August 2015, an archaeological excavation team unearthed two human skulls that date back to 7500–5500 BC) Aside from Italy, Jarash is considered one of the largest and most well-preserved sites of Roman architecture. I am amazed that there is nothing protecting parts of this site, especially the tile mosaics. I guess its withstood the times until now.
Our tour in Jordan didn’t stick to our itinerary perfectly, but we did do all we were supposed to, unlike Egypt. Bags packed, and on the bus, we were off for our 4th busy packed day. Our first stop was Madaba, with a population of over 60,000. We stopped at the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George where we were able to appreciate the 6th-century mosaic map of the Holy Land. The oldest mosaic map in the world. Incredible what these people could create, and wonderful that it has survived the test of time for everyone to enjoy.
Mount Nebo was our next stop, which of course is the place where Moses was given a view of the Promised Land. According to the legend, Moses died on Mount Nebo at age 120 and was supposedly buried in Wadi Mujib, but the exact location is still unknown. On a clear day you can see what Moses saw, the Dead sea, Jordan River, Jericho, Bethlehem, and the hills of Jerusalem. Unfortunately it was not that clear today, although still very beautiful, with so much history. Mosaics uncovered from archaeological digs dating back to the 6th century are found here, with the main mosaic illustrating the process of winemaking. Images of hunters and animals can also be found in the mosaics. In the 1930s the site was excavated and six tombs were found, hollowed into the rock beneath the basilica’s mosaic floor. The Serpentine Cross Stands just outside the temple and is a combination of the bronze serpent created by Moses and Jesus’ cross. Mount Nebo was purchased by the Franciscans in 1993, and they restored the site. It is an active Franciscan monastery today.
Then we were off to the Shobak Castle which dates back to 1115. It was built by the Crusaders and expanded by the Mamluks. It was situated along key trading routes and designed to control the location. It dominated the main passage from Egypt to Syria. This allowed who ever held the castle to tax not only traders, but those that were making pilgrimages to Mecca and Medina. Yup, taxes have been around for ever!
Traveling on a bus isn’t always comfortable, but his was a beauty bus, had all the bells and whistles, including wifi. It was nice to know we could be reached as we elected not to get a SIM card, and didn’t have to use our international plan even once, although it was tempting while in Egypt. It was only 40 minutes to Wadi Musa, the gateway to Petra, we were welcomed with a beautiful sunset. In Arabic Wadi Musa means “Valley of Moses” The story goes that Moses passed through this valley and struck water from a rock for his followers at the site of Ain Musa “Moses Spring” or “Moses Well” The Neboteans then built channels so the water would flow from the spring to the city of Petra.
We were not in the Petra Moon Hotel long before we decided we would make the trek out to Petra for the night show and walked out with new friends Dan and Megan. It was a tough walk. They had lined the 2km hike with paper bags and candles, but it really didn’t light up the old Roman walkways enough – there was some tripping going on by many. (During the return trip, some candles had burned out) Of course we could have used lights on our phones, but that would have taken something away from the experience! Others did. It was pretty spectacular to see at night. Wadi Musa’s lights shining on the rocks made them mystical, and the stars were so bright (can you see Orions belt) it made for such a beautiful walk, even with uneven ground and the chilly desert air. We were served some tea and enjoyed the show, although it was much longer than what it needed to be, especially since we were sitting on blankets on the cold ground! Fortunately the trip back to the hotel was uneventful, although I did have to stop several times as my hip had just had enough for the long day of trekking. Back to the hotel, not even a cold beer in sight, and be ready to load our suitcases, and our visit to Petra in the day light in the morning.
In 1985, the Petra Archaeological Park became a UNESCO World Heritage site, and in 2007 it was named one of the new seven wonders of the world. Petra by daylight was just as spectacular. It is an enormous city of tombs, of which there are over 800, monuments, and sacred structures. The Treasury is by far the most famous of the monuments but they are all so impressive, I didn’t realize how much was there! All with such detail, showing the workmanship of the time. Flash floods occur in the area, but there is evidence that the Nabataeans were able to control them by use of dams, water channels and cisterns which made the area an oasis and allowed them to survive throughout the droughts. It has been inhabited since prehistoric times, and was once a busy trading center and the capital of the Nabataean empire between 400 BC and 106 AD. Now it is just as busy with tourists, and although we were there during their “down” season it was crowded. Onward we go for our 6th, and longest day of walking.
As indicated by the above photos, there is still much excavating to do. “The vast majority – 85 percent is still underground and untouched. However, it would mean closing down tourism while the major excavating took place, and the government, nor the local Nebatean people are willing to do that, even for a short period of time. So for the time being, it will remain hidden under the sand. After our tour of the general area with the guide, we traveled up to the Monastery. With all the hiking we planned to get done, we, along with Dan and Megan elected to take Donkeys to the top. Well it was good, and it was bad. Gary ended up with an animal that knew its way, so that was good, but he obviously didn’t want to go THAT way, and ended up heading off trail to visit some females! Didn’t matter what Gary did, he was not getting back on track without a handler. After much yelling, and scrambling they were finally back on the trail again, but now he needed to pass a few others to get back into the lead! But still much better experience than what Dan had, his saddle slid off the back, with him in it! Thankfully he only ended up with a bruised butt, it could have been so much more serious given the terrain we.
What could be next on the list but….Little Petra, which is smaller, as the name indicates, but just as impressive! Water management was important in this arid landscape and the Neboteans managed it well with cisterns which would last the long dry periods.
From Little Petra we were off to spend the night in a Bedoine Tent Camp. As it turns out, it really is not even close to sleeping in a tent. You know, we had walls, Electricity (including AC) running water etc. But it was in Wadi Rum, yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its hard to believe that this stark moonlike terraine has been inhabited since prehistoric times. The Jeep ride was not quite what I was expecting, and dinner out under the stars didn’t quite pan out either, as it hasn’t actually got “warm” enough for such things here, But it was all was good. We toured around and saw where some movies were shot ( Mainly Lawrence of Arabia) and checked out deep gorge that was used as a prison
Day 7, Back on the bus, we had to make a decision as to an optional tour to Bethany Beyond the Jordan. We decided that it would be the only opportunity to see the Jordan River. So before entering Amman, the bus pulls over, and we wait for a smaller bus that will take us to the River. That is when the first of two mishaps occur, but we didn’t realize it until we arrived back at the hotel.
Due to the location, which is a military site we had to check in with them, and a head count was done as we left the site. Pre Peace Treaty between Israel and Jordan (1994) the area was heavily mined, but we were informed it was all clear. I stayed on the paths! The Baptism site, to my surprise was not right on the Jordan River, but a short distance away.
We left the baptism site and drove the short distance to the River. The Jordan River at this point has a series of ropes and buys which separate the Jordanian and Israeli sides. Both countries have high military presence to discourage the public from traveling across, in either direction. Those machine guns discouraged me more than the water!
A Greek Orthodox (St. John the Baptist) Church was erected on the Jordainian side in 2003. I have to admit, against my better judgement, I did “step” into the river. The water is filthy, full of sewage run-off from Jordanian, Israeli and Palestinian villages of which over 300,000 people live along the River Jordan’s banks. There are plans to restore water to the river valley, and to clean it up, but it is costly, and time consuming and wont come easy. The drive back to Amman was interesting as we took a back road through the city of Al-Salts which was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2021. It is “The Middle East’s city of tolerance and generosity”
So we arrive back at our hotel, and go through the now familiar motions of our packs on the belt for xray, and walk through the metal detector. We then go up to the desk and need to grab our passports to check in. Well, Gary can’t find his. Fortunately, we have a copy, so they let us check in with that. We go to the room and he proceeds to dump his pack out. No passport! Meanwhile I know my phone needs to be plugged in – yup you guessed it, I’ve got no phone! Long story short, and about 3 hours later, I get my phone back, I had left it in the little bus, and Gary’s passport was found on the big bus. It was in our guides hands and would be returned the next day! I know Jordan is a Muslim country! I also know it relies very heavily on its tourist trade. So at this point we have been able to find two places that sell beer! Just two! Just putting that out there for anyone thinking setting up a pub would be a good money maker with tourists beginning to flock again. Not trying to be disrespectful, but after a long, hot day of traveling, walking, and panicking I was thinking a cold one would have gone down nicely!
Back on topic. On Day 8 we loaded up on the bus again to see three desert castles before heading to the Dead sea. These castles all stood out in the middle of no where, the wind was brutal and all had fantastic vantages for incoming friend or foe. The First Castle we stopped at was Qasr al- Kharan. It is situated about 60 from Amman, and a short distance to the Saudia Arabia Boarder. This large castle has 60 rooms, on two levels. A graffito in one of the upstairs rooms dates the castle to be c. 710
The second castle of the day was Quseir Amra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which was built some time between 723 and 743. There is no military function of this building. It was meant to be a retreat for the royals, and is all that remains of the entire complex. This retreat is famous for its frescos covering the walls and ceilings of the complex.
The last castle to explore was Qasr al-Azraq. It lies in the middle of the Azraq oasis, the only permanent source of fresh water in approximately 12,000 square km of desert. This area is also succumbing to global warming, and is not the oasis it once was. During the winter of 1917, During the Great Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire T.E. Lawrene (Lawrence of Arabia) made the fortress his desert headquarters.
Then out to the Dead Sea! A much anticipate part of the tour. Its unfortunate that the The Dead Sea’s water level is declining by more than a meter a year, and that the decline is a man made ecological disaster. Fighting over the water resources in an arid landscape is still occurring today, and the dead sea is suffering. There are plans to resolve the issues, but to date, they have not. The sea sits 400 meters below sea level, making it the lowest place on the planet. Covering an area of 605 square kilometers, with the boarder between Jordan and Israel down the centre. With the waves being so big it was difficult to keep the “splashes” off your face, what a horrid taste. Where we were swimming was well over our heads, although it appears we are crawling on the ground, we were just floating that high in the water. Gary loved the fact that he could swim here, normally he sinks like a rock!
I was not disappointed in the swim, in fact it was so much more warm than the swim in the Arctic Ocean. But there are so many minerals in the water that my flip flops were slimmy until I scrubbed them with soap and water back at the hotel. I did wear them in the shower at the sea, but…the water was ice cold, and I didn’t bring any soap, so needless to say we were in the shower as soon as we got back to the hotel. We didn’t do the “mud”, not even a little, but my skin felt very smooth and moisturized after the swim! I did get flipped onto my belly as you can see, and didn’t realize the danger until reading this article. I remember telling Gary to “stay” on his back, but he also got flipped over in the waves! Fortunately we made it out alive! Back at the hotel we cleaned up and got all our paperwork, AND electronics in order for our flight to Cairo the next afternoon. There were 8 of us in the group continuing on to Cairo the next day, and we were all on 4 different flights. Not sure what that was all about, made for 4 different pick ups at the airport for the poor guy!
Day 9 went as smooth as it could go in the traffic of Amman. Crazy drivers all over the world, but it all went without a hitch, (if you don’t count having to go through security twice every time you board a plane here), and soon were on the plane to Cairo Egypt. Our tour company Rep. met us at the airport, and before we knew it we were “whisked” our way to the hotel. Now when I say whisked, I mean we got to Cairo around 11:40, and by the time we got to the hotel, and checked in it was close to 4 pm. The Ramses Hilton, right on the Nile! The Room was nice enough, but by the time we got checked in, it was too late to go anywhere, so we just walked across the road, and then across the Nile on the busiest main bridge in the city! Crossing the road was no easy feat, a local lady literally took our hands and helped us get across. We followed another local to get back across! There are stop lights, I think, but people don’t pay attention to them, no cross walks, you just cross where ya want, people just step out and dodge the traffic! (remembering the traffic in Lima).
We met 5 others at the airport in Amman that were also on our tour in Egypt, so joined them for a cold beer afterwards, then headed up to our room for some much needed shut eye – which really didn’t happen with all the traffic noise ALL night long. I don’t believe the Egyptians sleep!
Day 10 was going to be a busy one. Some of our crew from Jordan still hadn’t arrived, but we were headed out to the Giza Plateau . We slept late, so apparently missed the breakfast of a life time, but I think I needed sleep more than food! We soon learned that Egypt is not like Jordan in terms of our tour. Our Guide was very knowledgeable, but you had to pry to get information from him, he didn’t freely give us the “stories” about his country or the culture, it was disappointing. He went through his spiels regarding specific sites we were seeing, but didn’t seem to offer any extras unless ask, and then he would only answer to those that asked, and not share the information with the rest of the group, as if no one else cared! He was organized, and basically kept a tight schedule, but sometimes too tight, which wasn’t necessarily his fault, but the fault of the tour operator packing in too much in too little time! Now normally I could just “google” the information I was looking for, but that was another story! Virtually no wifi in this country! Our bus said it was wifi equipped, but our guide explained, “that is just a logo”. There are towers everywhere, so I guess if going to Egypt, and you want to be connected, get a sim card. Didn’t really bother us.
The Pyramids are not only about the dead, they are (were) full of stories of how the Ancient Egyptians lived. They are decorated with wonderful scenes including every day life in ancient Egypt. This whole plateau is a very large, with much of it looking like piles of rock, but under the rock treasures are still being found today. We did decide to go into the Largest of the Pyramids. It is the oldest and largest of the three, built for for the Pharaoh Khufu, however his body has never been found.
As we learned quickly, there are Gate keepers everywhere in Egypt, and they all want to assist you in getting the best angle, or best pose. Of course, it comes at a price of a “tip” One person in our group gave them the camera to take the photo, it appeared they wanted more of a tip , and would not give the camera back. An argument ensued, and a guard approached, and they ended up tipping not only more to the photographer, but also had to tip the guard to get the camera back! We even got photo bombed, and then were asked for a tip!
The Great Sphynx is something to see up close and personal. Photos never give the true depth of such a worldly statue. Although there is much restoration being done to save it, I don’t believe there is much “original” about it any more I was glad to see at least “some” original. So many challenges for such an enormous monument. Cut from the bedrock, the Sphinx is being restored with layers limestone blocks. Its dimensions are 240 ft long from paw to tail, 66 ft high from the base to the top of the head and 62 ft. wide at its hind end. Although many theories are around, the reason behind the nose being broken off is is still a mystery, but occurred between the 3rd and 10th centuries AD. Restorations have been ongoing, and continue today. A rising water table, vibrations in the air and traffic, leaking sewage water, pollution from local factories and even explosions at the quarries speeding up its decline. Cables were dug into the ground around the pyramids and sphinx which would enable the light show for the tourists even created damage.
We were given about an hour to explore the area before getting back on the bus and heading out to the old Capital , Memphis. Even after it was no longer the capital, kings and Pharos still built monuments, and temples there. The great temple of Ptah was one of the city’s most prominent structures. The Open Air Museum in Memphis houses The enormous Statue of Ramses II which was found in 1820 face down and partially buried in a swampy area. As it was missing its legs, it is displayed on its back where the artistry is easily seen all over the statue.
Discovered in 1912, the Alabaster Sphinx, among thousands of other antiquities are displayed in Memphis. We did not have much time here, and there was a lot to see. It is all so very interesting to view this history, again with no protection from the elements.
Soon the group was loaded back on the bus, and we head out to the Saqqara Archaeological Site & Imhoteb Museum. This area contains burial grounds of ancient Egyptian royalty, with many mastaba tombs scattered throughout.
Kagemni, vizler to King Teti was buried in the largest mastaba in the Teti cemetery. It was 32×32 and had a chapel with six rooms, a pillared hall, two large areas containing boats, and a staircase which gave access to the roof. All the walls are decorated, including in the burial chamber which was located at the bottom of a shaft. A wooden coffin was found inside a stone sarcophagus. I am floored that the pigments of the paint is so bright after all these years. They have not been able to establish the longevity of it.
The Pyramid of Djoser (below) AKA Step Pyramid. The 6-tier, 4 sided pyramid is the earliest colossal stone building in Egypt. It was built in the 27th century BC for Pharaoh Djoser
Day 11 – Cairo to Luxor to board the Full Board Nile Cruise.
The flight went without a hitch, and happy our luggage has arrived with us yet again. Our Rep met us along with our guide, and got us all on the bus, and on our on way to the first tour in Luxor, The Karnak Temple. It is part of the monumental city of Thebes (modern day Luxor), and in 1979 it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Temple dates back from around 2055 BC to around 100 AD. It was dedicated to the gods Amun, Mut, and khonsu.
We were soon whisked away from Karnak to explore the Temple of Luxor only a short drive away. To my surprise, Luxor does not show the same profoundness that Karnak does; Karnak is older and influenced by many pharaohs, and Luxor reflects only a few leaders. With that said, still very impressive, and it sits in the middle of the city, on the banks of the Nile.
Before getting back on the bus we strolled along the Avenue of the Spinx which is a a 3,000-year-old road which connect Karnak Temple with the Luxor Temple it is only 1.7 miles long and is lined on both sides with over 1050 statues of sphinxes and rams
With an already busy day beginning to end, we finally head off in the direction of our accommodations for the next 4 nights. On the way we decide to sign up for an optional tour, which would have us up at 3:30 in the morning! Needless to say, once we boarded our vessel, and checked in the room, we wandered around to check out our surroundings, had a beer on deck and around 7 thought I would lay down for a nap before the 8pm dinner.
Needless to say I missed dinner, and slept right through until the alarm went off and was ready to start Day 12 – with our optional tour. Still dark out, we got into a small boat and went across the Nile to the west bank where we drove a short distance before arriving at the starting point!
This optional tour was pretty pricy, but worth every cent, and worth the early morning alarm. It was just spectacular! Never guessed in a million years this opportunity would come along, but there it was, in front of us, and in such a beautiful country.
We thought we were going down, but…….up over the palms
Our cleaning crew were always finding ways to be creative. They would see you coming to our room, and then would wait to see our reaction ! We didn’t tip them every day, but did at the end of the trip.
So another breakfast done, it was time to get ready for the rest of the day. Our itinerary consisted of Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens, Temple of Queen Hatshepsut and the Colossi of Memon. Then back to the ship, to continue the cruise to Edfu. Hardly a busy day, with such an early start.
Colossi of Memon are two massive stone statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III they stand at the front of the ruined Mortuary Temple of the same Pharaoh. Due to earthquakes and various floods, very little remains of Amenhotep’s temple, other than the highly damaged statues.
The Temple of Queen Hatshepsut was pretty spectacular to see from the balloon, but to wander through it was incredible. Built c. 1470 BCE, it was uncovered (1894–96) I can not believe that the colors have remained so vibrant after all these years, even those that are in direct sunlight have hints of color here and there. There are such wonderful stories of Queen Hatshepsut, and the history is long to say the least. I did find a great description of how, why and who tried to erase her from history. You can find it here. She was a remarkable woman, its worth the read.
Then we were off to the Valley of the Kings. There have been over 62 known tombs found . In 1979 it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Plans of the tombs vary, however they all consists of a descending hall, many put deep shafts in the hall. Two theories exist for these shafts, one to capture would be thieves, which didn’t work, and two to capture any water and prevent it from going further into the burial chamber. At the farther end of the corridor is a burial chamber with a stone sarcophagus where the mummy was laid and storage chambers where furniture and other equipment were kept for the king’s use in the next world. Of course like everywhere, they get you coming and going. So our ticket includes entry into 3 tombs , 3 specific tombs, non- of which I was interested in, well I was but… So on the fly we purchase a pkg of three others to explore, Tutankhamen, Ramses IX and Merpentan. This model showed the valley so well.
Tutankhamun’s tomb was very small considering what his status was. He may have died before his tomb was complete, or buried in a tomb meant for someone else. In any case, it was pretty spectacular.
Tomb of Merenptah – the fourth pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty
Ramses V & VI Tomb – fourth and fifth rulers of the Twentieth Dynasty
Ramses IX Tomb
Ramses I Tomb
I may have got carried away with photos, but it really is a one time life experience, (although one woman in our group had been to Egypt 3 times) so I wanted to share it ALL with you. Valley of the Kings was an experience like no other. To think we were walking in the steps of the Pharaohs, of the men and woman who walked this earth since before 1539 BC ! And as our trip is coming to an end, I am sad that we’ve not spent more time at these ancient wonders! But for now, its a return trip across the Nile to our Boat, and then sail towards Edfu for our next adventure.
Dedicated to the deity Horus. the falcon-headed sky god, the Temple of Edfu is thought to be the best preserved of the Ancient Egyptian shrines. it was built between 237 and 57 BC, and remained buried under sand for about 200 years. A possible reason it was preserved so well. We had only a short way to go to the temple, so went with a different mode of transportation. I would have preferred the bus, although on these streets it may have taken a long time. This had to be one of my favorite temples. There was not a square inch that was not telling a story. I didn’t understand all the stories, but I could appreciate them. Goddess of Nut (Newt) wrapping herself around the sky. 2nd photo a closeup of her face.
Then it was back to the boat, and we continued motoring south to Kom Ombo where we were off to explore the temples of Haroeris and Sobek. We could see it from the boat, so was a short walk before dinner. This temple is unique because everything was duplicated. Courts, halls, sanctuaries and other rooms were built for two sets of gods, Horus, the Falcon headed God of Protection and the crocodile headed God, Sobek, god of fertility and creator of the world. Between the floods of the Nile, major earthquakes, and builders using the material for other projects, the temple is all but been destroyed.
We made a short stop at the small crocodile museum before returning to the boat and await dinner. Due to the fact that everyone in the tour decided to do the optional tour to Abu Simbel, dinner was being serviced a half hour early 7:30 which would allow us all to get a good night sleep before our 4 a.m wake up call.
Day 14 started early, and we were soon on the bus with a bagged breakfast headed to Abu Simbel. Its approximately 3 hours to drive one way, so many got to have a nap on the way, me, not so much. I watched the sun rise
Abu Simbel, which is yet another UNESCO World Heritage site was worth the early rise, and the long bus trip. It is two temples which Ramses II had built for himself, and for his wife, Nefertiti.
This whole complex was relocated in 1968 onto an artificial hill. With the creation of Lake Nasser by the building of the High Dam, these two complexes would have been submerged under water. Although old, and scratchy, there is a great video on the relocation process here. This would be quite the feat now, far less back in the 1960’s.
Ramses II was the second longest ruler in Egyptian history. Along with the wars with the Hittites and Libyans, he is known for the many temples and buildings he built, and for many colossal statues of himself found all over Egypt. It is said that the statues here at Abu Simbel were built so large so as to intimidate Sudan, which is a mere 20 km away.
The second, and smaller temple was built for Ramses II wife Nefertiti was smaller, but just as grand with many large statues of Ramses II.
The history yet to be learned from this country is unbelievable.
It was another long, desert drive back to the River and to the boat, but returning we got to see the Aswan Dams. We stopped on the high dam to see lake Nasser, which was named after the Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser, who is responsible for the lake’s creation. The lake is approximately 550 km long, giving much water for irrigation and drinking, as well as electricity. Now our guide told us, that the visibility is not always this bad here, but for some reason, you couldn’t see very far. The low dam was built in 1902, and despite it being raised twice, it came to the point of overflowing, thus the creation of the High Dam which was completed in 1970. It was a blessing to many, but also a burden as it displaced many locals from the banks of the Nile.
On returning to our boat we were supposed to go on a Felucca (a typical fishing boat) on the Nile, but as it was too windy, it was cancelled. So instead, we boarded a motorized boat, and headed up river to a Nubian Village where we were ultimately entertained by musicians, had some tea, some type of pita bread with dark honey (molasses) and some Hummas, a little dancing and some close encounters with their “pet” crocodiles! The Nubian villages in Aswan are still along the Nile river. The people are known to be extremely friendly and hospitable. They speak their own language, Nuba, and have their own customs and traditions. They have kept their ways and language alive through generations, but outsiders are never taught their language! The houses are bright and colorful, and full of paintings/murals on the walls. It was dark coming back down…hoping our captain knew the route well through the rocks!
After getting back to the boat that evening, we had supper and decided we would not go on the next day tour of the granite quarry, or the Felluca ride postponed from today. We decided to at least get one evening of entertainment on the boat and stay up “late”, I think everything was shut down by 9:30, but it was fun!
… the videos that were pretty hysterical!
Before heading to bed, I had asked for a late check out, but it was a no go. They had people coming on board, and the room had to be changed out. But, our guide went and asked, and we were not kicked out at the 7:30 a.m. but got to have the room until 11 – so was so very thankful for that. It was a lazy, relaxing morning and afternoon. I was getting a little worried about our crew getting back on time as traffic is crazy here, and we had to get to the airport!
They came running in the door basically, and then we all were back out , up the stairs to the waiting bus. We had to go across the low dam – which was a nightmare. I’m not sure how they decide who goes on the one lane dam, there were no lights, but it seemed it was never a go for our side! We were there for a good 1/2 hour, which we didn’t have to spare. Once we got to the airport it was a run to get through “both” securities, and then to our gate, and our Rep of course wouldn’t let us go on our own, so we would wait until we all got through. Always, there was always someone who had problems! But we eventually got there and boarded our plane back to Cairo. Again, as I figured, it was too late by the time we got to the hotel, the museum had closed, so no chance of seeing it. We had a room for the night, but actually had to leave the hotel at 11 to get to the airport in time, so we just charged everything, freshened up and waited. It was pretty uneventful getting to the airport, and actually going through the airport was pretty easy as well, neither of us got stopped for anything going through security. The flight to Frankfurt was a nightmare. 4 hours in the most uncomfortable seats, no media, and a crying/screaming kid for most of the flight. We were not long in Frankfurt before getting on the next flight to Vancouver. That was a long haul, and neither of us got much more than about 1/2 hour of shut eye. Sleeping pills next time? Again an hour and half at YVR before our flight to Edmonton, and it was all we did to get through security, AND Gus had to get a COVID test on the way to our gate! But we had about 15 minutes until boarding. Then on to Edmonton. So far so good, until the luggage conveyer stopped, and we didn’t have our luggage! (shipped straight through from Cairo) Air Canada gave us a toothbrush etc. and sent us on our way. Fortunately we pack our personal items with us! The next afternoon we were off to Calgary, and then home to Grande Prairie where Kendal met us, and drove us home! And THAT my friends was our tour of Jordan and Egypt.
But…………with all that said, this trip was not all bells and Whistles, although it mostly was. In fact, there are some things that I would do differently if ever I go with Exoticca tours again, the first being picking my own flights. The flights they picked for us were horrible, and had I known we wouldn’t have gotten to go to the museum, I would have booked another night in Cairo for that opportunity, but of course the Itinerary said, many times “the rest of the day is at your Leisure”, and gave examples of how to kill time. We actually thought we would have too much spare time, which was NOT the case. Don’t get me wrong, all the representatives, in both countries were well informed and organized they did their jobs with the outmost of attention and urgency, it is the explanation of the tour that was not accurate. Such as several of our itineraries stated after the Valley of the Kings, we would proceed to Valley of the Queens. We did not go to the second valley. So read your itinerary carefully, and if you go with “their” flights, ensure you will have time for “extras’ if needed. Another tip, that we encountered on this particular trip was …do not pack binoculars! Not in suitcase, not carry on, just don’t take them. When we firsts arrived in Jordan my bag did not arrive on the carousal . So our guy from Exoticca went and found it, and then had to come get me to go back and open it, and as soon as I got the zipper half opened, a guy reached in and grabbed the binoculars! I was in that tiny, stinky, cigarette smelling room for probably 20 minutes while they took pictures, sent them to people, sent them on to more people, mean while looking them over, handing them off to someone else to look over and on and on this went. Gary was ready to throw them out by the third time at security! We ended up putting them in the camera case in Gary’s suit case, and it wasn’t a problem after that!
Also, both countries are an animal lovers nightmare. Most of the horses, donkeys, camels, etc appeared to be in not the best shape, and for that reason we did not willingly participate in hiring them. Other than the donkeys at Petra, and I told him I wanted to see them, and what kind of shape they were in before I rode one, and all four of them looked well fed, and they had actually been groomed. The dogs are everywhere. Obviously some had owners, as they wore collars, but most we saw did not. One dog, obviously had an owner, and to protect the dog, it wore a collar with nails sticking out of it so if another dog attacked it, it was able to defended. So Sad. The day we went across the High Dam, there were 2 dogs there, so I went in the bus and brought out my stale bun, others soon followed. One dog was so thin, and so scared, broke my heart. I know not all countries treat animals as we do in the western world, hell, we have people that are pretty ignorant when it comes to animals. Its just sad to see SO many that are homeless.
They don’t appear to be into recycling in either of the countries either, the garbage is everywhere! It doesn’t matter if you are out in the country, or in the city. I know a couple of times I was actually looking for a garbage can for a water bottle, and they are few and far between. But one day! All these things take time and money, and there are some campaigns popping up here and there.
If you like haggling these are the countries for you! They may start at $500. Egyption pounds, and by the time they follow you the price drops to 100 in a short period of time. And there are all the fraud places saying they are selling authentic Alabaster etc. but you know when they drop the prices like they do, you are buying an authentic Egyptian Rock! There are plenty of stores, markets and factories that do sell authentic, but believe me, they are not grabbing you off the street to purchase it. Some get very aggressive, and its hard to get away from them, they will almost corral you so you can’t get away. It was not pleasant dealing with them, and at times, it was unbearable! Normally when I go to a country with a different language I learn a couple phrases. Being muslim countries, learning how to ask for beer really wasn’t a priority, but I did say “La Shukran” 492 times a day (No Thankyou)
Would I recommend Jordan and Egypt? Hell Yeah! It really was a bucket list trip. Both countries have such amazing history, and of course I learned so much about the people and the customs. While I was waiting for my phone in the lobby in Jordan a family came in from Saudi Arabia. He was dressed to the hilt, as were his wives(?) Of course their faces were covered, but you can see the smiles through their eyes. He came and talked to me, and then as he knew about as much English as I knew Arabic, he called for one of the door men to interpret. He made 3 of his children come and shake my hand and say Welcome! He was thrilled that I was from Canada, or as they all call it “Canada Dry”. We spoke back and forth for about 10 minutes. It was quite the experience. Soon his family went upstairs, and he left in a car.
And going on “tours”? This is our 3rd tour, and we do enjoy them. It is especially important in countries where you do not speak the language, it can be a huge barrier as we’ve found out wandering without a guide in some places. It is an opportunity to meet people from all over the world, and we’ve stayed in touch with many of those good people. We may never see many of them again, but ya never know when our paths shall cross again. Of course you meet some, shall I say different people too, but its all part of the experience, and the adventure, and that people is what we travel for. I’ll likely share a few more photos on FB in the next little while, but for now…the story has been told.
Not only has this trip inspired me to watch more documentaries, and read more about these two countries, It has also inspired me to start looking at another trip, maybe English speaking?
Well this is a little late! Found out I didn’t “publish” this back in 2019!
Now that we are planning, and about to embark on yet another adventure I thought I would post it before it gets totally lost out there in Cyber space!
Heading for a great Canadian trip to the Arctic Ocean with our good friends and travel companions, the Wilsons! We actually bought the citation camper from them, and anxious to see how their new digs work! First part of the journey will take us from Chetwynd to Terrace to visit with friends and relatives. Then from Terrace to Prince Rupert where we will catch the Alaska ferry to Haines Alaska, head north and go across the Top of the World Highway to Dawson City, and then up the Dempster to Tuktoyuktuck. Couldn’t have asked for better weather or better companions for the trip! Once in a lifetime, as was the swim at midnight in the arctic Ocean!
This trip was approximately 5000 km, which includes the return trip to Dawson City from the Dempster Junction as we were not able to get fuel there! It was approximately 620 km on the ferry, which was such a relaxing way to travel, and see so much of the coast, even in the clouds and rain it was spectacular.
I hope you enjoy the photo gallery I put together of the trip. It really was a trip of a lifetime, and I don’t think there are too many other places in the world where the views are as spectacular as these were.
Stay Tuned |For our next adventure beginning February 16th, 2022………
Final stretch back into Canada, Hermiston Or. to Grand Forks BC, a 285 mile stretch of grassland and highway. From Hermiston we continued to follow hwy 395 for 103 km, and then turned north onto hwy 21 at Lind, which took us right into Grand Forks. This drive today reminded me of driving across Saskatchewan! Straight for miles and miles, then what appears to be for no reason, a turn in the road, then straight again. Several miles from the Columbia River the road woke us up again as we went up over the hills and down into the valley to the Columbia River, where we crossed the river on the Keller River Ferry. We could have continued up the road, and crossed at Grand Coulee, but we’ll save that for our next trip.
A very quick and convenient way to get across, and as its part of hwy 21, its free! The drive was pretty uneventful, and I all but fell asleep a couple times! We arrived at Gary’s Brother and Sister-in-laws in GF late afternoon and spent a couple nights with them catching up on the events since Christmas. Then we were off again for the next leg of the trip North to Blue River BC for the night, making a stop in Kelowna for lunch with my brother. With piles of snow everywhere and below zero temperatures there were no RV sites to be found open, so we elected to stay at the Glacier Mountain Lodge in Blue River, it was a 592 km day. The hotel was full of snowmobilers and the next morning we woke to the sound of them getting their machines fueled up, and geared up to hit the mountains…but it wasn’t too early, it was time to get moving ourselves. It was a beautiful cloudless day, I’m sure they would have a blast sledding in the spring like weather. Back in BC we were rewarded with the beautiful mountains, the rushing rivers and fortunately still NO snow on the roads! It was fantastic driving. Then we crossed into Alberta, arriving at our daughters place in Teepee creek early evening, close to 500 km behind us for the day. The Grandchildren were just about as excited to see us as what we were to see them!
We spent Saturday night, and Easter Sunday with our family and friends at Teepee Creek, and then headed home Easter Monday, it was time to go home…and get back into the real world.
Since our first road trip (4 states in 2 weeks) I’ve really enjoyed the concept of just flying by the seat of our pants. We did what we wanted when we came across things, and when we were done for the night we got a motel room. But traveling with our accommodations on our back was a little different. First of all, when we first left Canada, it was not nice, it was freezing hard at night, and so packing of food was not a good idea…found that out the hard way. Secondly, we left too early for many of the RV sites to be open in Canada, and some were closed in the Northern States as well. Although we were only in two hotels on the way down and one on the way back, it would have been nice to just stay in the camper the whole time. Packing up and going into a hotel was a pain. Many of the things we wanted to see and do were not open at all at this time of year, so WHEN we do it again, I think we’ll wait that extra month, or plan to go further south for longer. Also I think making reservations at specific spots, at least a couple days in advance would be a smart idea. Takes the worry out of “where to stay” especially if there is no Walmart in the area. Was never a huge problem, but would have been easier with reservations. Which of course means, having some type of 2 – 3 day itinerary on the go, which wouldn’t be bad either. The last several days of the trip were a bit boring, with little to be seen, or done. We hauled the barbeque down and back, without ever staying in one place long enough to sit back and enjoy, which is no ones fault but our own. We survived a month together in an 8 foot camper, and our marriage is still intact, life is good. I vow to learn and explore from start to finish next trip, and eager to keep learning as we go, we’ll make new blunders because that’s part of the adventure, but for now, we’ll just make sure there will be a next time!
The drive today was 416 km. It was a long day, straight roads and not much to see but farmland, cows, more lakes and the occasional small farm community. We passed into Oregon, and went half way up the state before stopping. The sun was bright, for the most part, and although we encountered some wind, and a few raindrops there was nothing of significance. Goose lake is in both California and Oregon. It is considered a pluvial lake, which is a body of water that accumulates due to water availability due to changes in temperature or precipitation, rather than rivers or creeks flowing into, or out of it. Again high concentrations of salt accumulate on the shore lines as the water evaporates. It was obviously high water as you could see farmers fences a long way out in the water, and the water fowl was abundance.
The next beautiful lake we came to Lake Abert. With the lake on one side, and cliffs on the other, it was a spectacular drive