If you search back a month or so you’ll see my report on the train journey southwards to Aswan from Cairo – a seat in an overnight train packed full of families and the like. To wake in the morning (after very little sleep of course – two hours if lucky) and see we were moving along the Nile was amazing. Just as amazing was to see the effect of the great river on the land, because to go more than 100 metres away at some points either side of Nile is to find yourself in desert. THAT’S what the Nile river means to Egypt.
Aswan was a dusty, brown city. We were told that the average number of days with rain per year was one. It was actually pretty believable as we found our way to our hotel (I think recommended by Canadian Stacey) and we sank into our beds for a number of hours. We had asked at the reception to be put in touch with Captain Thomas, who had a boat he took visitors on up the Nile most of the way to Luxor. By lunch time the heat was at its peak, and that was about 44 degrees celcius at a guess. Well above forty.
So sleeping at that time is pretty much what everyone in Aswan did. At fourish we woke up and explored the interesting little town of Aswan. The Nile was its life, shade was a godsend and we must have found something to eat. In the evening we met Captain Thomas, we wanted to leave as soon as we could, I think he planned to sail after two nights, if he could find enough people.
So the next day was mostly relaxing, Captain Thomas returned, we had enough people for the early morning start the next day. We had six or eight I think on our boat, a simple sail boat with a shaded deck area and cushions to make it a little comfy. We spent two days and nights on the Nile, it was chilled and awesome, it was also my 25th birthday – a good one, a good place to have a birthday indeed!
I remember it being so relaxing, the only issues being when large cruise ships passed us and we bobbed up and down a bit. It’s not recommended, but I did take a dip in the Nile River too. Being on the water makes such a difference in temperature. Whilst it’s still over forty, the water cools you down and it feels about 10 degrees cooler. Then, on the third day we left the boat and we saw a couple of temples before getting a van to Luxor.
Luxor had a really nice hotel actually, nicer than the one I mentioned in Alexandria. Four beds in the room meant we were all paying less than 10 bucks, but this was easily the cleanest hotel we had in Egypt. And on the roof, a great restaurant.
There is plenty to see and do in Luxor. The Valleys of the Kings and Queens, and the amazing Karnak Temple which is actually in Luxor. It’s wonderful to explore – it’s so big, up and across ways! A great place to lose yourself in. The Valley of the Kings was paired with the Valley of the Queens in a tour from Luxor (they are close by but not in the town itself). A tour is really a sensible option and we did a backpackers’ tour so it wasn’t expensive but still excellent.
You don’t have to go far to see how Egypt is so much desert! Wow. We started with the Colossi of Memnon and these giant statues hold significance for me, because my film in the camera ran out there. I sat down and changed it, snapped the Colossi and got back on the bus. I left the roll of film there, as well as my Lonely Planet Egypt! The book I didn’t care about too much, it had proven to be very unreliable and we only had a couple of days left, but the film had all my shots of the Pyramids, Aswan and the Nile.
Still, my friend had a few but he didn’t take as many as I did. The valleys are where you’ll find the tombs of old monarchs, and they are fascinating and really make one understand how thrilling archaeology can be. This time we got to go inside a few. It’s the sort of experience that’s hard to retell, it’s just something you have to see for yourself.
After Luxor, it was the day train back to Cairo, and two nights there before I flew out – Greg flying out the night before. I bought a fez on my last day in Cairo and checked out a few markets and ate a few falafels. Egypt had been a dream really, and for the first time I really could see the advantage of travelling with someone in such a place. It cuts the hassle in half and you can laugh about it afterwards. And everywhere we went, there were people hassling us to buy something!
Now though, it was time for a change of pace, it was time for Europe. I flew from Cairo to Munich to see family, and begin the proper European section of my trip. So… that’s where I’ll begin next time!