Day 1 - Sunday October 20. 2019
Oslo - Copenhagen - Cairo
After being invited to haggis and whisky on Saturday evening, I got up at 08:30 on Sunday morning. Everything was made ready to be packed in the suitcase and the sack. The question was whether they were large enough to accommodate everything. It should turn out that they were, there was not much free space left though. I had a simple breakfast, did a number of other small tasks that had to be done before I left and then it was time to leave in the rain. I strolled down to the bus stop and took the bus down to the main road Østre Aker. Here I got over on the other side, and after a bit of waiting I could get on the airport bus to Gardermoen Airport.
Arriving at Gardermoen, I met the guys and we checked in and went through the security check. Inside, I managed to get a few dollars, even though the card limit meant that I did not get as much as I wanted. But it was not that far away, after all.
Then we found the gate and we had a beer while we waited for departure. The plane was packed and thus got somewhat delayed to Copenhagen, but at the same time we had been informed that the next plane also was delayed. Arriving in Copenhagen, we got something to eat and a beer, while we waited for the next flight. Then we went to the gate where we met the two ladies who made up the rest of the group.
Then we boarded the plane to Cairo about an hour and a half late. We found our seats and sat for the most part and dozed off on the way down. However, there was dinner service about halfway with some spicy meatballs, a bit a la Turkish meatloaf. There was no medicine, as no alcohol was served on board. Quiet and calm journey, as long as the boy in the seat behind did not kick in the back of my chair. Something he did at times during large parts of the journey.
Once in Cairo, it was first the purchase of a visa, something we thought happened in the passport control, but it turned out to be a separate hatch before the control .... We eventually got through and were then greeted by an agent for the state travel agency. He was supposed to help us through, but, but ... There was also a bit of confusion as to where our suitcases would be caming, but this too we eventually found out. After waiting a few minutes, the bags arrived and we were able to get all the way through. Outside we met Ali who was our guide on the trip - the same as we had had in Morocco - and then we were driven into the city center to the Steigenberger Hotel next to Tahir square. Here we were checked in and then we went to our room. After all, the clock had already passed eleven and it had been a long day. As usual, I ended the evening in the room by writing today's text in my diary and then I went to bed.
Egypt is a well-known holiday country with its historical treasures such as temples, tombs and pyramids. A country that many want to be able to visit at least once in their lives and see the many beautiful monuments. It had been on our wish list for many years, but now we were finally to experience this in real life.
Egypt's history is one of the world's oldest and most stable. It goes back further than the history of most countries. Civilization in Egypt originated in the 1000 km long Nile Valley. Along the narrow, fertile banks of the river Nile grew an astonishingly stable civilization that lasted for 3500 years, from around 3200 BC. and up to 300 AD. Monuments from ancient Egypt are the great pyramid complexes after the pharaohs and the great sphinx, giant monuments that impress even the people of today. Without the Nile, Egypt would have been a lifeless desert. The Nile was and is the basis of all life in Egypt, its main road for transport and the only efficient water source in a country where the annual rainfall does not exceed 5 cm. The river flows from Lake Victoria in the heart of Africa and from the southern border of Egypt it enters a long and narrow valley. Before the Aswan Dam was completed in 1971, rain and meltwater from the mountains of Ethiopia caused the Nile to swell every year in August. It flooded most of the long Nile Valley and scattered deposits that were left behind when the water receded. In this fertile sediment, the Egyptian farmers cultivated their grain for more than 7,000 years. The ancient Egyptians called the fertile land "the black land" and all other land, the desert, the "red land". The first represented life, everything outside represented death. In the realm of death, the mighty pyramids were built. The pharaohs ruled Egypt relatively stably for thousands of years. In 525 BC. a Persian king marched in and conquered the country. Two centuries later, in 332 BCE, Greco-Macedonian Alexander the Great conquered Egypt, and after his death, one of his generals, Ptolemy I Soter, took over. as king and introduced the Ptolemaic dynasty that lasted until the Roman Empire conquered Egypt in 30 BC. Christianity first spread to Egypt, ending the thousand-year-old tradition of Egyptian religion and the ancient temples fell into ruins. Egypt was invaded and reconquered in the period 639-642 by Muslim Arabs. Muslim rulers dominated by the Islamic caliphate held control of Egypt for the next six centuries with Cairo as their headquarters under the Fatimids. A brief French invasion and occupation took place in 1798, led by Napoléon Bonaparte. British rule began in 1882 when the British defeated the Egyptian army at Tel El Kebir and retained control until 1952 when the Egyptian revolution made Egypt a republic.
Day 2 - Monday October 21. 2019
Cairo - Pyramids in Giza and The Egyptian Museum
Then it was time for the first day of excursion on the tour. I got up at 6:30, took a shower and did my morning care. Then it was down and having breakfast with the rest of the group at 7:00. Back in the room after breakfast, I put my valuables in the safe and was ready for departure, which was scheduled to 08:00.
We were not a large group concisting of only 5 people and the guide Ali, so we had a minivan at our disposal that drove us to Giza and to the pyramids. Ali told various things about the pyramids and the pharaohs and their dynasties, about the work of building a pyramid, the lives and livelihoods of ordinary people, etc. This while we walked around the Pyramid of Kheops and into the museum for the Sun Boat. Then further down to the Sphinx. It is difficult to write about the pyramids in this way, it is best to experience them on your own!
The pyramids of Egypt are pyramid-shaped stone structures from ancient Egypt. As of 2008, 138 pyramids were registered in Egypt. Most of the pyramids were built as tombs for the country's pharaohs (kings) and their families during the periods of the Old and New Kingdoms. In May 2011, it was reported that satellite images had revealed the existence of another 17 pyramids, which have been lost. The lost pyramids were discovered along with more than 1,000 tombs and 3,000 ancient settlements. The oldest known Egyptian pyramids have been found at Saqqara, northwest of the city of Memphis. The oldest of these is the Djoser Pyramid (built in the period 2630–2611 BC) from the third dynasty. This pyramid and its surrounding complex were designed by the architect Imhotep, and are generally regarded as the world's oldest monumental structure, constructed of hewn, planed block stone. An estimate of the number of workers who participated in the construction ranges from a few thousand, twenty thousand and up to one hundred thousand. The most famous pyramids are the Pyramid Complex at Giza, at a plateau at Giza outside Egypt's capital Cairo. The Pyramid of Cheops is the largest of the Egyptian pyramids, and is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the World that still exists.
The shape of the pyramid is believed to represent the original hill (earth mound) from which the ancient Egyptians imagined that the earth was created. The shape of the pyramid is believed to represent the sun's descending sunbeams, and most of the pyramids were decorated with highly reflective, white limestones to give them a shiny appearance that could be seen from a long distance. While there is general agreement that pyramids were grave monuments, there is still disagreement about the particular theological principles that may have given rise to them. All Egyptian pyramids were built on the west bank of the Nile, which was where the setting sun was associated with the realm of the dead in Egyptian mythology.
The Sphinx of Giza is one of the most famous monuments in Egypt. It is a colossal statue from ancient Egypt that is part of the Giza Necropolis, an archeological pyramid and temple complex on the Giza Plateau near Giza, about 25 km southwest of Cairo city center. The statue is carved out of the bedrock of limestone as a monolith. It is 73.5 meters long, 6 meters wide, and 20 meters high. The sculpture is shaped like a sphinx, a fabled creature with a lion's body and human head, and lies like a guard at the eastern entrance to the royal necropolis. The sphinx probably shows the stylized portrait of the pharaoh who had it built, Khefren or Kheops (Greek distortions for the Egyptian names Khafra and Khufu), with a clasp on his head. The monument was completed around the year 2500 BC, during the Ancient Kingdom of ancient Egypt.
The Sun Boat
The Khufu ship is the largest, oldest and best-preserved vessel from ancient times. It stands in a museum near the south side of the Pyramid of Cheops. The Khufu ship is of a type called a sun boat. Atet was the name of the most famous sun boat in Egyptian religion. It belonged to the god Ra. In such a context, the Khufu ship may have had a symbolic function as a sun boat carrying the dead pharaoh to his next life. Many such vessels for ritual use never received water under the hull, but details of the Khufu ship show signs to the contrary. It is therefore possible that the boat carried Pharaoh Khufu's embalmed body from Memphis, the capital of that time, to Giza. Others have suggested that Pharaoh Khufu used the vessel as a pilgrimage ship to visit sacred sites along the Nile, and that it was then buried for him so that he could use it in the afterlife.
After the pyramids we went shopping and bought shirts and t-shirts in Egyptian cotton and then there was lunch at SunZ in the Giza district. The food was a buffet with Egyptian dishes. On top of that we could get alcoholic beer with the food - so it was a tourist place ... The food was good and varied and the beer tasted good too ...
After eating we went back to the hotel and left our belongings, and then we headed to the Egyptian Museum. Here we had a walk around in about an hour with a lot of exciting things to see. To be able to really see it all, you need at least 2-3 days, probably a week. So with that in mind, we only could see some of the most important - some of the oldest cases, cases that were typical in one way or another - material, time period, person, effects, etc., and part of Tutankhamun's grave parts, as well as an exhibition about a rich married couple Yuja and Thuja and the findings in their graves.
The Egyptian Museum
The Historical Museum in Cairo, also known as the Egyptian Museum, houses a large collection of antiquities and mummies from ancient Egypt. It is the largest collection in the world of antiques from this period. Much of this is in stock, but a representative selection is in the exhibition.
The current museum building stands on Tahir Square and was established there in 1902. Before that time, the museum had been relocated several times, as a result of space problems and poor location. Today, a new and more modern museum is under construction closer to the pyramids, on the Giza plateau. It is expected to be completed shortly.
The museum contains 120,000 small and large objects. Several pharaohs from the newer dynasties are shown, with the contents of the tomb of Tutankhamun as the highlight. Annually there are around 2.5 million visitors. On the ground floor of the museum, a large collection of papyrus and coins is displayed. Most papyruses have been reduced to smaller fragments as time have made its impact. Among the languages used on the papyruses are Greek, Latin, Arabic and hieroglyphs from ancient Egypt. The coins are made of different elements, such as gold, silver and bronze. Ancient trade brought many types of coins into Egypt, such as Greek, Roman, and Islamic. Furthermore, there are several objects from the New Kingdom, the period between 1550 and 1070 BC. These are usually larger objects, such as statues, tables and coffins. Among other things, objects from the burial chambers of Tutmosis III, Tutmosis IV, Amenophis II, Hatshepsut and Maherpen are displayed. Several objects are from the Valley of the Kings.
After the museum we stopped by a coffee shop and had a drink, coffee or tea or juice, before returning to the hotel. Now we had a break of barely 2 hours before we should gather again.
Before leaving for the evening program, we gathered at the bar and ordered gin & tonic, but unfortunately it was club soda instead of tonic of which there was nothing left. It got a little tame when the medicine was not there ... Then we went to the subway and took this one a few stations. It was crowded and cramped. Then we took an unofficial taxi of a minivan. The traffic was heavy, so it took its time. Arriving in the old quarter of Cairo, we bought tickets to a dance performance - a Sufi dance. It was only half an hour until they were to start, so we went in and found the best places we could find. Much of the performance was a man dancing around and around and around for almost an hour, with an orchestra that was partly behind and playing and singing and partly was involved in dancing. Both before and after, there were also a little more pure musical elements.
Sufi dance is a type of meditation that developed through the Islamic direction of Sufism. The dance is a type of trance where you do pirouettes continuously. Some Islamic denominations still use Sufi dance for meditation, while in many places it has become pure performances. Usually the dancer is still a man in the Islamic world, while there may also be women in western countries. While the tradition is a plain shirt, usually white, it has become common in Egypt with a lot of colors.
We went out a bit in the last piece of music and found a new unofficial taxi that took us back to the hotel - almost. We got off and found a restaurant called Felfela where we entered and had dinner. This time we had a mixed grill with a lot of good meat and a bottle of Egyptian beer. It took a while before the food arrived, but it tasted good. After dinner it was relatively late and we were going to get up early the next day, so we just went back to the hotel where we each went to ours. For me, it was the usual routine to finish writing today's text in the diary and then go to bed.
Day 3 - Tuesday October 22. 2019
Alexandria - The Library and the Citadel
This day the clock rang at 06:00. I had slept well, except for the last hour. I got up and did my usual morning care including a shower. Then I went downstairs and had breakfast with the guys at 6:30. After breakfast and the last remnants of the morning care, we were ready for departure to Alexandria at 07:30. We had a more comfortable bus that day since the bus drive would take about 4 hours.
On the way we stopped at a roadside inn and had a leg stretch and some a coffee. Otherwise, the hours on the road were partly spent snoozing a bit or Ali talking a bit about Egypt and Alexandria. Now it went straight to Alexandria, so we arrived at 12 o'clock.
Alexandria, popularly called the "Pearl of the Mediterranean", is the second largest city and a significant economic center of Egypt. It stretches for about 32 km along the coast of the Mediterranean in the northern part of the country. Its low altitude at the Nile Delta makes the area very vulnerable at rising sea levels. Alexandria is Egypt's largest port and handles around 80 percent of Egypt's imports and exports. It is also an important industrial center due to its natural gas and oil pipelines from Suez. The city is also important for the tourism industry.
Alexandria was founded around a small, ancient Egyptian city around 331 BC. of Alexander the Great. It became an important center of Hellenistic civilization and remained the capital of Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine Egypt for nearly 1,000 years until the Muslim conquest changed its position and progress in 641 AD. The new rulers created a new capital at Fustat which was later absorbed into Cairo. Hellenistic Alexandria was best known for the lighthouse on Faros, one of the seven wonders of the world in antiquity; its large library (the largest in the ancient world, now replaced by a modern one); and the Necropolis (the catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa) which was one of the seven wonders of the world in the Middle Ages. Alexandria was the second most powerful city in the ancient world after Rome. Ongoing maritime archeology at the city's harbor, which began in 1994, has revealed details of the site from before the arrival of Alexander the Great when a city called Rhakotis existed here. It has also provided details about the time during the Ptolemaic dynasty.
From the end of the 18th century, Alexandria again became an important center for international shipping and one of the most important trade centers in the world, both because it benefited from the easy land connection between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, and the lucrative trade in Egyptian cotton (Gossypium barbadense). Due to Alexandria's attractiveness as an international center for academic learning and trade, the city has, until today, where it has changed, had a cosmopolitan population and a cultural diversity.
The Royal Library of Alexandria is said to have been the largest library in antiquity. The library was linked to the Museion, which was probably the largest intellectual institution in antiquity. The Museion was a place of music and poetry, containing a philosophical school and a library as in Plato's School of Philosophy, as well as a gallery of sacred writings.
The sources are fragmented and often contradict each other, which means that researchers do not agree on, for example, exactly when the library was established, how many books it contained, who used it and when the library was destroyed. There seems to be agreement that there was far-reaching continuous intellectual activity in Alexandria for at least 900 years, from around 300 BC. to the 600s AD. On the other hand, it is uncertain both how many libraries existed in the city during this period, and how long the large, royal library in Alexandria was of the same size as in the heyday of the 200s and 100s BC.
Although the large book collections of antiquity have disappeared, they may have been important in preserving the copies we have today, but this is a complex question that historians such as Blum and Canfora may give somewhat different assessments of. Alphabetical order of books can be traced back to the library of Alexandria and its first leader Zenodot.
In 2003, a new library was opened in Alexandria, Bibliotheca Alexandrina, designed by the Norwegian architectural firm Snøhetta, in the hope that it would be able to live up to the glory of its predecessor.
Archaeologists have made excavations in parts of Brucheion, in 2004 finds were made that may have originated from the Museion. It was found that there may have been 13 lecture halls that in total may have had room for 5,000 students.
The first stop in Alexandria was at the new library, which is known to have been designed by the architects from Snøhetta. We had a tour inside the library with a local guide. The building was fascinating and had many small details. There were also several museums in the building, but we did not visit these as it cost extra. After the visit to the library, it was time for lunch. We continued along the main street along the water to a fish restaurant called Fish Market, where you could also buy seafood and take home. We guys each had our grilled sea bass with different side dishes. The fish tasted very good. Then we went on and had a quick stop at the Citadel, but without entering. Here Ali also showed us where the old lighthouse had stood in antiquity. Some of us wanted to take a picture of the city, but there were buildings in the way, until we snuck up on a footbridge where we got to take our pictures.
Then we started on the way back to Cairo. Even this time we had a stop for toilet visits and some hot drinks. Back in Cairo we met the traffic which was a total chaos. It had been raining in Cairo and several tunnels had been flooded, which had created chaos. In an attempt to be clever, we drove off an exit earlier, but it turned out not to help much. The traffic was very slow moving. We could drive a few meters, and then it stopped again. Motorists used the entire width of the road so the cars were only centimeters apart. And still there was someone who had to change line. Which did not help in the chaos. After a long time we had moved so much that we got through. But to get to the hotel, we had to get into the chaos again. This since the streets were one-way. One could only notice that the atmosphere was hot among the drivers, so when a taxi drove into the pedestrian plate and started backing towards our car, there was a slightly heated discussion between the drivers. Fortunately, without the cars hitting each other.
Back at the hotel we had a light dinner and then it was time for some sleep. We were supposed to wake up at 4am, so no late night this time. Up in the room, I wrote down today's events in the form of key words, took a shower, checked in how things were going with Hereford, who played a match with 1-1 at the break. (However, they lost 3-2 in the end.) And then i just went to bed.
Day 4 - Wednesday October 23. 2019
Aswan - The dams and the temple of Isis
Wake-up call was set at 04:00, but it came already at 03:30, since it was raining a lot outside. Better to be safe, so we would be sure to reach the flight. Thus, it was a little easier morning care this day without a shower that I had taken the night before and no breakfast. Just a bag from the hotel with some food upstairs for breakfast on the road. We left at 04:15 from the hotel. It was noticeable that it had rained a lot. On the road there were large ponds and several motorists had a problem and had only left the car on the road. Although it was not the large amount of cars, it went at a leisurely pace due to the water. But we got to the airport eventually and well before departure.
Once there, we checked in on the plane. Since we had some time we could eat some of the breakfast we had brought with us, but my appetite was not particularly great. After a while of waiting, we lined up to get on board the plane, ie the bus that took us out to the plane. We found our seats and spent most of the flight sleeping a bit. And suddenly we had landed in Aswan. Here we got off and found our suitcases. However, Marianne's suitcase had been damaged on the road, which had to be reported immediately. Then it was off for a tour in Aswan.
Aswan is a city in southern Egypt. The city is located on the eastern bank of the Nile at the first cataract of the Nile. Here the river narrows in, splitting into several arms around rocky sections and several islands, including Elefantine, which has given several currents that have made the river more difficult to sail from here. Elephantine had an ancient water level gauge (which was used to calculate the crop in ancient Egypt), but also remains of a Jewish temple. Aswan is located near the large Aswan Dam. Today's current in the river is slow and low all year round due to two large ponds, the last and largest now forming the city's horizon to the south. In ancient times, the annual floods caused the river to be full and fast currents. Ancient references to "autumn boats" were perhaps due to vessels adapted to these powerful currents.
In the history of ancient Egypt, Aswan (Ancient Syene) was for long periods the country's border town to the south, and the city was an important center of trade between north and south. There are many ancient cultural monuments and sights in and around Aswan, including the temple complexes at Elefantine. Aswan, which today is a hectic market town and a tourist center, is located in one of the Earth's driest regions, where several years pass between each rainstorm.
The Aswan dam and Lake Nasser
Aswan Dam is the name of two dams across the Nile near the city of Aswan in Egypt. The first was built by the British in the period 1898–1902 and was approx. 40 meters high. The second dam, which was built in the period 1960-70 south of the first, was originally to be constructed with technological and economic assistance from the United States. However, this aid was withdrawn in 1956, when Egypt recognized the People's Republic of China. The then Soviet Union came in instead and provided the necessary assistance for the dam to be built.
The dam is 114 meters high and over 3.6 km long. When the water level is highest, Lake Nasser, was for long the world's largest artificial lake, is approx. 475 km long and consists of almost 170 billion m³ - or 170 km³ - water. This is named after Egypt's then president, Gamal Abdel Nasser.
First we were driven to the big dam and watched this while Ali told a bit of the story behind. And we also took a look at Lake Nasser at the top of the dam. Then we drove to the Isis Temple. That is, the last bit we were transported by boat since the temple is located on an island in the Nile. As usual, Ali explained the story behind the temple while we toured it. Many fine hieroglyphs on most walls were a mighty sight.
The temple of Isis at Philea
Philea is an island in the middle of the Nile and the ancient site of an Egyptian temple complex in Upper Egypt in honor of the god Isis. These surroundings have previously been flooded since the initial construction of the Aswan Low Dam in 1902. The temple complex was later dismantled and reassembled on nearby Agilkia Island as part of UNESCO's Nubia campaign to protect this and other ancient buildings before the completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1970.
After returning to the bus, it was time to check in on the boat, because now we were going on a Nile cruise, however, departure was not until well into the next day. We had lunch on board and after some time to ourselves it was ready for the afternoon program. Again we went out in a smaller boat up the Nile. Along the river between smaller islands and islets, we snuck up, while we got to see a lot of different birds and the life along the river. Of birds we came across both an eagle and a falcon, as well as kingfisher, partridge, Egyptian goose, cormorant and various herons. After driving uphill for a while at a leisurely pace, we arrived at a Nubian village. Here we visited a Nubian family who, among other things, had crocodiles as pets! One slightly larger and 3 smaller, of which the smallest was taken up so we could keep it. It had incredibly soft leather on its belly. Even if it was small, one had to be careful with the mouth and make sure that it was closed. Finally we got a cup of tea and it was possible to buy souvenirs. On the way back to the cruise ship, Ali and the ladies jumped off at the Old Cataract hotel to have a drink there, while we guys were shuttled back.
We relaxed a bit in the rooms and then it was time for some medicine. Based on the price list, a Gin & Tonic would cost 532 Egyptian pounds, equivalent to about 250 Norwegian kroner. We therefore went for a cheaper alternative in the form of Gin fizz this time. After the drink, which was probably the most tame, it was time for dinner. We had got up very early and were also going to get up early the next day as well due to the decition for an extra excursion to Abu Simbel. So after dinner we all went to our rooms. For my part, I was so tired that I just went straight to bed.
Day 5 - Thursday October 24. 2019
Abu Simbel and Cruise on the Nile with Kom Ombo
This day it was ready for an extra excursion to Abu Simbel. Since it took 4 hours to drive down and the boat was scheduled to leave at 14:00, we had to get up early this morning as well. We were woken up at 03:52, ie 04:00. Got dressed and left at 04:30. After driving through Aswan we came to the desert road where we had to wait until 05:00 until the road opened. However, it was not long to wait before something around 200 cars, minibuses and buses drove south towards Abu Simbel. On the way we had a stop at a simple roadhouse for a leg stretch and toilet visits. Then we drove further south. During the trip we all sat and doze off in our seats.
Abu Simbel is an archeological site that includes two massive stone temples in southern Egypt on the west bank of the Nile about 290 km southwest of Aswan. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known as the "Nubian Monuments".
The two twin temples were carved into the very mountainside under Pharaoh Ramses II in the 13th century BC. which the pharaoh had built as an everlasting memory of himself and his queen Nefertari, and as a reminder of the alleged victory in the war at Kadesh, and also to humiliate its Nubian neighbors. The entire complex was moved in the 1960s in connection with the construction of the Aswan Dam and has become one of Egypt's biggest tourist attractions.
Once there, we began the tour of the two temples that together made up Abu Simbel. The great temple was in honor of Ramses II and his victory over the Hittites. (However, the Hittites have also proclaimed victory ...) The small temple was in honor of Ramses II's favorite wife Nefertati. The whole of Abu Simbel had been moved 60 meters higher and 120 meters away to get away from the water in Lake Nasser. There were many amazing drawings and hieroglyphs in both temples. This was worth the visit and the long trip.
After the tour we gathered again and went to the bus to return to the boat in Aswan. Also this time we had a leg stretch and toilet stop at the same roadside inn. However, shorter this time. We had a boat to reach. When we arrived in Aswan we encountered some traffic which also delayed us somewhat, so when we arrived the boat we had 5 minutes left to depart! However, it should be said that they would wait until everyone had gotten on board and we were not the last one. Well on board we had lunch and then some time on our own afterwards.
I went back to the cabin and took a shower, relaxed a bit and was then ready to go up on the sun deck. Kristen was already sitting at a table in the shade. I sat down at the same table and then we just sat there and relaxed under the sun protection. Once in a while I took pictures of the Nile and the surroundings. Eventually Geir came up as well. We still relaxed, now also with a beer each. A little later it was afternoon tea that was served both in the bar and on the sun deck.
At sunset we had reached Kom Ombo where we were to have an excursion ashore to a temple dedicated to Sekora - the crocodile god. Now most of the light was gone, so it became difficult not to take pictures without the flash, but since no one complained we could turn the flash on. We had the usual round of Ali explaining the story behind the temple and we took pictures. After the tour, we stopped by a museum attached to the temple. Here they had many embalmed crocodiles, some quite large. Then I went back to the boat, while the others ended with a visit to a coffee shop.
Kom Ombo Temple is an unusual double temple built during the rule of the Ptolemy dynasty in the Egyptian city of Kom Ombo. Some extensions were made in the Roman period. The building is unique due to its 'double' design which meant that there were courtrooms, halls, holy places and other rooms duplicated for two sets of gods. The southern half of the temple was dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek, the fertility god and creator of the world along with Hathor and Khonsu. Meanwhile, the northern part of the temple was dedicated to the falcon god Haroeris, also known as Horus the Elder, along with "Tasenetnofret (sister of God, a special form of Hathor) and Panebtawy (Ruler of the two lands)". The temple is atypical because it has a perfect symmetry along the main axis.
The temple was begun by Ptolemy VI (180-145 BC) at the beginning of his reign and expanded by other Ptolemies, most notably by Ptolemy XIII (47-44 BC), who built the inner and outer halls with roofs supported by pillars. The scene that appears on the surface of the back wall is particularly interesting, and "is probably a set of surgical instruments."
Much of the temple has been destroyed by the Nile, earthquakes, and later by builders who used stones from it for other projects. Some of the reliefs on the inside had their faces removed by the Copts, who once used the temple as a church. All the temple buildings on the south side of the plateau were cleared and restored by De Morgan in 1893.
A few of the 300 crocodile mummies found nearby are on display inside the temple museum.
After everyone had boarded the boat again and we had started the journey further up the Nile, it was time for Cocktail party in the bar with free drinks (though limited number). We met the whole group and had a drink. Eventually the music got quite loud, so we chose to go down for dinner when the dining room opened. Then we had finished our drinks and there were no more left. The food was Egyptian food this evening, so we tried a little of each. And there was absolutely nothing to complain about the food. After dinner we went back to the bar. It was now an Egyptian-style party where guests could dress up if they wished. However, there was not much enthusiasm among our group for such a thing. Several of us finally got our first real medicine in Egypt this evening. However, after first clarifying that the price was 100 Egyptian pounds. The music system went too full and really over what it was built for, so it was not very comfortable to sit at the bar. Some other guests, however, had fun and danced and sang. After drinking our drinks, we retired to our cabins. But the cabins were right under the bar, so we could almost as well have stayed at the bar ... And the trampling of the dance was almost like we were waiting for someone to go through the floor. But we eventually fell asleep.
Day 6 - Friday October 25. 2019
Cruise on the Nile with Idfu
Even this morning we were woken up early, but not before 04:53, ie 05:00 ... I did my usual morning care, though without a shower. Then I met the others in the group and we got off the boat to look at the Temple of Horus in Idfu where the boat was now at the quay. To get to the temple we were transported by horse and cart. With my bad back, this were no highligth. On the contrary.
The Temple of Idfu (Edfu) is a temple ruin from ancient Egypt that was dedicated to the falcon god Horus and is located on the west bank of the Nile in the city of Idfu. In Greco-Roman times this city was known as Apollonopolis Magna after Horus who corresponded to the god Apollo. The complex is one of the best preserved temples in Egypt, and was built in the Ptolemaic period, sometime between 237 and 57 BC. The inscriptions on the walls of the temple have provided important information about the language, myths and religion of the Greco-Roman period in ancient Egypt. In particular, the temple's building texts have "provided details about its construction, and also preserved information about the mythical interpretations of this and all other temples such as the Island of Creation." There are also "important scenes and inscriptions of the Holy Drama associated with the ancient conflict between Horus and Seth."
The temple at Idfu is virtually intact and a very good example of the ancient Egyptian temple. The archaeological significance of the temple and the fact that it is relatively well preserved has made it a tourist destination in Egypt. The many pleasure boats with tourists that go up and down the Nile often stop here. In 2005, the temple received an addition in the form of a visitor center and a parking lot. In 2006, a sophisticated lighting system was opened to attract visitors in the evening to light shows at the temple.
After arriving we had a tour of the temple with Ali telling about it. We were out early and therefore had good opportunities for photos without having to fight for space. We had done away with most of the round trip before large numbers of people came and while the sun rose. The trip back to the boat went with the same horse and carriage that we had used before. This without the trip this time being any better for my back. Back on the boat we went straight down and had breakfast. The boat's departure was set for 07:45 and this happened while we had breakfast. After breakfast, there was relaxation on the boat of your choice. For my part, I lay down to stretch my back and sleep out a bit. A lot of screaming on the outside put a damper on the possibility of sleep, but I did get some sleep. I got up a quarter to eleven, got ready and went up on the sun deck. The boys sat there, each with a beer. I took some pictures of the Nile and then sat down with them. The screaming along the ship's side was still there and turned out to be carpet sellers in small boats. They threw the blankets on board and bet that someone would buy them. After a while we had a new beer and continued the relaxation in the shade of the sunroof on the sun deck. Then it was time for lunch.
After lunch I arranged some things in the cabin before I went up on the sun deck again. I was the first person up and after trying a couple of places I lay down on a sunbed. Eventually the other two boys came along. Half past three it was afternoon tea and then we moved to chairs and tables. A little later we went down to the cabin and had some time on our own before dinner. The boat was now stationary at the harbor where it was to spend the night before we traveled the last stretch into Luxor the next morning.
We guys met at the bar for a medicine before dinner. Then we went down to the restaurant and had dinner. After dinner there was a show with belly dancing. However, the guests were fairly quickly pulled up on stage. And when it was chilly in the room, our whole group chose to leave. Back at the cabin, I started packing my suitcase so I was ready for a quick farewell the next morning. When the music from the bar had calmed down and the belly dancing was over, I was ready to go to bed, had just to finish today's epistle in the diary first.
Day 7 - Saturday October 26. 2019
Luxor with the Valley of the Kings with moore and Light Show in Karnak Temple
Even this day we were woken up early, 05:46 to be precise, ie 06:00. I had done away with much of the packing the night before, so now I just had to pack the final items after the morning care. When I left the cabin, I put the suitcase on the outside, and then I went down to the reception to make up for me. In front of me in the queue was a Dutch lady who thought the bill was wrong. She was given a list of the individual sums and then she had to find out for herself which ones she thought were not hers. Thus, I slipped past her in the queue and got my bill paid. However, I forgot to get my passport out, so I had to return to the queue to get it. And the Dutch lady was still standing there gesturing. However, Geir and I got our passports and left the reception and went down for breakfast. This was the final meal on board, so we ate and then said goodbye to our regular waiter and were ready to head into Luxor.
On the way to Luxor and the hotel we had to make some stops at different sights. The first stop was the Valley of the Kings. Many of the famous pharaohs are buried here, such as Ramses II and Tut Ank Amon. We were transported up and then we had permission to visit 3 burial sites - it was Ramses III, IV and IX. (Tut Ank Amon costs extra.) We went down into the tombs and looked around with large surfaces covered by hieroglyphs that told of the way to the sun (Ra) (ie Paradise). We were out relatively early so we had good opportunities to take pictures. Only a large French group was there at the same time with us. It was powerful to see all the hieroglyphs around, but it got very hot inside the tombs pretty quickly.
The Valley of the Kings
The Valley of the Kings is a valley in Egypt where the pharaohs in the 18th to 20th dynasties, from around 1539 BC. to about 1075 BC, was buried. The first pharaoh to be buried there was Totmose I, and the last was Ramses X or Ramses XI. The most legendary of the tombs is undoubtedly the Tutankhamun. The official name of antiquity was the Great and Majestic Necropolis for Pharaoh's millions of years, life, strength, and health west of Thebes, but it was often called Ta-sekhet-ma'at, "the great field," a reference to fertility and rebirth.
Each grave has several chambers. The largest is KV5, which has over 120 chambers designed for Ramses II's sons. Three of the graves are for animals. Two of these, and an ordinary grave, are no longer known where they are.
Only four tombs are located in the western valley, known as the "Monkey's Cemetery", and of these, only Ay's grave is open to the public. In the east, more are available. Graffiti on the walls testifies that places were an attraction as early as Roman times.
There are also graves for selected people from the upper class and both their and the pharaohs' wives and children. Around the time of Ramses Is, the Valley of the Queens was started, but some queens were later buried with their men.
Geologically, the valley is very varied. The tombs are carved in limestone, which lies in many layers of different quality. This must have created problems for those who prepared the tombs, and archaeologists are now struggling with it. The biggest problem is layers of porous slate, which expands when it attracts water during floods. This has damaged many of the graves.
The valley stands alongside the ruins of Thebes on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The next stop was at an alabaster factory. Here they made different items in alabaster and in other materials. We were explained how a vase / jar was made and how to cut out drawings and hieroglyphs in an alabaster or limestone slab. Then we were served a cup of tea and then it was time for shopping ...
Third stop was at the Temple for pharao Hatshepsut. This temple was a different temple from the traditional one and was wonderfully situated with a mountain all around. We looked at some reliefs and then had a tour, while Ali as usual explained the background of the temple and a little about the queen and the pharaoh Hatshepsut.
Hatshepsut (1507–1458 BC) was the fifth pharaoh of the 18th dynasty in ancient Egypt. She was the second historically confirmed female pharaoh (the first was Sobekneferu), but some other women may also have ruled as Pharaoh's regent in the past, as early as Neithotep around 1600 years earlier.
Hatshepsut came to the throne of Egypt in 1478 BC. She officially ruled with Thutmose III, who had ascended the throne the year before when he was a child, around two years old. Hatshepsut was the first wife of Thutmose II, father of little Thutmose III. Hatshepsut is generally regarded by Egyptologists as one of the most successful pharaohs. She ruled longer than any other woman in any Egyptian dynasty. In the words of the Egyptologist James Henry Breasted, she was "the first great woman in history that we know of."
Hatshepsut was the daughter and only child of Thutmose I and his first wife Ahmose. Her husband Thutmose II was her half-brother as the son of Thutmose I and his second wife Mutnofret (who had the title "Daughter of the King" and was thus probably the daughter of Ahmose I). Hatshepsut and Thutmose II had a daughter named Neferure, but after giving birth to the daughter, Hatshepsut could no longer have any children. When he could not have a son with her, Thutmose II arranged for the father of Thutmose III with a secondary wife, Iset.
The fourth stop was in the Valley of the Workers. Here we saw where the workers who made the tombs in the Valley of the Kings (and Queens) lived. Besides, their own graves were also here. These workers were masters and journeymen in their crafts or administrators and clerks who were responsible for making the tombs. We were also down in the graves of two of the administrators. Here it was a tighter and not so large crypts, but in return the color spectrum in the drawings that were in the burial chamber was very well preserved. So in a way, these tombs were at least as amazing as the tombs of the pharaohs.
The Valley of the Workers
Near the Valley of the Kings you can also find the Valley of the Workers. This is a burial ground and old residence for the workers who worked for the pharaohs. The workers buried here are not the ordinary workers, but those who led the work of digging out and preparing the graves in the Valley of the Kings. The workers were also kept away from the general population to ensure, if possible, that the location of the royal tombs was not known. Since these were workers, the tombs are smaller and not so full of goods and gold, but still with a lot of decorations and hieroglyphs on the ceiling and walls. In addition, these are almost better preserved, as grave robbers have been less interested in these.
The final stop was at Memnon's colossi, which were two large statues of the pharaoh Amenhotep III. These had originally stood in front of a temple, but of the temple there was nothing left.
Then we went into town and had lunch at… After lunch we went to the hotel and checked in. Now it was a few hours at our own disposal, before we were to meet for an event in the evening. I got ready and took a shower. Then I went down to the reception to get internet contact. Net in the room cost extra. But getting in touch with the internet should prove to be difficult. I had a football match to follow! I made myself a beer and kept trying to make contact, but to no avail. Only after the galvanic hour did I get online on my mobile. Well, there should be about a quarter of an hour left of the match, so I logged in. Only then did I learn that the battle had been postponed since it had rained 45 millimeters in 16 hours during the night in Hereford. Along the way, Kristen had also appeared and got himself a beer and Marianne had also come and bought a medicine. I went up again with the laptop to the room and then I could go down again because now it was time to gather for some medicine for us guys as well. We ordered and went out to Marianne and Liv Inger who already were having a medicine each.
After drinking, it was time for departure to the Karnak temple where we were to watch a sound and light show. We went in and found ourselves some places in the crowd. There was no seating so we arranged ourselves as best we could. Then the show began in English. A little later in the show, it was clear why there were no fixed seats, as the whole mass of spectators had to move further inwards in the temple. This was repeated several times until we finally arrived at a kind of arena with some seats with pillows. The whole show was the story of the ancient Egyptian gods and their connection to the temple of Karnak. This is accompanied by a lighting among the temple's various building structures. Pretty cleverly made and a fun show to follow.
After the show we went back to the hotel and had dinner. After dinner it was quite late, so we all went to our rooms. Back in the room, I finished the day's chapter in the diary and then went to bed.
Luxor is a city in Upper Egypt and the provincial capital of the Luxor government. Since Luxor is located on the same site as the ancient capital of Thebes from ancient Egypt, Luxor has regularly been described as "the world's largest outdoor museum" as the ruins of the Karnak temple complex and the Luxor temple are within the modern city. On the opposite side of the Nile River are monuments, temples and tombs on the West Bank necropolis, which includes the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens. Thousands of tourists from all over the world come every year to visit these mighty monuments. Tourism represents a very important contribution to the economic foundation of the modern city.
Luxor was the ancient city of Thebes, the great capital of Upper Egypt during the era of the New Kingdom, and the magnificent city of the god Amon which was later merged with Ra into Amon-Ra. The city was mentioned in ancient Egyptian texts which were washed in the meaning "city of scepter" and also as ipet in the meaning "sanctuary". In later periods the Greeks called it Thebai and the Romans called it Thebæ. Teben was also known as "the city of the hundred gates", sometimes called "southern Heliopolis", Iunu-shemaa in ancient Egyptian, to distinguish it from northern Heliopolis, the city of Iunu, the foremost shrine to the god Ra in the north. The city was also referred to as niw.t which simply means "city", and was one of only three cities in Egypt where this noun was used (the other two were Memphis and Heliopolis); also referred to as niw.t rst, as the southernmost of them.
The Temple of Karnak
Karnak, or actually the temple complex Karnak, is a large mixture of ruins of temple buildings, chapels, pylons (monumental entrances), and other buildings. The complex was once built under the rule of Pharaoh Senus I in the Middle Kingdom (around 2050 BC and 1650 BC) and construction work with various expansions continued until the Ptolemaic Kingdom (300-30 BC). The area around Karnak was the ancient Egyptian Ipet-isut, "the holiest of places", and was the foremost religious center in the 18th dynasty Theban triad with Amun as the supreme god along with his wife Mut and their son Khonsu. The complex was part of the monumental city of Thebes. The Karnak complex has given its name to a nearby modern village, which partly surrounds the temples, which has the Arabic name El-Karnak, 2.5 km north of Luxor.
The Temple of Luxor
The Luxor Temple is a large temple complex from ancient Egypt located on the east bank of the Nile in the city today called Luxor (in ancient times Thebes), probably built in the period 1300 BC, in the era of the new kingdom in Egypt. In Egyptian it was known as ipet resyt, meaning "the southern sanctuary". In Luxor there are six large temple complexes, the fourth on the left bank is known to travelers and in the travel literature such as Goornah, Deir-el-Bahri, the Ramesseum, and the Medinet Habu; while the two temples on the right bank are known as Karnak and Luxor. You arrive from the north and follow a street where there are sphinxes on both sides, like an avenue. At the end of the temple are chapels built by Pharaoh Tuthmosis III. In Roman times the temple and its surroundings were part of the fortress for legionaries and the location of the local Roman authorities.
The temple was probably started by Pharaoh Ramses II. On some of the walls there are battle scenes from Ramses II's military triumphs, especially from the battle of Kadesh. There must also have been six large statues of Ramses II, today only the remains of two of these are left. At the entrance to the temple itself there is an obelisk in pink granite, once there were two, but today the other stands on the Place de la Concorde in Paris where it has stood since 1835.
Day 8 - Sunday October 27. 2019
Luxor with the temples Karnak and Luxor
As we had a very late dinner, the night was an ordeal. My body was working too hard to digest the food and I just lay there twisting. When my legs also had cramping tendencies, I did not get much sleep. We had agreed breakfast at 07:00, but I continued to lie in bed and dropped breakfast that day. I was certainly not hungry. I got up at 07:30, did the usual morning care and was ready for the departure which was set for 08:00.
We gathered in the lobby and then headed to the Karnak temple complex inside Luxor. This was the same temple we had visited the night before with the sound and light show, but it was something else to see it in daylight. Ali explained the story behind the temple (or really the temples) and also showed us some details. We had also received the story the night before. We were out early and escaped the large crowds of tourists. After going round and taking our pictures, we went on to a papyrus workshop and museum. Here Ali explained to us how to make papyrus paper. (It turned out he had previously worked in another department in the workshop.) Then it was to walk around and look and find out what one would buy ... After all the shopping was done and we had something to drink, we went back to the hotel.
Well back we had around 2 hours until lunch. For my part, I went to the room and tried to get some sleep. After about an hour, housekeeping arrived, but they let me have the room for another hour, until one. A little before, I got up and took with me some belongings needed for departure at 13:00 for lunch. We took a taxi into town and ended up at Oum Hashem Main Restaurant. Here we were going to have lunch. And it was really good with lamb shank with various accessories and mango juice and water as a drink. After lunch we went back to the hotel by taxi and had a few hours on our own again. Again I lay down a little. Then I took a shower and wrote in my diary. And then it was ready for the last excursion on this journey.
We first drove to a gold and silver store. It was especially Liv Inger and Marianne who wanted this. And they were also the only ones who was shopping, albeit just a couple of small items. Then we drove to Luxor Temple. Now it was evening and the sun had set, but the temple was lit up. We went as usual on a tour while Ali explained along the way. Now there were a lot of people, so we went in line and it was not always as easy to get some good pictures. After the tour, we guys drove back to the hotel, while Ali and the ladies got off along the way to go to the Winter Palace hotel.
The three of us eventually gathered at the bar and had our medicine. I tried to log in online with the laptop, but without success. However, we got online with the mobiles, but only Kristen managed to get on Lufhansa, but then he checked us all in. Then it was time for dinner. After dinner we each went to our rooms. I packed as much as I could and then I went to bed.
Day 9 - Monday October 28. 2019
Luxor - Cairo - Oslo
Then the day for the journey home had arrived. We were woken at 5am. I did my morning care and finished packing. Then I went down to the front desk and checked out before I finally went upstairs and had breakfast with the guys. Then it was ready for departure to the airport 06:15. We were driven the short way, where there was little traffic along the way, but queue into the airport through the police checkpoints. Once there, it was first through a security check to enter the airport, one queue for women and another one queue for men. Here, a couple of suitcases were randomly examined. Then we checked in, but so far only to Cairo. Then through a new security check, and then it was just to wait for boarding.
Finally we were able to board the plane. It took about an hour to Cairo. Once there, we just had to wait for our luggage and then we would check in again. But we had to wait a while until it was possible to check in since we were out very early. We do not think it was a good idea for Ali to wait for us. We were supposed to be so experienced that we could arrange the check-in on our own. Thus, we said thank you for a wonderful trip and said goodbye to Ali. We had been told by Ali that we could check in at 12:00, but when we tried to go through the security check we were stopped. Then we were told to wait another hour. We used that hour to eat, and ended up at Burger king which was the only place outside the security checkpoint. We tried to find others, but they just turned out to be lounges. Not the best food, but, but ... Eventually we got through the security checkpoint and got checked in after waiting a bit so they could open the counters. Then we went through the passport control and were inside the waiting hall. Then it was just a matter of waiting for the flight to depart. We guys still had a few Egyptian pounds left, so we bought one last Egyptian beer before heading home. Then we went through the security checkpoint to the gate, and then we just had to wait for the flight to depart.
The flight arrived somewhat delayed, so the departure from Cairo was about half an hour later than scheduled. Since we only had an hour and a half in Frankfurt, time was running out for us. When we arrived in Frankfurt we had taken in part of the time, but there was fog, so we had to wait for a landing permit. We eventually got down and then it turned out that the plane on to Oslo was delayed 20 minutes, so we had no problems reaching the plane. But it also meant that we first arrived at Gardermoen around midnight. Once we had received our suitcases, the last bus had already left. Luckily, Inger had come to pick up Kristen and Geir, and thus I got a ride all the way home.
And with that, our tour of Egypt had come to an end.