Egyptian Home Visit

During my tour of Egypt we have two opportunities to have home cooked meals. First time is with a Nubian family and the second time is a traditional Egyptian family.

We learn about family customs and are served a delicious meal of orzo type soup, potatoes, rice, vegetables, and chicken.

Experiences like this are just one of many advantages you get on a small group tour that uses local hosts like Intrepid Travel. I highly recommend their tours.

Valley of the Kings

Saving the best for last.

It is good that Valley of the kings is at the end of my tour versus the beginning. I think that if I would have started my tour of Egypt with these amazing colorful hieroglyphics tombs I think I would have been disappointed by the time I made it to the pyramids.

We start our day visiting the welcome center at the valley of the kings. The diorama shows all the tombs that are known in 3D form.

Diorama of known existing tombs

A shuttle takes us to the sights. It is a good thing because it is a long walk and very hot.

You may see three tickets above that I stupidly put in my back pocket. Later on these tickets fall out of my pocket. The valley of the kings ticket lets me see three tombs but I end up only seeing one due to the lost ticket.

Luckily I choose to see the expensive separate fee tombs first before I lose the tickets.

We see current digs

Pharaoh Ramesses IV

One tomb I am able to view before I lost my ticket is the tomb of Rameses IV. It is my introduction to the clear images with the vivid colors. Kind of amazing this has lasted since 1100’s BCE.

Next up is the visit the tombs I paid extra for. I got to visit the infamous tomb of Tutankhamen that was discovered by Howard Carter. King Tut died young and was only really memorable because of the state that his tomb was found in. Because he died so soon he was quickly buried in a less conspicuous tomb. Hidden well, it stayed intact for a great while. The front room is looted over time but the hidden tomb area stayed in its original state. It gives us great knowledge on burial practices of ancient Egyptians.

Tomb of Tutankhamen

Finally I visit the tomb of Sety I (last only because I lose my tickets). This tomb is worth the extra admission. It is amazing and there are no crowds at all. In fact the man inside sneaks me inside closed off areas because I’m the only one there (expecting tips of course). It is a great experience.

Tomb of Sety I

Felucca

We start on our felucca ride mid morning.

Our bags are loaded into our boat while we finish breakfast.

I am fighting Egypt belly. I am hoping that this ride wont be too uncomfortable for me.

The felucca is where we are to spend about the next 24 hours.

Shoes off for this journey. We all climb up and bend over and find our lounge spot on the cushions. Since the boat is stationary it is kind of warm. Fortunately it cools down as we start to sail.

We do a loop in the water, during that time we gather with the other boat, the other tour of the younger travelers. We always have them in our sight.

After a couple hours we dock to eat lunch. Lunch is served in the middle of the boat. It is a nice mix of mashed potatoes and vegetables, shashuka, pita, and babbaganoush.

I am still fighting nausea and cramps. Because I skippped dinner the night before and ate a very light breakfast I give it a go, all except the babbaganoush.

My stomach isn’t happy with the food because the nausea continues.

People get off the boat for a swim. My stomach pains make me decide to just chill on the boat, best to be close to a bathroom.

Then we are off again. Beautiful views of the Nile. The boat sails in a zig zag fashion to grab the wind.

Someone plays music from their phone onto a Bluetooth speaker. It is relaxing. Definitely a better option for someone with stomach issues vs sightseeing at a very hot site for the day.

Some on the boat torture our tour guide. He is a good sport about our teasing.

Finally we dock for dinner and the night. We go onto shore to see the donkey and dogs that are hanging around. A man has been riding the donkey and he offers rides to some in our group. The group of dogs are cute. They are dirty and you can tell they survive on the daily scraps from tourists on the felucca boats.

It is back to the boat for dinner which is served on the roof off the boat. I skip dinner because my stomach is still angry at me from lunch. I ask for the guides to set aside some pita for me for later in case I get hungry and am willing to eat. I do try to eat a little bit a couple hours later. Best to not go to bed starving.

We are winding down for the night and the young group in the boat next to us is just getting the party started. Karim our tour guide convinces us to go out to the fire and sing some songs with a drum circle. He insists it is too early to go to bed. I think it is only 9 pm. I am also not drinking alcohol (except 1 beer I tried) because of my stomach pains. We have fun singing random songs by the fire. Some are Nubian chants, some are pop hits. After a little while we are done and head back to the boat to get ready for bed.

I find a nice spot at the end of the boat where I have access to fresh breeze. At first I am warm but as the night progresses I get chilly. I grab one of the provided blankets and snuggle up for a good nights sleep. Ear plugs are necessary because the party is never ending from the other boat.

Most of us wake around 6 am and get ready for breakfast. Breakfast is thin crepes, Boiled eggs, and bananas. I eat. It is about time I join the living again.

We will see how my stomach responds.

Now off to our 3 hour drive to Luxor. I am hoping we first have a stop at our hotel for a shower and some teeth brushing before we do our daily sightseeing.

Nubian Village

One activity I really enjoyed in Aswan when we took the boat to have dinner in a Nubian Village. We got to meet locals, see the village, and learn local customs such as marriage customs. They graciously prepared us a very appetizing dinner.

Our Nubian host meets us at our hotel and takes us to his island on a very calm boat ride on the Nile.

Once off the boat we walk through the village to get to his house where a table is set up for us.

While we wait for dinner they take us to the roof so we can see how the house is constructed.

Soon it is time for dinner. All the dishes are delicious. I feel very grateful they share them with me. While we eat our Nubian host describes local customs concerning marriage and such.

I feel very lucky that our tour included such an experience.

Philae Temple

Built for in Osiris 7th or 6th century BC Philæ temple

Temple deconstructed and moved due to flood risk before 1970.

During Ptolemaic times carvings were scratched out, you can also find crosses added later when the structure was used by the Christians.

Train from Cairo to Aswan

After a long day of sightseeing we rushed to the train station where we wait for a train that shows up whenever it decides to show up for our overnight to Aswan.

This is my first overnight train ride after many years. I have a private cabin as one of the perks of paying for the single supplement. My cabin during this route isn’t too terrible and I take a Benadryl at the beginning of the ride. People on my tour complained about the ride but I found it to be very peaceful and restful. I didn’t quite enjoy the bathroom or breakfast and dinner for that matter but things could have been worse. But the ride back to Cairo on the other hand was terrible (talk about that later).

It is on the train that I suspect I got my Egypt belly bug because a day after this is when I start to have really bad cramping and you know what. When I arrive in a country that has bacteria that is incompatible with my body is I early on tend to start brushing my teeth with the local water. The theory here is that it’s going to eventually get you in some form or another why not get it at the beginning and get it over with. However this time I think it backfired a bit because Egypt bacteria is a worthy opponent. When I was in India it didn’t take me too long to recover but my body really did not like Egypt bacteria.… Or it could’ve been just run-of-the-mill food poisoning. Luckily my worst day and night happened to coincide with a comfortable hotel night and a felucca ride that required very little physical activity and a very strong dose of Imodium A.D.

The dinner