Kaddee’s Cairo Chronicles


January 31, 2008

Donkey Shot?

Filed under: NSTIW,What the...? — Kaddee @ 10:14 am

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Lovely restaurant

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Your Pronunciation May Vary (YPMV)

January 29, 2008

Christmas Sights and Sites: Aswan to Abu Simbel and back

Filed under: Travel — Kaddee @ 3:48 pm

After our cruise, we spent one night in Aswan before heading down to Abu Simbel.

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David Roberts litho reproduction (from: All About Ancient Egypt)

The plans had been quite convoluted, and “arrangements” changed many times. The extra day in Aswan, although not a real “tourist-let’s-go” day, was nice for rest and recuperation.

In trips past, Jack and I have relied heavily and quite successfully on the Lonely Planet and Rough Guide to help us find accommodations and restaurants. For the most part, they have been spot on for our taste, until Aswan! Both guides gave decent to excellent reviews of the Marhaba Palace Hotel (“…a fabulous rooftop. Their buffet breakfast is a treat.” Rough Guide p433, Aug2007; “…the Marhaba overshadows the competition. …has two restaurants, friendly staff and a roof terrace with excellent Nile views. Recommended.” Lonely Planet p313, May2006).

I will concede that our room was large and comfortable, although our shower had no curtain (and this was NOT designed to be a “wet bathroom”). The “fabulous rooftop” was more-or-less abandoned, and had not been cleaned or maintained in a VERY LONG time. The “two restaurants” were closed, and the “treat” of a breakfast buffet was a paltry selection of stale pastries, watery foul, stale cheese and bad coffee. Either rough times have come swiftly and crushingly to the hotel, or someone was wearing rose-colored (or baksheesh tinted) glasses! We were quite disappointed, and eager to leave.

The only touristy things we managed in Aswan were a brief foray to Elephantine Island and a walk through the souk. We were all exhausted. I was recovering and Mom and Jack were coming down with light colds/coughs.

We were excited and tense as we checked out to go to Abu Simbel. Excited for obvious reasons. Tense because the “best layed plans” had not been going so well. We had been unable to reconfirm our convoy transportation and were only guardedly optimistic that the car would show up. After much fretting, the car arrived and we headed to the convoy meeting point.

As we were waiting to leave, I casually asked Jack, “You have the passports, right?” Chaos ensued.

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January 26, 2008

Christmas Sights and Sites: Kom Ombo and Aswan

Filed under: Travel — Kaddee @ 12:26 pm

After the lovely but butt-chappingly cold (remember, I’ve been in Egypt for 16months!) nighttime visit to Edfu temple, we climbed back on the boat and headed south to moor alongside Kom Ombo village and temple of Haroeris (another incarnation of Horus – the falcon god) and Sobek (the crocodile god).

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David Roberts litho of Kom Ombo (from: Travellers in Egypt)

*Aside regarding Edfu* As I’ve said, we were not overly enthused about our guide on the cruise (nor he about us). I was suffering from a cold/cough and not running in full gear, so he had been obsequiously kind to the “suffering lady” – BLECH. However, he and Jack were like oil and water. When we arrived at Edfu, Jack began unpacking the tripod for stabilized night shots. When our guide was handing out tickets, he said to Jack, “That is considered professional gear, you’ll have to pay and extra LE20 for a professional ticket” I expected Jack to explode – he very calmly said to Bessem, “YOU are my guide. I PAY YOU to take care of things like that.” Unfortunately Bessem did not understand, or chose to ignore. Jack was stopped at the security gate and had to buy another ticket for the tripod. This infuriated him because it delayed his entry, so the ENTIRE BUSLOAD of tourists from our cruise were milling around, and “ruining” his shots by the time he joined us.*

The ships engines were on and off all night as we motored to Kom Ombo and then jockeyed for position at the mooring site. By the time we were wakened for breakfast and our “early morning tour” we were the 2nd boat in a 3 boat sandwich. We walked off our boat, and onto another before we got to dry land!

The morning was cold and clear – the sun had not risen high enough to fully illuminate the temple. It was INCREDIBLY gorgeous.

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True to form, Bessem herded the tourists into the deepest and coldest shade to expound on the important things to see at the site. Jack and I walked away – Mom listened half-heartedly, but she, too, occasionally wandered away.

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January 3, 2008

Christmas Sights and Sites: Esna & Edfu

Filed under: Travel — Kaddee @ 6:36 pm

Our cruise took us to a number of sites that are, otherwise, difficult to visit. The “tours” were mostly cattle-calls, and we chose to use them simply to get us to the site and in. Beyond a series of transportation and ticket provisions, the “planned excursions” were not for us.

We started our “bad form” by opting out of the West bank tour of the Valley of the Kings and Deir el Bahari. Our guide and our experiences of last year were too good to mess with – especially since they scheduled a 5am wake-up call and 6am to the bus. YUCK – you call that a holiday? Also, after they finished at the sites, the group was busing down to meet the boat at the Esna locks.

WHY THE HELL WOULD WE WANT TO BE BUSSED DOWN THE NILE??? We were on a Nile CRUISE weren’t we?? Besides wanting to (1) sleep in and (2) watch the Nile slip by, there was also the issue of the locks at Esna.

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In the years we’ve been in Seattle, one of Jack’s and my favorite things to do on a warm summer afternoon (and on his birthday) is to go to the Ballard Locks with a picnic and watch the boats go up and down between the lake and the sound. I had the thrilling experience of actually being on a LARGE research boat going thru the locks a few years ago, and (in my own geek-a-tude) thought it was the coolest thing!!

That said, we did not want to miss the ship maneuvering thru the locks on the way up the Nile. Our decision caused a bit of consternation amongst the crew, but was, eventually, graciously acceded to.
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The lock lifted us about 5meters before we continued our leisurely progress toward Edfu.

We tied up at Edfu for just before sunset, but our “tour” did not leave until full-dark. Rather unfortunate, as the sunset light on the temple would have been exquisite. We “negotiated” with the guide for the amount of time we would have and, as usual, struck out on our own to see the temple. The temple is dedicated to Horus, depicted as the falcon or falcon-headed god who brings the dawn.

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The rest of the Edfu pics (I don’t have many, because I was shooting without a tripod, and my hand is not THAT steady!) can be seen HERE.