Today we took our motorcoach back to Cairo. It was about a two and a half hour drive back to Cairo and to our hotel for the night. We saw a lot of baked Arabic bread being sold along the streets as we traveled.One last look at the Giza Pyramids as we arrived in Cairo.Some of the people in our group wanted to purchase some Egyptian cotton items so our guide had our bus driver stop at a cotton store in town called Funky Brothers. They carried all kinds of cotton items like clothing, scarves, sheets, etc…
Then on to our last hotel stay in Cairo!
Below are a few pictures from the JW Marriott Cairo that we stayed at our last night in Cairo. It was quite a beautiful resort.
The next morning, Wednesday, March 27th was a very long day as we left for the airport and our long journey home! There was a lot of security at the airport!
Our flight left Cairo around 9:30 AM (3:30 AM EST) and arrived at JFK in NYC around 3:30 PM. It was a 12 hour flight. Our layover in New York was about 4 1/2 hours. We arrived home close to 11:30 PM. So it was a 24 hour travel day! We had so many incredible experiences in Egypt! This blog only touches part of our adventures in Egypt!
This morning we visited the Bibliotheca Alexandrina which opened in 2002 and replaces Alexandria’s ancient library. The architecture is modern and it is the shape of a large, angled discus. The library’s exterior walls are made of granite and the walls are carved with letters, pictograms, heiroglyphs and symbols.
The main reading room is quite impressive.
Four museums are permanent fixtures and there is a planetarium and other exhibitions. This is one of the museums in the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
Our guide gave us a quick demonstration of the website the Bibliotheca Alexandrina has created a fantastic website with over 3 million free books on the web! It is a resource worth checking out, https://www.bibalex.org!
Our next stop was the Citadel of Qaitbay which was built on the exact place where the Lighthouse of Alexandria( one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World) stood. Several different earthquakes destroyed the lighthouse. Some of the stones from the lighthouse were used to build the Citadel.
Below are a couple of pictures taken on the second level.
Watch out below! The oil fallout hole! Read the sign below and you’ll understand.
There were some incredible views from the second level of the Citadel looking out at the Mediterranean and the city of Alexandria!
Even in Egypt, on our way to the restaurant we saw a Pizza Hut delivery person and they weren’t delivering in a car! 🙂
Our lunch was at a restaurant called the Fish Market. It was very good! The bread was made fresh in the restaurant!
After our late lunch we returned to our hotel and many of us wanted to cross the street from our hotel and put our feet in the Mediterranean! The hotel informed us that it was too dangerous to cross the roadway so they provided a van that transported us in groups to Hilton’s beach!
The temperature was in the 60s with still breezy conditions so we didn’t swim in the sea but we did take off our shoes, roll up our pants and enjoyed the surf! One person got caught off-guard by a wave and did “swim” in the water!
This morning we left Cairo for a scenic motorcoach ride to Alexandria which is located on the Mediterranean coast!
Our guide for Alexandria, Ihab.
When we got to Alexandria, our first stop was the Serapeum and Pompey’s Pillar.
After walking around the temple ruins and the artifacts garden, we headed to the Catacomb of Kom El Shoqafa which means “Mound of Shards”. It was named this because of all of the broken pottery found in the catacombs. Archeologists believe that family members would bring food and drink with them down into the catacombs in ancient times and they didn’t want to bring the glasses, dishes, etc… home with them so they would shatter them and leave them in the catacomb!
It was asked that visitors do not take any pictures in the Catacomb of Kom El Shoqafa and we respected that request. It was very interesting to walk down the stone steps which consisted of 3 levels of cut solid rock and the rock-cut tombs. This Catacomb is considered one of the seven wonders of the middle ages.
We had lunch at a restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean Sea!
We had a late lunch and by the time we finished it was time to get to our hotel, the Hilton Alexandria, and check in! Our hotel was located across the street from the Mediterranean sea.
Some of our group had rooms that looked out over the sea. Our room faced the city but it was a suite so we had plenty of room and a nice balcony! We wanted to walk over to the Mediterranean and put our feet in the water but it was extremely windy and the waves were really high, so we decided we would head over there tomorrow when the weather was to be much better!
Our first stop this morning was a visit to the Giza Pyramids, the last remaining wonder of the ancient world and the Sphinx.
Great Pyramid of Khufu
Egyptologists believe that Khafre’s father, Pharaoh Khufu, built the Great Pyramid, the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in Giza
There are still ongoing excavations on the Giza Plateau. Evidence from the finding of a builders’ settlement, shows more evidence that the Giza Pyramids were built not by slaves but a skilled work force. After exploring the area, we then went to visit the sphinx.
The Sphinx is a statue made out of limestone. It is 240 feet long and 66 feet high! . Egyptologists believe from studying hieroglyphs that when Khafre became Pharaoh, he constructed his own pyramid next to his father’s and even though Khafre’s pyramid is shorter than the Great Pyramid, it is surrounded by a more elaborate complex that includes the Great Sphinx.
We also experienced a camel ride at the Giza plateau! When getting on the camel make sure you hold on tightly!
After our camel ride, we visited Sakkara (Saqqara). It is a large burial ground and where pyramid building first started. We saw the Step pyramid.
Pyramid of Unas
Below are pictures of the Temple at the Step Pyramid.
More pictures from the Saqqara Necropolis.
On our way back to our hotel, we stopped by a carpet school. They gave us a demonstration on how they weave the carpets. This is a trade that is passed down in families.
Dinner was on our own this evening so we ventured out to a Hard Rock Cafe. Our guide set up an Uber to take us to the restaurant and wait for us and then take us back to our hotel. Traffic was horrendous and our driver missed the drive so a 20 minute drive took over 45 minutes. We were concerned about having enough time to eat because most Hard Rock Cafe’s are extremely busy. Well, when we finally arrived, we were the only customers wanting a table. The host told us that they couldn’t sell any alcohol! We were there with another couple so we laughed because we hadn’t ever dined at a Hard Rock that wasn’t extremely busy!
Our waiter explained that it basically was politics that they couldn’t get their liquor license approved. We enjoyed our meal and made it back to our hotel without any issues!
This morning we visited the temple of Karnak on the east bank of Luxor. It is a massive temple complex. Construction began about 4,000 years ago and continued until about 2,000 years ago. It was an impressive area.
Avenue of Sphinxes
Avenue of Sphinxes
The Temples of Karnak complex is the largest.
Great Temple of Amon
Great Temple of Amon
Great Temple of Amon
After we finished our visit and tour of the Temples of Karnak, we went back to our riverboat to pack and head to the Luxor airport for our flight back to Cairo. We stayed in the same hotel where our trip began, the Conrad Cairo hotel. By the time we arrived at our hotel it was time for a late dinner and we relaxed in our hotel room because tomorrow was going to be another busy day.
Our wake up call was for 5:00 AM and after breakfast we visited the West Bank and our first stop was the Valley of the Kings. Our guide said we would want to get to the Valley of the Kings as soon as they open so we would be ahead of the crowds. We were thankful for that. We didn’t have to wait in any lines to visit the tombs. By the time we were leaving there were lines.
Sixty three tombs have been discovered in the Valley of the Kings. These tombs belonged to Pharoahs and other dignitaries. This was our transportation from the parking area back to the Valley of the Kings.
The first tomb we visited was that of Rameses IV who reigned from 1156-1160 BCE.
Sarcophagus is empty. The mummy of Ramses IV is in the Cairo Museum.
Our next tomb was that of Rameses IX. He ruled from 1129-1111 BC. The ceiling in his burial chamber was decorated with scenes of the goddess Nut. The side walls showed scenes from The Book of Caverns and The Book of the Earth. This tomb also used yellow, black and dark blue colors which was rare.
The third tomb we visited was that of King Tutankhamen (King Tut, the boy king).
His tomb was found nearly intact which was quite a find in 1922. King Tut began his rule when he was 9 years old and died when he was 19. He has become the most famous king because of his intact tomb and all of the treasures found inside.
After spending time in King Tut’s tomb, we went in the tomb Rameses VI. This tomb was started by Rameses V and finished by Rameses VI.
Rameses VI ruled from 1143-1136 BC. Apparently both Rameses V and Rameses VI were both buried in this tomb. Much of Rameses VI tomb is covered with intact hieroglyphs and paintings. The burial chamber has a pit that is unfinished and a figure of Nut and scenes from the Book of the Day and Book of the Night.
The last tomb we visited was of King Ramses III. It was begun by Sethnakht and was stopped when the workers hit the shaft of King Amenmesse’s tomb.
King Ramses III resumed the construction. He ruled from 1184-1153 BC. His tomb is popular because much of it is well-preserved.
We were all overwhelmed by our time spent in the Valley of the Kings this morning. It was an experience that we will never forget!
We stopped at an alabaster store and a demonstration of how the Egyptians used to turn the alabaster rock into bowls, figures, etc…
Below are some pictures from the Valley of the Nobles, with over 400 tombs and they are located south of the Valley of the Kings. We didn’t visit any of the open tombs but we could see where new discoveries have been found and are not open to the public because they are still being studied.
Our next stop was the Temple of Hatshepsut. Queen Hatshepsut ruled from 1478-1458 BCE. The temple was built into the limestone cliffs. It is dramatic to see!
This temple has been continuously excavated and restored since 1891. They were working today.
You enter the temple through the great court.
Some of the best preserved reliefs are on the middle terrace.
Nearby there are other rock cut tombs and in some, workers were excavating and studying their finds.
On our way back into the town of Luxor, we saw the avenue of sphinxes during the day! They are quite impressive.
Our next stop was to visit a Francescan church school in Luxor.
Some of the children were finished with their school session for the day and piled into the car! Look closely at how many kids are in this 4-door sedan!
When we returned to the boat we relaxed on the sun deck until dinner.
We are at the city of Edfu which is located on the west side of the Nile. This morning we took a horse and carriage ride to visit the Temple of Horus. The pictures below show a small view of the city on our way to the temple.
The Temple of Horus is one of the best preserved ancient monuments that we visited because when pagan cult was banned it was filled by desert sand which protected much of the temple. This temple is dedicated to Horus who was the son of Isis and Osiris.
As we traveled along the Nile we saw factories and a lot of air pollution and we also worried about what was being spilled into the river.
We are sailing on the Nile and passed through the Esna Lock system.
The Edna Lock system.
As we sailed along, these rowboats would come up to the riverboats and try to sell their wares, clothing, etc… They would toss it up to the top deck where passengers would be standing and hope that the passengers would toss down money in the bags. It was something to see!
This evening we visited the Luxor Temple. The traffic in the town of Luxor, was really heavy and of course there was a roundabout.
Luxor Temple was beautiful as we explored it this evening. In front of the temple is the beginning of the Avenue of Sphinxes which were difficult to see because of darkness. The Avenue of Sphinxes once ran all the way from Luxor to the temples at Karnak, a little under two miles.
Below are different areas of the temple, from the Great Court of Ramses II, the Colonnade of Amenhotep III, the Sun Court of Amenhotep III, the Hypostyle Hall, Chamber of Amun, and the Barque Shrine of Amun.
After our tour of the Luxor Temple we stopped at a Papyrus store where they gave us a demonstration on how papyrus paper is made.
After our visit to the papyrus store we went back to our riverboat for the evening.