Yal'labeen'na, My Lovely People! - Egypt 2007 - Part 1

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Our first view of Cairo - the Pyramids at Giza We explore on our first evening - the Nile and the Cairo Tower situated on Al-Gezira Island The Nile is fast flowing and used for many purposes, including fishing The Cairo Tower - built of wood in 1961, it is currently being renovated We visited a Nile-side restaurant for some drinks.  I had fresh mango juice.......
Cairo - the Pyramids at Giza Cairo - the Nile Cairo - the Nile The Cairo Tower Cairo
....and Katrina had a delicious freshly-squeezed lemon juice with mint We ate fish and mezze as the Nile flowed beside us Braving a Cairo taxi Khan al-Khalili - the vast bazaar area of Old Cairo It was crowded and colourful
Cairo Cairo Cairo Cairo - Khan al-Khalili Cairo - Khan al-Khalili
Locals shop here as well as tourists This is the jewellery quarter.  Where there is little or no rain, a safe is safe outdoors! Al-Azhar Mosque - founded in 970 AD, this central courtyard is the earliest part of the building

Al-Hazar's university  is reputed to be the world's oldest educational establishment The minarets are from the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries
Cairo - Khan al-Khalili Cairo - Khan al-Khalili Cairo - Al-Azhar Mosque Cairo - Al-Azhar Mosque Cairo - Al-Azhar Mosque
The interior is quiet and relaxing The women and children have their own place of worship, with a fine mihrab We have mango juice and cakes at Groppi's, once the most famous patisserie in Egypt and the place to be seen The Egyptian Museum of Cairo, housing the treasures of Tutankhamun and countless other wonders - sadly no
photography allowed Our tour leader, Hatem, in typical pose.  He gave us each an Arab name.  Ours for him was Mufasa, leader of the pride
Cairo - Al-Azhar Mosque Cairo - Al-Azhar Mosque Cairo Cairo - the Egyptian Museum The Group
Erin or Malak (meaning angel) was our token Canadian Chantal and Adrian - Khulud (meaning immortality) and Salah (meaning righteousness) - from South Africa Sharon and Bruce - Hibah ( meaning gift) and Imad (meaning support, pillar) - from Australia Ben -  Sa'eed (meaning happy) - from the UK Claire - Jameela (meaning beautiful) from South Africa
The Group The Group The Group The Group The Group
Sarah - Sabah (meaning morning) - a fellow Brit Katrina - Iman (meaning faith) and finally me - Ameera (meaning princess) The pyramids at Giza are suprisingly near to habitation The Great Pyramid of Khufu or Cheops (the Hellenised name) was completed around 2570 BC, over 4000 years ago
The Group The Group The Group The Pyramids at Giza The Pyramids at Giza
This is the original entrance on the north face, which was so well hidden that it was only discovered after a forced
entry was made much lower down in 820 AD The Pyramid of Khafre  or Chephren, who was the son of Khufu.  He built it on higher ground to make it appear
bigger than his father's The Pyramid of Khafre still has its original limestone cladding.  Originally all the pyramids would have been covered
in limestone and would have gleamed in the sunlight The south face of the Pyramid of Khufu with the Solar Barque Museum, located where the boat was excavated The Solar Barque Museum houses one of the five solar barques which were buried around Khufu's Pyramid
The Pyramids at Giza The Pyramids at Giza The Pyramids at Giza The Pyramids at Giza The Pyramids at Giza
The other barques are yet to be excavated This is the pit in which the barque was found in 1954, broken down into over 1200 pieces Scale models were made to aid its reconstruction The barque is made of cedar and is remarkably well preserved.  It is probably the oldest surviving boat in existence The boat is 144 feet in length and looks as good as the day it was made - well, almost!
The Pyramids at Giza The Pyramids at Giza The Pyramids at Giza The Pyramids at Giza The Pyramids at Giza
This rope is over 4000 years old The Queens' Pyramids near Khufu's Pyramid The Pyramid of Khafre with the Pyramid of Menkaure behind it.  Menkaure was Khafre's son and his pyramid is
much smaller than those of his father and grandfather The Pyramids at Giza are the sole survivors of the seven wonders of the ancient world The Pyramid of Menkaure with a deep gash in its north face where attempts were made to rob the stone
The Pyramids at Giza The Pyramids at Giza The Pyramids at Giza The Pyramids at Giza The Pyramids at Giza
Near the pyramids is a new town in the desert The Sphinx with the Pyramid of Khafre in the background.  The Sphinx was carved from the  natural  bedrock, as
can been seen from the strata of the surrounding ground The Sphinx seems small after the tremendous size of the pyramids The stone of the Sphinx is gradually deteriorating.  The paws have recently been restored The Sphinx lost its nose in the Middle Ages.  Part of the broken pharaonic beard is now in the British Museum
The Pyramids at Giza The Pyramids at Giza The Pyramids at Giza The Pyramids at Giza The Pyramids at Giza
A delicious lunch after our sightseeing Cairo train station We wait to catch our overnight train to Aswan, a fourteen hour journey The seats are comfortable, but the loos are grim Aswan - looking across the Nile to the west bank and the Tombs of the Nobles
Giza Cairo Train Station Cairo Train Station Cairo to Aswan Aswan
A closer view of the Tombs of the Nobles - tombs of local princes, governors and other dignitaries of Aswan, the
gateway to Africa over the centuries Kubbet Al-Hawa - a small tomb constructed for a local sheikh and a landmark of Aswan The sunset over Kubbet Al-Hawa was spectacular It is floodlit at night The souq of Aswan - quiet because it is far too hot to be out and about - mad dogs and Englishmen!
Aswan Aswan Aswan Aswan Aswan
Watering the street helps to cool things down Spices of all sorts Katrina buys a tambourine for Mo This is later in the afternoon when the heat is more manageable.  Mufasa looks after us We break for much needed refreshment - it is still very hot
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We set off for a Son et Lumiere at the Temple of Philae It is a lovely evening A sunset view of the High Dam of Aswan.  Completed in 1971, it provides hydro-electric power and vital irrigation
to the desert lands of Egypt The Temple of Philae on Agilkia Island With the building of the old Aswan or British Dam in 1902, Philae became swamped for six months of the year
Aswan Aswan Aswan Philae Philae
Visitors would row between its columns and look down on the submerged ruins With the building of the High Dam in in the 1960s, it became a race against time, as the old island of Philae began
to be completely submerged under Lake Nasser UNESCO organised the rescue of Philae.  The complex was moved stone by stone to the nearby island of Agilkia,
which was higher than the original site The ruins date to the Ptolemaic period, the fourth century BC.  Dedicated to the worship of Isis, the temple remained
in use until the sixth century AD The outer temple court, leading to the first pylon of the Temple of Isis
Philae Philae Philae Philae Philae
Water used to reach to the top of the porch over the doorway Reliefs are much clearer by floodlight than in daylight The second pylon with its huge reliefs Looking through the temple to the inner sanctum Wandering through the temple at night was atmospheric
Philae Philae Philae Philae Philae
The Temple of Hathor The Kiosk of Trajan The Kiosk of Trajan We eat at last after our outing to Philae Katrina tries out the sheesha!
Philae Philae Philae Aswan Aswan
Four o'clock in the morning and we join the convoy to travel across the desert to Abu Simbel The Great Temple of Ramesses II at Abu Simbel was built during the 13th century BC to commemorate Ramesses'
alleged victory over the Hittites at the Battle of Kadesh It was carved out of the mountain and was rediscovered by chance in 1813 when one of the heads of the statues
was seen poking through the sand The statue to the left of the entrance was damaged in an earthquake and the head and torso lie on the ground
in front of the temple.  The four statues are all of Ramesses II - a very powerful statement

The statues are twenty metres high
Aswan Abu Simbel Abu Simbel Abu Simbel Abu Simbel
The statues wear the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt showing that.... ....under Ramesses II the two Egypts were united Being covered in sand for centuries accounts for the remarkable preservation of the statues The temple is very photogenic! Part of the frieze of baboons which runs along the top of the facade of the Great Temple
Abu Simbel Abu Simbel Abu Simbel Abu Simbel Abu Simbel
Ancient graffiti Katrina In the entrance hall are eight pillars fronted by statues of Ramesses II Ramesses is depicted as Osiris, the god of the Underworld Many of the reliefs depict the Battle of Kadesh and other battles
Abu Simbel Abu Simbel Abu Simbel Abu Simbel Abu Simbel
More fighting The inner sanctum with the four gods of the temple. For two days of the year the sun penetrates the temple to
shine on the statues, except for Ptah, the God of Darkness on the left.  This still happens even though the temple
has been re-sited The smaller Temple of Hathor, dedicated to Ramesses' favourite wife, Nefertari Four of the six external statues are of Ramesses, the other two are of Nefertari, who most unusually  is depicted
as the same size as her husband The statues are only 10 metres tall, half the height of those of the Great Temple.  They still seem very big
Abu Simbel Abu Simbel Abu Simbel Abu Simbel Abu Simbel
The Temple of Hathor, along with the Great Temple, were both rescued by UNESCO in the 1960s, as the rising
waters of Lake Nasser threatened to drown them Two domes were constructed and artificial mounds created to house the temples, which were moved stone by
stone to higher ground This amazing feat of archaeological engineering took four years to complete The stone blocks used to face the artificial mounds can clearly be seen. Lake Nasser gives the temple complex a magnificent setting
Abu Simbel Abu Simbel Abu Simbel Abu Simbel Abu Simbel
Lake Nasser A police checkpoint in the desert We passed through several of these Mirage effect in the desert View of Philae from the old Aswan Dam
Abu Simbel Desert Desert Desert Philae
The First Cataract of the Nile seen from the old  Aswan Dam.  There are six primary cataracts or areas of whitewater
from Aswan southwards to Khartoum in Sudan The Coptic Cathedral of Aswan The Old Cataract Hotel where Agatha Christie wrote part of It also featured in the film We set off for our visit to Elephantine Island and dinner in the home of a Nubian family
The First Cataract Aswan Aswan Aswan Aswan
The big river boats that ply the Nile are parked up in ranks The Coptic Cathedral from the river The Aswan Nilometer - this was used to measure the inundation of the Nile in
any year.  Taxes were based on this measurement, as the harvest depended on
there being sufficient irrigation for the crops The Mausoleum of Aga Khan III, spiritual leader of the Ismailis,  who died in 1957.  Every day until her death in
2000 his widow placed a red rose on his tomb The Nubian crew of the boat entertained us
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Before our meal, the women of the house showed us their wares - hats were popular One lady specialised in henna tattoos A fine set of ankles! Our meal arrives in traditional style Hatem sorts it out
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Later, he relaxes in his usual way A gecko joins the feast on the wall of the courtyard The swimming pool on the roof of our hotel Looking down from the pool area to the sheesha cafe below  
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