The second day in Egypt was going to be a very special one as today we were to check-in a Cruise Boat which was one of the most awaited agenda items of this trip and a long pending one too!
The day started very early for us; we woke up at 4:30 AM, got ready by 5 AM and were done with our Buffet Breakfast at 5:30 ready to board our Egypt Air flight from Cairo to Luxor at 7 AM. These early mornings are very tough for Abhay and we always feel guilty to wake him so early and getting him ready against his wishes. This is amongst the only times he is cranky and keeps crying. The perils of travelling as they say!
The breakfast buffet was quite extensive and we gobbled up quite a bit very quickly! Also packed up some croissants which came in handy later in the day. We checked out of the hotel; had a very short stay, just about 12 hours but the “Abhay-Missing” ensured that we won’t ever forget our stay here!
The Cairo Airport was connected to the Hotel with a tunnel which provided us with the luxury of leaving very late. Eslam was waiting for us at the Airport and he helped us in getting through the airline formalities. We bid him farewell after he briefed us about the plans for the day and boarded our flight.
This was the first time we were flying in an Embraer 170 which is a small commercial aircraft with a 70-people capacity. It was quite a short and comfortable flight; we landed safe & sound in the city of Luxor at 8:10 AM where the Memphis Tours official was waiting to receive us at the arrival gate.
We were welcomed by the ever-so-smiling man Ahmed Gomaa who was our guide for the next 3 days , we also had another family (Americans living in Saudi Arabia) and an American couple with us in the same flight who were part of the cruise with us.
We drove through the Luxor countryside across the rural part of the city and drove past some of the tributaries of the River Nile. It was a picturesque and a beautiful drive and we were thoroughly enjoying the weather and our company! Ahmed briefed us about the check-in formalities plus the itinerary for the rest of the day.
We checked into our Cruise Boat “Sonesta Moon Goddess” which was quite a huge boat and very well designed. We were pleasantly surprised to see the five star facilities on-board which we were not expecting at all! We got into our spacious & well-appointed room on the 4th floor of the boat with a beautiful view of the River Nile.
I knew the next 3 days were going to be superb fun going by the initial impressions.
The Details and photographs of the boat – http://www.sonesta.com/nilecruises/?fa=moongoddess.home
River Nile is the longest river of the World and we had read/heard about this majestic & historic river since our childhood days. It was one of the “General Knowledge” subject questions which was always top on our lists! It is a north-flowing river in northeastern Africa, generally regarded as the longest river in the world and is 6,853 kms long. The Nile is an “international” river as its water resources are shared by eleven countries, namely, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo-Kinshasa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt.
In particular, the Nile is the primary water source of Egypt and Sudan and is the primary source of livelihood owing to agriculture and tourism. Also most of the major cities in Egypt are situated on the banks of this river and nearly all the cultural and historical sites of Ancient Egypt are found along riverbanks.
We had a delicious buffet lunch in the restaurant which had lots of varieties on offer. We were assigned a table which was our designated table for the next 3 days.
Our attendant also took our order for the a-la-carte dinner; this was another surprise as the items we offered sounded amazing!
We enjoyed a 2-hours long afternoon siesta after the heavy lunch which was much-needed as we had got up quite early plus we had a 3-hours outdoor agenda starting at 3 PM. We woke up fresh, raring to go and met the entire group of Memphis Tours at the reception.
The first agenda item was visiting the Karnak Temple which is a vast temple complex in Luxor dedicated primarily to Amun and dating from as early as 2000 BC.
It is an impressive sight, and second only to the Great Pyramids in popularity. It is the largest religious building ever made, covering about 200 acres (1.5 km by 0.8 km), and was a place of pilgrimage for nearly 2,000 years. The area of the sacred enclosure of Amun alone is sixty-one acres. The Karnak complex includes several of the finest examples of ancient Egyptian design and architecture. Among them are the Hypostyle Hall, considered one of the world’s great architectural achievements.
It is filled with 134 enormous pillars, the highest 70 feet tall, and each about 45 feet around. The hall covers an area of 64,586 sq ft. The Obelisk of Thutmose I, a 22m (71ft) monument, is the only one of four original obelisks that is still standing.
Next up was the Luxor Temple which is another large Ancient Egyptian temple complex located on the east bank of the Nile River which was constructed approximately 1400 BC. Unlike the other temples in Thebes, Luxor temple is not dedicated to a cult god or a deified version of the king in death. Instead Luxor temple is dedicated to the rejuvenation of kingship; it may have been where many of the kings of Egypt were crowned in reality or conceptually (as in the case of Alexander the Great who claimed he was crowned at Luxor but may never have traveled south of Memphis, near modern Cairo.) The temple was built by Amenhotep III (1390-52 BC) but completed by Tutankhamun (1336-27 BC) and Horemheb (1323-1295 BC) and then added to by Rameses II (1279-13 BC). Toward the rear is a granite shrine dedicated to Alexander the Great (332-305 BC).
After the long walks, interesting history lessons (thanks to Ahmed) and lots of exploration, we went back to our boat to get ready for the next agenda item for the day – The Belly Dance and Turkish Darwish Show. We relaxed in our room to get rejuvenated. We freshened up and went to the lounge area for the dance performances.
The belly dance lady was quite a senior professional and enthralled us with her performance but Abhay was scandalized – he said “Aunty ki Poppy Shame hai” which was absolutely hilarious; nonetheless he enjoyed the music and the movement. The Darwish performance was also a real good one.
Later, we moved to the restaurant where our Italian Dinner was waiting. Soup and Appetizers were followed by the awesome main-course and desserts. We never expected such culinary brilliance on our cruise and were simply wowed by the quality and taste of the food on offer.
The 2nd day of our trip started on a good note and ended on a delicious high! We could not have asked for more. Abhay enjoyed roaming around the historical sites and collecting pebbles & dirtying his hands while we were engrossed in the history lessons. We were also very impressed with the facilities and the staff on the boat which were real 5-star as per their ratings!
The next day had lots of fun and exploration on offer; we were very excited when we called it a day and got into a deep slumber.
So till the time we meet again…
Cheers to life…
Till then ride safe and have safe sex…
Hasta la Victoria Siempre…