Cruising Down the Nile

Trip Start Jan 22, 2010
Trip End May 29, 2010

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Cruise Ship

Flag of Egypt  , Nile River Valley,
Monday, May 3, 2010

Tuesday night/ Wednesday morning- I'm not really sure which one it was. We left at 3:30am in the morning on a bus for the airport where we had a 5:30am flight to Luxor in Upper Egypt. Just FYI- It’s called Upper Egypt even though it’s technically the southern part of the country. I do love going through airport security in Egypt- its scary and funny at the same time. Imagine the airport security in the US, then imagine the complete opposite- that would be Egypt. I got in trouble for having a huge water bottle (really?) but I pretended I didn’t understand the guard, stared blankly, then walked nonchalantly away still clinging my water while everyone else had to throw theirs away hehe. 
The flight was only an hour long and we arrived in Luxor (formally known as Thebes) at about 6:30 Wednesday morning. I hadn’t been able to sleep at all since I got up Tuesday morning but didn’t seem to be too tired yet (a mix of adrenaline and coffee). We went staright from the airport into a bus which took us to our first site of the day at 7:30am- Karnak Temple. Karnak is the biggest continuous place of worship in the entire world- so many ancient and humongous temples it was unbelievable! We got a mini tour from Dr. Magda (the Egyptology teacher on the trip with us) then were left to walk around ourselves. The sun was brutal…and it was only 8:30 in the morning! We left on the bus and asked to be dropped off at a little food place called Snack Time in Luxor, right across from the Luxor museum. I could have sworn it was lunch time, but no, it was 9:30am. We were able to eat a meal here, and then given the option to go to the Luxor museum. But the restaurant had comfy couches and once we sat down there was no getting up. We layed sprawled out in Snack Time until about 11am when we were finally able to check into our boat! 
We loaded our luggage onto M.S President Commodore and settled into our rooms (I shared with Yasmina, one of our Arabic teachers that was with us, cutest little thing ever!) Thankfully the rest of the day was free- some people were out sleeping the rest of the day. I took a nap, went to lunch, then explored the boat. Up on top there was a deck with a small pool, lounge chairs, and a pool table. I made myself comfortable and spent most of my time the next three days relaxing on the top deck. It was ungodly hot out but I just couldn’t get enough of the sunshine
Thursday morning we headed out early in the morning to the Valley of the Kings- this is where many of the greatest pharoahs of Egypt were buried in the most elaborate tombs I have ever seen. King Tut, Ramses I-XI including Ramses the Great were all buried here and we were able to go inside three different tombs. On the other side of the Valley of the Kings was the tomb of Queen Hatshepsut- who was the only woman pharaoh- girl power in true form. I’m fond of her.  After morning touring we went back to the boat and settled in for the day as we finally began to sail down the Nile!! I spent the whole afternoon on the deck, it was beautiful to be able to lounge and watch the scenery of Upper Egypt go by as we cruised on the Nile. 
    Most of the other guests on the boat were Europeans (mostly British) and were aged sixty or older. Nothing wrong with that, but we were definitely the youngest people on board by far. As soon as the Egyptian crew heard us speak Arabic they couldn’t stop beaming. We definitely endeared ourselves to them through the language. One older man was literally giggling with glee that these young white kids actually spoke Arabic. On our way to breakfast one of the crew said "Sabah-el kheir" (good morning) to Yasmina then turned to me and said “Good morning” I responded with “Sabah el-nuur” (the response to good morning in Arabic) and he broke out into the biggest smile ever.  I love catching Egyptians off guard by speaking Arabic- they think I'm the typical white, blonde girl and always expect English to flow out of mouth.  
That night we went through a Lock on the river- I had never in my life seen something like this and was super fascinated- I took an insane amoutn of pictures and was right up in the front of the boat watching every step of the crew. The next morning  we toured a couple more ancient temples (they were all gorgeous and beautiful, but I was getting fuzzy on the history). My afternoon was spent on the deck (again!) and we even had tea time in the afternoon- wonderful! We made another stop in the early evening at another temple, then returned back to the boat to get ready for the evening’s festivities. It was Galabaya night! A galabaya is a long single piece of cloth worn by Egyptians, both men and women. The women’s are very sparkly and decorated while the men’s are more plain and solid colored. We all bought galabayas and dressed for dinner at 8pm. The whole entire boat was dressed in various galabayas, and the old British men were wearing turbans on their heads- kinda funny. Mine was hot pink, of course, with gold hieroglyphs and pyramids all over it- I was a little bit in love with it. 
After dinner we all gathered in the large entertainment room where there was music and a dance floor. That’s when the games began- yes, I said games. Honestly, some of them were so sexual in nature I wanted to permanently close my eyes and ears. For real, our group was getting really disturbed by the things the Egyptian announcer was saying( he called himself 'Daddy Devil'...yeah). I literally can’t repeat the things he said it on this blog- it was like a bachelorette party times twenty with dirty old British men included. 
Sean wore a woman’s galabaya, and ended up playing this horribly sexual game with a string and a potato (I was about to leave during this-dude, I have CLASS with him) which he ended up winning because his dress was so short. Every time he sat down, he crossed his legs forgetting how short his dress was- the girls screamed at him to put them down immediately each time. Such a stressful night. 
Then there was the belly dancing competition- three teams of two. I refused to go up and dance unless the announcer guy shut his mouth with all the sex talk, and if he made one single dirty comment about my body, my dancing, or any of the women up there he was going DOWN (yes I said this all out loud, I'm sure he heard me). I went up with Becky still bitching about the announcer and noticed our competition was the two oldest, sluttiest ladies on the ship. I sound mean, but these women were wearing things none of us girls would even dream of wearing! Obviously,I was determined to show them up. I continued to bitch until the music started and then I began my belly dancing moves with Becky on the dance floor.  I had the time of my life- I’ve never had any lessons but I want to learn so badly. Needless to say, when it was over, Becky and I ended up winning- lo and behold, our prize was a free drink! Just what I needed. The next game was kind of like hot potato with plastic water bottles, and as the game went on so did the various positions of passing the bottle, including under the legs.The announcer was getting an unnatural kick out of watching us do this...creepo!! When the games were over the dance floor was open and I danced with Becky, Shruti, and Matthew late into the night (everyone else went to bed??!). I was literally the last person on the dance floor- they played two more belly dancing songs and an older woman from Lebanon came to the dance floor and tried to show me how to really belly dance- she was AMAZING! It was sooo cool to be able to dance to those songs with her- I finally felt completely comfortable and more in love with this culture than ever before. It was a long night of dancing, but was definitely my favorite by far. 
       Saturday morning arrived quickly after that and it was our last on the boat. We had finally made it to Aswan and we set out to visit the Aswan High Dam in the morning. Afterwards, we spent the entire day in Aswan- we ate lunch on the Nile, then took a boat across to visit the Botanical Gardens. I fell in love with all of the flowers there (such pretty pink ones!), which you can tell by my pictures. Next, we visited a Nubian village and were shown around personally by the sheik of the village (the tribal leader). SO amazing. We ended up at a store/ house (which had way too many fake and real alligators inside) where we were able to get henna from a village woman. I got the symbol of everlasting life along my right arm- henna is an extremely traditional Middle Eastern act, kind of like a traditional tattoo, so I was loving it. Afterwards we went to eat dinner at the Nubian restaurant nearby outside of the village. We went back to the boat to pick up our stuff and were headed to the Aswan airport to catch our flight back to Cairo at 11:30pm. We arrived in Cairo around 12:30 but I didn’t get  to my apartment until around 2am- a loooong day for sure. This was our last group trip and I have to say that cruising down the Nile was my favorite excursion by far!!
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Ashton on

That water bottle incident at the airport is hilarious. haha That's freaking great!

AMD on

Crazy times over there Ann! Love the stories!

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