So Many Temples, So Little Time
Trip Start Aug 17, 2010
18Trip End Dec 30, 2010
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Where I stayed
Noor Han (Aswan)
Hello dedicated readers! Currently, I am currently somewhere over the Mediterranean Sea on my way to Espania (Spain) to visit my dear friend Alice who is studying abroad in Seville. Two of my other friends, Caroline and Sarah, are also meeting us there, so a fun time should be had by all, and I am sure it will be the feature of my next blog. The flight is going well so far and flight attendants are loving trying to speak to me in Arabic. One of them saw me trying to decipher my Arabic version of Harry Potter with my dictionary and now they just stop by and start chatting with me in Arabic. Surprisingly, I can understand most of what they are saying! I cannot believe that three months ago I came to Cairo and I did not even know the Arabic alphabet and now I can hold a basic conversation with native speakers and understand the
basics. However, I am failing to remember any Spanish I ever learned… opps
to Spain I will start throwing in random words of Arabic and people will just look at me like I am crazy. Check back next week and you will find out if I managed to remember any Spanish and/or if my English has completely deteriorated.
I am sure every one of you readers are dying to know how I spent my latest week long vacation, so here we go! My two friends Tamera, Amanda and I made the long trip down to Luxor, Aswan, and Abu Simbel starting on Friday the 12th at 9pm. We had a little over a week break because of Eid which remembers the sacrifice Abraham was willing to make to God by giving up his son-- anyone still doubt that Islam and Christianity have the same roots? Because of Eid the trains were full and we ended up taking a 11 hour bus ride to Luxor where we then hopped on a train for 3 more hours and finally arrived in the very southern town of Aswan. When we got
there we rested, established an iteneriarary with our a wonderful helper at our hostel, then explored the wonderful souq. At 3 am the next morning we woke up in order to travel to Abu Simbelwhich is 40 km away from the Sudanese border. Abu Simbel features a huge temple which one of the Ramses built during the pharonic period. The temple was huge
and had amazing reliefs all over the walls-- most of the temples I will mention are very similar, so I apologize if this entry gets a bit repetitive. After Abu Simbel, we got back on the bus and
then headed to Philae, another temple which is on an island. Philae is beautiful because the island is right in the middle of the Nile and it is so quiet
peace. We also saw a giant unfinished obelisk on the way back to Aswan which was large and unfinished (not nearly as interesting as some of the other places we traveled). That afternoon we took a private felucca around the Nile in Aswan where we went to Elephantine Island, which was home to an ancient village and is now filled with ruins. The island was closed when we got there, but we managed to pull some strings and got a private tour. We got to the island right at sunset and it was very beautiful! The felucca ride was also so peaceful and relaxing.
The next day we slept in a bit then headed to another felucca where we joined a group of travelers to spend a day and night on the felucca. Staying on the felucca was my favorite part
of the trip because I could really appreciate the beauty of the Nile and Egypt's countryside. Being in Cairo with the constant hustle and bustle, it is easy to forget that most of Egypt is
desert and farmland, not in fact, city. While on the felucca we were also able to stop by a small Nubian village where we looked around and talked with the village children. They were so cute and it was fun talking with them. Like most villages in Egypt, this one was really poor and the families lived in what looked like compounds. However, watching the children play, you would never guess they were unhappy. The children were even learning English; we would talk to them in Arabic and then they would respond in English. Spending the night on the felucca was a fun experience, even if it was exactly like camping and we had to go to the bathroom in the woods
days earlier in Egypt), but alas, there are no movie theaters in Luxor. So instead, we ended up going to Luxor's souq (bazaar) with our friend Cassidy who was also in Luxor.
As far as sights go, Luxor was my favorite, yet the city of Aswan was much better. We went to Valley of the Kings (where all of the Pharohs are buried in wonderful, ornate, painted tombs), Hatsheput's Temple, the workers' tombs, the Luxor Museum, Karnak, and Luxor Temple. My favorite was Valley of the Kings, but sadly, we could not take pictures there so that the wonderful paintings would last longer. I wish I could share the images I have in my mind of this beautiful place, but you will all have to go visit on your own to see it! At the Luxor Museum I had the chance to see my first mummies and many other wonderful sculptures and pieces of art from Egypt. Compared to everything else in Egypt, the Luxor Museum is wonderfully organized and every piece features detailed descriptions in perfect English. I was a bit disappointed by
Karnak Temple, which is the largest temple and one part of it alone can hold all of St. Peter's Basilica. Besides the enormous size, Karnak was a bit disappointing because it seems as if the Egyptian government has not preserved it at all. Tourists are all around sometimes even
walking on the ruins; I even saw 2 girls literally step on the base of a statue of Ramses
Now that I have you all convinced that all I do is travel, let me explain what I did as soon as I
got back to Cairo. Before even returning to my room I went to a coffee shop where my friend Tamera and I proceeded to study for a few hours. We then went back to campus and studied the rest of the day because I had a book review and presentation due on Sunday before I could leave for Spain. See, I actually do school work, that is why I usually do not post unless I am doing something interesting, otherwise I would be droning on and on about my school work (and believe me, none of you are interested in hearing about that).
I am still having a wonderful time in Cairo, but I cannot believe that my time there is almost
up! In exactly a month I will be headed to Switzerland to spend another week with Mario and his family, then I am headed back home and back to school about 7 days after that! Time is passing so fast, it is crazy. Check back again next week for details about Spain! Also, keep leaving comments so I know that you all still love me!