Saturday, December 01, 2007


The next stop on our trip was Egypt. We flew with two other couples on the Turkey trip into Cairo. There we joined with two more couples bringing our group size up to 10.

The first day in Cairo was spent visiting Geza and Sakkarra. Geza is the location of the Sphinx and its three main accompanying pyramids. Up close they are as awesome as in a pictures. Geza is also filled with tourists, venders, police, camels, horses, and horse drawn buggies. It is a very busy place. Sakkarra is the first pyramid built and is called the Step Pyramid. It is hard to imagine that these pyramids were built over 4,000 years ago.

The next day we left Cairo and headed out into the Sahara Desert. We spent our first week visiting the western oasises of the Sahara. During this week we received a first touch of the vastness of this desert that stretches all across the top of Africa. Once away from an oasis nothing grows because there is literally no water, rain, dew or moisture. Even in an oasis, water is at a premium. Sand, dust and dry air are everywhere.

A couple of highlights stand out from that week. On my 62nd birthday we went for an hour’s camel ride in the desert. The picture below shows our mounts.

Just watching the camels saddled up was great entertainment. Once we relaxed riding them wasn’t too bad. Of course, I would not look forward to a long trip on a camel.

Another night we camped out in the desert. We along with all our equipment drove out in three four-wheel drive vehicles. On the way we stopped to buy firewood as there is none in the desert. At our campsite the vehicles were arranged in a “U” shape. Large rugs were staked and tied to the vehicles to protect the inside of the “U” from wind. This picture gives you an idea of the setup.

Rugs were laid down. Next came tables with six inch legs. The guides prepared a wonderful dinner of roast chicken, rice and potatoes with vegetables. After dinner they made a traditional tea of tea, mint and sugar. Then it was time to sleep. The tables were removed and foam mattresses were laid side-by-side on the rugs. Sleeping bags went on top and we crawled in. We must have looked like a bunch of hot dogs on a grill. All of us slept with varying degrees of success but all also agreed that the starry sky was unbelievable.

Our second week in Egypt was spent on the tourist milk run along the Nile. Hundreds of Nile tour boats provide accommodations and meals as you cruise the river. When the boats dock at night, small boats with venders converge on the tour boats selling souvenirs. This picture gives you an idea of the scene.

The ancient Egyptian ruins are magnificent. Because there are so many tourist tryping to see the sites, the government has everything quite tightly organized. We saw the Vallye of the Kings, Hatshipsut Temple, Luxor Temple, Karnak Temple, Abu Simbel, the Unfinished Obeslisk, and Philae Temple. In all cases there were literally hundreds of tourists at each location making it difficult to get a feel for each place. Everything was just huge and crowded. We were, however, lucky to see the mummy of King Tut which had just been put on display in his tomb.

Our overnight train ride from Aswan to Cairo was an interesting experience. Once in Cairo we visited the Egyptian Museum. It was packed with both treasures and tourists. Our guide Nasser did a good job pointing the highlights and then turning us loose. We were all very impressed with the finds from King Tut’s tomb. Both the quantity and the quality of them were amazing. The last day in Egypt was spent visiting a church, a synagogue, and a mosque. It was an ecumenical day. We also found time for some last minute shopping

Meanwhile back at Gunflint we are awaiting the arrival of a snowstorm. It is supposed to move in and out very quickly and give us a bunch of snow. I'll let you know what happens tomorrow when the last installment of our trip is posted.

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