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Monthly Archive: May 2023

4/2023 Egypt – Cairo and the Nile

From Amman we flew as a group to Cairo where UniWorld again met us, handled the passport control, led us thru customs, and on to the bus. The tour started the next day with a total of 36 people on the UniWorld cruise. After a day of visiting the Muhammed Ali Mosque and the Old Egyptian Museum (The NEW one is still under construction and several years late.), we flew to Luxor to start the cruise.

Doesn’t he look like he’s sitting on a toilet? He’s in the Egyptian Museum.
All public toilets in Egypt had an attendant handing out toilet paper in return for some change. However, the airport paid their toilet attendants so this sign was in those toilets. Our translation was “Don’t pay to pee.”

Our description of a Nile cruise is that it’s just like a bus tour – sail to a location, get off the boat, see a temple or two, get back on the boat, and sail to the next location – without having to pack and unpack every day. All the temples except Abu Simbel are very close to the Nile but driving between them is less comfortable than sailing between them.

The cruise was uneventful except for one good Norm story. Norm hit his head getting on the little boat for the bird watching trip AND he lost his wallet someplace that same day.  No one found it on the bird watching boat so Norm cancelled his credit cards. A day later or so, one of the cabin boys on the cruise boat found Norm’s wallet in Cabin 1; Norm and wife had switched cabins and the wallet fell somewhere in the old cabin.

Now for the pictures with just a little explanation.

Scenes from the bus

Abu Simbel

Susan in the 100F temps at Abu Simbel
Abu Simbel. This was moved inland in pieces when the Aswan High dam was built in the 1960’s. This was the most incredible temple we saw on the trip.
Ramses inside of Abu Simbel

Ramses shows up all over Egypt

Ramses at Karnak Temple
He’s at the Temple of Luxor. BTW … we gave up trying to keep all the dynasties and kings and pharoahs straight. I need a cheat sheet for that.
Temple of Hatshupset Temple.

All the styles of columns were Susan’s favorites.

Hathor temple
Inside Hathor Temple. Trajan and the Romans were involved with this one.
Temple of Esna on Easter morning

No trip to Egypt is complete without visiting the Valley of the Kings where King Tut was buried. We’d already visited his mummified body and the gems buried with him when we saw the OLD Egyptian Museum. Valley of the Kings just has the empty burial site along with a few dozen other tombs. One admission lets you choose 3 tombs to visit (Don’t lose your ticket!) but you need a separate ticket for Tut.

Valley of the Kings is very desolate and dry.

We finally headed back to Cairo via plane. In Egypt, as in India, men and women use separate security lines in the airport. All of the airports also had one security line at the entrance to the terminal for passengers and luggage. After passing this test, we could head to check-in, get our boarding passes, drop our bags, and head to the second security. The gates were not very good at using a microphone to board the bus to the plane. It was a “watch the gate and go when every one else does” kind of boarding.

We finally got to see the pyramids and the Sphinx. We had no idea that the Sphinx is pretty small and is right down the hill from the pyramids.

The pryamids are right outside of Cairo with a KFC and McDonald’s close by.
One side has orchards and a Marriott hotel at the entrance.
In front of the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx
Pyramids! They’re actually on a small hill so the big crowds are on the other side down the hill.
Riding a camel was a popular activity. We passed and just took pictures.

The Colorado foursome flew home via Frankfurt, spent the night in Frankfurt to avoid a 2 AM departure in Cairo. Mark and Susan headed to DC and Cumberland for the last stop on the trip – see Susan’s Mom.

3/2023 – Jordan

In 4th grade, Susan studied Egypt. Ever since that, the pyramids have been on the trip list and in January we booked a last minute trip on the Nile.  Since we would be in the neighborhood, we added the Uniworld pre-trip to Jordan. How much planning went into this? Not much!  Mark had never been on a group tour but he agreed to give it a try.

United made this whole trip easier by adding a direct flight to Amman from DC.  After we arrived in Amman, Uniworld took care of the details and we just followed directions.  They even met us before passport control and took care of the Visa on Arrival.

After arriving 3 days before the tour officially started, we booked our own day tour of Amman.  The city was pretty quiet during the day (relatively) because Ramadan started the day before we flew in.  The Arab food at the Iftar buffet (meal eaten after sunset during Ramadan) in the hotel was yummy and the staff pointed out the special iftar desserts we had to try!

Olives for sale in one of the Amman markets
Citadel. We had a retired Jordanian military officer as a guide. He asked if we are British before telling us how the Brits screwed up the Middle East after WWI.
View of Amman and the Roman Theater from the Citadel
Mark and Susan at the Roman Theater in Amman

John O. and Sue H. , friends from Fort Collins, joined us in Amman the day before the Jordan trip started. To give you some perspective, the tour itinerary went like this (and not the order we would have done it):

  • Amman – Jerash – Dead Sea – back to Amman
  • Amman – Petra (THE highlight of Jordan) – Wadi Rum
  • Wadi Rum – Aqaba
  • Aqaba – Madaba – Amman

Hadrian’s Gate at Jerash. Every time Hadrian visited a town, it seems they built him a gate.
The Dead Sea is at the bottom of these steps. If you look really hard, you can see Mark and John on the sand before they got in it and floated around. Sue and Susan retreated from the sun!

The Jordan tour group only had 12 people in it and we were 4 of them. Another 2 couples were fun and easy to deal with. Another 4 came from Nebraska. Let’s just say we didn’t want to have beers with 2 of them in the evening. Every group trip has “one of those” and our’s was Norm from Nebraska.  The day we left Amman for 2 nights, Norm left his passport in the bathroom of his hotel room. WHY do you even have your passport in the bathroom?   Who knows!  Fortunately, the hotel found it and held it until we returned to the hotel 2 days later.   Off to Petra!

We spent 4 hours there and 4 DAYS would be better. The site is huge – the Treasury, a monastery after you climb 800 steps (no time for that), Royal Tombs (only saw them from a distance), an amphitheater, camels, other ruins. This is definitely on our list to come back to.

After a 1.3 km walk to the bottom of the Siq, the Treasury appears at Petra.
Mark, along with the camels, vendors, and other tourists, in front of the Treasury. Yes, you saw the Treasury in an Indiana Jones movie.
Camels are everywhere! These 2 were along one of the roads we took to Wadi Rum.
Glamping in the desert. The tents came with flush toilets and showers.
View from our bed in the tent
Starry, starry night! The stars would be better with a smaller moon. It was too bright to see many stars.

Our last day was a drive from Aqaba to Madaba to Mt. Nebo to Amman. The highlight was lunch in Madaba where we FINALLY had upside down chicken … chicken and rice and veggies and lots of spices cooked in a big pan (wok size) and flipped upside down to serve it. It was the best food of the whole trip!

Upside down chicken!
Mosaic floor at the Franciscan Church on Mt. Nebo. And before anyone asks, we had NO idea what Mt. Nebo is famous for. We had to Google it to discover that this is where Moses stood to see the Promised Land before he died. If this is wrong, talk to Google.

We were exhausted by the time we arrived back to the hotel in Amman and checked in again. Norm got his passport back! The four of us headed to the bar for a beer and a sandwich for dinner.

It’s a small craft beer world. The only craft beer made in Jordan is from a brewery started by a Jordanian guy who went to grad school at U of Colorado in Boulder. He learned about craft beer there and decided to start a brewery in Jordan.  Pretty good beer.

Jordanian Craft beer with a Colorado connction

That finished the Jordan trip. Mark and Susan loved Jordan … nice people, great food, safe country and cities. We walked to find the laundromat one day in Amman and several people pointed us in the correct direction. When one dryer didn’t work after we inserted our coins and we used another one, the owner dropped off the equivalent of $4 for us back at the hotel after he finished work.

We brushed up on geography lessons in Jordan, too. Aqaba, Jordan, is on the Red Sea – about 1km. from Israel, 10 km. from Saudi, shares other borders with Syria and Iraq. They describe themselves as “a nice country in a bad neighborhood.”