Luxor to Aswan by Boat

Luxor to Aswan by Boat

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We chose to spend our honeymoon visiting various bits of Egypt. It promised to be hot, dry, and busy.

On the plan was a week or so on a boat travelling from Luxor to Aswan and back, followed by a midweek in Cairo and then a week of chilling at Sharm El Sheikh.

We started with a flight on EgyptAir from Heathrow to Luxor Airport. EgyptAir proved to be quite good. They upgraded us to business class as we checked in, and a part of their special honeymoon service was also that they suplied cakes for us. We were feeling a bit special just then.

The flight was about 4 hours and when we landed at Luxor we had a fairly quick turnaround and met the driver who was transferring us to our boat.

The boat itself was really luxurious and it proved to be a very welcome resting place after what proved to be some pretty hot and tiring days. The food was really good and so was the bar. The cleaners did have a bit of a habit of making strange characters out of bits of bedding and clothes in the room though, which was a bit weird.

We had a dedicated tour guide with us on the boat (from our tour company Kuoni). Only a dozen or so people on the boat were on the same tour as us. The others had their own itineraries and guides, albeit obviously that we all stopped in the same places at the same time.

For the first day or so we sailed precisely nowhere because our first day was spent in Luxor visiting the local sites, and especially the Luxor Temple and the complex at Karnak. The temple was quite impressive for a first sightseeing trip. It was also though our first introduction to the heat. Oh, the heat. It was hot.

In between visiting temples we were spending a fair amount of time on the boat, generally drinking, relaxing, and attempting to get a suntan.

On the next couple of days we were “templing” early in the mornings and cruising the rest of the time. First up was the Temple of Khnum at Esna – a fairly small temple nestling in a big hole. Presumably, it was excavated out while the town around it was being built upwards. Next on the list was a trip to the Temple of Horus at Edfu. We parked up here early in the morning again and were taken over to the temple through the town in some horse-drawn carriages. I remember on this day also that one of the older couples in our party had a bit of an incident with the heat. Well, it was really hot that day.

Aswan is one of the major settlements in southern Egypt and we spent a couple of days there seeing the sights. We went to a quarry where they’d found a half-carved obelisk. We also went on a trip on a tiny boat into the river to the island where they’d moved the rather excellent Philae Temple. And finally we took another small boat onto the river near the centre of town to have a walk around the gardens on one of the islands there.

From Aswan, we sailed all the way back down the river again in a single go so that we were in Luxor again. When we got there we had probably the hottest day we’ve ever had, up at the Valley of the Kings and the Temple of Hapshepsut. It was about 45 degrees in the shade when we started, despite being only 9 in the morning. It got hotter as the day progressed.

And having done all that, we were thoroughly templed out, so we hopped on a plane and went to Cairo instead. OK, so the quantity of ancient buildings is similar there, but they are more pointy.


On Honeymoon

On Honeymoon

Not a single piece of material culture – not a single object – has been found at Giza that can be interpreted to come from a lost civilization.

Dr Zahi Hawass

Egypt.jpg

Luxor Temple

Valley of the Kings

Esna Temple

Edfu Temple

Philae Temple

Central Aswan

The Great Pyramids

The Great Pyramids

Cairo Museum

Cairo Museum

Sharm El Sheikh

Sharm El Sheikh

St Catherine's Monastery

St Catherine’s Monastery

Luxor to Aswan by Boat

Open the photo gallery >>

We chose to spend our honeymoon visiting various bits of Egypt. It promised to be hot, dry, and busy.

On the plan was a week or so on a boat travelling from Luxor to Aswan and back, followed by a midweek in Cairo and then a week of chilling at Sharm El Sheikh.

We started with a flight on EgyptAir from Heathrow to Luxor Airport. EgyptAir proved to be quite good. They upgraded us to business class as we checked in, and a part of their special honeymoon service was also that they suplied cakes for us. We were feeling a bit special just then.

The flight was about 4 hours and when we landed at Luxor we had a fairly quick turnaround and met the driver who was transferring us to our boat.

The boat itself was really luxurious and it proved to be a very welcome resting place after what proved to be some pretty hot and tiring days. The food was really good and so was the bar. The cleaners did have a bit of a habit of making strange characters out of bits of bedding and clothes in the room though, which was a bit weird.

We had a dedicated tour guide with us on the boat (from our tour company Kuoni). Only a dozen or so people on the boat were on the same tour as us. The others had their own itineraries and guides, albeit obviously that we all stopped in the same places at the same time.

For the first day or so we sailed precisely nowhere because our first day was spent in Luxor visiting the local sites, and especially the Luxor Temple and the complex at Karnak. The temple was quite impressive for a first sightseeing trip. It was also though our first introduction to the heat. Oh, the heat. It was hot.

In between visiting temples we were spending a fair amount of time on the boat, generally drinking, relaxing, and attempting to get a suntan.

On the next couple of days we were “templing” early in the mornings and cruising the rest of the time. First up was the Temple of Khnum at Esna – a fairly small temple nestling in a big hole. Presumably, it was excavated out while the town around it was being built upwards. Next on the list was a trip to the Temple of Horus at Edfu. We parked up here early in the morning again and were taken over to the temple through the town in some horse-drawn carriages. I remember on this day also that one of the older couples in our party had a bit of an incident with the heat. Well, it was really hot that day.

Aswan is one of the major settlements in southern Egypt and we spent a couple of days there seeing the sights. We went to a quarry where they’d found a half-carved obelisk. We also went on a trip on a tiny boat into the river to the island where they’d moved the rather excellent Philae Temple. And finally we took another small boat onto the river near the centre of town to have a walk around the gardens on one of the islands there.

From Aswan, we sailed all the way back down the river again in a single go so that we were in Luxor again. When we got there we had probably the hottest day we’ve ever had, up at the Valley of the Kings and the Temple of Hapshepsut. It was about 45 degrees in the shade when we started, despite being only 9 in the morning. It got hotter as the day progressed.

And having done all that, we were thoroughly templed out, so we hopped on a plane and went to Cairo instead. OK, so the quantity of ancient buildings is similar there, but they are more pointy.


Cairo

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Our second stop in Egypt was the capital city of Cairo, which we arrived at by plane from Luxor.

About two weeks before the holiday we’d been called by the tour company and told that our chosen hotel was in the middle of a refurbishment and whilst they assured us that we wouldn’t be bothered by the noise, they asked us if we’d rather change. One of the options they offered was the Mena House, a very historic old hotel right outside the pyramids at Giza. It was full of quite posh looking people, including Claudia Schiffer. It also had a fantastic view of the pyramids from the balcony.

Meanwhile, back at the plot, on our first evening there we went to a son et lumière show at the Sphinx just like Roger Moore in The Spy Who Loved Me. We didn’t see any big blokes with metal teeth or any female KGB agents though.

On our second morning there we decided it was time to heed advice and get up really early to go into the pyramids. We heard they sell a handful of tickets each morning to allow you to get into Khufu’s Pyramid, so we got up to the ticket office for about 7:30am and were lucky enough to get some. Sorted ! We grabbed some bottles of water and set off for a bit of pyramid action.

They really are quite impressive in scale.

The inside was a bit claustrophobic but I’m glad we went. We had to leave cameras at the entrance though, so no photos. While we were in there, we took the opportunity to walk down to the Sphinx again for a quick look around in daylight. By this time we were getting a bit hot and sweaty so we retired to the hotel and were just in time to get breakfast. Yes, we went out early, and got back for breakfast.

The following day we had a trip over to the centre of Cairo to visit the Egyptian Museum. Strangely enough, it is packed with antiquities from ancient Egypt, including some impressive Tutankhamun stuff.


Sharm el Sheikh

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After Cairo we flew over to Sharm el Sheikh for a bit of a break from all the temples and museums. Well, they’re hard work, aren’t they? Especially in that heat.

Seriously though, we spent this week doing all sorts of not a lot. Our hotel was right by the beach and there were a few restaurants and cafes along the sea front so there was a bit of choice.

We went diving one day, but not before we’d had to go to a PADI approved doctor in town who gave me a certificate to say my use of prescription nasal spray wasn’t a problem. We scoobed in a pool. We tried some snorkelling in the sea too.

On one day we took a short cruise in a glass-bottomed boat, which gave us more of a view of the excellent diving conditions that we didn’t quite get down to.

We also spent a day on buses taking a tour to the Saint Catherine’s Monastery, up in the Sinai desert. It was hot that day.


Crete

Crete

In August 1999 Kas and me spent a week in Crete – our first ever “proper” summer holiday together. It was warm and sunny and very picturesque.

Oh, and while we were there, I made a very drunken proposal of marriage to Kas whilst sitting at a quayside cafe in Rethymno one night. She said yes.

We spent much of the week lazing around doing nothing in particular, but we did do the two most touristy things that Crete has to offer – The Minoan ruins at Knossos and the rather fantastic Samariá Gorge.

I’d been previously to Samariá Gorge (in about 1987, I think) on a quick holiday in between finishing university and starting work, but that time I’d just gone by bus and boat to the bottom end. This time we took the “proper” option of getting dropped off at the top and walking down to the sea (about 15km). We got overtaken by an emergency donkey at one point, which was slightly embarrassing.


Portuguese Cities

Portuguese Cities

During the summer of 1999 I was working on a project with a well known national petroleum refining company in Portugal. During the course of the project I visited the country a dozen or so times. They have refining facilities in Sines and Porto and head offices in Lisbon. I went to all of them at some point.

On one occasion I had a stack of meetings in Porto at the end of one week followed by more meetings in Lisbon at the start of the following week. There seemed no point in going home for the weekend, so we got a plane ticket for Kas to come and meet me there. Well, you would, wouldn’t you?

I arrived in Porto quite early during the day, so was able to grab a bit of Tommy Tourist time in the afternoon, before having to start working the following day.

On Friday evening, the Portuguese guy I was working with (Ricardo) drove us both back down to Lisbon from Porto and he dropped me at my hotel, where I met up with Kas, who’d successfully made it through Lisbon Airport on her own and found a cab that took her down to the hotel. Cool.

We had all of Saturday and Sunday to explore the city. It was the first time I’d had chance to do anything even vaguely touristy while I was there (apart from going out for dinner a few times), and Lisbon is a pretty city.

On Sunday night I sadly had to escort Kas up to the airport so she could fly home again alone, as I was working though until about Thursday, I think. If memory serves me correctly, I got home on Thursday night and then took Friday off work to load all of our worldly goods and chattels onto some removals vans, as we were moving house from Kent’s Hill to Tattenhoe. Kas had very kindly spent most of the week packing stuff up into as many bags and boxes as we had available so that we could actually manage to move house. So basically, I wasn’t there for most of my own house move.


Round the Matterhorn

Round the Matterhorn

Not a lot to say here except that Kas and me went skiing early in 1999 in Cervinia, which is just on the Italian side of the Matterhorn. From there you can ski across into the Swiss resort of Zermatt too.

We went with our old friends and traditional skiing buddies Brewster, Gramsie, Swanny and the Wilsons.

I seem to remember it was cold, which is generally a good thing whilst skiing, except for when it’s too cold.


Meeting the Mrs 1998

Meeting the Mrs 1998

I had two skiing holidays at the start of the year. The first was early on in the season at Courchevel 1850, and it was on this holiday that I first really met Kas.  The second holiday was five weeks later over the hill in Meribel. This was my “regular” outing with my old work mates and I remember I was already missing being with Kas, so there must have been something in it even though there was technically nothing going on at that time.

By the time we got around to the Kippers’ wedding in spring I had a definite sense of a relationship forming with Kas. In fact, I think it was around this weekend when we became more official about it. Anyway, it was a a fine spring day for a wedding, with a reception at the Swan in Milton Keynes Village. And if memory serves me correctly, Arsenal beat Manchester United, not that I cared much about that.

By the end of May the relationship was strong enough for us to travel as a couple sort of officially for a weekend away down in Devon, invited by Jimmy’s parents. I think we all stayed in a rented holiday bungalow nearby, and it was a bit snug, but I remember it being an enjoyable trip.

In the summer there was another alcocycling trip.

And another visit to the British GP (which caused me to miss the 1998 World Cup Final).

And that was apparently all the photos I took in 1998.


Very Few Photos 1997

Very Few Photos 1997

I was still working with KBC in 1997 and spent much of my year travelling to Germany on Monday to Thursday every week. Time was therefore a bit limited, with weekends being spent mainly getting ready for the next week away. It seems to be the year in which I took the fewest photos.

Early in the year I went skiing in Wengen with most of my usual crowd.

Some time in the summer there was an alcocycling trip. For the uninitiated, it involves cycling between pubs and getting very drunk. At some point it usually involves surfing on Concrete Cows too.

In July I went to the British GP at Silverstone.

And finally in August I went up to the Lake District for a week with a bunch of mates.


Skiing and Boating 1996

Skiing and Boating 1996

The year began in March with a skiing trip to Sestriere with a group of random friends and acquaintances I’d met at home. I think there was an earlier trip to Les Deux Alpes with the gym I was a member of at the time, but I didn’t seem to photograph that one.

In the middle of the summer there was an “It’s a Knockout” day at my old work location.

I also spent two weeks with my new company doing some software installation in Singapore for my old company, which was a bit weird. I worked in an office with people I already knew.

Later in the summer I went on a canal barge holiday starting at Evesham, and continuing up the River Avon through Stratford and deep into Warwickshire before turning around and chugging back again.


Asian Adventures 1995

Asian Adventures 1995

The year began for me with a dash up to Scotland for the New Year weekend, so technically this is probably a 1994 activity as well as 1995.

What I remember of the trip is that it took a long time to drive there on my own, it was snowy when I arrived and we nearly got snowed in, and we were staying in a log cabin on the west side of Loch Ness. The rest is a blur.

I also remember on the way back I was due to go pick up a friend from Perth and it proved to be a bit dangerous because the weather was still cold and the washer fluid in the car had totally frozen up, so I basically couldn’t see diddly out of the front window.

Continuing the wintery theme I went out one cold clear afternoon early in the year to take these photos around Willen Lake.

During the spring I went skiing at Serre Chevalier. This trip was notable for the fact that there wasn’t a lot of snow when we arrived, and also that my skis set off home on a different bus from myself, after a mix-up in the hotel lobby during the loading process.

So why did I call this post “Asian Adventures”? Mainly because my job role at the time involved some work with a well known Malaysian oil company, and I made three visits over to their new refinery at Melaka to meet up with some of my old friends from way back when and to do some work on refinery planning ad scheduling. I’m not sure why I ended up going because, quite frankly, the way that piece of work was designed was nothing to do with me. Maybe it’s just that I was the one most willing to say yes. On reflection, I wasn’t the only one from the team, but I seemed to go for longer. Three trips for a total of 8 weeks, if I remember correctly. I still possess a load of the tough plastic coat hangers that the hotel used for returning ironed laundry.

Anyway, back at the plot, Melaka is a small town halfway up the west coast of mainland Malaysia, and it was at one point in its past a Dutch colony. A number of the key public buildings and streets still have their Dutch names. However, the overall aura of the place was very much Asian-tiger, new growth and modern, even if the back streets were taking a little while to catch up.

During at least one of those trips I took time off to visit old friends in Singapore – a shortish 3 hour drive down the motorway. It was a great place to spend the weekend. I remember on one of those I was very much flavour of the month with one of my work colleagues who rented a flat in central Singapore city. Why? Because I’m not Malaysian and not Singaporean and was therefore allowed to take my Malaysian registered car into Singapore. Singaporeans weren’t allowed to because, essentially, the Singapore government liked to put fairly punitive taxes on locally bought cars (it’s not a big place) and as a result the richer locals would simply pop over the causeway and get themselves a cheap Malaysian purchase to bring back. A legal ban was set up rather than an import tax. Anyway, I was able to give said colleague a ride all the way home, in return for use of his spare room for the weekend.

And after all those adventures I finished off the year with a very autumnal trip down to Devon. I think it may have been just a few days before Christmas when we went, and it was wet and windy most of the time.


Desert Adventures 1994

Desert Adventures 1994

I seem to remember 1994 as being a year at work that passed pretty much without incident apart from a couple of travelling highlights. On the domestic front, I apparently didn’t do much other than a couple of days out and a big old long holiday in the summer. Apologies for this post having a lot of photos of America. The alternative was to create 15 separate posts. Nah ! One will do, it’ll just have to go on for a bit.

So in approximately chronological order, these are the things I did in 1994 which seemed worthy of remembering with photographs.

In the spring, my old school friend Doctor Sime got married at Clumber Park.

And then in the late spring I was invited to make a business trip to Houston to do some presentations on the work I was doing at the time. It gave me a chance to meet up with a few old workmates from the Grangemouth days who had since migrated to a new project in Houston. I think I visited an oil refinery in Sweeny (which I didn’t photograph) and the Houston Space Center (which I did) – I had an unplanned weekend to kill after being invited to meet with a second set of clients (who ultimately never turned up). And one of the guys managed to get some tickets to see the Houston Rockets and kindly included me in the invite list, which was good.

Around the August Bank Holiday I drove down to London for a house party organised by another old workmate, and in the process we went over to Hampton Court. How the other half lived, huh ! Although this may have been in May rather than August. My memory is somewhat fuzzy, to say the least. In fact, judging by the daffodils on one of the pictures, I would say that May is a better bet than August. But I can’t remember whether it was before or after Houston.

So I guess the highlight of the year was a long holiday in the great American Southwest. The official excuse for going was the old workmate “Big Phil” was getting married to a local in Denver – going native, as it were. There was no particular need for that trip to take the 17 or so days it did, other than that it’s a long way to go for a short stop. So Brewster and me made our way over to Denver from London, and picked up our rental car looking forward to a good old drive around the place. No particular plans – one doesn’t do that kind of thing on a road trip – one just goes where one feels like, don’tcha know ! Aside from booking a hotel for your first few nights, that is.  We met up with a whole host of old workmates in Denver. Kipper and Muscat arrived from Singapore via Los Angeles, I think, and I remember Mark, Stevie and Andy popping up from wherever they were at the time.

So we started with 3 days in Denver, including a bit of a walk round the downtown area, a drive up to the Red Rocks Amphitheatre (where U2 recorded their concert film Live at Red Rocks. Technically I suppose U2 played it and someone else recorded it. I doubt Bono was walking backwards and forwards changing tapes in a cassette player throughout).

And after all that “city break” shenanigans it was time to get on the road and see ourselves a bit of geography, and quite a lot of geology. It’s a good area for that kind of thing, by virtue of there being not many trees to hide it.

First day out of Denver we drove down to Colorado Springs and went for a walk around the Garden of the Gods. And then we drove up and down Pikes Peak. Then to finish our day we drove over to Cripple Creek and finished our day by staying over in Pueblo  – I remember the lady at the check-in of the motel thought it strange we were on holiday in Pueblo. Don’t worry, we’re not stopping long !

On the next morning we drove over to the Royal Gorge near Cañon City, which is apparently has the highest suspension bridge in the world (i.e. the biggest drop underneath). The bridge itself is narrow, not fit for vehicles, and could best be described a “rickety”, but it’s quite impressive to walk across. The guide books also say that Cañon City in the 19th century had a choice between hosting the State Prison and State University of Colorado and plumped for the former, obviously believing there was no money in education. This might be an urban myth, but whatever, the two big universities in the state ended up in Fort Collins and Boulder whilst Cañon City is home to the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility (which is a big name for a prison).

After this we went to the Great Sand Dunes National Park a little further west. At the time it was only a National Monument, having been upgraded to a National Park in 2004. The dunes weren’t upgraded though – they were big and sandy enough already. From here we picked our way quite a long distance across country and spent a night in Taos.

The next day we travelled over to Santa Fe to marvel at the adobe everythings and wondering at the huge mouthful of its full name ( La Villa Real de la Santa Fé de San Francisco de Asís ). I also bought an Australian style slouch hat, which won me an accusation of being Australian on more than one occasion. We spent that night in Santa Fe. Apparently neither here nor Taos were worthy of any photos though apart from one of Santa Fe’s cathedral, which is below.

So the next morning we headed of west towards Arizona, driving around Albuquerque and joining I-40 heading west. We parked up in Holbrook after doing about 300 miles in the car.

The next day promised to be more interesting. Starting from Holbrook our first port of call was the Petrified Forest NP just out of town. Fantastic stuff – this is what a drive in the desert should be about. Hot, dusty, not many people around, Park Rangers from Yorkshire (not sure how that one got in there), that kind of thing.

And from here we decided to head over towards Flagstaff, making a stop at Meteor Crater on the way. Home for the night was a random non-descript motel on “the strip” just east of downtown Flagstaff. It had been a long day and we were glad of it.

I think we must have stayed 2 nights in Flagstaff, or moved up to Tusayan, because we did far too many things to have stayed there just one night. There was definitely a late afternoon stop-off at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.

And a considerable amount of Grand Canyon.

And on departing there we drove up through Northern Arizona and through the Navajo Nation up to Monument Valley, one of the highlights of the trip. More “proper” desert up here. We continued on and spent the night in Blanding, which we thought lived up to its name. Something about ending up in a town with no beer.