Visiting Egypt had been in Frenchguy's wish list eversince. He wanted to experience hiking and camping with the camels in the middle of the Sahara desert, let alone the excruciating heat. I was reluctant. I can't support 40°C. I would literally melt down.
Then the idea of Egypt came back again this year. We wanted something different. I thought, why not. I checked Egypt climate and it said 25°C average on the month of February during daytime. That's end of winter in Egypt. Perfect for me.
So I packed light clothes. Finally, I could show more skin. But why the heck were we on winter jackets?
Luxor, the world's greatest open air museum, is just a 5-hour plane ride from Paris. The travel with our active toddler was a breeze. She had her own seat, knew how to buckle up her seat belt, and was relatively calm for the whole duration of the flight. She was always looking out the window and was raising her hand to tell us, we're still là haut, up there.
We were welcomed by French-speaking guides who worked on the visas and informed us which bus to take. There were 3 flights from Paris to Luxor that morning, equaled by a long line of buses in Luxor. That was a clear picture of mass tourism.
The bus took us to our cruise ship which became our itinerant residence for a week.
Life on a Cruise Ship
We arrived at a port where cruise liners were parked one after another. Each of them displayed a banner of travel organizers, as if I just googled for Egypt travel and there popped up the list - live. We crossed 2 ships before arriving on our resident. Our cruise ship catered exclusively to French tourists so crews mostly spoke French and menus were close to French cuisine.
We had a suite with two bathrooms, one with a tub, another with a shower. Though the ship was visibly old, we nevertheless had all the comfort we needed - rooms made up twice a day, friendly crews, bar, swimming pool to chill out. They even have this way of transforming the towels into crocodiles or ducks which added to the fun.
We even had animated soirées, with crews who transformed themselves into singers and dancers, and Louna who actively participated all throughout the evening. That was a lot of pure fun.
The first navigation was done during daytime which was cool as we had the opportunity to marvel at the landscape along the Nile River and at the same time observe its people. Otherwise, the rest of the navigations were done mostly in the evening.
We had our first stop at the Edfu Temple of Horus - the major Ptolemaic temple, built between 237 BCE to 57 BCE, into the reign of Cleopatra VII.
Next was the Temple of Kom Ombo, dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek, god of fertility and creator of the world and to the falcon god Haroeris, also known as Horus the Elder.
Then we visited the grandiose Abu Simbel (picture above), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, built during the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II in the 13th century BC, as a lasting monument to himself and his queen Nefertari, to commemorate his alleged victory at the Battle of Kadesh, and to intimidate his Nubian neighbors.
Back to Luxor, we visited the Temple of Karnak, a vast open-air museum and the largest ancient religious site in the world.
Then the Luxor Temple, made particularly popular because of its appearance at the movie Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie.
One of my favorite stop was at the Valley of the Kings (pictures not allowed) where 63 tombs had already been discovered (and some still hiding!). In modern times the valley has become famous for the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun (with its rumours of the Curse of the Pharaohs), and is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world.
Other stops were at Deir el-Madinah, an ancient Egyptian village which was home to the artisans who built the temples and tombs ordered by the Pharaohs and other dignitaries in the Valley of the Kings during the New Kingdom period (18th to 20th dynasties) and Medinet Habu or the Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III.
Are you still with me? I know, that's much of an adventure already but the best is yet to come.
A day with the Nubian population of Egypt was the cherry on the cake. We started the day with an hour ride on the dromedary camel which took us to the Nubian village. There, we were served with local delicacies and allowed to visit local houses and schools.
The commercial quarter in an Arab city, the Aladdin's cave where local produce could be bought - from different spices, to Hibiscus tea, to papyrus artworks, to belly dancing costumes to different souvenirs. Though I'm quite used to local markets from the different countries I've visited, I find vendors here a little too aggresive. The approach makes tourists run away from them. To the point that I refused to look at their products because a glance could fire up a long negotiation.
The systematic asking for 1 euro started to fed me up too. Even the teacher who played with Louna at the pre-school we've visited even ask us for euros! But well, that's part of tourism, right?
*Citations about Egyptian temples from Wikipedia.