I read a holiday advert today and immediately I was transported back to 1984. I was standing outside the temples of Abu Simbel with hundreds of other people, all in awe as we watched the rising sun shine directly through the temple door to light up the carved statue of Ramses the 2nd. It was October and on this day, (Ramses coronation day) and on only one other day in February (Ramses birthday) does this amazing event happen.
I was on the first part of my Nile cruise to take me from Aswan to Cairo, a special trip from my husband to celebrate our wedding anniversary. I had always dreamed of going to Egypt and now here I was experiencing sights and sounds that echoed with voices and touches through thousands of years of history and I loved it. The Nile at Aswan has a very magical feel with green lush Islands, stark Sahara desert views and the beauty of Philae temple standing in state on its own Island. Our cruise boat was large but comfortable and as we cruised towards Luxor there was so much to see and take in and I avidly read my books on the Valley of the Kings and Karnak temple before we arrived.
The starkness of the Valley of the Kings struck me it was as far removed from the glory and splendour of the temples and palaces we had seen as you could imagine and it was here that the Pharaohs had been buried with all their treasures. Now all that remains are the painted walls and tantalising glimpses of what their lives had been like. It all made me feel like I wanted to forget the rest of the cruise and join an archaeological dig!
Our cruise then sailed out of Luxor North and just when you start to think you have seen it all we arrived at Dendera to visit the temple dedicated to the goddess Hathor. The temple is also known as the Sistrum Temple as it was conceived as an enormous musical instrument where the harmonies of the universe were bought together, so the guide book told me.
Our next stop was Asyut where we visited one of the oldest churches in Egypt and is said to have been one of the hiding places for Mary and Jesus on their journey that eventually led them to Nazareth.
Our journey then took us onto the little visited Middle Egypt and El Minya. It was an amazing sight to see all the donkeys lined up waiting for the boat to arrive and to take you to see the tombs of Beni Hasan. We passed through palm groves and green fields and it all felt like a scene from an Agatha Christie novel. We also visited the ruins of the city of Akhenaten built by the pharaoh Amenhotep IV where he lived and worshipped the sun with Queen Nefertiti. Seeing where she had lived, bought to life the beautiful golden sculpted bust of her I had seen in the Egyptian Museum in Berlin and I was able to put a place to the face.
As we then cruised North towards Cairo there was time to reflect on everything we had seen and to enjoy the serenity of the Nile with its ever changing scenery. Children would wave from the banks or swim towards the boat in the hope of sweets, oxen and donkeys cooling themselves at the water’s edge, a whole variety of birds to watch and then the ever present stark desert just beyond the irrigated stretch of land. The morning we arrived in Cairo was full of an electric excitement as we all gathered on the top deck, binoculars in hand to get our first glimpse of the Pyramids of Giza in the distance, a sight never to be forgotten.
This had certainly been the best way to explore Egypt and I was really sad when the route from Luxor to Cairo was closed in 1989 due to different reasons including the silting of the Nile, so imagine my excitement to find that this long cruise route is back. It has been announced to encourage visitors to return to Egypt and starts from this May for shallow drafted boats and I for one, after 28 years am planning to return to relive the magical journey I had taken.
Written by Andrea Jones
Explore Travel and Cruises would love to thank Andrea for her post about her Egypt memories, if you have any holiday memories that you would like to share we would love to hear from you.
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