September 06, 2004

Nile Cruisin'

I wouldn't describe Janet or myself as your typical cruise ship frequenter but there are really only three options when sailing down the Nile: the Felucca -- essentially a sailboat -- a dahabiyyas -- a 6-8 cabin luxury sailing vessel or the big 'ole cruise ship (usually over 50 cabins). The Felucca route, while long on romanticism and adventure comes up a bit short on the practicality side (mosquitoes, searing heat during the day, cramped quarters and fending for yourself for sustenance) and while the dahabiyyas represent (for us) the best of both worlds (luxury & comfort but in an understated, not-over-the-top touristy kind of way) they are waaaay out of our budget. So Wings Nile Cruises proved the winner.

Luckily we are on the "shoulder" of high season here (apparently 120 degree daily temps keep a good chunk of tourists away...woosies!) so our boat was only half full. Also, our little tour group consisted of some pretty righteous peeps -- 4 kiwis (New Zealanders) and 2 Irish lasses now living in Australia.

The boat was classified as a "5 ***** deluxe", though this was more than a bit generous. That being said the food was decent, the cabins were pretty roomy and the roofdeck pool was nice & chilly. To complete the cliche, we bought (and read) Agatha Christie's "Death on the Nile" whilst sailing...the book was OK, but the scenery and historical perspective made it worth the read.

The Nile is the world's longest river and with over 90% of Egypt's 69 million living within swimming distance it truly is the heart, aorta and blood of Egypt. Sitting poolside as we peacefully sailed past palms and the greenery adjacent the river was pretty spectacular:

A River Running Through It

Feluccas (the more romantic cruise) at sunset

Our first stop along the river came at Edfu, ~ 35 km from Luxor. Here we visited the Temple of Horus, the Egyptian god of the sky and son of Isis and Osiris. It was actually constructed during the Ptolemaic (Greek) period...Greek rulers were so taken by Egyptian civilization they adopted and mimicked its art, architecture and religion. Given that this sucker is only 2,000 years old its in remarkable shape, with its roof intact and many of the reliefs in amazing shape:

The etchings behind my head inspired the Bangles' "Walk Like an Egyptian"

Did I mention Horus's Temple is BIG??

After clambering 'round the temple we jumped back into our horse-drawn carriage (procured for a cool 10 Egyptian pounds ($1.40) and returned to the ship. That evening we made our way upriver to Kom-Ombo Temple...not as impressive as Horus's but afforded cool night-time views:

Templing by night

Mohammed, our trusty guide whose sense of humor never failed to errr "amuse us", pointed out one of the most significant wall carvings in ancient Egyptian history:

It's not the size of the Felucca, it's the motion of the...

Apparently Egyptian men were among those who had a bit of a size complex...the artist is showing that the smaller member (below) is more fertile than the larger as evidenced by the longer trail of droplets :-).

its not Bananaramma's "Walk Like an Egyptian".. its the Bangles!!!!! suzanna hoffs? COME ON MAN! paul f.
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