Layover in Frankfurt
A not so quick layover in Frankfurt before heading south to Egypt. We took in an art museum and walked around Old Town a little.
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Around Marsa Alam
We flew into Marsa Alam International Airport which is actually about 50km from the town but it's also the name of the region. The ship was docked in Port Ghalib and we didn't actually spend any time in the town itself.
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Aboard the Blue Waves
The M/V Tala didn't make it out of dry dock in time due to electrical problems so we were given a replacement ship which turned out to be just fine, mostly.
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Diving the Red Sea
Finally what we all came to do, dive the Red Sea. We've all heard it's world class diving, lots of animals endemic to this area and that it's one of the most pristine environments around.
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The trip from Marsa Alam to Luxor was an experience in itself. We drove up the coast to Port Safaga and caught the convoy through the desert and mountains to the central Egyptian city of Luxor.
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Valley of the Kings
The first big site we visited was the Valley of the Kings. Sure they were just holes in the side of the mountain where they put a Pharaoh's body but they were very elaborate holes in the ground.
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Near the Valley of the Kings was the outrageously impressive Hatshepsut Temple. We wished we could spend more time there. It was unique in that it's a huge three story temple built into the side of a mountain and it's wide open.
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Valley of the Queens
And finally on our first day of touring we made a quick visit to the much less impressive Valley of the Queens. Then on the way out we made little more than a drive-by visit to the Colossi of Memnon.
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Temple of Amun at Karnak
We got up before dawn so we could make it to the largest temple in all of Egypt. It was huge. I've seen it on Discovery Channel before and that in no way prepares one for the proportions of the place.
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Back to downtown Luxor for a visit to the other very impressive Luxor Temple. It used to be joined to Karnak Temple but now it's sitting in the middle of the city. Still very cool.
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Nile Cruise aboard the Sunray
We signed up for a four day itinerary on the Sunray. We picked up the boat at Luxor and cruise south (up river) to Aswan checking out the major temples along the way. At night we feasted on bland food and tacky entertainment.
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The first stop south of Luxor on the cruise was an interesting temple to the god Horus at the town of Edfu. The god Horus is the falcon god who takes several shapes but usually the body of a man and the head of a Falcon.
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Temple at Kom Ombo
One of the most stunning temples visually is the one at Kom Ombo. It's right there on a hill on the east bank of the Nile River. Very nice.
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The final stop on our Nile Cruise is the city of Aswan. Here are two dams which prevent us from going further south but also several attractions worth visiting.
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The temples were all starting to look alike but the Temple at Philae is special because it's on a beautiful little island on the dammed portion of the Nile River between the two dams.
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We had some time time kill in Aswan before flying to Cairo so we decided to take in some Nubian culture. The museum was great but the visit to the Nubian village was pretty much a waste of time.
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After the cruise up the Nile we flew from Aswan to Cairo to see the sights there and to, see the pyramids! Yes, we've been in Egypt for about two weeks now and we FINALLY get to see the pyramids on our last day!
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Egyptian Museum of Antiquities
A museum so good we had to visit it twice. We thought that by this point we might be Egypted out but strangely no. It wasn't the best organized museum in the world but the contents are second to none.
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On a hill overlooking the huge city of Cairo is an old fort called The Citadel built to protect the city of Cairo from invaders. There too is the largest mosque in Egypt called the Mosque of Mohammad Ali.
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Memphis and Saqqara
On our last day in Cairo we visited the site of Memphis, the first capital of Egypt. It was discovered only a couple decades ago. Afterwards we visited the world's first pyramid at Saqqara (Sakkara) also known as the Step Pyramid.
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Pyramids of Giza
Only we would leave seeing one of seven wonders of the world to the late afternoon of the last day in Egypt. But we did get in our quick visit to the Pyramids and the Sphinx. We even got to play camel jockey for a few minutes.
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To return to Chicago we could fly through any European city we wanted. We chose Paris since we've never been there. It's cold and wet in February but it was still a nice visit.
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Our tour of death continues with a short visit to the famous Catacombs. Unlike in the Pyramids and other Egyptian Tombs death was front and center here with the bones of millions of Parisians lined up in neat piles.
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Cathedral of Notre Dame
We took advantage of a break in the weather to visit the Cathedral of Notre Dame. The highlight there is to climb up into the clock towers and enjoying the same views the Gargoyles get.
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It was cold and rainy, perfect conditions to visit one of the largest museums anywhere in the world. This is the place where all the goodies from around the world end up. Famous works include the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Winged Victory, and MUCH much more.
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It was the last day of our trip and Valentine's Day so it was time to go for dinner at Altitude 95, one of the restaurants on the Eiffel Tower.
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