Thursday, January 5, 2012

The cruise

The next part of our vacation was a 3 night, 4 day cruise down the Nile from Aswan to Luxor. This also marked the beginning of what I deemed the "shabby chic" portion of the trip. We stayed in a pretty fancy hotel in Cairo, and went with mid-priced accommodations the rest of the way. Our ship was somewhere between a luxury cruiser and a fishing boat. What we learned is that mid-priced in Egypt means that it was really fancy in the early 80s and hasn't really been updated since. It means a lot of wood paneling and mauve upholstery.

The best part of our cruise was that we had our own tour guide for our group of four. His name was Wael, though Dizzy and Brian decided to call him Bobby Abreu. I am pretty sure Wael didn't know that he looked just like an Angels player, but the nickname stuck. Wael taught us more than we could possibly remember about the ancient Egyptians, their beliefs, and their lifestyle. We also got him talking about Egyptian politics, religion, tourism, and he told us some jokes that lower Egyptians (from Cairo and the North) tell to make fun of upper Egyptians (from Luxor on South).

In Aswan we made a quick stop to look at the unfinished obelisk, the Aswan High Dam, and the Temple of Philae. Philae was really cool - it had been moved 300m from its original site because when the Aswan Dam went up, the temple was submerged under the Nile. It had graffiti in English, French, and Arabic from sailors who had passed by two and three hundred years ago. It's better for me to show you photos than try to describe any more.


At Lake Nasser, by the Aswan High Dam
Philae Temple

Then we headed to the ship and checked out Aswan town in the evening. I almost paid $90 for a couple of necklaces because I thought they cost $9. Those decimal points are tricky, so I'm glad Brian had the money that day. The ship stayed docked in Aswan the first night as the other travellers arrived. There were a few big family groups of Spaniards, a bunch of Romanians, a couple of Germans, two Americans, and some Egyptians also. We spent much of the cruise on the  rooftop sundeck, watching the other passengers and the riverbanks go by.

The middle two days were spent mostly cruising down the river, with a stop at the Temple of Kom Ombo and the Temple of Edfu. Here are some photos:
Kom Ombo Temple

 Edfu Temple

On the ship at the Esna locks
On New Years Eve, the ship put on a fancier dinner for everyone, followed by a dance party in the bar area. Just picture this - chain smoking Romanians in sequin mini dresses and fake hair, hippie-looking Spaniards in family groups, a crackling PA system playing Arabic music, and some awkward attempts at belly dancing. Then a few dance songs is Spanish come on (and off, because the PA keeps cutting out) and a conga line breaks out and snakes its way around the room. It was memorable.

On the last evening, when we were almost to Luxor, we got stuck. Apparently the water was low and all of the ships were trying to navigate around sandbars. We didn't do so well. All night the ship's motors were growling, trying to get us back into deeper water, but with no success. Luckily, our guide arranged for us to get on a motorboat in the morning that would take us into Luxor.  Just as we pulled away in the motorboat, a tug was coming in to rescue the ship. The Spaniards were on the motorboat too, but the Romanians were still chain smoking, indoors, and we were happy to leave them.

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About Me

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Thanks for coming to my blog. It started as a way to keep in touch with family and friends, and now has become an ongoing project. I'm an American living in Germany and trying to travel whenever I can. I write about my experiences as an expatriate (the interesting ones and the embarrassing ones), and about my travels. There are some recurring characters in this blog, particularly my husband Brian and several of our friends. The title comes from the idea that living in a foreign country means making a lot of mistakes. So the things you used to do easily you now have to try over and over again. Hopefully, like me, you can laugh at how idiotic it feels. If you have happened upon my blog, then welcome. Knowing that people are reading what I write makes me keep going. Feel free to write comments or suggestions for future posts.