Cairo to Aswan
May 27, 2010
Dinner was average. Nice but nothing particularly interesting or spectacular - at least it's included in the cost of the tour this one. Being a terrible name person I made a bit of effort to get a few more. So far I think I've got about half of them. My room mate is Tom, 40 something from Detroit. He's got two kids in college and got divorced a year or two ago and has been doing a fair bit of travelling recently, with Egypt obviously being his next choice. Then there's Susanne and Christine, two Australian women; Jess and Andrew who are brother and sister, and their partners, Sean and Andrew, all 4 also from Australia; Michelle and Charlie(?) from Canada and, two New Zealand women recently from Sydney, Azaria and
As I wrote the above I had a few blanks, hopefully by the time I actually post this I'll have filled in the blanks :D
We left the hotel on a bus to get to the train station. Further proof of the bad traffic our leader, Hassany, wanted to allow an hour to get there, even though it is only 3km from the hotel. The seats we have are similar to business class on the plane, quite spacious and leaning back a fair way. People were talkative for a bit but it's gotten quiet fairly quickly as it has been a fairly long day.
Wasn't much of a sleep though, the train driver appeared to have a habit of randomly stomping on the break for half a second, jolting everyone awake. Got dribs and drabs though before waking up around 7 to eat a prepacked breakfast on the train, having to spread jam egg and cheese without a knife is always good fun :D
We got into Aswan around 9.30 and went to the Nile Hotel, which actually has quite a nice view of the Nile funnily enough. They even appear to have Wifi which I'll have to hunt down reception about to figure out how to connect to it. Hassany gave us a few choices of what to do.
He recommended we go to the Philae Temple, and funnily enough, all 12 of us went it his recommendation. The Philae temple was on an island which has since been drowned by the lake created when the old Aswan Dam was built in the 1800s (might have been 1890s i can't recall). In 1971 the island was dammed, the water pumped out, and the entire temple was dismantled and moved 40 meters up, and 120 meters across to the nearest island,and reconstructed. Unfortunately the new island was not quite big enough so adjustments had to be made, but the majority of is there, and it is my highlight of the trip so far. This was helped by the guide who took us there, who told us a bit about the history of the three gods the temple was originally for.
In the time since it was built during the Ptomely era, it has been used not just by the Egyptians, but was re-purposed during the Greco-roman era and received a few additions, and later after it fell into disuse by the general public it was used as a refuge by Coptic Christians from the Romans. Each group left their unique stamp on things and the contrast is quite striking at times. In some cases parts of the original Egyptian art was destroyed by the Christians and the Muslims. You can tell the Muslim damage because they specifically destroy the faces hands and legs of the images, as they believe you should not create an image of (a) god.
Tonight, again at Hassany's recommendation, we are going on a Felucca ride and going to have some dinner on it. I originally wanted to do the cruise part of my tour on a felucca, however the one I've ended up going with turned out to be significantly cheaper despite the fact we will be going down the Nile on a cruise ship instead. And tomorrow we get up at 4am to go to Abu Simbel!