Egypt Trip Report by Sarah Taylor
I am back from one of the greatest adventures I have been on. Although brief, my trip to Egypt is registering in the top 5 trips that I have ever gone on.
We arrived Cairo after a very smooth direct flight from New York -JFK. We were met at the airport and quickly driven to our hotel, the Oberoi Mena House.
Our check-in was handled smoothly and we were quickly whisked off by golf cart to our roo m which was located in the Garden Pyramid wing. This wing has been recently renovated and the rooms are gorgeous.
I was wide awake at 4:00 am and ready for the excitement to begin. The breakfast buffet was served in the Khan el Khalili restaurant and offers a nice range of pancakes, eggs, grilled tomatoes and some interesting sausages made from chicken. There was also a decadent table filled with pastries, croissants as well as fruit and yogurt.
A short drive took us to Sakara and the Step Pyramid. The scenery of this unique pyramid standing in a sea of desert is really spectacular and there were few tourists around which made the visit special. Following lunch we headed back out to the Great Pyramids and then on to the Sphinx. Visitors have the opportunity to climb into the Cheops Pyramid.
We were actually done around 3:30 pm and had the rest of the day at leisure which was ideal as it gave us a chance to go for a swim in the hotel’s gorgeous pool. We had dinner in the Moghul Room, the Mena House’s famed Indian restaurant. They offer 2 seatings, 7:00 pm or 9:30 pm so we took the earlier one as tomorrow was a busy day. The food was fantastic and I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves Indian food.
We had a morning departure of 7:30 am and stopped enroute in downtown Cairo to pick up Mohamed and then it was off to the airport. We had a 9:00 am flight to Aswan and then a connecting flight to Abu Simbel. We landed in Aswan and right on the tarmac boarded our next flight to Abu Simbel. It was a short little flight to Abu Simbel.
Abu Simbel is absolutely spectacular! The main temple is dedicated to Ramses II and besides the spectacular hieroglyphics inside the true wonder of the site is that it was completely moved. I n the 1960’s when the Aswan High Dam was built the resulting flooding threatened to destroy the temples. UNESCO stepped in, disassembled the temples and reconstructed them 200 feet above the original location.
The ship held lunch for us (the time was about 3:15 pm) so we ate and then regrouped as we had a late afternoon felucca ride which was magical.
Following dinner we went up to the pool deck for some peace and quiet. The desert air was blowing in and it was such an odd thing to experience. The best way to describe it is that someone has turned on a blow dryer on super hot heat and aimed it at your face.July 14
Today was such a delightful surprise. We got in the van and headed off to a launch site where we boarded a small boat to Philae Temple. This place was fantastic! Besides the temple being a unique and gorgeous hysterical site, there was a great breeze blowing and since we were there early, not many tourists.
The ship set sail at 7:00 pm for Edfu and tonight was Captain’s Cocktail Party. It was nice to see everyone get dressed up.
This morning we were scheduled to tour the Temple of Edfu. We toured the Horus Temple at Edfu from 9:00 am until 10:30 am and then back to the ship as it was setting sail for Luxor.
The cruise from Edfu to Luxor is some of the most scenic on the Nile and we enjoyed viewing it from our balcony. Everyone got dressed in their galabeyas and a traditional buffet dinner was served on the top deck. Then it was down to the disco for some dancin g and games. It was really fun!
Early morning wake -up and quick breakfast and then we all met at 7:00 am for an exciting day of touring. First stop was the Valley of the Kings. Tour guides cannot enter the tombs (as the noise would be too great with each one trying to talk over each other) , no cameras are allowed and they have put plexi -glass over the hieroglyphics from the floor up about 6 feet to prevent people touching them. It was unfortunate that the antiquities department don’t put little signs in front of some of the more important hieroglyphics so travelers don’t miss the important things. We visited Ramses III, XI and IX as Mohamed thinks they are the best explain of the brightly painted tombs.
Then we went on to the Valley of the Queens and Hatchepsout Temple – both of which are spectacular.
Everyone was asked to be out of their rooms by 8:00 am so we met Mohamed and left for touring the Karnak and Luxor Temples. The Karnak Temple is blow -your-mind amazing! One of my favorite sites during the entire trip!
We had the 9:00 am flight to Cairo as we had another full day of touring. We met Mohamed at the Citadel and toured the Sultan Hassan Mosque and then the Mohamed Ali Mosque. We went to the Khan el Khalili Bazaar and ate lunch at the Naguib Mahfouz Restaurant (owned by the Mena House and located off the main alleyway of the bazaar). The food was delicious – probably my favorite meal and the best kofta of the trip! Shopping in the bazaar was fun and thank goodness for Mohamed as he was the one who wheeled and dealed for us.
Our last stop for the day was the Four Seasons Nile Plaza. There is only one word for this hotel – SUBLIME!!! They gave us a Nile view room on the 19th floor and oh my, what a view! We had farewell drinks with Mohamed in the 3 rd floor ‘Bar’ – we all agreed it had been a fantastic week! One that we would never forget!
– by: Sarah Taylor