A runner with an appetite for adventure!

Exploring Luxor November 12, 2010

Filed under: Cairo — Kelocity @ 2:00 pm
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Originally 11/3/2010…

We woke up today at 6am to get to the Luxor Temples before the crowds. Our tour company is “Contiki”… so our motto on the trip was to get to the sights before “Antiki” (get it?) lol

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Our first stop was the Temple of Horus in Edfu.
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It was built in 200BC and is the most well-preserved temple in Egypt because it was covered in sand for nearly 2,000 years.


See the ‘windows’ carved into the sides? These didn’t used to be there. In 300AD, when Christianity was starting to boom, people moved into the temple and cut holes for sunlight.
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The temple is really deep, there are several rooms leading down a long hallway.

At the end of the hallway, was a granite shrine that originally housed a boat that would take the god once a year to the courtyard where the people could have a look.

Here is a depiction of carrying the god out of the temple.

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Don’t these look like they were just carved yesterday? It’s amazing.


When people moved inside the temple in 300AD, the Egyptian religion had long been forgotten. The new religious dwellers scratched the images of the old gods off the walls.
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But even though the faces of the gods are gone, the stories scratched into the walls remain.

Written here is a long play that the people could read.
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Back on the boat, we enjoyed another relaxing day of lounging, reading, blogging and sleeping. Smile

Midday, our boats passed through some locks in the River. Because of the Dams, the water level changes and you have to go through like the Panama Canal.

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It’s a slow process and as we waited, kids swim along the boat and throw empty film canisters onboard. They want you to put money in it and throw it back to them.
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It’s so sad because they are so poor.
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In the afternoon, they had teatime on the ship.

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In the evening, we went to a Papyrus shop and learned how they make it.
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We drove back along the Nile and saw the Valley of the Kings all lit up! (We’re heading to there tomorrow!)

Our next stop was Luxor Temple, built by Ramses II.

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The focal point was the pink granite obelisk in front. There used to be two, but the second one was given to France as a gift.


Recently discovered was a two mile row of Sphinxes connecting Luxor Temple to Karnack Temple. One by one they are restoring them.

Inside, the temple was breathtaking.

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Since it had been buried under sand for nearly 2,000 years, it was very well preserved. No one knew it was even there, and they continued to build on top of it in the 13th century. When they excavated, they left the Mosque above the temple walls.

On the left, up above, you can see the original door!

There was also lots of color preserved here as well.

Me and Ramses II.


I wonder how many more buried temples and treasures they’ll find in the next hundred years. This stuff is amazing!

Stay tuned for the Valley of the Kings, King Tut and Karnack!

And don’t forget to enter the contest!


Abu Simbel

Filed under: Cairo — Kelocity @ 7:00 am
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Originally 11/2/2010…


This morning, our wake up call was at 3:30am!! Sounds early, but we had a flight to catch that would take us to Abu Simbel. It was only a 30 minute flight, and I slept the whole time. When we arrived, the sun was just coming up.
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See this big mountain? Do you know what’s on the other side of it?
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The magnificent Abu Simbel.
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Abu Simbel was  built in 13BC by Ramses II. Originally, it was carved into a single piece of rock on a cliff. However in the 1960s, when they built the dam on the Nile, they had to move the temple. Otherwise, it would have been forever under water.

So they literally cut the temple out of the earth, block by block, and removed it from this place here:
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And put it on higher ground here:
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In this image from google earth, you can see the chunk of earth they cut out when they moved it. (Isn’t that amazing?)


Each one of these statues is Ramses II.

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So what happened to the second head? There was an earthquake and a rock rolled down the cliff and smashed it off. Now it lays in front:
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The hieroglyphics were really amazing.
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Inside, the temple is stunning (but you can’t take pictures). The most amazing part is that deep inside the temple, there is a statue of Ramses that used to be covered in gold. Twice a year, when the sun rose, it would hit at just the right angle and the rays would reach inside and light it up.


Next to Ramses’ temple was another smaller one that he built for his wife, Nefertari.
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With the flooding of the Nile, it was a gorgeous backdrop for such a stunning work of art. There is so much history that goes with Abu Simbel. Google it to read more!
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Then we headed back to the airport to head back to Aswan.
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Once back on the boat, we relaxed, read, blogged and napped all afternoon.
(can you find me? always with a nose in a book.)
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We enjoyed the stunning views of the river bank as we cruised.
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And as the sun set, we remembered how lucky we are to be on this amazing adventure together.
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Finally, our boat stopped at our next destination: Kom Ombo.
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Kom Ombo was built in 180BC by Cleopatra.
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But Cleopatra wasn’t Egyptian, she was Greek. Her influence can be seen on the design of the temple.
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Some of the original color can still be seen (this amazes me).
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Our tour guide Sherif told us so many stories about the sculptures.
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The temple was originally constructed to worship the crocodiles!
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The Egyptians feared the crocodiles that lived in the Nile, so they thought if they built a temple to worship them, maybe they wouldn’t  hurt any more people. Every year, they trapped a crocodile in this well…
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…and put him on a pedastal and gave him food, clothes and jewelry.IMG_1919 (2) (Small)

The ceiling is still intact too, the paint still quite vibrant.
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Seeing the temple at night was such a unique experience. The crowds are gone and you can walk around and explore on your own.
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When we got back to the boat, we had a party and everyone had to dress up like an Egyptian. There were so many great costumes, but I used what I had and improvised.
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Irving bought a shirt at the Bazaar too. What do you think?
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Stay tuned for pictures from Luxor!

And don’t forget to enter the contest here to win a great Egyptian prize!


Embarking on an Egyptian Adventure! November 11, 2010

Filed under: Cairo — Kelocity @ 7:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

Originally 10/30/2010…

Early Saturday morning, we took the metro to the airport in Dubai and headed to Cairo. We had a fabulous time in Dubai, but a new adventure was awaiting us!

When we took off, we could see “The World” from the air. Those are the man-made islands that they are creating to look like different countries.

We also had some great views of the ‘palm islands’. It is amazing how they built those.


Emirates Airlines once again impressed us. Dubai to Cairo is less than four hours. Our flight path went directly through Saudi Arabia, just south of Iraq.

Nervous? Nah…I napped the whole way. (Which of course means obligatory photos of me sleeping. haha)

I woke up in time to get our first glimpse of the Pyramids from the sky.

Then we started to get REALLY excited that we were actually going to Egypt!!

We were definitely a little nervous, but we had an airport transfer from Contiki. They picked us up and brought us directly to our hotel (Hotel Victoria). I heard bad things about this hotel, but it was fine and we slept really well.

We were really lucky and have a friend of a friend who lives in Cairo, so she took us to have lunch at a restaurant called ‘Sequoia’, which is on the Nile. I played it safe and ordered a Pasta Dish. (In Egypt, I stuck to a ‘no veggies, no dairy, no meat’ rule to avoid getting sick).

At 7pm, we got to meet our Contiki tour manager, Sherif, and the trip officially began!

The next day, we woke up bright and early for our first day of sight seeing. It wouldn’t be Contiki without a bus!
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There is something so fun about being with 40 other world travelers who are equally as excited about seeing Egypt as we were. This is our third contiki tour, and we were anxious for it to begin!
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Sherif said to us: “Welcome to Egypt. You are going to see King Tut’s treasures and his golden mask, you will ride a camel around the pyramids and then go inside them, you will kiss the sphinx and walk on the Saraha desert—and that’s just today!”

Our first stop was the Egyptian Museum.
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This houses all of King Tut’s treasures, his tombs and the famous golden mask. We also saw the mummies of many pharaohs, including Ramses II. We couldn’t take any pictures inside the museum, but we had a fantastic guided tour.

The museum is really old (1902) and really hasn’t been updated since. It was kind of a shame to see such history and priceless artifacts being displayed on rotting wood pedestals with poor lighting. But they are working on building a new museum that is slated to open in 2011. They are financing this new museum by ‘putting King Tut to work’. The traveling exhibit of some artifacts from his tomb is currently on tour in the US, and the profits will pay for the museum’s new home in Giza.

Then we hopped on our tour bus and headed toward the pyramids. The Nile was glistening in the sun.
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Cairo has 22 million people, and most of them live in cramped, dirty apartments. A lot of them don’t have windows or roofs because they live tax-free until the building is completed…. so there is no incentive to ever finish building them. There was a staggering amount of trash everywhere (including the Nile).

Over one bridge, we looked over and saw a bunch of camels in a courtyard. Sherif told us they were going to be sacrificed… sad!
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Just beyond the bustling city of Cairo, the pyramids started to appear in the horizon.
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As we got closer and closer, they looked bigger and bigger.

I just couldn’t believe that we standing at the base of the pyramids. They were really beautiful.
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Tomb robbers looking for treasures robbed them thousands of years ago. Here, you can see the original entrance, and one dug by thieves looking for the burial chambers.
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As we walked around the pyramids, we came to the herd of camels waiting to carry us on a journey back in time.
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Our entire contiki group went as one giant caravan into the desert.

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The camel totally photobombed this picture:

Anyone who knows me knows how much I fear horses…. and camels are even SCARIER! But who could pass up an opportunity like this?
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Doesn’t this look photoshopped? It’s not, I promise! Irving took this!

October was the PERFECT time to go to Egypt. It was 80 degrees out. They told us we saw the first clouds they had seen in months. IMG_1329

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The three smaller pyramids were the Queen’s Pyramids.

My camel was NOT behaving. I think he was in love with the camel next to me.

I was afraid to ride them at first, but by the end, we became good friends.

Then it was time to have a little fun with the pyramids.

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Look mom, we’re at the pyramids!!
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We were SO lucky, we got to go INSIDE the second pyramid! (money can get you anything in Egypt!) We walked down the burial shaft into the room inside. There was nothing in there anymore, but it was SO cool to say we went in. It was SOO hot and humid in there though. We stayed just for a couple of minutes and hiked back out.


The pyramids are the only surviving ‘seven wonders of the world’.


Then we went to meet the Sphinx!


Reese, the gnome, got to kiss him!


But I got one too!



If you’re keeping track, we didn’t eat lunch that day. haha If we stopped for lunch, we wouldn’t have time to fit everything in. So naturally, we had gummy bears when we got back on the bus. You gotta do what you gotta do, right?

Then we headed to a resort nearby to relax by the pool and clean up for dinner.


Sticking with my ‘no dairy, no meat, no veggies’ policy… the carb fest continued. (Believe me, by the end of the week, I was craving colorful veggies and fruits!)

The outdoor restaurant was really nice.

Next came the part of the trip I was dreading the most… the overnight train to Aswan. We rode ‘first class’, but by American standards, it was far from that.


Each compartment fits two people…

But with the beds down, we could barely move. It was fun though, and we actually slept pretty well.

We both brought travel sheets with us (which were the envy of the group, we highly recommend them!)

Next stop: Aswan!

Don’t forget to enter the contest to win an Egyptian prize!


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