A runner with an appetite for adventure!

Arriving in Beautiful Aswan November 11, 2010

Filed under: Cairo — Kelocity @ 2:00 pm
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Originally 11/1/2010…

After taking a sleeping pill and waking up on the train, we were excited to find ourselves in Aswan, Egypt.

Egypt Map


Since we avoided all the food on the train, here’s the breakfast of champions!
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Aswan was far less crowded than Cairo and very beautiful.

Our first stop of the day was seeing the ‘little dam’ and the ‘big dam’.
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A few decades ago, the Egyptians decided to build a dam to stop the yearly flooding of the Nile.

This then created the largest man-made lake in the world. Lake Nasser.
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Then we headed to Egyptian-Russian friendship monument. It was constructed by the Egyptians to thank the Russians for helping them build the Dam. The top is shaped like a Lotus Flower.
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Our tour continued through the village of Aswan. These are some old mud tombs of local families.

Next, we visited the unfinished obelisk. The Egyptians started carving this out of a granite quarry thousands of years ago. They used crude rocks to chip away at the stone.
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Unfortunately, when they were almost done with it, the stone cracked and they abandoned the project.

If they had finished this project, it would have been the largest obelisk in the world at 137 feet (even beating the Roman ones that were constructed years later).

This would have been the top of the obelisk:
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Posing in the quarry… (PS, those are the new sketchers I bought for the trip. I LOVED them!)




Next was one of favorite parts of the trip… a ride on a felucca.
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The Nile River runs south to north, but the wind blows north to south. This is how the ancient Egyptians were able to travel BOTH ways up and down the river (thus the reason their civilization thrived). Feluccas are a type of sailboat.

As we were cruising, we passed the Cataract Hotel. It was built by Thomas Cook, but made famous by Agatha Christie’s novel, Death on the Nile.


The views were amazing from the river. You can see the lush river banks shadowed by the dry Sahara desert.

Up on this hill was a mausoleum of Aga Khan.

We then docked at the Aswan Botanical Garden, a lush oasis rich with exotic plants.



This looked like a scene we saw in Cairo Time but then we heard it wasn’t. Still beautiful though.
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Then we took our Felucca back to the mainland.
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The Ride was almost an hour and it was SO relaxing and peaceful. There are no engines on the bat, so you just quietly sail along the calm waters.
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Our sailors entertained us later with traditional music and dance.

Then we arrived at our destination… our cruiseship!! This is where we’ll be staying for the next three nights!
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Our room was very big, and pretty comfortable (a nice change from sleeping on the train!)
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All aboard!

After a relaxing afternoon on the boat, we went to a local perfume shop to see how they make them.

Then we braved the Aswan Market after dark.
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It was crowded and noisy. The vendors are very aggressive and you have to know going in it will be like this. It can be a little overwhelming if you’re not prepared. It was definitely an experience.

We enjoyed dinner on the ship and slept like babies on the boat.

Stay tuned for the next post… we’re heading to Abu Simbel!


Embarking on an Egyptian Adventure!

Filed under: Cairo — Kelocity @ 7:00 am
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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!


2 concerts in 2 nights! October 2, 2010

Filed under: Hollywood Events — Kelocity @ 4:13 pm
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I’m getting too old for this!

On Thursday, we had tickets to see Train at the Greek Theater in Hollywood. It’s one of our favorite bands, so we were very excited to see them in such a small venue.

Before the show, we had dinner at Mexico City and it was amazing. Mexican food is always good, right?

When we got to the theater, we found out that they had really undersold the show and half the venue was empty. So they reseated everyone into better seats.

See all the empty seats!

It worked out though, we were really close to the stage. It was a short set, but a good show.

(with a crappy picture…)


And last night, we headed to the Ford Theater to see Counting Crows. There were only 800 tickets sold to that show! They premiered the new movie Freeloaders (which Adam Duritz produced). It was hilarious.

Then after the movie, Counting Crows played an hour set. It was awesome!

Two concerts in two nights. Whew! We still got it!


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