Dashur, Saggara and Memphis

 Posted by Elizabeth at 9:31 pm
Aug 092011
 

The False Pyramid, DashurOur last day in Egypt we visited the sites as Dashur, Saggara and Memphis. Our first stop was Dashur to see the false andThe Red Pyramid, Dasour red pyramids. The false pyramid was the first pyramid and was built around 2500BC. It changes angles about halfway up the sides as they realised that the top would not meet in a point. The same pharaoh then built the red pyramid which is believed to be the first real smooth sided pyramid and his actual tomb. Again it is amazing to think these pyramids have survived thousands of years in such a harsh environment.

From there we stopped at Memphis, the ancient capital of Lower Egypt. There is not a lot there, just a few statues and relics from around the area. There is though a very impressive statue of Ramses II. Its feet are broken and therefore it is lying down, but it shows you how huge and detailed it is. The carving is magnificent with fantastic lines, showing how skilled the craftsmen were at the time.

MemphisMemphis

Saggara was the first royal burial area, followed later by Giza and then the Valley of the Kings. There are a number of pyramids here, the most impressive being the step pyramid. Unfortunately they are “restoring” the pyramid and are completely redoing the surface of it and it looks like they have smoothed over the bottom step. Someone needs to tell them about conservation rather than recreating it! In the complex we went inside one of the smaller pyramids. There is a small steep tunnel that leads you into the burial chamber where there is a stone sarcophagus and hieroglyphics decorating the walls.

Step Pyramid, SaggaraSaggara

Before we left for Egypt people told us what a terrible place it was, how much they were hassled and ripped off. As we were with a guide and driver most of the time we were probably sheltered from it somewhat, although when we were on our own we were not really hassled that much, certainly no more than other places we have visited. The only thing where we felt slightly ripped off was our meals. None of our guides wanted to take us to a cheap local place as they did not want us to get sick, and that is fair enough, but it is frustrating when we are used to shopping in the local markets and cooking for ourselves and as it turned out we both got sick anyway.

The most annoying thing about Egypt is that everyone wants to be tipped for every minor thing they do. A guy at the airport wanted a tip because he lifted our bag, turned without moving his feet and put it on the xray machine (and we had tried to do this ourselves). You have got to be kidding!

Whilst we were there we saw no signs of unrest and did not feel unsafe. There are police everywhere, although most of the time they are sitting talking or sleeping, so I’m not sure how much use they are. The traffic is pretty crazy, but again no worse, and perhaps even slightly better, than other places we have been and we would have had no issues driving ourselves.

By the end though we were both more than ready to back in our own car, cooking our own meals and being able to go where we want when we want. Independent travelling is definitely better! We are both glad we visited Egypt and saw the things we did, but neither of us are in a great hurry to return.

Alexandria

 Posted by Elizabeth at 6:06 pm
Aug 072011
 

We were met at the train station in Giza and driven the 3 hours or so to Alexandria. Alexandria is a popular holiday destination for Egyptians as it is on the sea, has beaches and real waves. We spent about half a day visiting Montazah Gardens, the Citadel, an absolutely beautiful mosque, Pompey’s Pillar, the library and the catacombs. The catacombs were interesting but I am not sure the drive to Alexandria is worth it unless you want a seaside break with a couple .sites to visit.

Citadel, AlexandriaMosque, AlexandriaPompey Pillar, Alexandria

Luxor

 Posted by Elizabeth at 9:28 pm
Aug 062011
 

Our first stop in Luxor was the Valley of the Kings, a desert valley where the pharaohs were buried from the 16th to the 11th century BC. So far they have found 63 tombs with the tomb of Tutankhamen being the only one that was found completely intact, including all its treasures (which we saw in the Egyptian Museum). The most recent tombs were found in 2006 and 2008, so there are probably more still to be found. We went inside 3 of the tombs (unfortunately you are not allowed to take photos). It is amazing that the colours of the engravings have survived thousands of years and are still quite bright. They certainly went to a lot of effort to create and decorate their tombs.

Next was the temple of Hatshepsut, a woman who ruled Egypt but dressed and behaved as a man. The temple has been reconstructed using the remains that were found and it is quite different to any of the other temples as it is built into the rock face and consists of 3 levels. Each level has a row of columns across the front of it. Most of the statues though are missing or damaged and the decorations are either gone or quite feint.

08062336a_resizeHatshepsut Temple, LuxorHatshepsut Temple, Luxor

 

Karnak Temple, LuxorWe stopped briefly at the Colossi of Memnon, 2 large statues that were once part of a temple.

Next was Karnak Temple Complex. This temple is HUGE and has been added to by about 30 pharaohs over the years. It is made up of various temples, pylons, and other buildings as well as a sacred lake.

 

 

Karnak Temple, LuxorKarnak Temple, LuxorKarnak Temple, LuxorKarnak Temple, Luxor

That night we caught the sleeper train from Luxor to Cairo. It was OK, but definitely not as good as the ones in China. The food was terrible, both dinner and breakfast, thankfully we had bought some snacks to take with us just in case. Neither of us got much sleep as the train is quite rough and then we were woken about 4am for breakfast, an hour before arriving in Cairo – we could have slept another half an hour as it did not take us an hour to be ready!

Kom Ombo and Edfu

 Posted by Elizabeth at 4:36 pm
Aug 052011
 

Our boat pulled up right outside Kom Ombo Temple so it was a 2 minute walk to the temple itself. It is not particularly large but has a lot of excellent carvings and in some of them you can still see the original colours. All of the temples would have been quite something in their day with all the colours on the walls, ceilings and columns.

Kom Ombo TempleKom Ombo TempleKom Ombo TempleKom Ombo TempleKom Ombo TempleKom Ombo Temple

Edfu TempleOur boat then sailed the short distance to Edfu where we visited Edfu Temple. This pylon of this temple is huge and quite spectacular and the temple is one of the best preserved. The temple is dedicated to the god Horus and was completed around 57BC. Inside the sanctuary of the temple they found a boat made of gold that weighed 100kg (it is now in the musuem and a replica is in its place). The amount of detail and the skill required to build and decorate the temples is just amazing and I think this is one of my favourite temples.

Edfu TempleEdfu TempleEdfu TempleEdfu TempleEdfu TempleEdfu Temple

Aswan

 Posted by Elizabeth at 9:28 pm
Aug 042011
 

Our Nile ship MS Emilio, AswanWe boarded the MS Emilio in Aswan for our 3 night cruise down the Nile to Luxor. The ship was pretty nice and a lot better than some of the other ships we saw. We decided to upgrade to a suite which allowed us to sit on the lounge in our air conditioned room, but with the full length glass window open as we travelled down the Nile rather than having to sit on the roof deck where it was very hot and windy. The ship was full of French people with only about 8 English speakers on board, but it wasn’t an issue and we had a pleasant 3 days on board.

Felucca, AswanOur guide for Aswan was also our guide in Kom Ombo and Edfu and was extremely knowledgeable and helpful. The temples are a lot more meaningful and interesting if you have a guide to explain everything to you and are well worth the money.

In Aswan we took a trip on a felucca to view the Aga Khan Mausoleum and the botanical gardens, and then took a motor boat to visit a Nubian village. The Nubian’s have very colourful homes and are pretty friendly. We took a walk through the village and had a look at one of their homes which was a pleasant way to fill in the afternoon.

Nubian Village, AswanNubian Village, AswanNubian Village, Aswan

The next day we visited the High Dam which was built to esnure a constant water supply and created Lake Nassar in the process – the biggest man made lake in the world. It is huge, but does not look so big as most of it is under the water. You need to see the diagrams of it to understand its size.

Philae Temple, AswanPhilae Temple was next on our list. It is located on a small island near Aswan and was also moved as a result of the flooding caused by the construction of the High Dam. There are a number of structures with various pharaohs adding their own bits through the centuries, all of which are thousands of years old. It was an impressive temple with plenty of statues, columns, engraved scenes and hieroglyphics. It is amazing to think so many of these ancient sites have survived thousands of years. A lot of the temples though have been defaced by the early Christians who erased faces and sometimes whole bodies of the various gods depicted.

Philae Temple, AswanPhilae Temple, AswanPhilae Temple, Aswan

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