Monday, August 28, 2017

Cruising The Nile River In Egypt.....

After five exciting days in Cairo we boarded an Egypt Air flight bound for Luxor. As we approached the boarding gate the clerk behind the counter asked for, "men only" to come forward for boarding. Baffled by this announcement it caused quite a stir, but the men began to proceed through the gate. Apparently there was NO female available for the, "pat down," of the females waiting to board the plane which caused a delay. Eventually we all did make it onto the plane and settled in for a short one hour flight across Egypt.

Leaving the airport was a horror show of taxi drivers all wearing long white robes and scarves on their heads all wanting our business. Every taxi was old, banged up and had the windows open indicating that there was NO air conditioning in any of them. Hoards of dirty looking men in robes were grabbing at my luggage trying to earn a tip by helping. Finally we decided on a taxi while several of the men nearby helped to load our luggage into the car. As we drove off with the car windows rolled down the men reached in with their arms asking for money. Clyde did give them some Egyptian pounds but they kept asking for more.

As we drove off in the taxi that was nothing more than a shell of a car, we realized we were in for quite the adventure. The driver talked constantly offering to show us around as our tour guide. Without missing a beat he had to keep restarting the car since it stalled at every traffic light. Thankfully we climbed out as we approached our hotel and walked quickly away from the crazy driver that we never wanted to see again.

A Spirited Taxi Drive From The Airport

We landed in Luxor to spend a few nights at a posh, resort type of hotel. This place was huge with four restaurants, bars, a spa, gym and more yet barely had anyone staying there. Tourism is way down in Egypt and despite how safe we feel, many people are still afraid to travel here. But this is the perfect time to visit since the Egyptian pound is 18 to 1  US dollar which makes everything very cheap here.

Our First View Of The Nile From Our Hotel Room In Luxor

Local Felluca Sail Boats Going By

Early on Monday morning we were picked up by our private guide Hatem, for our next adventures in Egypt. He arrived early at our hotel with a driver who came complete with a chilly air conditioned car for our travels. Our first stop was Karnak Temple and Luxor Temple before boarding the ship. We toured these amazing sites in the early morning heat before temperatures climbed to unbearable highs in the afternoon.

Karnak Temple Pictures

                     Luxor Temple Pictures

The MS Amarco I, would be our floating home for the next week as we explored more of Egypt. Although the ship appeared to be older it featured a stately elegance that was wrapped in wood and stainless around every corner. Our large cabin came complete with Egyptian cotton sheets, frigid air conditioning, a refrigerator, sitting area, and large bathroom. One entire wall of the cabin was glass that overlooked the beautiful Nile River for our viewing pleasure. We spent one night on the ship before it set sail the following afternoon.

Our Ship MS Amarco I

Tiny Swimming Pool

Typically on cruise ships we spend little time in our cabin but not the case this time around. Every day we literally just lie in our bed taking in the beautiful scenery that floated by our window. Simple mud homes with mules parked in the front yard became the norm with children playing in the river below. Lush, green fig palms dotted the landscape along with tall, thin minarets that adorned the mosque next to it. Six times a day the mesmerizing, chanting of "call to prayer" in Arabic could be heard from most everywhere.

Life In The Country

The history of ancient Egypt goes back at least 13,000 years while some historians claim it dates back some 30,000 years. Just about everyone we've met in Egypt claims to be a tour guide all offering to show tourists around.

The price of our eight day cruise (about $500 each) included ALL shore excursions (with one exception) and a PRIVATE guide who actually stayed on the boat with us for the whole week. Not only is Hatem a tour guide but he also has a Master's degree in Egyptology so he really knows what he's talking about.

Our small ship was equipped with 50 cabins all which looked out onto the Nile, a restaurant, bar & lounge, gym, sun deck with pool, jewelry shop and gift shop. Breakfast and lunch were served buffet style while dinner was either a buffet or a planned menu with a carving station that offered an alternative meat choice.

After a revolution here in 2011 tourism has been way down due to fear. Our ship was only about half full with passengers and at any one time there were perhaps 40 to 50 people on board.

A glorious sunset over the Nile started out our nightly entertainment that we watched while relaxing in our cabin.

Plenty Of Beautiful Sunsets Over The Nile River

After an 8pm dinner the lounge came alive with loud music that offered a mix of Arabic, Spanish and other beats for dancing the night away. Ironically enough the main language on board was Spanish since most passengers were from Spain. There were a few Belgians, a few South Africans, Egyptians and us being the only ones that spoke English as a first language.

We crawled into bed that night snuggled up under our Egyptian cotton sheets tired from our first few days in Luxor. Our days would began early in order to explore in the cooler morning hours, around 95 to 100. In the afternoon hours the temps rise to 115 degrees, although the locals claim it was even hotter than that a few months back. Another day of exploring Egypt on Nile River......along the gringo trail.

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