Quite a contrast.
Luxor is quite a contrast to crowded, chaotic and noisy Cairo. Lush and green with flowers, upscale shops, horse-drawn carriages ... Luxor is a quiet tropical paradise.
The first day we toured the East bank.
First on the touring list was the massive Karnak Temple with its towering pillars, looming obelisks and statuary. Considering the rudimentary tools at their disposal, the ancient Egyptians were master of architecture and engineering. In the evening we experienced the famous and eerie sound and light show.
Second on our list was Luxor Temple with its imposing pillars, statuary and rows of Sphinx. Another engineering wonder that survived the ravages of time.
After sightseeing in he blistering heat, we boarded a felucca sailboat for a peaceful Nile River cruise. We disembarked at a tropical island with banana groves and lush landscape.
The next day, we toured the West bank.
We visited the remote Valley of the Kings, burial ground of the New Kingdom Pharoahs. Burial chambers of the greatest leaders, including King “Tut,” can be entered and perused. The dank, humid tombs retain the beauty of painted walls and sarcophogus, beauty that was originally limited to the deceased and the afterlife. I couldn’t help but think of the famous mummies at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo who once rested within the arid, remote hills. This is where they belonged, not in glass display cases. At peace.
After, we visited the Mortuary Temple of Hartshepsut, with its vast, multi-tiered colonnades, a temple rising before limestone cliffs. Breathtakingly beautiful and a fine tribute to Egypt’s female Pharoah. She was the ultimate empowered woman, an equal among men and ahead of her time.
That evening we were to embark on the next and last phase of our Egyptian journey ...
We embarked on the last part of our three-week Egypt adventure at the port of Luxor when we boarded the luxurious Solaris II Nile River cruise ship. No trip to Egypt would be complete without a cruise along the scenic Nile.
The Nile River cruise took us from Luxor to Aswan, the scenery in-between breathtakingly beautiful and much as it was hundreds of years ago. Change occurs slowly in Egypt. Many people live as their ancestors lived with donkey carts and in open sand cement huts on small farms. Yet, they seem happy.
The ship was impeccably clean with five-star accommodations. Each room had its own private balcony, the staff were attentive and the food fabulous. Most of the passengers were tourists from Germany, adding an international flare.
We did stop at several ports of call to see more ancient temples: Edfu, Kom-Ombo and Philae. More beautiful ruins. More history.
My birthday was celebrated with Arabic drumming and song and songs in German and English with an incredible cake. Nailah is ageless and timeless but would never turn down a birthday party ...especially when that birthday was celebrated in Egypt!
Another celebration was an Arabic-themed party night.
The ship’s staff knew that there were belly dancers on board and, of course, we were expected to dance. We did, though I found myself solo in the spotlight, dancing for a bunch of attentive and enthusiastic German tourists. Dancing aboard a cruise ship on the Nile was a memorable experience.
The trip to Egypt was an amazing experience that will be etched in my memory forever. The opportunity to experience the country where the dance I love was born ... the “mother land” was exciting.
The beautiful people, the fascinating history, the beauty of desert and tropical oasis will not be forgotten. I feel privileged to have had such an opportunity.
The lesson here is to follow your dreams ... you never know where they may lead. They may lead YOU to an enchanted ancient land.