Philae and Cairo Part V (Portland to Egypt)
Our journey through Egypt has taken us from Lower Egypt to Upper Egypt in a mere two weeks. Beginning in Cairo, we stayed at the Mena House, the former hunting and resort for royalty; next we journeyed to Giza to view the pyramids, sphinx, and embark on a camel ride across the dunes of sand under the full moon; from here it was to Memphis and Saqqara; followed by a short flight to Luxor (ancient Thebes), where we boarded the Sonesta St. George I. Before setting sail, we toured Karnak and Luxor Temples, then drove to Deir el Bahri, the site of the Valley of the Kings and Queens, and the extraordinary colossal mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut; we then boarded the Sonesta St. George which would serve as our home for the next several nights, for a cruise up the Nile River. The ship made a few stops on its way to Aswan including: Edfu, to see the grand Temple of Edfu, then to Kom Ombo for a thrilling evening spent among the ancient ghosts of rulers past and finally to Aswan where we saw the great granite quarry home to the unfinished obelisk, and the High Dam erected to control the flooding of the Nile and to create electricity for a large part of the Nile Valley.
This post begins with a view of Nasser Lake below.
The photo taken using a few different filters to give the image a more painted effect. The view was breathtaking.
The above image is of the water taxi’s that queue to shuffle passengers back and forth across the Nasser Lake to the Temple of Philae. Luckily, we were not crammed on one. We lucked out because we opted for a privately guided tour, the only way to see Egypt in my opinion. Our boat was a slightly smaller version of those seen above which held Lloyd, myself, our guide and driver. While the lake looks inviting, I wouldn’t be too quick to put your hand in the water, crocodiles live in this beautiful lake, at least on the southern most part of the Lake in more southern regions on the south side of the New High Dam. With a history of crocs in the lake, one never is quite sure they have all been eradicated. A bit of trivia: before the dams were was constructed along the Nile, the incidence of crocodiles was greater and were reported to extend their range far north down the Nile River. Their range largely is southern within the Nile south of the High Dam, to the tip of Egypt, into Sudan, and further south in the rest of Africa. Nile crocodiles generally hunt in groups of five or more and are known to prey on humans often, far more often than other crocodilian species in the world.
Ready for Transport. We hopped in our boat. You can see by the boat taxi above, none of the passengers wore life jackets; if that wasn’t bad enough, there was barely room to fit everyone on-board, the typical taxis. So glad we opted for the private tour. Tarek and one of the drivers (not ours) nearly got in a fist fight over who would be driving us across the lake. Apparently there is a protocol to follow. Unspoken. It was highly entertaining.
This photo shows our driver, and the town of Aswan behind, as we travel to the island of Agilkia, where the Temple of Philae now resides. I finally had a suitable photo for black and white image, as it defined our driver’s true character that of a hardworking water taxi driver shuffling people to and from Philae each day and the town in the background popped a bit more in black and white than color where everything melded together as all the buildings are the color of sand. This and I never miss an opportunity to add black and white images. They are perhaps my favorite. Black and white images often portray a more interesting story. I try to sneak at least one into in to every post, if possible.
This photo is essentially in the same direction as the photo before with our driver. You can barely see the buildings, if dots are more difficult to see. This image may have been better should I have developed it in black and white. But I didn’t, to prove a point. The buildings are hard to identify because they are small and of the same color. Although that said, because of the distance, even a black and white images would make the town resemble a dot or several.
The lake was beautiful, no one except the taxi’s seem to use it. This could be a result of the poverty or merely because no-one builds near the Nile River. With the heat, it screams summer resort and swimmers. I am really unsure why no-one had yet to build on the shoreline, but essentially the shorelines were barren. Unlike, in the US where developers would eat the property up faster than the crocodiles. As we motored across the lake, we finally could see the Temple of Philae in our sights; well the island on the right in the distance.
The lake was very pretty with little rock peak like this one peaking its top out.
Imagine if you will, that the dam literally flooded this area creating the reservoir we were now riding the boat over. That tip of an island would have been a tip of a very tall peak of a hillside, as would the many other islands we saw on the lake.
At last ‘The Temple of Philae’!
On approach to the the Temple one could see the mammoth structure from the lake, even from a considerable distance. The temple footprint enveloped the entire island.
As our boat crept in closer, the image of the Temple indeed was enormous. I found it amazing they could find an area large enough to support the large temple and all of its structures in an area of the Nile that would not be flooded. There is a man in black standing at the base of the large structure, I wonder what he was doing? He certainly puts into perspective the size of the temple. He is a mere dot. I am amazed how the entire temple was demolished and reconstructed in its entirety on this island.
How utterly amazing to think scientists and a large construction team brought the large pieces of the temple and reconstructed it in the precise footprint which is now underwater. The monuments were cleaned and measured by using photogrammetry a method that enables the exact reconstruction of the original size of building blocks that were used by the ancient workers. I found it amazing that scientist could recreate and reconstruct such a mammoth structure. I wonder if they found any spare parts? You know, like when you take something apart, put it back together and you realize you have several extra parts. Whatever you took a part works fine so the pieces are merely left overs. I wonder if the block we saw around the temple grounds were left overs?
‘The Upper section of The Temple of Philae‘
The temple was to honor Isis. That said, Isis, Osiris, and Horus are depicted all over the walls and columns of the temple. The dark area near the base of the temple floor is indicative of flooding over several hundred years; the rise and fall of the River Nile and the sediment that was burying the structure.
This photo is a close up of the upper section of the temple. It depicts the king giving an offering to Isis and Osiris. The great temple center of Isis the wife of Osiris and the mother of Horus, was at Philae. The temple was erected by the Ptolemies and Roman emperors roughly between 200 BC and 300 AD.
Isis with her son Horus. The way this massive structure was returned to its natural condition was remarkable. If no one said it had been demolished and reconstructed, I doubt many would believe you, it is that remarkable.
Latin writing at Philae as seen on this wall was not surprising considering the Ptolemies and Romans were both involved with the construction of the temple which serves to honor Isis.
The inside of the temple of Philae one can see some blocks that perhaps have not yet found their home. Perhaps these blocks are the left overs.
The next several photos are from inside of the temple.
Isis above. Isis and Osiris below. While the walls may appear as if they were carved in gold, it is merely an illusion as the walls are all of sandstone, limestone, and or granite in places. The lighting merely cast light giving the walls a gold tinge, thus allowing for a gold appearance as the temple in this particular area of the temple was very dark. The artificial lights didn’t like the camera, or vise versa.
This photos depicts Isis holding in one hand Osiris’s hand the other she is seen with the ankh – the symbol of key to life, eternal, life, the key to the Nile, good fortune, happiness and prosperity.
This is one of the temples outside, that looks like it has an altar. The temple is facing the lake. I wondered if within the original structure if there was some significance with the altar facing the water.
This structure above is named the ‘Trajan Kiosk’. This kiosk is a hypaethral temple or a temple that has no roof. It is one of the oldest, if not the oldest Ancient Egyptian hypaetheral monuments still standing, and it stands on the island of Agilkia, home to the Temple of Philae. This monument was constructed by the Roman Emperor, Trajan. Hence the name of the temple s the Trajan Kiosk.
These two images are the last images I snapped at that temple of Philae.
The image above image depicts a rock wall that completely surrounds the temple area. I was fascinated by the rock outcrop. As I said there were many of these some larger than others, indicating that there was more than sand dunes in this particular place of the Nile region. Perhaps a region with large hills, or large rocky hills. I guess we will never know unless a little detective work is done by looking at old photos and reading will solve the mystery? One can see the high water markings of along the base of the rocks, this mark indicates water has at some point in history risen to this level frequently due to the darkened color of the stone, whether it continues to flood or these marks are remnants of ancient times, this remains a mystery, at least to me. With that thought in mind, this concludes our visit to the Temple of Philae.
This photo was taken as we were driving the airport to catch our flight. If one looks close on the lower right, you can spot election signs. This is the extent of signage we saw while in Upper Egypt. Of course in Cairo, we saw many electoral signs everywhere actually and some rather large. At the time we were unaware of the impending revolution brewing. Had we known, we likely would have been more inclined to capture more images. The elections occurred on the day we left Cairo. So as we said our goodbye’s to Tarek, we promised to stay in touch. I am happy to report we have. Tourism has virtually come to a halt since the revolution as many fear it is too dangerous. Some place we traveled to during our journey are now unsafe. He was a great! Our trip wouldn’t have been the same without him.
Back in Cairo, we stayed in this very nice hotel the Hotel Sofitel El Gezerah, which is situated on the tip of the Island of Gezerah. From what we learned, it was pretty swank. No kidding, prime real estate on the tip of an island that sits in the center of the Nile River with a view of Cairo on one side and Giza on the other. It was clear when we walked into the hotel, saw the number of guards. this was a pretty swank place. Our room came with a wonderful view of the Nile, Cairo, and Giza; it is actually up six floors and is the room with the window open on the right in the photo.
If the lobby is any sign of what the rest of the hotel was like, gorgeous comes to mind; the hotel was definitely swank and more difficult to gain access than our stay at the Mena House. There were more guards out front than Fort Knox.
The above black and white image is a favorite of mine ‘Yellow Roses‘. While I do have version in color, the black and white version is so much better. It makes the mind work a little. If you look at the image for a while, your brain tells you that you are seeing yellow roses. The name, derived from the most exquisite yellow roses I have seen – in the vase next to the decorative lamp.
‘Twins‘ This image was taken at our favorite spot on the veranda we discovered that looks out to the Nile and the line of hotels across the Nile in Cairo.The view was as beautiful as it looks, perhaps better.
Another view of the Hyatt and the Four Seasons, taken from our hotel veranda.
Here we are lounging on the veranda. Doing what we like best while on holiday. Chillaxing by the water with a glass of bubbles. Aida Sparkling Rose.
The sparkling rose definitely was my favorite of the Aida wines we drank. However, it would have been fun on the yacht.
The yacht behind the sprig of green of ornamental grass. I found this image beautiful and the one below at actual size. This image was the zoomed in a bit before being shot.
This version the yacht taken before the zoomed in version. I like both images which is why both are included.
This shot was from our hotel room veranda looking to the east at the hotels which lined the river.
This photo was taken from our balcony while we were sitting out on our veranda. The felucca transporting people around the Island of Gezerah, Cairo area. The view from our hotel room. At night these boats had colored lights that were turn on that and cheesy disco music. We could hear the music from our room loudly with our window and door closed. We sat out on the terrace and watched the boats.
This is a zoomed in view of the cruise ship that takes tourists around the Cairo El Gezirah area. We were told the larger ships often were used for dinner cruises along the Nile. The circular disk behind the boat is actually a fountain, which we were told was not working. Really? Couldn’t tell. All sarcasm aside, apparently the foutain is very beautiful when it operates properly.
I got a kick out of this image. The man on top of his felluca taking photos into the boat moving toward him. The following set of photos were shot by Lloyd while he spent the day touring through the street of Cairo with Lamiaa. Me, I missed going. I ate something bad and spent the day in bed. Nothing worse than being sick when you are not home. I was not happy. I missed the museum and an afternoon of shopping at the market. I couldn’t even enjoy the pool. Totally sucked.
The Muhammad Ali Mosque, in Cairo
The Minaret, in Cairo.
The beautiful ceiling in the Citadel.
I hope that you have enjoyed our Egyptian Adventures from ‘Portland to Egypt‘. I had no idea when I began writing about our trip, it would take me five blogs to do so to capture all of our all of our wonderful memories through the eye of our camera. We had a wonderful time. No scratch that. We had a spectacular time. It is my hope you enjoyed the journey as well. If you’re interested in seeing more of our photos, please stop by our website.
Our next stop on this trip was a few hours north and west to Zürich, before returning to Brussels for a stay with our friends, before heading home to Portland. I will be post our Belgian adventures very soon.
I find it funny that when one is on holiday, they rarely ever keep a journal, some do, like myself, but, they will say, I will remember that. The funny part is I said these very words, and we experienced a little of this even though our photos were in chronological order on the camera and I had written a journal.
I also chuckle at myself especially when I began writing this blog; I said either I am writing to the wind, cyberspace, some other entity, or someone will actually read my words. I was very delighted to learn the people in fact were reading my words, and not only reading them, but commenting as well. Thanks to all of you who have read my blog. I am very humbled.
As I stated we had a wonderful journey and I have to say that we have many friends to thank for taking care of our kitties, our house, and seeing to it, my bucket list was started, and started with a big bang; and to the others who helped us to make sure we could take the trip. Egypt was better than I could even imagine. I am forever grateful.
One final message and perhaps the best way, in which to end our trip, which is hard to top a trip to Egypt. We were almost home, and we came around to the front of the house. I was counting houses as I typically do to get to ours. (besides my ocd, the houses all look-alike), We pulled up on our street. I count the houses again. Ours didn’t look right. There was a Christmas wreath put on our front door. A closer look, revealed the wreath was ours; I thought at the time: how sweet of our friends to put up the wreath for us. Christmas was a little over two weeks away. Then we walked into our house… I screamed first, or cried first, I forget.
Christmas music was playing and our house decorated for Christmas with our ornaments; the tree was up, lights up, and the lights working (a long string had broken the previous year, fixed). All our decoration were up and in their places, even my Christmas village, and the topper – a tray of gluten-free cookies – peanut butter with chocolate kisses and decorated sugar cookies, home-made sitting on the counter! I was overwhelmed with emotion, that and the cats hadn’t got into either the tree or cookies. And the best, was the garage. They cleaned out our garage and built me a ramp for Deloris (my chair) from the house to the garage, so I could leave the house. They even fixed a few other odds and ends around the house, we hadn’t had time to fix. We have the best friends ever! Thanks you friends!
That said, this concludes this post to Egypt I have merely begun checking off items on my bucket list. I hope you will follow me and Lloyd, as we embark on a variety of adventures yet to come. It is my hope that I will be able to made at least a few, reality. The trip to Egypt the trip of a lifetime. Nothing will ever compare, and thus it belongs as the number one item, on my list. On anyone’s list.
Thanks for reading!