A Long Time….and Qantas Saves the Day….


It seems like it has been a long time since we talked about our travel adventures. I guess  life can get in the way of the fun things we task ourselves with. Funny how that happens. If you have been following us and our travels, or if you are just joining us,  Lloyd, and I have had the opportunity to travel quite a lot in the last several years and began finally began sharing our photographs from our most memorable adventures with those following our blog. Thus far we have shared three series’ from our yearly travels in Egypt, Belgium, and Holland. I had combined or ordered the trips in such a manner as our last trip to Belgium we were actually on-route to Egypt, and stopped on each leg of our trip in Belgium to rest up. It might not make a lot of sense, bu we often do wacky spur of the moment trips. It’s how we role, sometimes. That adventure was a trip of a lifetime for me, taken merely a few months after our last travels to Australia. So I though it would be fitting to share the next series of articles from our adventures in Australia.

Before you get all excited, we generally spend a lot of time in Australia because that is  Lloyd’s home. Well it was until he married me. 🙂 So we have tried to get return as often as possible so we can check in with the family, relax, refresh, and explore the countryside.  Sadly this years travel plans were unexpectedly interrupted due to our three year old Tuxedo cat, Mr. Perkins, giving us quite the scare. A  month of running back and forth to the kitty hospital. Who even knew there was such a thing? There is, and we the good parents that we are, practically lived there for a month before Mr. P., went under the knife in a life or death operation.  No kidding. I wish I were then I could be writing this post from somewhere like Tahiti or Fiji, or Phuket, on our way to Australia, or …..the list goes on… It was horrible. Sadly for us, Mr. Perkins expunged our travel funds for the year. No holiday’s. Boo…..But it was worth foregoing our travels knowing Mr. Perkins is happy and back to his normal pampered self, rejoining his sister Lady Morgana. And our family is again complete.

A Camera Shy Mr. Perkins

Phew… with that in mind, I sit and write this post while the Thunderbirds roar over head causing the cats to bolt to their respective hiding places, and me, wishing the f-ing planes would just go away.  We hate the airshow, pretty much since a plane crashed in the field a few blocks from our house a couple of years ago. That, and loud roars of the fighter jets freak the the hell out of the cats which is so, not cool. Poor Lady Morgana, she races off to her favorite hiding spot in a tall (three foot tall) Mexican vase we have in our living room. Last year we looked all over (she is only two) for her and alas we found he in the last place we looked she dove in. We know this as we have witnessed her acrobatic maneuvers on a number of occasions when something freaks her out. Its quite impressive. Mr. Perkins on the other hand generally runs for our bed where he used to hide. Now, his 15-pound body no longer fits. Instead he gets stuck head first. No kidding. Ass hanging out tail flaccid.

A Happier Lady Morgana, Who Jacked Mr. Perkins Throne

Yikes! Where was I, traveling. Darn planes! I now have a head ache.

This post will be the first of several dedicated to Australia, which is likely where we would be heading about now….sigh… That said, our travels brought us to Melbourne, a wonderful not unlike Portland, the weather is the same, the size is comparable, very metropolitan, the weather is the same, and it also boats wineries a short drive to the countryside.

In Melbourne, we hooked up with our cousin Cathy, who happened to be living there for the time being before taking her new job up in Macau, working for the Venetian Hotels.  And thanks to Cathy we ended up staying at the luxurious Park Hyatt Hotel.

We love having someone in the family in the hotel business. She totally hooked us up. Now generally I am the one who takes photos of the hotel, our room, the lobby, the grounds, food, etc. Admittedly,  I turn into a crazed travel-photographer on our trips, I can’t help it. This time however, was a bit different.  Who knows why, but, I experienced some of the worse jet lag in history, well maybe not in history, but for me, it was horrible. I tasked Lloyd with taking the photos of the hotel while I went and crashed until we met up with Cathy and another cousin for a nice lunch.

The weather during our stay was cold, rainy, and pretty much like Portland when we left. This wasn’t what I had in mind. Crappy weather and horrible jet lag. Good grief. I was on holiday for crying out loud. Give me a break. I can deal with the rain, I don’t like it but I will soldier though it. On holiday, the weather can suck and you are still on holiday, so no matter what, one is bound to have an awesome time. Besides, we are from Oregon. We were having the same weather back home.  I felt right at home, almost.  Our hotel sang classy and luxurious the second the door opened, then screamed giraffes just as quickly. Seriously, giraffe motif, really? Really. Okay, well large bubbles, in giraffe colors. Yet, no where else but the Hyatt could anyone pull off wearing orange and red marble.

Lobby to Paradise, Park Hyatt, Melbourne, Australia

I love this vase. It was exquisite. It would go very nicely in my living room. It of course stayed at the hotel.

Checking Things Out, Park Hyatt, Melbourne, Australia

Lobby and the Giraffe Printed Marble Floors, Park Hyatt, Melbourne, Australia

The Grand Staircase, Park Hyatt, Melbourne, Australia

It would have been fun to slide down the banister. The hotel staff would frown. Just a thought.

Purple Haze, Park Hyatt, Melbourne, Australia

This photo reminded me of  high school. Who ever thought that purple neon would accent the decor was off his nut! Bring on the Jimi Hendrix and Purple Haze. But, hey it was the Hyatt and for the next three days it was our home. We took advantage of the VIP passes to the VIP lounge on the upper floor of the hotel. Free adult beverages of your choice along with another drink you might think of, all you can eat happy hour snacks, and late night drinks and snacks. We could live here it was so great. Little did I know the best was yet to come.

Our own studio apartment. Holy crap! The king size bed was spectacular complete with down comforters, down pillows, and Egyptian cotton threads. Oh ya. I was in heaven. It was almost like I never left home, only better. Pish. Who was I kidding, it was freaking awesome!  I was going to sleep like a baby. Say bye bye jet lag. Since I had tasked Lloyd with the photos, we never took photos of the room. It truly was like a studio apartment with a full living space large bathroom the size our my office back home. Wow.  I was sold on the Hyatt. They really know class and comfort. The room seriously was very swank, a total hook-up, we had everything one might expect to see in an upscale studio apartment. It was great! awesome! And I did sleep like a baby. Just sayin’.

But the grand finale of our stay, at least in my opinion, was the result of having Lloyd take the photos: the next image.Lloyd out did himself.

I don’t know about anyone else, we fell in love with this image of the infinity pool the moment it was hot off the printer.  In fact we loved it so much we printed out a 20×30 image that has a home in our living room above the fireplace. We can always remember our stay in Melbourne. It looks great and it matches beautifully with a 26.5×30.5 size papyrus we purchased Saqqara, Egypt we matted and framed that also found a home on our living room wall.  Who would have thought that we would have a picture of a hotel pool as a showcase photo hanging in our living room. I would have laughed. The cool part is people always ask where in Egypt did we take that shot? We cringe then giggle a bit when we tell them Lloyd took it of the pool at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Melbourne. They seem shocked.

Back to our trip. While in Melbourne, we actually spent zero time ‘in’ Melbourne. Rather with the exception of happy hour and our hotel, we were out to see the sights around the city. Our first day we spent an afternoon in St, Kilda a short drive from our hotel, where we enjoyed walking along the boardwalk after a nice long lunch at a little Italian Bistro nearby, with another cousin. Yes, another cousin the first two of many. So, many in fact they seem to multiply like rabbits kangaroos.

St. Kilda Boardwalk, Victoria Australia

Along the Boardwalk, St. Kilda, Victoria, Australia

Beach, St. Kilda, Victoria, Australia.

People on the Beach, St. Kilda Boardwalk, Victoria, Australia

After spending the afternoon in St. Kilda we crashed. We had to rest up as we were off to the countryside for a tour of some wineries.

On our day trip to the Yarra Valley, we had great fun! Cousin Cathy served as designated driver and gave us a grand tour of some of her favorite wineries. We probably visited ten or so in two days, while in the Victoria state. I will spare you all of them, rather I have included some of the more memorable moments of our wine tasting adventures. First stop Coldsteam Winery.

Balloon over the Yarra, Coldstream Winery, Yarra Valley, Australia

At Coldstream Hills Winery we had this spectacular view of the Yarra Valley and the balloon floating in the distance.The winery is owned by well known wine author, James Halliday. The winery produces cool climate wines including: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon. We had a great time drinking their wines and talking with the folks in the tasting room. Their wines are great and very different from either Oregon or California style wines. When we arrived I expected to see the huge Shiraz’s I so dearly like love; when I realized we were not even remotely in the neighborhood of the Shiraz grapes, I had to reprogram my brain for something new and refreshing. My palate was fooled as Australian Pinot’s taste nothing like Oregon or California Pinot’s. It took a few tastings to get used to fruity in your face Pinot’s and the idea that Australia produces Pinot Noirs, and Chardonnay’s. I have always drank Shiraz from Australia and fell in love with the bold rich tannins, the jammy feel on your tongue and the strong robust flavors. I never payed attention to the fact they made other wines. The exception Cabernet’s.. That said, the wines were very good. In fact,I  actually preferred the white wines of this region much more. That coming from an enthusiastic red wine drinker.

Yering Station, Yarra Valley, Australia

Yering Station is a premium winery in the center of the Yarra Valley, roughly one hour east of Melbourne and not far from Coldstream and a few others inbetween. The winery was established in 1839, as the first vineyard in Victoria. The wines here were very good, we purchased a number of bottles here. I could feel the weight of our luggage with each bottle we purchased.

Stonier Winery, Yarra Valley, Australia

Stonier Winery is a beautiful winery situated next to riding stables (I found this very cool. Girls in proper riding gear were practicing their show jumping skills) was established at Merricks, on the cool southern rim of Victoria’s picturesque Mornington Peninsula. The winery was the first in the region to plant Chardonnay vines back in 1978, followed by Pinot Noir a number of years later. The vineyard had expanded significantly by the late 80s, with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay the primary wine varietals and what Stonier, built its reputation on. These wines were exceptional. I was amazed by the complexity and diversity among grape clones. We purchased several bottles here. My favorite winery we were to see. The others all had great features, but the wines here were far superior. They didn’t need the swank buildings to draw people in. They relied on their reputation as superior grape growers and winemakers. A must see if ever in the area.

Port Phillip Estates, Mornington Peninsula, Australia

Don’t let the bunker, grand cement looking structure fool you, inside Port Phillip Estates is gorgeous. And it boasts a spectacular panoramic view of the vineyards with the sea off in the distance. Truly it is amazing. We stopped in for wine and a spot of lunch. Everything about this winery spelled class and elegance, despite of the cement like facade. I say cement like as the structure was actually constructed of pressed soil.

Port Phillip Estates Vineyard and Winery, Mornington Peninsula, Australia

The wonderful view of the ponds, vineyards, and sea in the distance.

Vineyards, Port Phillip Estates, Mornington Peninsula, Australia

Port Phillip Estates, situated at Red Hill in the heart of the Mornington Peninsula, roughly one hour south of Melbourne and is family owned by the Gjergia family. Sandro Mosele is their winemaker who is fantastic at his craft, making excellent Pinot Noir wines among others. This winery was most impressive for us as were their wines. The winery describes themselves as “a dramatic curved sculpture made of rammed-earth. Inside is a large cellar door and tasting room and a light filled restaurant open out to an expensive expansive outdoor deck. Underneath the tasting room and restaurant is state of the art wine making facilities.” The winery also includes six luxury accommodation suites complete with a private deck and a panoramic view of the vineyards and sea. It truly is a wonderful place to spend a few hours. Their wines are fantastic and we had a great time sitting at a table overlooking the property,  talking with their winemaker who happened to be in the tasting room that day. The restaurant has a wonderful chef who prepares a great selection of amazing dishes. The word I would use to describe everything is impeccable. We had a great time having lunch while drinking one of their great wines that they paired with the food. I love that little touch. That little something extra that makes a great dining experience a fabulous dining experience.

So, here is the story of our wine making adventures. I can’t make this up. So here we are at maybe our third winery. You must first realize we are truly wine snobs. I hate to admit it but its true, we are. And when we go wine tasting, we typically purchase at least one bottle of wine depending on how well we like the wines. Problem when traveling is where do you put the wine you buy. You either drink quickly and a lot or don’t buy any. Well, we have a problem with that. It doesn’t happen. We can’t go to a winery and not buy wine. It simply doesn’t happen. Wineries love us. We didn’t plan this trip very well. As Melbourne was the first stop on our journey. We didn’t have room to pack a ton of wine in our bags. So, at our third or so winery, I forget,  after purchasing maybe three or four bottles, or six bottles of wine, one of the gals we spoke with over hears our conversation and speaks up  “you can take wine on the airplane as a carry on in Australia, we even have bubble packs to put your wine in so it won’t break, in case you wish to put some in your packed ports.” We looked at each other and said “Really! Well that changes things.” Long story short, we ended up at the airport for our next stop Brisbane loaded. I mean really loaded. The magic number being thirteen, yep thirteen bottles of wine we attempted to stuff, yes stuff into every possible crevice we could locate. At the airport, I told Lloyd it wasn’t going to work we needed an extra bag to put some of the wine in. We were, well I was, frantically searching dragging my bags and well we ended up finding a luggage store in the airport in Melbourne. And wouldn’t you know, they had these great back-packs on wheels made by non other than Qantas bag, for which we proceeded to in the store mind you unstuff and restuff our wine into the newly purchased Qantas bag with wine. It was awesome! In the store, customers watching, we had a line up of people trying to figure out what we were doing. Suffice it to say, the bag held nearly a case of wine. Our problem was solved thanks to Qantas.

We hope you enjoyed our journey through a little part of Southern Australia, we had a blast! We were quite the sight at the airport I am sure, but that was nothing, stay tune for more of our Australian adventures, as they only get better.  And for those who don’t know, Aussies love to consume large quantities of adult beverages, wine included, beer preferred.

Cheers!

L&L

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Photo of the Day – May 22, 2012

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Photo of the Day – May 22 2012

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Unchanged and Beautiful,” Sauvie Island, Oregon

Photo of the Day – May 21, 2012

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Photo of the Day – May 21, 2012

“It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.”

~ Leo Tolstoy, ‘The Kreutzer Sonata’

“Fragile Beauty,” Egyptian Perfume Bottles, Cairo, Egypt

Exciting News!


I wanted to share with my readers that I was asked by Lesley Carter, Editor of ‘Bucket List Publications’ to submit an article for her publication. I submitted my blog article  – “The Temple of Edfu – Part III (Portland to Egypt)”  and it was published yesterday! You can find my article at: http://www.bucketlistpublications.com/.

Thank you Lesley for your support, and thanks so much for those who read my blog, I am truly humbled.

L.A. Edwards

Aswan, Obelisk, and the High Dam -Part IV (Portland to Egypt)


Our journey through Egypt has taken us from Lower Egypt to  Upper Egypt in just two weeks. We began our adventures in Cairo, relaxing at the Mena House; here we rode camels across the sand dunes around the pyramids of Giza under the light of a full moon, gazing into the horizon at the Bedouin camps that dotted the nightscape. We spent a fabulous day in Memphis at the open air museum, Giza and the Great Pyramids, the Sphinx , and to Saqqara to see Djoser’s great Step Pyramid, and his many failures.

The second part of our journey, had us boarding a plane for a quick flight to Luxor (Thebes) where we walked through the temples of Karnak and Luxor like ancients Egyptians. What  possible could top this? Why a trip to Deir el Bahri, the site of the Valley of the Kings and Queens, and the extraordinary colossal mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut, of course!

We then embarked on a wonderful cruise up the Nile River from Luxor to Aswan, stopping at Edfu to view the Temple of Edfu, a tour under the evening sky and lights through Kom Ombo. I must say walking through the ancient temples at night was a thrill! The ghosts swirling through the air like the wind; we traipsed over the ancient stones, nearly feeling the coldness of the ancient ones breath, and the remaining souls who continue to walk the same ground night after night, as we did.

We wandered aimlessly around the many columns listening to the oo’z and ah’s, and the occasional shriek from a young one; a testimony of old souls, or merely from the masses as they questioned their guide about the sights they saw. As I write this, a tear wells in the corner of my eyes, reminiscing of our amazing experiences here in this ancient land; once of a dream, now as a reality, I continue to admire.  Truly the trip, more than a dream come true, from a once non existing bucket list, to one fulfilled by 2 items, that has since grown to more than 10; some doable, others who knows what life will have in store. I no longer say impossible. I am an optimist. This trip proved that in part, dreams can and do come true. I am grateful for the friends that made it happen for me. And to think as I write this post, the journey is nearing an end. For my end, I refuse to allow an illness dictate my life. I have more sites to see and share. This adventure to Egypt, an excursion worthy of a number one on anyone’s bucket list.

We have seen such wonderful landscapes from the fertile riparian river flats, to the sandy dunes that roll across miles and miles of desert lands, to the sand and limestone cliffs miles high above the luscious flats along the River Nile, to strange cliffs which over look the sandy shores of dunes, the cliffs comprised of open holes, caves that once held treasures and the bodies of kings and queens; to many undiscovered and unknown tombs in places one may wonder how they ever were erected let alone place within so many wondrous artifacts, and paintings and carvings fit for a king. What a vastly strange land Egypt; with its miles of dusty, sandy dunes to the magnificent cliffs overlooking the valley floors and line the landscape overlooking the Nile River below, they too with their ancient secrets yet to be discovered. Its deserts, with its secrets; one full of an amalgamation of people who despite their religious views, have managed to co-exist for years unlike the many Arab cultures which surrounded them.

In this Egypt, our journey continues in and around Aswan. Why people thought it was a great place to build a town (below), is beyond me. The blips in the forefront – animals – cows I believe. The village, small. A rail line lays hidden behind the trees,f we saw a train. I have no idea if it makes stops here. It was odd that it was the only place in sight before we reach Aswan.

This part of our journey greatly different from the northern chaos of Cairo and Giza – a mere-18 million people different. The further south we traveled, even past Luxor, the population decreases. Less crowded, less chaotic, and yet more beautiful. We traveled up the great Nile from the beautiful Luxor with its grandiose temples surrounding the area, to what would be our final destination on our cruise – Aswan before returning to Cairo. Aswan, a city with with a mere 275K inhabitants is a far cry from millions who live in Cairo. Much like a crumb from a large cake or piece pie, if you will.

Our cruise pleasant; No, our cruise was fantastic. One I would definitely embark upon again in a heartbeat, if asked. One for which we wished continued on for several more days. I will merely see it in my dreams and later when I begin my journey in my afterlife, where I may perhaps join the ghosts and learn the secrets to this ancient land. How such a great nation vacillated so many times during the course of its history – its various leaders, each augmenting history through the creation of more elaborate temples, each larger and more grandiose than the other, and then nothing. No new temples, no great leaders, chaos. How intriguing a history comprised of secrets lost with the entrance of new players and almost as suddenly the belief systems of many evolved into what we see today.  Lloyd and I were lucky to have traveled to this wonderful gem when we did. As it is time once again for the country will move toward change. I am and always have been, a strong believer – things happen for a reason. We may have no understanding the reason, at the time; but if we are luckily, or are suppose to, we learn. For me, I was destined to visit Egypt with my wonderful husband, Lloyd. Similarly, I am suppose to write this blog.

When Loyd and I left Egypt for Brussels, we learned we were some of the last of the tourists to leave the country before the remainder were ordered out. This before all hell broke loose one day later. Thoughts of danger never presented its ugly head while we were there, thankfully. Rather, people were very kind and respectful. More so than some of their guests. I find it sad, to the point of embarrassment at times, when foreigners travel. I will use Americans as an example, since I am one.

People travel to a foreign country and expect, yes expect, to be served in the same manner they are accustomed at home. Only, this is not their home, this is a third world country. A rich country full of delights of another kind, traveling to its innards, one would argue, rather they would complain over the most trivial things, and probably did the entire time. Why bother to make the journey? Amazing. The Egyptians love tourists because they are but a large cash cow one before textiles, food processing, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, construction, metals, etc. Tourism is what drives the economy. Egyptians always kind to its tourists regardless how rude or disrespectful they become. They need us. It merely saddens me to see such berating, abominable behavior by some travelers. Like I said, it is embarrassing. Lloyd and I love to travel and we love to embrace the country, the people, the customs, culture, the works. We love it. Others merely bitch about things as if they were in America. I say to them, stay home. I don’t but sometimes I really want to. Why bother to travel if you are not willing to make your experience an adventure.

The Nile is beautiful and everything I imagined. From the people to the extraordinary artifacts, beliefs, religion, who knew the country was preparing for a revolution? One which lasted not long, but the effects and events are not over. In fact just the other day, two tourists were abducted in a place where we once stood. This in a country we had recently been. I shake my head now as I did when I had heard this news. So sad.

While we remained on our ship for accommodation while in Aswan, the cruise itself had ended. It was sad, because we had such a wonderful time and made such wonderful memories, many of which I have shared with you.

This part of our journey we toured one of the great Nubian quarries to see the site of the mammoth unfinished obelisk, to the New High Dam. The rest of our trip will be in a last post of our trip.

In historical times, Aswan was and continues to be comprised of Nubian people. This portion of Egypt is known as Upper Egypt,  significant now, as in it was ancient times for the stone quarries located here, much of the granite and stone used for the obelisks and statues came from this part of Egypt, transported down the Nile on boats to the scene of the temples.

We learned in the times of the great pharaohs, the kings men would take the Nubian’s as their slaves. Very sad. Ancient Nubia had a wealth of natural resources such as gold, ivory, copper, frankincense and ebony. Ancient Nubian land is now part of modern Egypt and Sudan. The juxtaposition of ancient Nubian lands between Egypt and Sudan, meant much of ancient Nubia’s development is connected to that of ancient Egypt. In fact, Nubian kings ruled Egypt from around 800 BCE to roughly 700 BCE.

The moment our driver took us around, we immediately noticed not only is a land more conservative than either Luxor or Cairo.The differences are apparent from the way in which people dressed. We see tall lanky people, dressed in long tunics and dresses, ladies with hajab’s and dresses. We learned that It is widely believed that the hijab is becoming more of a fashion statement than a religious one in Egypt, with many Egyptian women, influenced by social peer pressure, wearing colorful, stylish head scarves along with western style clothing. And designer fashion was everywhere. For men as much as for woman. Granted the age bracket 20s to the 50s. The older people seemed to stick with the older customs. We saw this way of dress in Cairo to Luxor, the further south, was different, the woman wear the Hijab and long flowing dresses, as well as the burka. While we did see the women wearing the burka in Giza, the further south we traveled the more frequent we saw this way of dress. Not because they were forced, but because they wanted to in most cases. They were proud to do so, these woman. As I just pointed out, many of the older woman would wear the hijab and a long flowing gown, the younger women wore the hijab with westernized clothing – designer clothes – jeans, shoes and handbags. Even the older woman with the full gowns were seen with designer hand bags and shoes. This was especially true in Cairo and Giza. Women are beautiful and where beautiful colors. It is not at all how Americans perceive the culture.

Most of the men wore the long dress like tunics with linen pants. This was mostly true of the older Egyptians. While many of their clothes were dark colors and a lot of black. Many wore western clothes. It seemed odd considering the temperatures where hotter here generally all year-long. When we were there it was the end of November. The temperatures were in the 90+ degrees F mark during the day dropping to around 70 at night. During the summers the temperatures rarely dropped below 90 F.  For me, the mornings here were chilly, (I am cold all the time). I used my scarf for all purposes, to keep me warm, and to keep the sun off.

Our last day in Egypt, we were off to see the stone quarries in Aswan and the home of the largest unfinished obelisk in history.

Lloyd and his Rock‘ This is like one of the balls called a diorite ball which, is used as carving tool for the granite and the giant Obelisks. The carving occurred directly on the surface of the granite while the granite was in place on the ground, then by cutting four sides. Once the sides were cut off, the stone piece was separated from the ground. A series of perforations were made using diorite balls. We learned that while diorite was used for obelisks carved into granite, obelisks made from sandstone or limestone, were carved with wooden spikes. The perforations were then filled with wood pieces saturated with water. As the pieces expanded with the humidity breaking the separations between the perforations, then effectively separated the carved stone obelisk or other stone like statue from its bed in the rock.

It may not be clear as such, but this is the unfinished granite obelisk, is nearly 137 feet long. Historians are uncertain who was the Pharaoh when it was being constructed or why it never was finished. It is larger than any obelisk ever erected in history.

This photo is of the ‘quarry‘. Saying the quarry is huge is an understatement. The colored dots you see in this image are few, but are people. The people in this photo offers a great scale to illustrate the enormity of the quarry.  The people are gnats. It was some climb and the heat not our friend, as we trudged our sorry butts up to the top of the quarry. It was a hike.  I really got a kick out of the guard rails. Look closely, really close, you might see ‘one’. It is a pole with rope strung along portions of the trail. Which wasn’t a trail. It was a hike up boulders, with no real trail. Nope. Definitely not ADA compliant. The primary ropes located at the lower section of the pit. Great location! We saw a couple of people who clearly  never should have attempted the hike. I swore I was going to have to perform CPR on more than one. And I am telling you it would not have been fun. I would rather poke my eye out with a fork, or cardiovert myself without the benefit of anesthesia, than give CPR to those two. Yikes! That came out in my outside voice faster than I could practically type. Great design and concept, leave the feeble ropes known as Egyptian guard rails in the lower part of the quarry. Great planning. The upper section maybe one, they served more for decoration, than safety measure. from the top of the quarry one can see the quarry holds the unfinished obelisk.

After leaving the granite quarries we were off to see the Aswan Dams the older Lower Dam and the New Dam as it is referred. These are some of the structures seen on the hillside near the Aswan. In truth this type of structure with all the highrise hotels around, there were homes and structures resembling these all over Egypt. They were non-discriminant when it came to building codes and zoning practices.

The following image is cement fixture in the shape of a lotus flower, given to the Egyptian government from the UNESCO and Soviet Union as a gift for allowing the constructing the dam. The High Dam was highly controversial,  and became a key objective of the Egyptian Government after the Egyptian Revolution of 1952; the dam allowed the ability to control the flood waters of the Nile, provide water for irrigation, and generate hydroelectric power, three key components pivotal to the industrialization of Egypt. The New High Dam was erected between 1960 and 1970. The dam has had a significant impact on improving the economy and culture of Egypt, and the natural ecosystem of the reservoir it created.

From this vantage point in the middle of High Dam towards the ‘cement monument of Arab-Soviet Friendship (Lotus Flower)’ by architects Piotr Pavlov, Juri Omeltchenko and sculptor Nikolay Vechkanov. It was essentially a give to Egypt from the Soviet Union. 

The above photo ‘Nile River North‘ taken from the High Dam is the Nile facing north toward Aswan look to at the top of the dam structure on a road, roughly in the middle of the dam. From where I stand it doesn’t look like much, but the distance from end to end across is about 12,570 feet wide and 364 feet high, the water depth of Lake Nasser, the reservoir created by the dam is roughly 590 feet in depth. How is that for a dam.

This image above and below are from the secure part of the dam. The above photo is on the eastern bank of the dam, facing west. The image below was facing the electrical part of the dam. Our guide knew someone and we were allowed in. The electricity produced from this facility serves a great part of Egypt and other nearby countries.

Basically, the Nile would flooded and held in a large reservoir which is now Lake Nasser. The lake was created as a result of the construction of the Aswan High Dam across the waters of the Nile between 1958 and 1971. The Lake is the largest man-made lake in the world.  And with that image we will be stopping as there is more to come! I will wrap up our Egypt tour to the Temple of Philae and Cairo in our final part five.

Thanks for reading!

Cheers!

L&L

The Temple of Edfu – Part III (Portland to Egypt)


To date, our journey through Egypt has taken us around Lower Egypt (which is the northern part of Egypt, named for the direction the Nile River flows, not north or south, as the name would suggest). We began in Cairo spending a few days at the Mena House to relax; off to Memphis to visit the open air museum, to Giza and Great Pyramids, and a camel ride under the full moon; then south a few miles to Saqqara where we saw the Step Pyramids at Djoser. The second part of our journey took us to Luxor (Thebes) via a short flight from Cairo where we saw the temple complex of Karnak and Luxor.  Deir el Bahri where we would see the Valley of the Kings and Queen and the colossal mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut. Considering the length of information, that I decided to break our journey into sections, with this being three, with two remaining.  It is my intend to grow readership not scare people away. Hopefully by breaking the blogs into five sections instead of the three I thought I could manage, people reading this blog will not only be on their toes, they will be enjoying our adventure as much as we did. I guess the name for this is living vicariously through us. Pulling together the photos for the blogs brings back so many wonderful memories of our journey to Egypt. We actually were busy the entire time visiting the many sites the country has to offer.

As our journey continues we will travel further up the Nile to Edfu. Our means of transportation –  horse and buggy.

Well, I can say, I had never taking a horse and buggy ride until we climbed in one to take to the Temple of Edfu. I actually thought it would be fun. Instead, it reminded me of being stuck in the middle seat of a plane, having to pee, with no hope for escape. Thankfully, we were back far enough from the horses backside not to get sprayed by our horses digestive issues; a thought which quickly made me thankful I lived where we do, and in the era we do. What is with this poor animals in Egypt? First the camel now the horse? I tried not to think about it than as we quickly move on. Where is that etch-a-sketch?

We saw many street vendors who lined the streets in hopes that  the buggies would stop to buy some of their souvenirs. Believe me, they couldn’t wait. Personally, I was grateful for not stopping as much as our guide tried to get us to. Most of the shops, like the one above are pretty cheesy and not indicative of authentic dresses. I can’t imagine woman in ancient times women wore such costumes even. Beads? Really? Who wears beaded dresses? See through beaded dresses at that! The only people who can get a way with wearing beads are JLo, Angelina Jolie, or any another famous star with taste and a great figure; and the dress designed by Versace, Gucci, or the like. These are the costumes the passengers would be wearing for the evening Egyptian night planned on all the ships this night. More like what the girls on Hollywood Blvd. wear. I was grateful, my husband felt the same as I did about attending such an affair.

The merchants definitely were targeting tourists, as no  Egyptian woman dead or alive, ancient or otherwise living in today’s Egypt, would ever wear clothing as revealing or as cheap as those costumes. They were very degrading. Seriously. The worse part, the tourists flocked to these shops especially for the beaded dresses like seagulls to garbage. Seriously, who knew so many people would buy that crap, let alone wear it! Not an image I wish to recall. Three words – etch-a-sketch.

The following photo is the entrance to Edfu Temple. If you have followed my Egyptian series, many similarities are present among all sites. This holds true for the Temple of Philae constructed in a similar fashion to these other temples. The subtle differences seen in the design of the columns, particularly with the intricate designs at the top of each.

Each new reign of Pharaoh brought with him an innovative archeological significance and intricate historical antiquities with them. I wonder if people living during this particular era in history ever imagined, their world would meet ours in the form of tourist attractions. Or the mere discovery of such artifacts, or remnants of their world would be such an important discovery for not just the Egyptian people but various scientist and tourists from around the world. Their history or depiction of it, lives today through these artifacts. I doubt that our mark, (the Americans), in history will be our architecture as our buildings either fall down or demolished to build new ones.

What I found a bit disconcerting was when the Coptic Christians or others made their appearance well recognizable; they defaced many of the temples, constructed over some, and painted great murals over the walls of others, to remove evidence of the previous ruler. It is very sad, so many great hieroglyphs destroyed.

We stood next to Horus which stands at the base of the entrance above, who had taken the form of a large falcon. He stands at the entrance to the temple. Here we are thanks to Tarek (our guide), and his photo-op. He shooed people away so we could have a photo without anyone around. He was good like that. Not that we really wanted to have so many photos of us posing in front of statues, particularly this one, as I looked like a puffer fish; because, the trick to dressing in Egypt is – layers. I have on so many layers of clothes, at picture time the bulk of my excess clothes were all wrapped around my waist. This, because I wanted to look as flattering as possible. Right….I should have known Tarek would want us to have a Kodak moment. A great guide, his other clients must like to have their pictures taken, a lot. Needless to say, the photo of me sucked. Lloyd on the other hand looked chipper as a lark, or a falcon, like Horus, take your pick.

Behind us, stood a handful of anxious tourists in the queue to have their picture taken. It was a freaking frenzy. Truly. A very popular photo-op site. The only people who are going to our photos, are those who read my blog.  Sorry…

This photo of the grapes awesome! I found it tucked away with some other boulders. Seriously! Let the headlines read,Proof of Wine in the Southern Portion of Egypt!‘  We were at the temple of Edfu. There was and is wine in Egypt, who Knew? We were anticipating a dry vacation. Nope! We were relieved and eager to try both the red table wine and their sparkling white and red varietals. I have to say, the sparkling was very good. The red, not my favorite, but definitely drinkable. My personal favorite was the sparkling rose (ro-say, not rose like the flower, although that might be nice. Probably not as wine).

Inside the tomb was dark. The blackened charcoal colored columns indicative of a fire or to heat the temple during winter or for cooking, so we were told. It merely makes a mind wander (mine) and raises a plethora of questions. My mind tends to over think things at times. The scientist in me comes out every now and again. You can take the girl away from science but you can’t take science away from the girl, kind of thing. For example, there has never been a palace found to my knowledge. I would have expected the pharaoh to live in a palace. Has TV embellished the ancient royalty so much so, as to present the royal families living in such elaborate places, when they very likely lived similar to the regular population? I would like to believe that the ancient royalty lived like royalty in palaces similar to other civilizations, but no evidence supports this theory.Perhaps the royal residences  have yet discovered. That is the theory I would like to believe – the romantic side in me. The scientist believes the royal families lived in homes made from mud blocks similar to the regular people. Perhaps they had more lavish mud homes. Or perhaps the scientists have it wrong, the mortuary temples were also places which housed royal families. I would love to read more about this theory.

Ankh’ – Good Luck, Good Wishes, Happiness, Good Fortune

The image above is a column inside Edfu Temple and one of my favorite images I shot during our journey. This one, Anubis (which is the very first photo in this blog post, and Ramses (see Part I, of this series of posts, not seen here). It is simple and not overdone as are the others tended to be. The room dark, except for the sunlight that captured the Ankh symbols perfectly. It is all about the lighting. Perhaps that is one of the reasons I like it. It’s like Cindy Crawford, she doesn’t need any makeup to look great. She merely is.

These images are a bit darker as they were shot from inside the temple as well. The lower columns depict a lion and an ankh, The lion represents strength while the ankh represents good luck.

Such intricate craftsmanship. It was amazing to stand inside these temples. My hand couldn’t wait to caressing the lines of the grooves and crevices of the glyphs.

Golden Tomb at Edfu

Golden Tomb at Edfu‘ was absolutely amazing. I was so stoked when the photo turned out. This, because I was literally tossed in the crowd not much different from being in a mosh pit, but not as rough, a close second. This part of the tomb saw a lot of people. All of whom wanted to take a photo of ‘this’, or have the photo taken with ‘this’. ‘This’ was inside the inner sanctuary embellished in gold, pure as the designs and intricate workmanship. Its true meaning in question. All I knew was it was beautiful. ‘This’ was the types of antiquities I had expected to see throughout Egypt in the tombs. I thought that there would be mummies and sarcophagus left in the tombs, and upright sarcophagi in the tombs, filled with mummies. I guess only in the movies. I realized of course they couldn’t be left in the tombs or sanctuaries as this would result in vandals. So imagine my surprise to see ‘this’ antiquity used to carry the body to the tomb, I believe. Don’t quote me.  I can’t even remember what ‘this’ was called, hence all the quotes. As the day ended, we had but one day remaining to see the sights before returning to Cairo. On the way back to the ship we passed the shop below, that sold fresh bread. Our guide quickly jumps from the buggy as it moves and runs to the stand. Best bread ever he says, upon his return with a stack of fresh flat bread. We never tried any, we took his word for it. As he placed the bread on the filthy buggy seat unwrapped and uncovered.Two words e.coli.

Fresh bread for sale. just hanging out in the sun with all those fingers and flies on it. Yum.

The next part of the trip entailed a few hours on the upper deck with our new best friend – ‘Egyptian Sparkling Wine’ by the pool. Or under the awning, next to the pool, so we did not fry under the intense rays of the sun. The sun is brutal, even in winter. This was the way to relax.

As we sat out on the deck was the first time we saw so many cruise ships, all in a cue to enter the locks. We also heard yelling from below. ‘Layday, Layday’, I peaked my head over and was nearly knocked off my feet by a flying bag filled with a cheesy mans shirt or dress. I tossed it back, it missed his boat and ended up sinking. The man was not happy. I shrugged my shoulders. Sorry.  I said I wasn’t interested in purchasing anything, repeatedly.

I waited for a few minutes before looking back over the deck and there they were, at least ten or so small boats like the one below. These men would toss-up in plastic bags packages of rugs, scarfs, and Egyptian costumes. If you didn’t want what they tossed up then you tossed it back down. I was not well skilled with the technique. Each time something was tossed up, I tossed it down, and in the water it would go. I missed the boat, literally.  Each time! I felt horrible. One bag actually sank. The man, not happy.

Finally, the guy tossed up this really nice throw rug. I decided I would buy one. Lloyd went to grab his wallet, he looked at me, like I had it. I had neither his nor mine. We had locked them in the room safe. While Lloyd sprinted to our room to get cash. The man was trying to sell me more. I kept saying no. I was getting nervous as Lloyd was taking a long time. The man in the boat was as nervous as me, for different reasons –  his boat was nearly crushed with another ship. He had to have his driver maneuver the row-boat to the back of the ship. Are you kidding? I had to maneuver through the crowd to the back of the ship with the money, but I didn’t have the money yet. Still waiting for Lloyd. I figured out that I had to place the money in a bag, and toss it over, and it along with the merchandise would in all likelihood, hit the water, as did three earlier attempts of merchandise. Great…

At the last moment the money came. Enough money for one. Really! I could buy only one? I wanted to buy more… questioning the money situation in my inside voice, I quickly packed up the money in the bag and hurriedly tossed the bag overboard. What can I say, it missed the boat. Into the Nile it plunged. What can I say? I can’t throw, not even a simple bag overboard into a boat. In the end, all was good, someone in another boat  retrieved the money before it was too late. When I unwrapped my purchase, I really did wish I had bought more. It clearly was not meant to be. I wasn’t sure how I was going to pack the throw rug, let alone more.  I had packed a smaller suitcase than Lloyd. I hate carting luggage. The less the better. The rugs were hand-made and pretty thick and more like a throw rug or heavy blanket. Beautiful. I wasn’t sure why so many people bought the cheesy Egyptian clothing when they could have spent 8 dollars on these great throw rugs. But the cheap Egyptian costumes, sold better than hot cakes at a Sunday morning brunch.

I guess they would wear the costumes to the party that night. Where else would someone wear an Egyptian tunic? As our boat had its turn through the locks we continued our way up the Nile. People who failed to buy their costumes on board the ship in a tiny shop, or from the street vendors along the way to Edfu Temple, purchased their costumes from the boat merchants.

It was costume night on the ship. People dressed up in their costumes for dinner. Some really did a great job looking cheesy, some looked very slutty, while some of the men – pathetic. The best was a man with a toga and those old fashion white socks with the strips, just below the knees, wearing sandals. It was brilliant! If I wouldn’t have been so obvious, I would have taken a picture. The best part, this woman, older than me, perhaps a few years younger than my mother, probably. Sadly she wore the beads and not much else. It was not a pretty site. The man with the socks and she, I believe the two were married. Yikes! People were into purchasing this merchandise they would where once, from the cheesy shops. I needed the etch-a-sketch again to get the woman’s costume from my head.

We learned each ship has a costume night. We bowed out of the fun, I am so sure it was; Instead we found our way to the upper deck with our bottle of delicious Egyptian sparkling wine and watched the stars as the ship sailed up the Nile to Aswan. We learned the fleet comprises some 200 boats. All on the River at once traveling the same River. It was odd however, as we rarely  saw another ship unless we were docking, at night, all the boats would line up and hook together. Our ship was one of a few that had its own dock. This meant an evening of quiet, the other ships were loud because of their generators were older and loud.

Rastafarian Felluca,’ being Australian, my husband loved this felluca with the Australian flag.  This was our view before dusk. It was lovely night. A bit chilly, but after a couple of glasses of sparkling wine, who cared.

Our view on the Nile while the others were off partying.

This photo of the felluca taken by Lloyd as the evening disco music began. The view, far superior to disco dancing. What better means to end this post than with two sunset shots of the Nile. Let the disco balls spin. Lloyd and I sat back and took in the quiet of nature. I would prefer to watch the sun set, relax with a glass of sparkling wine while the men and women were down on the main deck dressed in scary costumes, dancing the night away and singing karaoke.

I hope you enjoyed this post and hope you will return for the last segments of our Egyptian adventure From Portland, Oregon to Egypt, where we will visit the High Dam, glide across the Lake Aswan to the Temple of Philae and return to Cairo for our last few days. I was sad we had but a few short days remaining. But what a fascinating time we had. Definitely a trip worthy of the number one place on anyone’s bucket list.

Thanks for reading.

L&L