Temples, and Toilets, and Tombs, Oh My — Part 8

A site at night

Visiting the Luxor Temple at night, I was reminded of a similar jaunt a few years ago when we, with a different group, visited the ruins of the Roman city in the national park at Beit Shean, a few hours’ drive from where we live in Ma’ale Adumim. In both places, whoever is in charge used lights and special effects to create a magical moment, something different from the prosaic impression one would get in broad daylight. But here at Luxor, the only sound effects one could hear were those made by the tourists, lots of them, visiting the site. The volunteer guide at Beit Shean shone his laser beam at a spot near the top of a very tall pillar. Where I’m pointing, he said, that used to be ground level, and the little bit of the pillar that was above ground level was one side of our goal post when we played football.

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Temples, and Toilets, and Tombs, Oh My — Part 7

I didn’t think the question I posed Dr. Google was that difficult or complicated. How far is it from Aswan to Luxor? But I got several different numbers. OK, the as-the-crow-flies distance (as in taking a plane) is 181km (112 miles). But what if you’re going by bus, as our group was, is it 215 km or 238 km? As we discovered, the answer depends on who you are. If the traveler is Egyptian, it’s the shorter distance; if you’re us, strangers in a strange land, it’s the longer one. Huh?

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Temples, and Toilets, and Tombs, Oh My — Part 6

If your tour group is traveling for over a week up and down the Nile, it would be inevitable that, sooner or later, you’d be riding ON the Nile. And because Egypt is not known for having the latest technology, you’d be riding on the Nile in small boats that, while picturesque, have an engine that seems to have made the journey once too often and, in our case, whose slogan should be taken seriously.

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Temples, and Toilets, and Tombs, Oh My — Part 5

I’m not at my best early in the morning when the sun’s rays are first coming over the horizon. Should I be forced to awaken at some such ungodly hour, my thoughts center on how soon I can be reacquainted with my pillow. There are many advantages to being on an organized tour – which is why we go on them – but the need to be ‘on the bus’ at 8AM when we only arrived at the hotel at 1AM is not one of them. However, if we wanted to get from the hotel in Aswan to Abu Simbel, a distance of 280 kilometers, we had no choice but to start out before we’d like to. Otherwise, we wouldn’t get back to the hotel in time for dinner, and who wants that?

I would have been more than happy to spend the time en route trying to catch as many zzz’s as I could, but Cindy – God bless her – had other ideas (as she often does). Why not use the time to let each of us take a few minutes to introduce ourselves to the rest of the group? And so, starting in the front of the bus, each person was requested to dutifully take the microphone (every tour bus has a mike, so the guide doesn’t have to yell) and say something of interest, which each person did, at least enough to keep me awake, which is saying something.

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Temples, Toilets, and Tombs, Oh My — Part 4

I was finally going to see the pyramids along the Nile – except there are no pyramids right alongside the Nile. Why would you put any structure of value in a place where you KNOW there’s going to be water seeping in every year? (Except that people today do that all the time. Think: Passaic River, NJ) The pyramids that people want to see are in Giza, a suburb of Cairo, safely away from the river in question. We got off the bus (it was now Tues. morning, if you’re keeping score), and this is what we saw. At least, you should be prepared if you ever go there.

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