Wednesday 20 December 2023

Hurghada City tour

Today we went on a city tour of Hurghada. It was a free trip provided by the tour company, and we did the same outing on our last visit to Hurghada a few years ago.

First stop was the viewpoint from the highest point in Hurghada. This is misleading because Hurghada is almost completely flat, although I agree that this section of road is slightly higher than it's surroundings.

No one was sure what we were supposed to be looking at, as the sea view from our hotel is also beautiful and a lot cleaner than here. Darren helpfully brightened it up for me.

Then came a new marina, where I impersonated an angel - not so exciting in daylight, but I think that it would look great after dark..

Then we had a quick walk through the fish market. I don't usually like these, but this one was quite nice, and as Darren said, much easier than snorkeling.

Then we went to the local mosque.

Before we could go inside I had to rent an outfit. There was lots of choice but I made the wrong decision and it looked like a giant onesie rather than an elegant robe.

Last but not least, we went to a souvenir shop where the prices were fixed and no one was supposed to hassle you, although of course they did but in a polite way.

As I said last time, not the most exciting tour, but you can only see what is there, and it was a fun and interesting afternoon.

Monday 18 December 2023

Running and swimming

This morning we went for a jog along Hurghada Promenade.

The weather was lovely, the pavements were really quiet and we saw quite a few other runners with the same idea.

We also had the chance to admire some of the many Christmas decorations along the street.

And Darren posed with a statue that was an almost identical twin of one found in Tutankhamen's tomb.

We went back for breakfast in the hotel and then headed off for our trip in a glass bottomed boat.

We left the harbour and after a while reached the reef, and we all trooped downstairs to the viewing area.

The glass is actually quite a blue colour which makes the colours of the coral and fish look washed out, but then one of the crew jumped in an gave the fish a little bit of food.

During this time the boat was really bobbing about in the water and back up on deck we could see that the waves were quite big.

If you are wondering how I managed to take this photo, it's because there was more than one boat.

We had been promised the chance to snorkel over a beautiful reef too,  and we expected it to be close to the shore in shallow water, but no, it was actually here about half a mile from the shore and in 20 metre deep water.

We did both jump in and snorkelled about for a few minutes, but it was too rough and deep to see any fish, so I fought to swim across mountainous seas and clambered back aboard! Maybe a slight exaggeration there.

Then back to the harbour and the bus ride home.

Looking back it was an okay trip with some nice highlights, and it wasn't the crews fault about the rough sea, but as always, the outing didn't quite match the original description of it.

Saturday 16 December 2023


Today we went on the longest day trip ever. The rep sold it as an easy way to get back from the cruise in Luxor to our hotel on the Red Sea.

He said it would be one hour at the airport, one hour flight, a tour of the Egyptian Museum and the pyramids then a quick flight to Hurghada and back in time for dinner.

Did it happen like that? Well we are in Egypt, land of over promises and surprise deliveries.

In reality, the pick up was 7am, three hours before our flight, but we were in Cairo by 11.30am and raring to go. Of course, we had to wait for some reason and then there was a mutiny on the coach when he said that lunch would be at 5pm. He averted a mini crisis by buying felafels for breakfast for everyone, and then we got to the museum.

It was quite empty and we saw all of Tutankhamen's treasures. 

The incredible gold sarcophagus and death mask are in a separate room where no photos are allowed, but we took photos of everything else.

The photo above is of the jars that store his lungs, stomach, intestines and liver, ready for him to use again in the afterlife.

His heart was put back in to his body and is in his mummy which is still in his burial chamber in the Valley of the Kings, and his brain was thrown away. (This is all standard practice for dead Pharaoh's)

This is his gold chair with a beautiful footstool painted with pictures of his enemies, so that he was crushing them under his feet.

So many other amazing things filled this crumbling and run down building, but this was a favourite - 4,500 year old life size models of the brother and sister in law of Pharaoh Khufu who built the biggest and first pyramid in Giza.

Speaking of Giza, that is where we went next. It is a only a few miles from the museum and right on the edge of the city, but since we last visited they appear to have put a new road in so that you arrive from the direction of the desert, and it gives the effect of them being a away from modern civilisation.

There are also camels everywhere, but get on them at your peril.

We were all desperate to get closer, but the tour guide was also desperate for us to go on horse and carriage rides to an even better viewpoint! He managed to get a couple of people to do this (probably disappointed about his lack of commission), and then he took the rest of us down for some free time.

For such a long day, we didn't get much time, but we have been here twice before and there are only so many photos that you can take of unbelievably enormous triangles in the sand.

By this time the tour guide was getting frantic as the whole pyramid site closes at 5pm and we hadn't got to the sphinx yet. Another new road has been built past the side of it and no one is allowed to park on it. However everyone did, and the police were constantly blowing whistles to try to move everyone on.

Our guide also said that the police try to close the site early every day, and actually we had to leave at 4.30pm.

It was a shame as the sun was going down and we could hardly see the magnificent creature because of the glare.

After that we had a late lunch followed by a trip to a papyrus workshop. Our guide had then run out of things to do, so he took us to the airport where our flight wasn't until 11pm, and not 6pm as promised.

We eventually got to our hotel at 1am, but what we saw the only remaining Wonder of the World, and Tutankhamen, and experienced Egyptian organisational skills.

Friday 15 December 2023

Sailing day

 This morning we opened our curtains to the most beautiful sunrise.

We had a lovely peaceful morning floating down the river and through the hydro electric lock at Esna.

By early afternoon we had arrived back and docked at Luxor. All too soon it was time for our second horse and carriage ride of the holiday. (If we hadn't have booked them both at the same time then we would possibly have given this one a miss, however, you never know what might happen in Egypt!)

This trip started so well as we trotted along the by the Nile, but then we did a loop along a dual carriageway lined with building sites, and back to where we started. Then we stopped and waited for a while, then did another loop of the building sites.

Half an hour into our ride, we did a third loop, but then deviated from this holding pattern and off into the back streets.

We then clip clopped through a market, and with five minutes remaining we turned a corner and saw the Avenue of the Sphinxes. Very briefly though and then for a few seconds we saw Luxor Temple in the distance, and then the trip was over.

Not the sightseeing trip we hoped for and instead of seeing magnificent 4,000 year old structures we mainly focussed on busy roads and building sites.

Changing to a much quicker and reliable form of transport - our feet - we set off to see the temple.

Back to our boat and the evening entertainment. First was a very impressive whirling dervish. He performed for about 15 minutes, twirling constantly, and even had led lights on his costume.

After the dervish came a belly dancer, who wasn't quite as good. However, she got me up on the dance floor to do a duet with her and after a quick wiggle we headed off to bed.

Thursday 14 December 2023

Old town Aswan

Last night we went on a horse and carriage ride around the old town of Aswan.

To say that it is an unattractive place is the understatement of the year. However it was interesting and extremely busy, and it was nice riding up and down the streets.

This morning we went out for a stroll and to find a coffee shop. First of all, nightmare of nightmares, we had to get past a pack of dogs.

They took no notice of us at all, so I don't know what all the fuss was about really!

We spent the rest of the day sitting around in the sunshine on the boat, which is now sailing back towards Luxor.

I ran out of room yesterday, but on our visit to the Nubian village and on a whim, I got a henna hand tattoo.

I like it a lot, and the lady who did it was lovely. It only last for a couple of weeks so will be gone before I have time to get bored of it.

Wednesday 13 December 2023

Boat rides and Nubian village

Today started so peacefully with a felucca ride across the river. Feluccas are engineless sailing boats that have travelled up and down the Nile for centuries.

Our captain and his crew took us across to a little island in the middle of the river that is now a botanical garden. (But not before we had a little sing song, a dance around the boat and a souvenir shopping opportunity!)

The botanical garden could also have been peaceful, but hiding amongst the undergrowth were salespeople. They appeared without warning, some holding baby crocodiles to be posed for photos, others selling wooden crocodiles and tea towels, and one man who walked alongside us for ages with nothing to sell, but who just kept reading out the labels on the plants in the hope of receiving a tip.

We did manage to spend some time on our own too.

Next up was a boat trip up through the cataract. A cataract is a series of rocky rapids with fast flowing water. I don't know why I don't have a picture of this as it was lovely, but this is a photo of the start of the journey just before the rapids.

Then we reached a very sandy section and stepped ashore so that a few brave passengers could have a quick swim.

Obviously there was another shopping opportunity on the sand, and Darren spent about ten minutes haggling over a little glass camel filled with sand. It's very pretty and I hope that we can get it home without it getting broken.

Back on board we headed a bit further upstream to visit a Nubian village for a cup of tea and slice of bread in a typical local house.

The village very pretty with brightly painted houses and even brighter interiors.

The house had rooms around a courtyard and looked very comfortable. It is considered lucky for the household if they keep a crocodile in the courtyard, and this one had an enormous one in a cage just a few feet from the dining table.

It seemed very cruel to me and it is a very strange tradition, and we are not sure what happens to the crocodile when it gets too big for the cage, but we are certain that it can't be good.

On the way back we passed through the streets filled with tourist tat and all of the store holders constantly asking where you are from. They only know 'London', and they immediately reply 'lovely jubbly', and 'Liverpool' where they say 'Mo Salah' and try to sell you his football shirt.

Back in time for lunch and an afternoon on the sunbeds, followed by a sunset over the Nile.

Tuesday 12 December 2023

Kom Ombo temple

Today we cruised down the Nile, arriving at Kom Ombo temple just before sunset.

It is really surprising that although there are seven days in the week, 24 hours in each day, and at least five different stopping points on the Nile, it appears that almost all of the cruise ships chose to visit the same places at exactly the same time.

This means that most of the time the temples are completely deserted, and then for a crazy couple of hours they are completely packed!

It didn't really detract from our visit as we went without a guide, so zig zagged around the huge groups, and then stayed later after most of them were heading back to their boats.

Kom Ombo is a unique place because it is dedicated to two gods, rather than one. The crocodile god Sobek on one side, and the falcon god Horus on the other. The carvings are absolutely superb, as in this example with a crocodile head.

An amazing fact, to me anyway, is that this temple was built around 1,200 years after Hatshepsut's that we visited a couple of days ago. This means that Kom Ombo is 'only' around 2,200 years old.

It is beautifully lit after sunset so we took a few final photos and then headed to the crocodile museum.

The ancient Egyptians were keen on mummifying animals as well as people and over 300 mummified crocodiles were found near to the temple.

Some enormous ones have been unwrapped and look scary, but these are quite small and very cute looking.