From the Red to the Med

Wed, June 19

 We had been looking forward to seeing this water passage between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, and after reaching the anchorage waiting area at 3.30am we joined our convoy of ships.  I think there were about 14 ships, however we were second in line and could only see the french warship ahead and  one container ship behind..

We passed through the Great Bitter Lake around 10.00am and then passed under the Suez Bridge around 2.30pm without incident, finally making our way clear of the canal around 5.00pm.

It was interesting to see “The Highway to India”as it is sometimes called, approx 120 miles long, 79 feet deep and 673 feet wide.  It was opened in 1869 and today, over 17,000 ships pass through it each year.

We spent most of the day on deck watching the passing scenery which was quite amazing  – fertile and green and populated on the port side and desert on the starboard side.  Also quite evident were the number of military establishments along the left bank of the canal with armed soldiers stationed about every 100 metres patrolling the desert side.

Suez Canal (9)

Falucca with sail down

Falucca with sail down


Floating bridge

Floating bridge

Swinging bridge

Swinging bridge

Suez Canal (8)Suez Canal
Fertile left bank

Fertile left bank

Suez Canal (6)
War memorial

War memorial

Advertisements

Egyptian Treasures

sea princess safaga luxor 062 (800x533)

Sun, June 16

Leaving our ship at the small Red Sea port of Safaga, we boarded our coach for the 3-1/2 hour trip through the desert to the Valley of the Kings, crossing the Nile on the way.  We had to go in convoy with an armed security guard on each bus.  There was more security hidden in the hills that we could not see, so we felt quite safe.  There were also numerous police checkpoints to pass through, so if anything were to go amiss, they would be able to locate us. 

Our ticket covered visits to any three tombs (of the 62 that are open) and on the advice of our tour guide, we visited Rameses IV, Rameses IX and Rameses III.  The latter was the most impressive as it was in the best condition and we could hardly believe our eyes when we walked through this extensive tomb and were able to examine the hieroglyphics in their wonderful colours, much of it still in excellent condition towards the front.  Unfortunately salt and water are taking their toll and chunks of render have fallen off here and there and water seepage has removed the colour from the hieroglyphics on the back walls.

We opted not to pay extra to visit the tomb of Tutankhamen as we were told that it was very plain due the removal of the artefacts to the Egyptian museum in Cairo.  Most of the tombs are located in close proximity to one another, and fine gravel paths have been laid to make it easy to walk from one to another.

Unfortunately no cameras were allowed and we were advised to leave them in the bus otherwise they could have been confiscated and we may not have gotten them back at all.  However there were many vendors selling postcards and we were able to purchase photos of the tombs whilst on the bus.

Next stop was the great Temple of Luxor built about 1400 B.C. and it was absolutely breathtaking to explore the site, taking in the enormous statues and columns.  We have seen it many times in books and on television, but nothing takes the place of actually being there taking in this ancient history first hand.  Of the two obelisks, only one remains; the other we saw in the Place de la Concorde in Paris last year.  Leading from the temple was the Avenue of the Sphinxes – some in surprisingly good condition – which extended quite a long way and was a very impressive sight.

My impressions of Egypt – the contrast between the arid desolation of the desert and the lush green of the Nile Valley, where many people along the banks of the Nile are still farming the way they did in the time of the pharaohs; square apartment blocks and box like houses, in colours blending in to the desert, where the second floor on houses is never completed to avoid having to pay property taxes.  Lots of donkeys and mopeds.  Vendors wanting you to buy their souvenirs, even after you get back on the bus! 

On a final note, with the memory of the recent Australian ban on live export to Egypt in mind, it was reassuring to see donkeys in the fields grazing and all the horses with carts in the streets being fed as we made our way back to the ship in the afternoon.

 

EgyptRoad in EgyptTemple of Luxor (3)Temple of Luxor (4)Temple of Luxor (5)Temple of Luxor (6)Temple of LuxorTemple of Luxor (2)Unfinished housessea princess safaga luxor 080 (800x533)sea princess safaga luxor 118 (800x533)