January 3, 2008

Tom – Didn’t sleep well, luckily we had packed the night before so only had to dress and go.  Karim and Wahil were on time and Karim brought us kufte kebob sandwiches that his mother had made and mango juice drinks for breakfast.  We checked our two large suitcases at the hotel for our return and paid our bill.  They charged us for our New Year’s Eve Gala, which I had already paid for, so that had to come off the bill.  Then I found that they charged me $2 a minute for the calls I made ($80) – I thought they were covered by my phone card!

Our Egypt Air flight to Luxor left at 6am.  It was less than an hour flight and we were at the Crown Empress Nile cruise boat by 8am.  We met Sarah our personal guide in the lobby and immediately were off with our own driver to the Temples of Karnak.   I could get use to this kind of treatment!  It would take a book to describe this place.  First it is big – about one mile long and half a mile wide.  Second, it has been built, re-built, expanded, destroyed and reconstructed many times over 1500 years.  Third, it contains numerous temples, sanctuaries, pylons, obelisks, chapels, statues, and a sacred lake.

Connected to Karnak to the south is the Luxor Temple two miles away.  Luxor was also known as Thebes.  Though smaller and right in the middle of town, it is as impressive.  Like Karnak it has changed significantly through the years.  There was a relief of Alexander the Great representing himself in Egyptian regalia in his role as pharaoh.  There was even a mosque built on top of some of the ruins and the remnants of a church that was built after a Roman Fort there was burned.  History on top of history, how do you keep it all straight?




We were back at the boat for lunch and to check into our room at 1pm.  The room was bigger than I expected with two single beds that we pushed together, a desk, two comfortable chairs with end table, a large closet with shelves, and a good size and modern bathroom.  There were two large double doors that could be opened for an open air view of the river and it was fun watching the riverbank and scenery as we passed.  We were on the top level (fourth floor) so we could see well over the river bank.

We were tired from the early morning start and dosed a bit until tea time (4:30 – 5:30).  Tea/coffee, light snacks were offered each afternoon on deck.  Though sunny the breeze was cool and we needed jackets to be comfortable.  We sat at table 12 for each meal.  There were two other couples at our table, Rafaei (24) & Amna (22) newly weds from Alexandria.  Rafaei works in Dubai.  He was a national caliber distance swimmer and is also a sailor.  Curt (51) & Kristy (  ), also newly weds (second marriage for each) were from Hawaii (Maui).  Curt is a contractor and former freestyle skier and Kristy is a part-time surgical nurse.

After dinner Helen and I walked downtown to see Luxor Temple at night.  It was interesting to also see some Christmas decorations, lights and even Santa Claus and a reindeer.  Our boat was parked right across from King Farouk’s winter palace which is now a hotel.

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