While the fact that Egypt had been in the news ever since the Revolution in January 2011 had me a bit concerned, I jumped at the chance to visit this fascinating country when an opportunity came up last September. I was looking forward to experiencing the sights without the typical hordes of travelers crowding the Egyptian Museum and the temples and tombs. I’m happy to report that there were more visitors than expected. In 2010, around 14.7 million tourists visited Egypt, generating around $12.5 billion, but numbers slumped to 9.8 million visitors in 2011, generating $8.8 billion. Thus far, numbers are rising again in 2012.
Our first stop was the Pyramids, where we also checked out the solar boat. Made to transport the soul of the Pharaoh to the afterlife, it was built in 2640 B.C. – yes, B.C.! The ropes they used were perfectly preserved and it is amazing to note that we still use the same type of ropes and knots today. I can’t believe the ancient history that you get to see and in the case of the Pyramids, you even get to touch it!
Abu Simbel was one of my favorite places to see. The temples are amazing by themselves, and it is unbelievable to think that they were moved to higher grounds after they built the Aswan Dam. You are not just admiring one incredible accomplishment at this place but two from two different time periods. Built in 1244 B.C., moved in 1964. I had seen many pictures of the four seated statues of the Pharao Ramses II with Queen Nefertari at his feet, but I was not prepared for the incredibly preserved paintings inside the temple. Wandering among these life-size scenes of daily life, wars and celebrations was an incredible experience.
From Abu Simbel, we flew to Aswan and got on our riverboat, which would take us all the way to Luxor. The Nile is the World’s longest River – 4,130 miles – and provides 97 percent of the water for Egypt.
When not out exploring, I would sit on the shaded deck, sipping an iced beverage and watching the timeless scenery of rural Egypt float slowly by – waving to children swimming in the Nile or riding their donkeys and fishermen reeling in their catch.
I loved the Valley of the Kings outside of Luxor, the burial place for the pharaohs containing at least 62 known tombs and chambers. My favorite was the tomb of Amenhotep II, with its remarkable depictions from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. The drawings on the wall were vibrant with color and detail and it is hard to believe that I was looking at such ancient history. No detail is left out; they even drew the teeth on the crocodiles!
The people in Egypt are very friendly. The mood is very expectant and they are looking optimistically into the future. Right now is a great time to visit and to experience ancient history and to witness history in making! FBN
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