Cruising the Nile was a dream come true, what better to appreciate this magnificent river than on a luxurious boat with all the comforts of home and more. Four days of beautiful scenery, passing by towns where the call to prayer echoes out across the valley. Egyptians go about their business and children play on river bank waving out happily as you pass by.
I boarded my 4 story cruise boat in Aswan and sailed up the Nile to Luxor stopping along the way at temples and docking overnight at Edfu. It was an amazing four days of wonderful sights, fantastic service and beautiful meals.
Another way to cruise the Nile is by felucca, a cute sail boat that relies on the cool breeze of the Nile to push them along, zig zaging across the river to make the most of the wind. No plunge pool with bar service or day spa though but still quite lovely I am told. I was the only one in my tour group that took the upgrade and even though they sailed a day earlier my boat passed them within 30 minutes of leaving Aswan.
When you go to Egypt this is certainly one of the adventures that is a must, either by cruise boat or felucca it will be an incredible journey.
Next stop was a visit to Pompey’s Pillar, a giant roman pillar built on a rock terrace guarded by two sphinx and surrounded by Alexandria suburbia. While it may be named after Pompey a Roman general who fled Rome following a clash with Cesar it was not built for him. It was believed that the pillar marked the place of burial for Pompey who died in Egypt around 48 BC but the pillar was actually built centuries later for the Roman Emperor Diocletian as symbol of victory following a revolt in Alexandria around 300 AD. The downfall of the Ptolomaic dynasty led to Egypt being conquered and ruled by Rome until it was liberated by the Arabs around 640 AD. I use the term liberated because it was the Egyptian people who sort help from the Arabs to rid Egypt of the Romans.
Before the 30 meter granite pillar was built this place was actually a grand temple dedicated to the god Serapis. Known as the Serapeum or Alexandria acropolis it was destroyed by Christians in 391AD and what remains of it are the foundations and underground tunnels that were used to house the priests of the temple. The tunnels are open to visitors but there is not much to see, many of the artifacts that survived have been removed but an Apis bull is still in place in one of the underground tunnels.
I loved that this place sits in the heart of a residential area perhaps much like it would have been centuries ago but without the apartment buildings and satellite tv dishes. A typical Egyptian home is not complete with out the days washing hanging on the line outside the living room window and satellite dishes dotting the roofs. I feel like I was able to see into both past and present Egyptian living as I wondered around the foundations of what must have been an amazing place of worship.
In the past I have been quite happy to travel on my own but for the first time I decided to do a tour for the Egypt part of my travels. I’m so glad I did, not only did it provide me with an easy and safe way to travel through the country I also made some great friends who I am still in touch with today. We were a small group and met for the first time in a hotel lobby in Giza only 20 minutes before the start of our tour. When talking over lunch we discovered that each of us were worried that we would be stuck with weirdos however this was not the case for us as we all clicked right away and had the best time together.
We travelled for 2 weeks together and had a fantastic time, it was great to be able to visit incredible places and share the experience with one another. I remember traveling through Cambodia and standing in front of Ankgor Watt in complete awe and not having anyone to turn to tell them how much I loved that I was in this amazing place. Where ever we went each of us would just look at each other and smile in amazement at the magnificent places we were lucky enough to visit. It was great to be able to converse about the history and culture with each other, we were learning and best of all having so much fun together. Our guide Mohamed always referred to a family and it certainly felt that way.
On reflection I think we connected so well because as we got to know each other better it was apparent that we were all starting new chapters in lives. This trip represented a mile stone for each of us and the beginning of something new. I was blessed to meet these exceptionally kind and fun people and will make sure I will always stay in touch.
In ancient times the Egyptians worshiped those they loved and creatures they feared, that is why on the shores of the Nile you will find a temple dedicated to crocodile god Sobek and Haroeris a form of the falcon headed god Horus. This temple is unique in that it’s design was duplicated to accommodate a place of worship for both gods. It’s like it was a place where good and evil coexisted side by side to balance each other out, the right side dedicated to Sobek and the left to Haroeris. Damaged by earthquakes, Nile floods and time parts of it have been lost forever however strong columns, beautiful hieroglyphics and evidences of it’s innovative design still stand today.
This part of the Nile was known for a great place for crocodiles to hang out and sun themselves on the river banks while terrorizing locals at the same time. To foster good relationships with these fearsome creatures of river the temple of Kom Ombo was built in their honor during the reign of Ptolomey VI. Over 300 mummified crocodiles were found buried around the temple and some are on display at the museum next door. Just in case you are wondering there are no more crocodiles in this part of the Nile, they are all living happily behind the High Dam. This was one of my first questions I asked my very amused guide, same goes for the hippopotamus.
It would seem the temple priests were not the most honest and this temple is a fine example of how crafty they were. The design of the temple enabled the priests to be able to see clearly into the courtyard while they were nicely concealed in the shadows of the inner sanctuaries. When a wealthy noble was seen entering the temple he would be invited into the inner sanctuary where he could make a personal offering to the gods. Once inside this person would hear the voice of a god speak to him with promises of wonderful things, only one catch, it all depended on how abundant his offering was. Unknown to the wealthy noble was that a priest would be hidden in a secret chamber in the walls of the sanctuary, scamming him the whole time. This secret chamber also had a hidden passage that lead to the outer walls of the temple, a perfect escape route. By the time the noble emerged from the temple after his divine encounter the priest were well shot of the sanctuary, providing them a perfect alibi, they must have made a killing.
When exploring the walls of the temple my guide pointed out a section and asked me to guess what I thought the inscriptions represented, to my surprise I found myself looking at what seemed to be surgical tools. To his surprise also as not many people guess correctly. It was the forceps and blades that gave it away but on closer inspection I could also make out what looked like a drill. Is it possible that brain surgery was also attempted back in ancient times? It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest after all the Egyptians built the pyramids, great temples and had the mummification process down, so why not brain surgery.
This temple was one of the first stops on my Nile cruise, we left Aswan around lunchtime and arrived just before sunset. The Nile would have to be one of the best places in the world to watch the sun go down. While this temple is not as well preserved as others it is still worth a visit, especially at sunset. Stories of crooked priests, crocodiles and gods are all here amongst broken ruins bathed in golden sunlight on the banks of the Nile.
I read a great to do list today that someone had kindly shared,
Let go of what I can’t change and things you can’t control
Listen to my intuition
Be productive and calm
All are fantastic actions to live by but for me the most relevant to how I am feeling at the moment is No. 3 letting go of what I can’t change and things you can’t control. A bit about me to ponder is I lean more to fight side of the flight or fight scenario, perhaps it’s the Taurus in me, a stubborn bull who finds it hard to budge. To add to the situation I may also be a little bit of a control freak but only little.
Have I lost the battle if I let it go, perhaps what I should be asking myself is if it was a cause worth fighting for. My intuition tells me no, my heart tells me yes. Dam heart. Now I have the theme song from Frozen in my head.
As I read through these actions it occurs to me that they are more powerful when checked off in an order that is conducive to where you want to go and feel.
Be grateful – Always, I have a great life filled with wonderful people in it.
Listen to my intuition – I know whats best for me and what is not.
Be kind – Be kind to myself, you tried and it’s not about losing a battle it’s about conceding honorably.
Be productive but calm – Better out than in , write it down and get it out of your system.
BREATH – Relax
Let go of what I can’t control or change – Done!
Felling so much lighter now, will rinse and repeat for the next few days just to be sure.