Friday, April 11, 2008

Egypt



Editing the photos. It is the most difficult part after coming back from a trip. I took around 400 photos of which maybe 200 are good of which, I will only post a few so I don't bore my viewers. Selecting the photos is not an easy task, by posting just "a few" I want to make sure that I have a good representation of the places I visited. I'm more of a "take pictures of the local people and everyday life" rather than the scenery. Taking photos of just buildings doesn't capture the essence of a place. During this trip I tried to combine both.
I hope you have fun looking at the photos and it inspires you to travel to distant places.
My journey started in Cairo where I spent a few days visiting the Pyramids of Giza, Saqqara, several mosques,the Antiquities Museum, a Christian Church and just sightseeing before flying to Abu Simbel, the last settlement before the border with Sudan.
While in Abu Simbel I visited the Great Temple of Ramses II by Lake Nasser. From Abu Simbel a short flight to Aswan on the east bank of the Nile. I visited the High Dam (just a huge Dam :])and the Agilika Island where Philae stands. This was my second favorite place of the whole trip. My first one being Karnak in Luxor which I visited the next day after taking yet another short flight from Aswan. Luxor is a small pleasant city and the temple of Karnak is the largest temple complex in the world. After Karnak I went to the temple of Luxor which is also pretty amazing.
In Luxor I had the opportunity to see more of the country life. Luxor was quite a contrast to the craziness of Cairo. Just a couple of miles outside of Luxor people go about their daily lives taking care of their fields and animals. I started , my second day in Luxor seeing the temples on the West bank of the Nile. Another place among my favorites in Luxor was the temple of Hatshepsut, daughter of Tuthmosis I, and the first woman to rule Egypt in her own right. We also stopped to see the Colossi of Memnon which marks the site of a vanished temple.
From Hatshepsut I headed to the Valley of the Kings where over sixty tombs have been discovered. The tombs are nothing more than tunnels into the hills. Most of them have been looted over the years and all that remains are scraps of painting or relief. Only the tomb of Tutankhamun was found almost intact, its contents can be seen at the Egyptian Antiquities Museum in Cairo which I would love to visit again and again.
My friends and I had 5 hours to kill before flying back to Cairo so we stopped at Ali Baba, a small rooftop cafe overlooking the Temple of Luxor where I had a chance to photograph daily life. At this point I think I was ready to go back to.....Cairo....
Cairo felt now like home. I had a day to "rest" before my friends and I headed on a 4hour drive to the Sinai Peninsula. Our plan was to climb Mt Sinai (7497 ft or 2285 meters)and visit St Catherine's Monastery on the slopes of Mt. Sinai.
Mt. Sinai is Egypt's second-highest mountain and is said to be where God delivered his Ten Commandments to Moses. After driving through the desert along the Gulf of Suez we arrived at Mt. Sinai. After checking in at the hotel we headed to the Monastery which is where we would start climbing the hill. For two hours we used camels to climb and at some point we had to start the climb by foot or by donkey. We opted to walk the 3000 steps to the summit. We watched the sunset and climbed down in the darkness, fortunately it was a full moon so it was not as dark as I would have expected. Don't ask me how sore I felt the next day.
The following day I visited the St. Catharine Monastery. The monastery was built in AD527 in the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I. The monastery is maintained by a group of Greek Orthodox monks. A highlight of this trip was visiting the library which holds thousands of religious texts in Greek, Hebrew, Latin and Arabic. Also I was able to see Icons from different periods in history.
The group headed back to Cairo, I was leaving to go to Spain the following day and I still had to pack all the treasures I bought in Cairo, including a very old (kilos) scale I bought at a Khan el-Khalili Bazaar shop. I should have followed the old advise: When traveling take half the clothes you plan to wear and twice the money you plan to spend. Enough said.....
Needless to say I had a wonderful time in Egypt and I want to thank Alfredo our host for making this trip a memorable one and putting up with 3 "very crazy and laugh about anything" women for so many days. Traveling with my two long time friends Lorena and Matilde from Chihuahua, Mexico was so much fun I would do it all over again. We parted ways by me continuing to Valencia, Spain and Lorena and Matilde going to Jordan and Turkey. Hasta la vista amigos!!
Note: Pls click on the photos to enlarge







Pyramids of Giza, 7 miles away Cairo in the background

The mandatory camel ride, Cairo as a background


Alfredo, our host.



The Sphinx, 66 ft. high



Saqqara, 19 miles south of Cairo. Very unspoiled site.

I had my first dinner in Cairo at this place, the dish (called Kushari) consist of lentels, rice, and 3 types of noodels topped with a homemade spicy tomato sauce and lemon juice with garlic. It was delicious and very inexpensive. This place is off the beaten path. We were the only tourists at the restaurant.







The Mosque of Mohammed Ali- from 1830


Abu Simbel- Temple and statues built by Ramses II
The Statues at Abu Simbel were relocated to save them from the rising waters of Lake Nasser. They were transported to a site (213ft)above the waterline and rebuilt against an artificial cliff.







Lake Nasser in Abu Simbel


Aswan,located on the Upper Nile which happens to be South of Cairo








Philae,(Agilika Island), one of my favorite places
The earliest buildings date from the 4th century BC



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Luxor- Karnak Temple






Luxor- Luxor Temple





Sunset in Luxor (the Nile)


Luxor- Valley of the Kings





Tomb paintings


Colossi of Memnon on the West Bank in Luxor


Hatshepsut temple. Hatshepsut was the first woman to rule Egypt. Daughter of Tuthmosis I


After returning to Cairo from Upper Egypt we took a weekend trip to the Sinai Peninsula
Oasis on the road to Mt. Sinai.


Negotiating the use of the camels that took us up Mt. Sinai


In the far distance is the Monastery. By the time I remembered to take a photo we were too far away. As you can see, the monastery is in the middle of nowhere. Pretty amazing.


Going up the hill, the views from here were spectacular



Sunset from the peak of Mt. Sinai (7497 ft) (2285meters)


Part of St. Catharine Monastery



Martha,Lorena, Matilde and Alfredo at the El Khalily market in Cairo


My friends Alfredo, Lorena, Matilde and I at the Pyramids in Giza


What is the city but the people? ~William Shakespeare
Faces.....and more

One of my favorite photos. His family owned the camels

Tea time before continuing by foot up the mountain. Our guide,Meme


Bedouins land, Meme our guide.

Just another delivery in town. Taken from Ali Baba's roof top cafe in Luxor

Girls in an outing-Luxor

Local man outside Luxor market

Spices and other for sale at the market

...more spices and herbs

Alfredo, Lorena, Matilde and our driver/guide Walid

Girls just being teenagers-Cairo

Vendor at El Khalily market-Cairo

Working with alabaster-Luxor

Close up of alabaster piece- Luxor

Matilde buying new outfits-Cairo

Going for a ride- Outskirts of Cairo

Girls on a field trip- Mohamed Ali Mosque-Cairo

Me (Martha) inside Mohamed Ali Mosque

It had to be a Ford, and the plates came in handy.

3 comments:

Lazy Gal Tonya said...

beautiful photos. so glad you had an excellent trip.

Lynda said...

Has taken me a while to read all of your adventure...
Excellent photos. Can't belive you were so brave and rode the camel - did you find the Sphix much smaller than expected?

Looks like you had a brilliant time.

Well done!

Martha said...

Hi Lynda, by riding the camel I overcame a long time fear of riding animals. It was a lot of fun, but it is not easy on the person's back. Yes! the Sphinx is not as big as I thought it would be. I had a wonderful time and I would like to go back soon.