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Old Sep 12th, 2009, 09:33 PM   #1
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Smile Sneki's "Egypt 2008" Report

This thread is dedicated to those who can’t afford a trip to the ancient times. But I hope they’ll manage one day.

In order to read this thread as carefully as it deserves, and watch all the photos and videos embedded, you need at least 1 hour or even more. Therefore, be sure that you have that much time at your disposal. I believe many people will find something interesting here. And, please, don’t post anything before it is done. Enjoy.

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Old Sep 12th, 2009, 09:37 PM   #2
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Re: Sneki's "Egypt 2008" Report

Thursday, 07 August 2008

- Departure
- Hotel


The day of my trip to Egypt has finally come. I had 2 escorts – my kid and my It was quite a hot day + nervousness + adrenalin, etc. The kid was nervous as usual: I want chips, I’m thirsty, I want ice cream... Nobody wanted to join me this year because they didn’t want to watch ruins and deserts at +50 in the shade. Following instructions of the people from the agency, we arrived to the airport around 16:00, and joined endless queue of people waiting in front of agency’s office to collect their tickets and pay additional €37 for the airport tax.

17:20. First call for the passengers for Cairo, flight number JU 7174. Let’s go to the gate A1. I don’t know why, but our flight was moved for 18:30. Kiss for one escort, kiss for another, and .



Therefore, the plane has landed in Cairo at 21:10. We moved our watches to 22:10. We’re getting out from the plane and going to collect our bags. Two Egyptian guys are waiting for us, and one by one we’re slowly joining them with our luggage.



These guys inserted some stickers in our passports (Egyptian visas ). They’re also telling us to exchange some money because Friday is non working day in Egypt, and we’ll need some cash because our first visit is scheduled for early in the morning.

There are 3 buses outside waiting for us. As the bus rolls down the Cairo streets our guide tells us that we’ll travel around 40 minutes to our hotels - 3 hotels, all located in Giza. Then, he’s telling us all those things that I already know given that this is my 3rd visit to an Arabian country (I even lived 1 year in one of them), but the others should also hear some details.

We arrived to the Gawharet al Ahram hotel around midnight. The room has 24m2 and windows in the corner. Amazing view. There’s one building on the left and one building on the right. In one of these buildings I saw goats on the third floor. Children shout outside till 02:00 AM, their mothers call them... I never opened these windows. I didn’t move the curtains either. Besides, the air conditioner worked like mad somewhere from the ceiling. There were people who complained that their air conditioners didn’t work.

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Old Sep 12th, 2009, 09:47 PM   #3
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Re: Sneki's "Egypt 2008" Report

Friday, 08 August 2008

- Giza Plateau
- Museum
- Bazaar
- Dinner in the boat


I woke up at 06:00 and prepared myself a cup of coffee that I brought from Serbia. That’s what I always do wherever I travel. Nothing compares with it. Breakfast began at 07:00. The food was so tasteless, but we had to eat something. 07:30. We’re leaving. Our bus cruised down the wide Cairo streets. Buildings left and right, one hangs on another, dirt and cabbage everywhere around. Buildings without stucco, only orange brick, and washed clothes hang down from the windows. Horrible. Only those buildings in the main boulevards look normally, at least their front side. Between the buildings one can see sand and wastes. It is very interesting that the windows are not positioned on the same level on the same floor. But it doesn’t matter. What matters is that the windows exist. People live here from today till tomorrow. Who cares for windows. After 30 minutes of driving through this crazy and twisted city we finally arrived to the Giza Plateau. What a feeling! You’re standing in front of the miracle that you read about, and could only see the pics. And now you are head to head.

Khufu pyramid









Since our hotel was situated in Giza, we could see pyramids from the roof of the hotel. Guy called Halid from the partner agency Eagle Travel gives us the tickets, while our guide explains what we’ll see here. We’re heading towards the Khufu (Kheops) pyramid, people click with their cameras, you can hardly record anything surrounded by thousands of people. As soon as we stepped up onto the plateau we were immediately attacked by those “walking guys in dresses” who started pushing various stupid things in our hands trying to convince us to buy them. WTF!? Of course, in order to get rid of him I bought handful of crap for €10 and ran away to our group. However, as soon as we separated to make some shots, here they are again, other “walking guys in dresses” pushing in our hands the same crap that we already bought from luckier ones. Since I made enough shots (I regret that I didn’t make a vid ) I got back to our bus. After 10 minutes we were on our way to Chephren pyramid, which is positioned right behind the biggest one. I’m watching others in the bus, relieved that I’m not the only one who threw away €10.

We got out in front of the Chephren pyramid





I made few shots – click, click, and got back to the shade of our bus to smoke. Those who wanted could go inside the pyramid, but I was not willing to crawl in the heat through the airless space in the pyramid. When the group of curious crawlers came back, we headed to one plateau from where we could see better all three pyramids and make some nice shots.



This plateau was also full of tourists. You can hear many languages; local traders sell various souvenirs, some on stands, some walking. After I made a few shots I hade away in the shade of our bus to smoke one more cigarette. Since I was attacked by those “walking guys in dresses” again I escaped inside.

The next place where we stopped was the ruin of Chephren temple with the sphinx







We could also see all 3 pyramids from that place. There were many chairs placed like in cinema. That’s because in the evening people organise here light show performances. Organizers light up these pyramids and somebody, in English or Russian or whatever language, talks about the history of each pyramid, dynasties and other details about them. We finished this visit very quickly.
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Old Sep 12th, 2009, 09:48 PM   #4
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The 2nd station - Cairo Museum

Since we were not allowed to make shots inside, I caught it outside.



It is wonderful inside. There are thousands of statues, figures, drawings, various hieroglyph writings, coffins, household items, maps... We saw Tutankhamun’s jewellery, mask, chariots, even bed. More info on this museum could be found here (I recently discovered this website ): http://homepage.powerup.com.au/~ancient/museum.htm. Our guide talks about many things, but it was very difficult to remember all of them: progress from the Old Kingdom to the New Kingdom, but we were boiled and already tired. However, the biggest exhausting is just to come. Pity that we couldn’t take some pics.

We’re getting out from the museum. Our bus finally arrived and we went to the Bazaar.



Christ! Our bus dropped us out in front of one mosque from which one street leads ahead, and another one leads to the left. 7 of us entered this one that leads to the left. I don’t have to mention that we were immediately attacked by shop keepers, they almost pulled our arms. The street is narrow and you can hardly pass by those that are coming from the opposite direction. Shop keepers shout trying to convince you to buy something just in their shop. We ran out from this street as soon as it was possible. Even if you’d buy something, you don’t dare to stop, but keep on running out from that mess. We’re finally out from this street and watch one shop keeper who collects origano from the pavement and puts it back in the sack. .

When we were finally on the safe, (i.e. at the starting point where the bus will collect us), the prayer began from the mosque.





We’re finally going back to our hotels. We arrived exhausted and sweaty around 18:00, and right away at 19:15 we’re in the bus again going to the boat where we’ll have dinner and watch an oriental performance.

While the bus cruises through the Cairo streets to Nile our guide talks about the prices of apartments in the luxury buildings by Nile, where only wealthy people can live. The square metre of those expensive apartments with the windows turned to Nile is twice cheaper than the cheapest square metre in one of Belgrade suburban settlement-Never Lands. The price of m2 of those apartments that don’t watch the river is much cheaper.

Here we go. A 100 people from 3 buses slowly filled the boat (The Nile Pharaoh ).



Considering that almost nobody ate all day long except that tasteless breakfast in the hotel, we started eating as soon as we put some food in our plates. Children were so boring: What’s this, I don’t want that, I want this, so that the self service lasted more than 45 minutes. Food was great and, of course, with lot of aroma, and we ate while the boat was sailing down Nile. During the dinner, one guy, followed by one synthesizer player, sang Strangers-in-the-Night-style songs.





After the dinner one girl whose skirt looked like ragged fishing net got up on the stage and started dancing followed by the orchestra. Her eyes and physic look were so Slavic. She was not an Arabian belly dancer. Well, it doesn’t matter. The guests were satisfied with her performance.





When this girl finished first part of her performance, one guy - dervish got up on the stage and started whirling. That man whirled about 20 minutes (to the left) with some platters or whatever in his hands. He put one of them later on his head and continued rotating. The music was real Arabian, one of those that hypnotises. Madness! Guests were delighted.





After his performance belly dancer came back again and danced one more time. The show was finally finished when the boat stopped at the dock. We’re going to our buses in very good mood. This was real holiday for eyes, soul and stomach after that bazaar and tasteless breakfast in the hotel. What a day!
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Old Sep 12th, 2009, 09:56 PM   #5
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Re: Sneki's "Egypt 2008" Report

Saturday, 09 August 2008

- Saqqara
- Memphis
- Coptic Quarter
- Cairo Citadel


Today we could make choice, either Alexandria – which means 8 hours in bus, or visits to Saqqara, Memphis, Coptic Quarter and Cairo Citadel. I chose second option and didn’t regret. It was very hot, but WTF.

Our first station – Saqqara

We travelled about 45 minutes, not because it is so far away, but because getting out from Cairo is hell. Saqqara is one Never Land in the middle of nowhere, in which we saw the step pyramid of the King Djoser or Zoser (both words are correct). We visited also the ruins of his temple, passed by Teti Pyramid, Mereruka Pyramid (quite damaged) and one more, completely screwed up pyramid. Mereruka was, as much as I heard our guide, something like the prime minister in modern countries in Djoser’s era.

Landscape of Saqqara with pyramids and temple ruins







































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Old Sep 12th, 2009, 10:01 PM   #6
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The next station - Memphis

After half-of-hour driving we arrived again in front of one gate. We saw here (in the court) alabaster sphinx, several damaged ruins of some pillars or walls or whatever, and one big statue of Ramses II. Guide started talking to the group. I didn’t hear anything because I was taking pics.

After that we entered one small museum where’s the giant statue of Ramses II. This statue was found in Nile. According to the position of his arms it is obvious that he was alive when the statue was constructed. We learnt that if the pharaoh was dead when his statue was built his arms are crossed on his chest on the statue.















I bought here for 60 USD some alabaster figures that my kid asked for. Really, they’re unbreakable. I checked before I bought them. Only the figure of Amun Re (he saw Amun-Re in cartoons ) was not made of alabaster and my kid already broke its nose. Alabaster figures - sphinx and cat are still in one part.

I should also emphasize that wherever we were going, those "guys in dresses" were envying us, offering various figures, postcards, small pyramids, bad quality papyrus, etc. We learnt that lesson at the Giza Plateau, so we knew how to resist.
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Old Sep 12th, 2009, 10:04 PM   #7
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Third station – Coptic Quarter

We left our bus in one narrow street in Coptic Quarter







We visited there two churches and one synagogue. The first building that we visited was the Church of Saint Barbara. We couldn’t take pics here, so I made some outside the church.







The next building that we visited was so-called Hanging Church. The legend says that Jesus Christ was hidden here when he was baby, and that he ate the fruits of the palm trees. They call it the Hanging Church because it hangs on columns. Incredible architecture. Just amazing.





















After this church, we also visited the synagogue that I mentioned above. Taking pics was not allowed here, but it looked nice both outside and inside.

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Old Sep 12th, 2009, 10:05 PM   #8
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The last visit for today - Saladin Citadel (or Cairo Citadel )







That’s one big fortress with a beautiful mosque inside. From this fortress you can see the whole Cairo, including Giza pyramids. I didn’t see them.







After sightseeing some went inside the mosque, but I was too lazy to take my sneakers off, so I went down to find our bus and take some more pics.





We came back to the hotel around 19:00. After shower I went to the restaurant which is located at the top of the hotel to have some dinner and make some pics and vids of Cairo and Giza from the terrace. One more nicely arranged day. Kontiki Travel





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Old Sep 12th, 2009, 10:11 PM   #9
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Sunday, 10 August 2008

- Leaving for Hurghada
- Hotel (Charm Life Paradise)


We left Cairo at 08:30.







The trip was very pleasant and we travelled 6 hours.







After 2 hours spent in buses we made a break in the restaurant Sahara Inn. There were about 100 people in 3 buses.



We finally arrived to Hurghada at 15:00. After the reception procedure, I went to my room, had shower, and went to see the beach and swimming pool.







Swimming pool in the inner part of the hotel



At the end of the court there’s the hotel beach, not bigger than 400 m2 with approx 30 parasols.





Hotel park



View from the corridor window in front of my room



I decided to go to the beach every morning at 06:00 because I want to swim in clear and transparent water which is not the case when the beach is crowded. Besides, after 08:00 being on the beach is almost impossible because the heat becomes unbearable. That heat lasts until 20:00.

In order to get out from the hotel I walked through its corridors more than 10 minutes. However, I found next morning stairs near my room that lead to the court. It was so hot outside...

Sunset on the beach



I was finally happy with the temperature in the hotel restaurant. Unfortunately it didn’t last long. I couldn’t find a place to sit, so I had to get out on the terrace (which was full of Russians ), where I sat in one corner with some rise and fish on my plate. I removed more sweat from my face in that corner than I ate. I couldn’t wait to get back to the room, which was nicely cooled during my absence.

Some pics from the hotel restaurant









Tomorrow we’ll have a day off, and the visit to the Bedouin village in the desert is scheduled for the day after tomorrow at 16:00. We should return to the hotel about 22:00. After today’s bad experience, I decided to have dinner at 19:00 from now on. I suppose that the situation is similar with the breakfast, and I decided to have breakfast at 07:00, immediately after morning swimming and shower. 7 is the key number in Egypt. Ha, ha, ha.
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Old Sep 12th, 2009, 10:14 PM   #10
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Monday, 11 August 2008

- The first day off

Here it is, the first free and unorganized day. Since I went to the beach at 06:00, according to my plan, I had a nice opportunity to take some pics.











We had meeting with our guide at 11:00 and we agreed to go for a walk and some shopping in the evening. Considering last night’s bad experience, I went to the hotel restaurant at 19:00. Great. I took some food and it was my first normal meal after that dinner in the Cairo boat. Every day here you correct the mistakes that you made the day before (that are not your fault ), and just when you learn everything that you should know you’re going back home.

Since it is very hot during the day, the shops work till late at night. It is 20:00 right now, and I’m going to find my friends to walk for a while. As soon as we got out from the hotel gate one guy called Hasan attacked us and took us to his shop. I bought here few little thingies (buying freedom again ).

When we got rid of Hasan, we turned right, walking about 1 mile in that direction.

Fountain



On our way back, needing some refreshment, we sat in one cafe. We met there our company from the hotel. Nice crowd - 3 Bosnian girls, refugees who live in Belgrade and one guy from Croatia with his girlfriend.

We were sitting there drinking either coke or beer and, around midnight I took one woman to the nearby shop where I saw wonderful water pipes (hookah, nargila, etc), knowing that she’ll better discuss the price than me with the shop keeper since she was very good in Hasan’s shop. I decided to buy water pipe, and I bought it at 01:30. He said that the price is 80 USD because this one is not fake, but the real one that you can use. My friend discussed the price with him, and I’ve got it for 55 USD. I’ve also got tobacco or whatever with the aroma of green apple, red apple, coconut, banana, strawberry, etc. When we left the shop at 1:30 all our companions have already been gone to the hotel.
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Old Sep 12th, 2009, 10:20 PM   #11
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Tuesday, 12 August 2008

- The Desert

I spent this morning according to the plan I made two days ago. During the breakfast my companion told me that those Bosnian girls (probably traumatized with what they experienced in Bosnia during the civil war) scared her husband. They told him that we’re the most probably kidnapped, maybe they gave us some drug to smoke and sold us, etc. and he should call the police. Poor man. OTOH, we had lot of fun, smoking hookah and kidding with the guy.

At 15:00, 8 people from our hotel were already in jeep heading to the desert. Our driver was Coptic Christian.

Santa Claus and cross



After one hour we arrived to the first stop. It was an optical illusion (fata morgana), and we’ve all seen a small blue lake, even with the reflection of surroundings. Incredible! We made some shots and went on passing just through that “lake”.



The next stop was one rocky dune, and I also made some shots from there.











We finally arrived to the Bedouin village.





We drank there some cold water, and the hosts put us in one... ... shack , where our new guide gave us a brief info on Bedouins and their habits. She was as tall as Venus Williams, and her hair...



The village is being ruled by sheik, who’s the only educated person in the village. He inherited this title from his father. He is the priest, judge and everything in the village, and the only educated person in the village. This tribe was lucky with its sheik.

Firstly, we visited their “bakery” and “pharmacy“.
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Old Sep 12th, 2009, 10:24 PM   #12
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There were two women with covered faces in the “bakery”. This one in black is 46, and the younger is 27 and she has 3 children, for now. We tried a piece of bread. Water, flour and salt. It tastes like the pancake that you made when you wanted to eat something sweet in the middle of the night, but you haven’t had material for pancakes, so you made it with what you had. At least we have jam or in the worst case sugar. Bedouins don’t live longer than 46-47 years, so that we can consider this baker an old lady. In the “pharmacy”, nothing but some sticks for “white teeth”, some grasses and some senseless things on 5-6 stands.

After we left their bakery and pharmacy we went to see their mosque,





sheik’s house,



and the well. When the well dries, they remove to another place. Their wives take care of children, camels and houses, while men constantly seek for new wells so that they can remove when their current well dries. The world’s big companies are the biggest problem for them. They come to their villages, take their water and pack it in bottles for sale, like Pepsi for instance. We drank Pepsi water in Egypt packed in bottles (from these wells). They pack that good and healthy water from these desert wells to sell it in Egyptian resorts. Of course, they probably give them some coin for using their wells, but that’s not enough and thus they must live that nomad life.



Sneki rides camel



After riding camels we stopped to refresh. In one improvised shop I bought myself Fanta and 3 juices for three little Bedouins.



They’re so cute. I enjoyed watching how they play and run and roll on the sand.



I paid for these 4 drinks 20 Egyptian Pounds – 4 USD. Everything here costs 20 EP. All the money that they collect they give to their sheik and he goes to Hurghada with his car (modern Bedouin ) and buys the vegetables for them all and golden earrings for new-born girls, etc. They rarely can even see the meat and when they eat vegetables it is the holiday for them. This sheik takes really good care of his tribe. One boy once broke his arm and he took him to Hurghada to be treated in the ambulance. When the kid came back with gypsum on his arm they were shocked.

All the Bedouins in this village are relatives. There is one very important woman in the village. She scans boys and girls, and when she creates a couple in her head, she tells sheik that this boy and that girl could be a nice couple. Then, sheik invites them and their fathers to arrange a marriage. The girl has a task to prepare a tea. If she likes the boy she puts sugar in his cup, but if she doesn’t like the boy she doesn’t put the sugar. However, nobody asks her for anything.

The evening has come, so we went to have dinner. In the same big “shack” we were offered with kebab, sesame sauce, salad and potatoes. When the dinner was over we went to the party that Bedouins organized for us. About 10 Bedouins sang and played drums for us, and some people really had lot of fun.







Bye, bye, Bedouins. Thank you.

On the half way to Hurghada, between some hills, our guide took us out from jeeps to “listen to the silence”. We sat on the sand and stopped talking and moving. You can hear how your heart beats and ringing in your ears. This is the real silence, amazing phenomenon. That’s the real sound of silence that you can hear only in the desert. However, it didn’t last too long because our drivers started to chat and laugh, and their mobiles started to ring and our adventure was over. La Luna was positioned somehow crazy on the sky so we couldn’t make pics and vids of starry night, but it doesn’t matter. At least I managed to get some nice shots before the dinner.

Moon above the desert mountain



Sunset in the desert





We were back to our hotel around 22:00, just to drink one more coffee before we go to sleep. I agreed with my friend that we should go for a walk tomorrow to the left from the hotel because we had a free day. Her husband told others in our group to be alert because we plan to go shopping again.
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Old Sep 12th, 2009, 10:27 PM   #13
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Wednesday, 13 August 2008

- Free day

Another day off. I decided to spend it in the room, having rest and watching Olympics if there’s something interesting. Since I’m going to the beach at 6, have breakfast at 7, and from 8 to 12 I’ll surely sleep, I’ll have 7 hours left for other activities. I spent these 7 hours watching Olympics, writing this report and reading a book (Jane Fonda – My Life so Far ).

After the breakfast I went with a few people from our group to the pharmacy to buy some pills for stomach (2 USD) because I had some reaction, the most probably. Fortunately I didn’t get famous Egyptian amoeba and felt generally well. Whatever you eat here during the day you “pee” tomorrow morning. I had some weak colic but was not in trouble like some of us. Everything stopped after the first pill that I drank.

After the dinner I went with my friend and her husband for a walk. We’re again “arrested” in one shop. Two guys put the chairs, started to offer their goods, brought us the water, we’re friends now, and for 10 seconds you wasted 50 USD. They are real experts for robbery. We bought some t-shirts on which they’ll sew our names in Arabian and hieroglyphs. I paid 48 USD for 2 shirts. I didn’t want to be arrested in the next shop, but I went to the hotel given that I must wake up early in the morning for the Luxor adventure. In whatever shop you enter here you exit for 50 USD shorter. My friend told me later that the guy who pulled them in to his shop started showering them with some perfumes and gave her the bottle of the perfume that she “asked for”. She said that she didn’t ask for anything, but he didn’t give up. They told him that they have not the money, and then he said that the credit card is acceptable. At last they paid €78 for that perfume. The price of these perfumes is €2 for 1 gram. Thanks God for my intuition .
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Old Sep 12th, 2009, 10:29 PM   #14
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Re: Sneki's "Egypt 2008" Report

Thursday, 14 August 2008

- Luxor

The sweatiest day of my Egypt adventure has finally come. Mobile rings at 04:00. WTF?!? What can I do (€60, but unforgettable experience). I went down to the reception at 05:10. I met there some people from our group who chose this excursion. They’re taking the lunch packets prepared by the kitchen staff. I found 3 croissants, jam, cheese and cucumber inside. Bus leaves at 05:15, and we’ll collect by the way people from 3 other hotels. Our guide showed us new villas of 200 m2 under construction. The price - €40,000 per each. I took this opportunity to catch the sunrise.



Around 06:30 we stopped at some place, station or whatever where we joined a convoy of buses that will go to Luxor together, followed by the police.



After half of hour we were on our way to Luxor. The road through the desert does not look romantic at all, but is very exciting.



At 08:30 convoy stopped in front of one restaurant where we drank coffee and some ate something from their lunch packets.

Around 11:30 we arrived to Luxor. Its citizens waved to us, happy because these convoys are the only resource for them. Landscape is wonderful.











Everywhere wheat, maize, even sunflowers. Only palm trees in the distance show that something’s wrong here; acacias by the road; pumps shower fields with the water from the channels. You can’t believe that you’re in Egypt.

Already at 11:30 we stopped in front of the first monument. Colossi of Memnon - stone statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III. Amazing!



People who left their buses click with their cameras; you can’t find a place from which you can shoot. I managed somehow. You can hear people speaking Spanish, French, Serbian, Russian, Czech, Italian, Japanese, Polish, English... We bought here the maps of Nile and continued our visit to the next monument. I didn’t even watch my map, and when I got back to the hotel I’ve seen the title “Карта Нила”. At first I was surprised that they write in Serbian, but when I checked the map I discovered that it is written in Russian.
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Old Sep 12th, 2009, 10:31 PM   #15
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Re: Sneki's "Egypt 2008" Report

The next stop was the Temple of the Queen Hatshepsut. That’s one chick who ruled ancient Egypt as both queen and king in one period of its history, nearly 35 centuries ago. Here are some shots.











People shoot with their cameras; tourist guides talk in many different languages. Only our guide shouts so much that her voice echoes through the temple and surrounding desert: HATSHEPSUT RULED EGYPT BOTH LIKE WOMAN AND MAAAAAAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11111111!!!!!!!!!!! 1111111 I noticed that people from the Czech Republic don’t listen to their guide but to our. Inside the temple we saw plenty of statues, hieroglyph writings and drawings on the walls.

















After sightseeing we walked back to our bus. It was very hot day, but there’s no place to hide.
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