Day 5 – Cairo to Cruise Ship

We woke up tired after our late night arrival, mainly because we couldn’t fall asleep. It was very frustrating but whether the bed or pillow wasn’t very comfortable or we were just over-tired, we knew that this day would be difficult.

After breakfast in the dining room, we met Hannon, our guide for the day. Although we could see the pyramids from our hotel rooftop, you aren’t quite prepared to see them up close as we would today. Their massive size is very intimidating and you can’t help but wonder how they were built and who built them. Our guide said that they were not built by slaves but by workers who had the skill to do the work. So much for the biblical references about slaves and Moses!

Although this is the slow time for travel in Egypt, there were plenty of visitors having pictures taken to pretend they were touching the peak of the pyramid. This is like putting your palm up as if you were pushing the Leaning Tower in Italy. There always are folks who think this is a hoot! Also, there were tons of selfies taken and men taking pictures of females in seductive poses on huge stones, stairs, or against anything vertical. It seems to be the case worldwide…

We walked among the tourists to get closer, walk past the tiny opening that you can pay to enter to get a glimpse of the interior of the pyramid but with soaring temps outside, we were warned that it would be even hotter inside. No thanks.

After seeing all three pyramids and the many small ones (for the kings’ mistresses), we saw the Sphinx, the guardian of the pyramids. It was most impressive. Pictures will be posted separately…

Our next stop was the old market, or bazaar. Many shops were closed because it was Sunday but enough of them were open together a flavor of the wares to be sold. If you didn’t know you were in Egypt, you could be in Morocco, Israel, or India. Everyone wants your attention. Making eye contact or showing a mild interest will have the vendors chasing you down to get you to buy something. The Egyptian vendors are particularly aggressive.

We were then off to lunch. Our guide and driver took us to a restaurant on the Nile in an area packed with upscale hotels. Across the river were huge homes behind high walls, most seemingly not inhabited, at least not now. By the way, the big tourist season is December through March or early April. By May, into June, tourism falls off. The summer is unbearably hot, 115F or more. There were beautiful palm trees lining the river but it seems that some think that the river bank is the place to recycle your water bottles. So sad…

After lunch, we went to the Egyptian Museum. The building houses many statues and artifacts, some as old as 3,000 years. Most of the crypts were looted over the years, with looters taking gold, jewelry, or other important relics that portrayed how people lived over the centuries. Of course, these items were owned by kings and those who could afford coffins of gold (think Tutenkamen). Many displays and mummies have since been moved to the new, yet unfinished Egyptian Museum. However, there was still a lot to see.

Our final destination of the day was our boat, where we will be staying for the next three nights as we cruise up the Nile. It is four stories tall, with a restaurant on the first level, reception and staterooms on the second level, gift shops and more rooms on the third level, and finally, a spa and lounge/bar on the fourth level. From this level, there is a stairway that takes you to the roof deck where the swimming pool and a not so hot tub is located. There are dozens of lounge chairs and a large covered area with tables and chairs. Even in the shade, the heat was uncomfortable. Maybe the hot tub was the way to go.

I did not mention that before going to the boat, we stopped at a shop that makes (and sells) pure essential oils? We had a choice of visiting a spice store or a jewelry store but the oils intrigued me. I have been using essential oils to make almost all of my cleaning and facial products for many years. We got quite a lesson on the different oils and what they do. Jim says that they can see me coming a mile away! In the end, I purchased three oils and will look forward to trying them out. However, I realized that the size I purchased might be too much to take onboard. I may have to become creative to get them down to 30 ml each. Poor planning on my part.

Back to the boat… While checking out the upper deck, we were approached by the onboard massage therapist, who offered us a deal for a massage because the boat was not full. and he was willing to give me a break. Jim said no to a massage, but Helena, the mark, said yes. The massage was good, I think… I fell asleep while he was working on me, so I hope that I got what I paid for!

Time for our first dinner. Buffets are not our favorite but you do have options. In general, the offerings were pretty tasteless and sometimes so tough that even a knife struggled, especially with the beef. The fish was okay, the chicken marginal, and some vegetable dishes could only be described as a “mystery.” We aren’t very picky generally so we will see what other meals offer in the next few days.

We went to bed early because we had a 4:30 AM call to take a van to Abu Simbel, a three hour ride to the south on the Lake Nassar, the lake formed by the Aswan Dam. Other than Lake Victoria, it is the second largest lake in all of Africa. A take-away breakfast would be waiting for us upon our departure. These early morning adventures are not easy. Time for bed…

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