Today at last is a sight I’ve been waiting for. It took a bit of sacrifice to get us all there. We were up at 2:30 and in the bus by 3:15. It was then a 3.5 hour bus ride to get down to Abu Simbel. I knew it was going to be worth every moment, but lucky for me, I was able to sleep a good part of the way there.
I also managed to catch a stunning sunrise out the windows of the bus.
The first sight that greets you when you enter through the tourist gate is the artificial back of the monument and a slow walk into the sun around it.
At last, there it is. Towering over everything, and surely as imposing now as it was during the reign of Ramses II. Abu Simbel. Not only know as a feat of ancient carving and a display of power, but also forever tied with the rescue operation to move the entire monument up the mountain to save it from Lake Nasser. Unesco with the help of 25 different countries took apart the mountain and built a new one.
Ramses II in the guise of Egyptian gods, stares down the Nile as a challenge to any would be invaders.
At his feet are sons training to be pharaoh, though none of those represented would succeed. Beside his legs, you see images of his daughters with Nefertari. And all over the legs themselves, you see the carvings left by Victorian explorers who had no thought about the graffiti they left behind.
Technically, photos aren’t allowed inside the temple, but they had no problem allowing us to stand just outside the doorway and take pictures. Though for once, we were bad and snapped a few inside.
Beside the larger temple to Ramses II is a smaller one dedicated to his first and favorite wife, Nefertari. This temple was also moved to save it from the water.
After a short rest, it was time for our Falucka ride. These sail boats are a very peaceful way to see the Nile and the sights around Aswan. Though we did run into a spot of trouble when we ran aground on some rocks and had to be towed by a motorboat. We made it around Elephantine Island only to flounder again when the wind died and the current wasn’t enough to move us along. Another tow to the shore and some lively music to keep us company added up to another amazing trip.
Upon our return, our new Brazilian friend discovered this emergency water pipe stored on the docks for safety. Well, we presume it was there in case of emergency. One never really knows in Egypt.
We had just enough time before dinner for one quick trip into the local bazaar. Block after block of shops selling everything from spices and tourist knickknacks to stores where locals could buy shampoo filled the market with an energetic feeling as evening descended. There were even a few stores that I had no clue what they were selling.
Tonight was our Egyptian themed dinner. Everyone dressed up in clothing they had bought along the way to feel a little more Egyptian. After dinner, we had belly dance lessons, couples mummy making, and musical chairs. All helped along by the two bottles of wine we shared at dinner.
We danced and played games into the night. Which is surprising when you remember we were up at 2:30AM. Here's one quick picture of our mummy wrap contest. The rest of the photos of our group will have to wait.
Now I'm very nearly caught up. Day 10 is mostly a rest day so there is only the temple of Luxor to show you. Until then!