Walk like an Egyptian


It was February and quite chilly in typical Scottish fashion.  I had just sent a picture to Digital Britain showing my back green covered in layers of frost, with trees sulking under the weight of snow.

StatueI decided drastic action was needed and flung the pages open of a travel brochure in rapid succession, looking for somewhere exotic and reasonably priced. I stopped at a picture of Egypt and thought of the essay I was helping my daughter write.

The first line had declared, Egypt is the Nile and the Nile is Egypt. Well, why not? and began the process of booking a holiday by the internet examining each place to visit and accommodation. A seven day cruise of the Nile and seven days at the Sheridan Hotel in Luxor hit the mark.
 
We arrived in Luxor in the evening and transferred to a bus that took us to the Nile cruise boat El Etoile de Nile.

It was not one of the large luxury cruisers but looked good painted white as a swan. Porters helped to take our luggage on board already paid for, all except tips which are awarded at the end of the cruise.

The cabins were a bit small but clean and simply to everyone’s satisfaction. Being a bit nosey, I asked the Cruise Manager if there were a choice of rooms. He asked me to come and see him once the boat sailed. This I did, and was rewarded without extra cost a larger stateroom. We were in seventh heaven with a large bed and sofa space, not to forget a spacious toilet and shower room.
 
The lights of the harbour began to recede and we began to mingle with our fellow Nile travellers. There was an instant party atmosphere amid a clink of glasses and enthusiastic chatter.

In the morning when the Egyptian sun rose from the sandy hills, we were treated to a spectacle only dreamt of in our child hood fantasies. My partner whispered what we all thought, I’m on the Nile and I cant believe it. 
The Nile
On board the boat were two dedicated historians we were pleased to follow on every excursion. They had infinite knowledge and a grand Egyptian sense of humour appreciated by the unapprised.

Meal times were pleasant occasions as each table had been allocated at the beginning of the voyage. Then it was up to each of us to make agreeable conversation.

As luck would have it we met a couple from Kent who could not have been any more akin in humour or disposition.
 
Our first port of call was Esna with Greek links and associated with the Temple of Khnum patron of the creation of people and animals. Who had the body of a man and the head of a ram.

Edfu, on the following day which has the best preserved temple in Egypt, dedicated to the God Horus the falcon headed god, Lord of the skies.

Then a short sail to Kom Ombo with its double temple to Sebeka a God with the head of a crocodile and Haroeris with the head of a Hawk. There, we had a welcome overnight stay for landlubbers and an excuse for party time.

On to Aswan and an optional trip to Abu Simbel in Nubia to gaze at a structure dedicated to the greatest Pharaoh of them all Ramses II carved from solid rock.

Saturday on the Nile, where travellers could rest and take in the night breezes and myriads of coloured lights of passing boats. It rained that night the first time for six years and the crew ran to see the miracle, unfortunately for them it only lasted about six seconds.

The sixth day came on us as we returned to Luxor to see the magnificent Temples of Karnak with its famous hypostyle hall and Luxor itself the ancient city of Thebes.

One of the twa Eddies at the Valley of tyhe KingsOn the final seventh day we ventured to the Valley of the Kings in Mid Eastern heat. In crowds from all over the planet we explored the secrets of Lord Carnarvon and William Carter of Tutankhamen fame. Down the depths of the tombs far from the hot sun in well lit shafts covered in Magical illuminated hieroglyphics cartouche.
 
The Valley of the Queens, superior, in a long gold basin of sand and stone. Some took to transport and others braved the heat and walked to the Temple of Deir el-Bahri built on colossal terraces. I was sure I was in Hollywood and expected Joan Collins and Jack Hawkins to come out and greet us. The splendour is incomparable, immediately beguiling the visitor.

Cameras clicked rapidly in every direction hoping to instil the grandiose skill of Egyptian Master Builders.
 
A week in the five star Sheridan Hotel in Luxor on the east bank of the Nile for the weary traveller to rest. An ideal place to take in the antiquities of the ancient city at leisure. With its comfortable rooms facing the Nile or in the rear its wide gardens. We had a choice of rooms and I asked naturally, for the best, an amused attendant took us to the top floor, to a room overlooking the gardens and a towering minaret. In the morning the air was sweet with the sent of  flowers and resounded to calls to prayer. Each morning we attended an excellent breakfast before a swim in the heated pool. Followed, by a rest on a poolside bed.
For fifty pence, pool attendants would show you to an ideal place by the pool and offer five star towels. The towels I heard via the grape vine accidentally found themselves in a suitcase.

Nearly everyone read a lot and the Sheraton fortunately had a good supply in an exchange library. I remember explaining to a fellow Scot the location of the library, he told me he never made it, as he was called to the bar.

In the rear of the hotel is a line of shops with Egyptian gifts and sun hats where you can stroll in the shade. The barber proved to be very helpful, all I had to do was ask for an item of shopping and he would send his apprentice for it. This saved a trip in a taxi or carriage giving more time to lay by the swimming pool and wistfully watch sailing vessels skim the waters of the Nile.

All too soon it was over and with great reluctance we departed the Sheraton Hotel.

As the bus made its way to the airport the moon came out in a grey shade turning gently to pure silver and I did feel a tear come to my eye. What a way to spend your hard earned money. Walk like an Egyptian.

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