Egypt:Jewels of the Nile - October 6th tour play by play

My tour officially kicks off in one hour with our meet and greet.

I met our Tour Director earlier today, Dina Ebeid. She seems nice.

There are 21 people on our tour.

The flights getting here on Qatar Air, Seattle/Doha/Cairo, went smoothly with my wife and I, plus our bags arriving about 20 minutes early.

Meeting the Tauck rep in the airport and getting our bags and getting through customs went very smoothly as well.

Now for the ride from the airport to the hotel. One of the scariest 55 minute drives I’ve ever experienced. We left the airport at midnight. Our driver talked on his cell phone the entire drive, holding the phone in one hand and driving the vehicle with the other. As for lanes, it didn’t appear that staying in your lane even falls into the recommended category. Everyone is all other the road. Traffic comes up to a fork in the road so everyone slows down as if no one knows where they are going and then at the last moment it’s a free for all of lane changing to get where you want to be. Several times I saw cars stop and backup ( yes, right on the main road ) because they hadn’t been able to get across enough lanes.

Now for the route we took. I doubt seriously that Google Maps could ever come up with this route. We took little neighborhood roads, roads through street fairs, you name it, we took it. It’s a wonder the Marriott has any people staying at it if this is the optimum routing.

We finally made it to the Mena House. I couldn’t sleep for a couple of hours, being all hyped up from the car ride from the airport.

Weather was decent today, 70s to 90s. Here is a shot from our room.

Time to get ready for the meet and greet. More later in the tour.

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Comments

  • Driving in Cairo is like Rome on steroids!

  • Have a great time, Sam!

  • Sam...Have a BLAST...hopefully the temps will cool off in a bit!

  • PureLuxury - Unfortunately when you go upriver (South) on the Nile the temperatures typically are 5-10 degrees warmer. They will be cooler when BKMD gets here in November.

  • Did you go inside the Great Pyramid?

  • Did you see where they dug up the Stargate?

  • Great photo Sam, have a great time. I loved this tour when I went back in 2007, my first Tauck trip.

  • I can see the logic behind your screen name! Nice smile, happy person!

  • We set sail and as the sun set we passed through Esna lock and cruised past the town of Esna.

  • Austin Girl here. I'm a little late; just checking in and saw your post. I'm so excited about taking this trip in February. Your pictures are lovely. MORE PLEASE. You had me in stitches laughing about the ride from the airport. I don't think you meant it to be funny, but you are hilarious!!
    I noticed I do not see any mask ANYWHERE. Share your thoughts about the Oberoi, is it Tauck quality? Keep the daily biography coming. High anticipation!! Travel safe.

  • Sam, on the way from Nefertari's tomb in the Valley of Queens to Hatshepsut's temple (and the Valley of Kings), did you keep your eyes out and see the "Golden City of Aten" which was recently discovered by a team led by Zahi Hawass? It is still a dig in progress but is right after you make a left turn onto the main road after leaving the VOQ. There are no signs, but if you know where to look, you can't miss it and its distinct serpentine mud brick walls. It is also not far from the ruins of the temple of Amenhotep III and the Colossi of Memnon. I saw it but was not quick enough with my camera.

  • edited October 9

    Jason - I’m going to assume that your post was intended for me, not Austin Girl. ***Sorry, I misread your post and got confused. You are Austin Girl, just posting from Jason’s account ***

    The only places there has been masking, so far, has been in the airports and the plane ride from Cairo to Luxor.

    Hotels and riverboat assessment to date:
    1) Marriot Mena House - I would rate it a little below normal Tauck quality but as good as any for location. The decor might be in need of some freshening; the HVAC needs updating because it couldn’t cool the room very well ( based on a survey of two rooms ); the food was fine, in-line with most Tauck provided meals.

    2) Oberoi Philae through 1.5 days - Based on my experiences with the Oberoi hotels on the Portrait on India tour I had high hopes for the Philae. To date I wouldn’t rate it near the hotels in India. Some pluses - the lunches and dinners have been very nice; the staff is all excellent. Some minuses - the breakfasts, IMO, have been woeful. Today I ordered waffles. It was one waffle cut up into four pieces, dusted with powered sugar, and a bit of maple syrup. The waffle was cold, like it had been sitting around for a while, not fresh made. Another minus is the drink policy - on other Tauck cruise/riverboat tours you had pretty much unlimited included drinks (soft drinks and alcohol). On this tour soft drinks are free during meals and two glasses of wine are free with dinner only. At all other times you are charged for beverages other than water.

    Tomorrow we have a later start, departing around 10am for Edfu Temple. Later that day we visit Kom Ombo Temple.

  • AlanS - I do recall seeing ruins like in the picture, right in the area of the map, but I did not take a picture because it didn’t have any significance at the time. Neither the TD or the local guide pointed it out.

  • Smiling Sam - if you like yogurt, try the Lassi at breakfast. It is an Indian breakfast drink and is on the breakfast menu. I enjoyed it, and my husband liked it in his cereal.

  • edited October 9

    Our TD and guide missed it too. I mentioned it but was too late or there was not enough time to turn around and make a quick drive-by/photo stop. :/

    Also, if you zoom in on Google satellite view you can actually see the serpentine walls. When you get time read about it. It was supposedly, Tut's new city after his father died and Tut returned to Luxor from Amarna, his father's new capital.

  • Lotusgirl - I’ll still be in search mode at breakfast tomorrow, so who knows. It could be simply loading up with watermelon and such.

    Dinner was wonderful again tonight. FYI - Dinners start at 7:30pm on the Philae.

    AlanS - I will read up on The Golden City of Aten.

  • This morning’s adventure was the Temple of Horus at Edfu, then back to the boat to continue our journey upstream.


  • edited October 10

    Is that an Egyptian stone phone booth, toll gate, or outhouse at the back? :D Actually, the room is the sanctuary and the structure is a naos shrine used to hold a stature of Horus. You will see them in a number of Egyptian archaeological sites. Another thing I found interesting at both Edfu and Kom Ombu were the massive mud brick enclosure walls. They all but obscure the imposing temples inside from prying eyes.

    Has your trip been living up to your expectations? Have you seen all that you thought you would see, possibly more? Too much to absorb in just one visit. I would go back in a heart beat!

  • AlanS: it's an early TARDIS, of course. How do you think they built the pyramids and temples?

  • Ah, so that's why it looks, timeless! :D Where is the good doctor?

  • AlanS - We were told the enclosing mud brick walls starting in Edfu is because the temples starting at that point were built by the Greeks vs the open air temples in Luxor were built by the Pharoahs. The Greek priests didn’t feel comfortable being exposed to the village. That’s also why the Temple of Horus had a roof. The Greeks were used to having roofs for shelter, whereas the Egyptians wanted open sight lines to the sun since their god was the sun.

    Our local guide, starting in Luxor and continuing with us, was the number three person in the Egyptians Antiquities Department. He’s an archeologist. He was the sight manager at the Temple of Horus for three years. He can read and interpret all of the carvings on the walls. The stories are quite interesting.

    He is so knowledgeable and communicates way more information than I can possibly assimilate during our visit. He is one of the best local guides I’ve ever had on any tour.

    Tonight we visited the Temple of Kom Ombo.

    The wall carvings below depict some of the first medical tools. A medical school was associated with the Temple of Kom Ombo.

  • Sam - Did anyone ask him if he knows when the GEM might open?

  • Smiling Sam I find Tauck guides are very well versed; however, how wonderful for your tour to have such a knowledgable guide with 1st hand experience--You definitely hit the JACKPOT! It's so much information to absorb.

    What a difference in the crowds. It's good to see people in the background. On our tour, there was hardly anyone. I have beautiful photos of all the incredible sights with absolutely no one in the background.

    Continue to ENJOY & Post...I'm with AlanS....I would go back in a heartbeat (maybe in the next decade when the GEM finally opens :D )

  • Anyone, besides those who have been, know what is going on at the left side of the wall of hieroglyphics, next to the medical tools?

  • A couple of follow up comments:
    I’ve found that when the Philae gets underway it’s very difficult for me to sleep past about 4:30am. That’s when I start hearing the engine rumble, feel the boat vibrations through my pillow, etc.

    When that happens, I tend to get ready early and go up to the sun deck. At that time it is gorgeous, temperatures are perfect, sights at sunrise are tremendous.

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