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



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    BKMD. This is an absolutely bummer to cope with. What I want to know is did you buy an outfit like the guy in the photo because I just love it and would like to see Mr B in one of those. I’d be happy being with home in Egypt with one. Maybe not so much here.

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    edited October 2022

    Thanks for the update. Sorry about your bags. I'm glad our bags arrived in Athens before Treasures! They never would have caught up with Wind Star!!

    I probably would have enjoyed Alexandria but maybe not my wife. I visited there MANY years ago, courtesy of my Uncle, but only spent the short amount of time walking the souk one day- I have some great (35mm) photos. Another day I took a tour from Alexandria to Cairo, but we only visited the old museum and Giza. I'm glad we spent our extra time at the end of J&E at Meidom, Dahshur, and Saqqara. There is still more to see!

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    BKMD - I'll be interested to hear how submitting claims to Air Canada works vs submitting claims to the travel insurance company.

    You don't get the travel insurance, correct?

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    I think BKMD may have paid with Chase Sapphire or Amex Platinum and they do have coverage for lost and delayed luggage.

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    Yes, I paid with Sapphire reserve which has coverage, but that will be secondary to submitting to Air Canada first. AC's web site says I have 21 days to submit a claim. I'm taking photos of everything I buy and the receipts as well (which are in Arabic, except for the price).

    Speaking of which, today's adventure was going to the Mall to pick up a few more things, as my bags still haven't arrived. I spoke with the TD this morning, for the first time (welcome dinner this evening). He said he'd contact the local people who handle transport from the airport and have them check at the airport.

    Mall of Egypt is a large upscale mall about a 20 minute car ride from the hotel. I took Uber both ways. Getting there was uneventful. One thing I did note in the Uber app is the license plate number is listed as we expect it. However, those of you who have been to Egypt know the license plates use Arabic numbers, so I only had the car description to go by ( and the driver's name, but it was Ahmed both ways (different drivers). The equiv to John or Bill).

    Bought a few small clothing items (including the much needed shorts and light weight T shirts!) at a Marks and Spencer (thought of you, British). Also picked up some sunscreen at a kiosk.

    The Uber ride back to the hotel was hellish. First, the driver wasn't at the correct pickup spot. Finally got that straightened out. I got in the back seat and my knees were pressed up against the back of the front seat. I was about to try to move it up, but then I noticed there were no seat belts in the back! So I thought it would be better to maintain a tight fit. The driver missed turns and couldn't follow directions, both from the app and locals standing by the side of the road (despite pulling over 4-5 times). The 25 minute ride turned into an hour. He wound up dropping me off at the entrance to the pyramids and I walked across the street to the hotel entrance, where security called a golf cart to take me to the lobby. My first 1 star Uber rating! Sam, you would have loved it! :)

    Finally got my Verizon phone working on data (with the $10/day plan). Initially, I couldn't get it to connect to the internet on cellular and I finally fingered out the roaming setting needed to be turned on. Good thing, too, as before going to the mall, I checked to see if they had wifi, which is what I intended to use to contact Uber for the return trip. Turned out the mall's wifi was down.

    It's an adventure, isn't it?

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    I do hope your luggage arrives soon, I know some people think that is no big deal, but it really is for most of us.
    I’m absolutely thrilled you managed to find an M and S, if I’d known I would have asked you to get me some of my hubby’s skimpy underwear and my bras 😂😂😂 Apparently Target has just made a deal with them to sell a select of Christmas treats. And for those who think this is not travel related, M and S is a great place to buy a quick sandwich or the like when you are site seeing in London, they have stand alone food stores as well.
    Hoping now the TD is on your case, it will help!

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    Our day at Giza and Saqqara is over, flying to Luxor in the wee hours (leaving hotel 4AM), then the Nile cruise.

    There's still no joy in Mudville, as I still don't have my bag. I'll do laundry on the boat for the clothes I bought and send the bill to Air Canada. Due to being on the move, on boat, and one night hotel stays to follow, the only chance for me getting my suitcase is when we're back in Cairo at the St. Regis.

    Sam, I don't know how you did this trip a month ago. I guess it's because you're acclimated to Arizona heat. It was in the low 80s here today, and in the smog-filtered sun, that was bad enough for me :) To anyone thinking about this trip in the Fall, unless you are extremely heat-tolerant, go in November. Dec/Jan is the rainy season, so that's not ideal.

    The smog here is really bad (it wasn't an issue in Alexandria.) Only place I've seen worse is China.

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    BKMD - Sorry the heat and smog is an issue. You wouldn't like Delhi because its smog is as bad or worse than Cairo.

    Low 80s, like it was in Cairo when we were there (our tour was 10/6 - 10/15), I thought was wonderful. The summers east of the Mississippi in the US are much worse due to the humidity. As such, lots of people that live outside the mile high territory of Colorado (and similar locales) will easily handle low 80s.

    Unfortunately for you it gets warmer as you go south, but it is less smoggy. Make sure your local guide gives their discourse in a shady location and hope for some wind. You do some of the activities in the evenings - Valley of the Kings and Kom Ombo.

    The temperature never topped 100 while we were there. As such, for me, living in Arizona, the heat even in the south was never oppressive because we did stay in the shade whenever we were stopped to listen to the local guide and it seemed like we were fortunate to get some wind. Would it have been better in the south if the temperature was in upper 80s instead of the mid-90s, yes. But if you live anywhere other than the northwest or mountain states I wouldn't reject a mid to late October visit if that is the date that works best for you.

    With respect to the smog in Cairo. It definitely is noticeable (the sun is a red ball in the sky at sunset) but I didn't hear a single person on our tour make a single comment about the smog, it impacting their breathing, or anything like that.

    The two days in Luxor are really full of activities and sight seeing. Enjoy!

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    It looks like your suitcase decided to take its own vacation. I commend you on your positive attitude, however, and I look forward to your daily posts.

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    edited October 2022

    As I have said before, the best time to go is mid to late March! :)

    Our baggage issues were more of an uncertainty and distraction, because they actually arrived when we did, but the flight cancellations and delays almost did us in because they denied us planned pre-tour activities on Treasures of the Aegean. So we had no lost luggage claims, etc. We could have filed for delays, but fortunately they cost us next to nothing except for missing out and having to sleep on benches at JFK.

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    BKMD - Sorry to hear about your problems I went through the same missing luggage with my Kingdom & Dragons tour but at least it came before we left Singapore.
    However like Alan I missed 2 days in Singapore for which I had planned excursions on my own.

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    From WeatherSpark.com here is what they say about the best time to visit Cairo.

    So AlanS, as much as you claim mid to late March is the best, WeatherSpark agrees with BKMD about November.

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    I concur with WeatherSpark. I took this tour the day after Thanksgiving last year. The weather was delightful. Skies were blue and the only hazy day was the day we returned to Cairo. Mornings were cool enough for a light sweater as were evening tours to Valley of the Kings and Kom Obo.

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    I took the J&E tour in mid-December. The weather was absolutely PERFECT! Blue skies, abundant sunshine, mild temperatures (70s/80s), no smog issues. I know what it’s like to be uncomfortable—I live in New Orleans where the heat, coupled with humidity, can make someone not accustomed, downright miserable.

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    Smiling Sam
    . . . . So AlanS, as much as you claim mid to late March is the best, WeatherSpark agrees with BKMD about November.

    WeatherSpark, which I use, is sooooo pre-global warming. :D

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    Today we arrived in Luxor, visiting the Valley of the Kings and Queens. Simply amazing! As an added bonus, the tomb of Ramses IV opened up today for the first time in 3 years, so we got to see that, too. Eat your heart out Alan :)

    It was a very long day - breakfast at 3 AM, departure at 4 AM for 6:30 flight. Tried to switch my seat as I got stuck in a middle. Asked if my Star Alliance Silver status was worth anything and was told it was a full flight. Oh well. It was only an hour and sat between two skinny people. I think Tauck should offer biz class intra-tour seats as an option for an add-on premium.

    Still don't have my bag. Air Canada says bag was shipped the day after the missed flight and it's the Cairo airport causing problems. Who knows?! Anyway, after discussing with TD, I updated the forwarding to address to the St. Regis back in Cairo, 5 days from now. Thinking they will chase the boat, or the one day at the Old Cataract would be wishful thinking. I wonder if it will be waiting for me there... Just sent out most of my clothes for laundry on the boat, which I will include the bill in my Air Canada Claim.

    Weather-wise, today was perfect. Warmer (85F), but low humidity, nice breeze, and crystal clear with no pollution. It was very comfortable, even for me, who abhors heat. :)

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    BKMD -
    Warmer (85F), but low humidity, nice breeze, and crystal clear with no pollution. It was very comfortable, even
    for me, who abhors heat.

    We're going to make an Arizonan out of you yet! 😂

    I think you have one more of those 'long' days ahead of you, but they're worth it.

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    I also can’t tolerate heat or humidity. It’s debilitating for me. I’m good with 75 degrees and cooler. I love winter clothes.

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    edited November 2022

    Today we arrived in Luxor, visiting the Valley of the Kings and Queens. Simply amazing! As an added bonus, the tomb of Ramses IV opened up today for the first time in 3 years, so we got to see that, too. Eat your heart out Alan :)

    In addition to Nefertari's tomb in the VOQ we saw the tombs of Tut (KV62), Rameses I (KV16), Rameses III (KV11), Rameses IX (KV6). I would have liked to see the tombs of Seti I (KV 17) which was re-opened in 2016. It is one of the longest, with a total of seven corridors and eleven chambers and side rooms, and is regarded as one of the best decorated tombs in the valley, almost on par with Neferati's tomb. The tomb of the sons of Rameses II (KV 5), the largest in the valley would be another interesting one to see. You can see the difference in size and decoration of tombs requiring separate tickets- check out the difference in price between Tut's and Nefertari's tomb!

    There are a lot of similarities among the tombs, it will easy to forget the unique features of each. One thing visitors need to realize, is that in the Valley of Kings no tour guides are allowed in the tombs, so read ahead and listen to what you local guide and TD have to say about each tomb before you enter. I brought a little cheat sheet I made from Planet Ware summary https://www.planetware.com/egypt/thebes-valley-of-the-kings-egy-qena-valkng.htm and other guides.

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    :) Just back from the felucca cruise on Day 6. We had to be towed in, as the wind died :)

    There were a total of 30 people, so there were 2 feluccas with 15 on each. Plenty of room for everyone, contrary to Smiling Sam's experience.

    My luggage is still in limbo. I'm not going to call Air Canada until I get back to Cairo for the final 2 days of the tour. At that point, it really doesn't matter for the trip.

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    Glad you had 7 fewer people per felucca than we did, allowing you plenty of room.

    Too funny on the wind. That was the fitting end to my felucca experience.

    Hopefully your luggage is waiting for you at the St Regis when you get back to Cairo, but you know how the saying goes, "Don't Hold Your Breath".

    Enjoy your visit to Abu Simbel, Temple Philae, and St Simeon Monastery.

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    On our recent J&E small group departure, we had 20 people on the felucca which did fill the table on three sides (I was at the bow end and had to remember not to lean back to far and risk being whacked by the tiller). It was fine and the food (catered by the Oberoi Cataracts Hotel was nice). BTW, try to get the Sakkara beer everywhere you go. Hard to find, but the 10% is amazingly good and smooth for such a high-test beer. The normal ~5% is OK.

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    I loved seeing Abu Simbel. Incredible.

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    . . . . "(I was at the bow end and had to remember not to lean back to far and risk being whacked by the tiller)." . . .

    At bow??? The tiller is at the stern. :D:D

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    AlanS: I was an Army officer, not a Navy officer...

    So, facing the bow...

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    I guess we can excuse your error. :)

    However, a little known, but true, factoid- the Army has more boats than the Navy. (to accept that statement, you must know the difference between a 'boat' and a 'ship' :D )

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    and the Army has more things that fly than the Air Force...

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    One more day on the tour, so I thought I'd make a few more comments.

    The good
    What you see on this tour is amazing.
    The local guide (Adel) was outstanding.

    The not so good
    Travel logistics on this tour leave something to be desired, in my opinion.
    -On day 3, bags needed to be outside the room at 3 AM for a 4 AM departure (to the airport to go to Luxor).
    -On day 7, departure to the airport for the trip to Abu Simbel was at 6:30 AM. We only spent 1 hour AT Abu Simbel, then back tot the plane to return to Aswan.
    -day 8, leave for airport at 6 AM to fly back to Cairo, so you can go to the Old Egyptian Museum, eat lunch, then have the rest of the day free.

    And no fault of Tauck is my bag is still somewhere in never-never land. On the plus side, it's mostly summer clothes, so I won't need them for a while.

    Tomorrow is the final day (touring Cairo), farewell dinner, etc. Unfortunately, we won't see the old synagogue as it's closed for renovations.

    And speaking of not seeing stuff, the locals laugh when you ask about the GEM. They say the money ran out (again), so they have no idea when it will open. I know someone in forumland has a trip booked for March 2023 to see the GEM, but don't count on it.

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    One more thing I forgot to mention - Tauck's Covid form is a joke. They make you sign this thing, but it's unenforced and meaningless. In our group of low 30s, 3-5 wore masks in the bus and indoors (including me). Now there are half a dozen with hacking coughs. To the best of my knowledge, two did a Covid test one time and they were negative.

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