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In Which Tom Tells

Of Visits to Temples and Tombs

And Other Egyptian Wonders

Giza Plateau Panorama


THE END OF 2004, December 29 to be exact, offered my family the chance to visit Egypt. Partly tourism, and partly a family reunion as we visited our daughter who has a new teaching job in Cairo, we had the time and the “excuse” to take a trip of a lifetime.

There's nothing fun about nearly 24 hours in transit, and little that's photographic, so I'll just say thanks to Air France for the surprise upgrade to business class across the Atlantic and jump right to our arrival in Cairo. We're not rich or frequent flyers so I don't know how it happened but it sure would be easy to get used to!

Emily at Home

With a daughter living in Cairo we had the luxury of sharing her apartment rather than the expense and distraction of hotel living, which made things a lot easier and more like a reunion. Our younger daughter, a grad student at Cornell, found time over the holiday break to join us.

New Year's Eve was partly recovery, waiting for all of our luggage to show up (which it did near midnight), and just enjoying being together.


Approaching the Giza Plateau

LEFT: On the road to Giza, you look up and there they are!

RIGHT: Not posed, just a random photo by Angela.

Giza Plateau

What better time to visit the plateau at Giza to be impressed by the three amazing Pyramids and, of course, the Sphinx itself (himself?) than New Year's Day? We were armed with four or five tour books, a new high-resolution Sony digital camera (thanks to my sister Sara), and the wonder of walking up the approach to these sole survivors of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

At approximately 4500 years old (the artifact, not me), the Great Pyramid of Khufu (better known as Cheops) and its two huge neighbors left me speechless. It's so big that the photos create an illusion of nearness when, in fact, each row of blocks is a minimum of five to six feet high. The site, with the three pyramids plus the much-smaller Sphinx, is best described in photos. See also the panorama I made up of several separate shots shown at the top of this page.

  Pyramid - it is SO BIG!
It is so big we had to splice two photos to get the top in the photo. Look to the right - that red thing is a large tour bus, and people beside it. The eye is tricked by the large scale of the pyramid into thinking it is much closer.

On the TrainThe next day saw us preparing for a journey and that evening we boarded a train for an overnight ride along the Nile to Luxor. Some oldsters may understand my reference to a Pullman-style sleeping room. These have seats during the day and convert to beds at night. The run of eight hours, probably 800 km, allowed us to arrive in what is called Upper Egypt the next morning in time to board our boat.

Boarding the Boat


The Nile Cruise makes it much easier to make day trips to several important sites, and travel in comfort overnight by boat to the next interesting cluster of monuments. It was so efficient! We had a lot of family time, enjoyed a wonderful shared experience and saw in five days a surprising number of architectural treasures.


The following photos show just a few highlights as we visited Luxor Temple and the nearby temples at Karnak (a long avenue may have actually connected them in antiquity)...
Karnak 1 Karnak left and right Karnak 2
Karnak 3

LEFT: Entrance to the Temples at Karnak.

RIGHT: LuxorTemple.

Luxor Temple and Obelisk at Sunset
Luxor Temple Interior

LEFT: Interior at Luxor.

...the Valleys of the Kings and Queens...  
Valley of the Kings at Sunrise

LEFT: Sunrise in the Valley of the Kings. Note openings in the ground that are tombs they have discovered.

RIGHT: One of the two Colossi of Memnon just before dawn.

One of the Colossi of Memnon before Dawn
Hatsepshut's Temple LEFT: This is one tier up (there's one plateau level below me at this amazing site) of a recently restored Hatshepsut's Temple. (Photo by Angela)  

... then Esna, Edfu, Kom Ombo, and Aswan, including the royal granite quarries (source of many obelisks seen throughout the journey), as well as several which were moved to London, Rome, Berlin, and New York.
Along the Nile near Edfu

LEFT: On the Nile en route to Edfu.

RIGHT: Approach to Temple at Edfu.

Edfu Temple - the approach
Temple at Edfu

LEFT: Temple at Edfu.

RIGHT: Nile cruisers in line for locks (photo by Emily)

Nile cruisers in line for locks
Nile locks

LEFT: The locks on the Nile

RIGHT: Granite quarry with cracked and abandoned obelisk

(photos by Emily)

Quarry showing cracked and abandoned obelisk
We had reached the Aswan High Dam...
  RIGHT: Lake Nassar from the Aswan Dam. (photo by Emily) From the Aswan High Dam
We also visited the Philae Temple, which was relocated to a nearby island between the old dam and the Aswan high dam to avoid the rising waters when the dam was being built.
Philae from the lake

LEFT: The Temple site from the lake.

RIGHT: The approach to the Temple.

Philae Temple

Our GuideThe entire cruise wouldn't have been half as educational without the tutoring of our guide, Mahmouda Ismail. His help in explaining the significance of each site, as he helped build on our general knowledge about the symbols and carvings we were seeing, and the sequence of dates in the various sites, was invaluable.

The cruise boats, of which there are hundreds on the Nile, are almost like barges. They are built to fit in the locks along the river and traffic is congested enough that a new set of locks is being built in parallel to the existing ones.

For More of our Trip
We Go Back to Cairo
See Page Two - CLICK HERE

Thomas Zoss
Zoss Communications, Inc.
3431 S. Weeping Willow Way, Bloomington, Indiana 47403 USA
Telephone 812-332-2334, E-mail to Tom Zoss

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