October 13, 2006
The Friday Flyer Assistant Editor
To find a relic from 1,000 years ago or even 500 years ago is cause for celebration in America – but to gaze upon the work of human hands from 4,500 hundred years ago never fails to stir the imagination of visitors to Egypt, as it did for Loel Rosenberry, who recently traveled down the Nile River.
Unable to coax anyone else to make what they apparently thought was a perilous trip to the Middle Eastern country of Egypt, Loel traveled alone from August 26 to September 9 with Grand Circle Travel, spending a week in Cairo and its environs, and then taking a riverboat down the mighty Nile from Luxor to the Aswan Dam.
Cairo, “the triumphant city,” is the largest city in the Middle East and Africa and lies at the center of routes to Asia, Africa and Europe. When Alexander the Great conquered Egypt, Cairo was older to him than he is to us!
During her travels, she saw the Pyramids of Giza, which included a visit to the Sphinx, a marvel that has been buried up to its neck in sand for most of its history but was most recently uncovered in 1905. The most famous monuments of ancient Egypt, the Pyramids of Giza were built almost 4,500 years ago.
Not far from Giza and Cairo, she also saw the Step Pyramid of Sakkara, the oldest of Egypt’s 97 known pyramids. Loel says she was able to go inside a tomb and saw how Egyptians once painted these areas in vivid colors; she wasn’t able, however, to walk further into the pyramid, which required stooping over in several passageways.
While in the city of Sakkara, Loel learned Egyptians are striving to keep alive the tradition of weaving “magic” carpets, the hallmark of Persians and Arabs who took over the reigns of Egypt from the Romans in 640 A.D.
She also learned that, because of the population explosion, the school systems can’t handle the number of students so run two sessions a day, causing children to go to school for half a day and learn a craft such as carpet weaving during the other half. One of Loel’s favorite outings was to visit one of these carpet schools and watch children, ages10 to older teens, weaving and tying an amazing one million knots per square meter of a woolen or silk carpet to produce an image like a peacock or flower.
Another favorite stop was in the lesser-known town of Dendera and the Temple of Hathor from the Greco-Roman Period – perhaps it was because she got into a friendly conversation with a local resident, something she tried to do wherever she went.
Further down the Nile, she took a hot air balloon ride over Luxor, known as the world’s greatest open-air museum with monuments of ancient civilizations. She got a bird’s eye view of the Karnak Temple complex, built and enlarged over a 1,300-year period. The great temple at the heart of Karnak is so big St. Peter’s, Milan and Notre Dame Cathedrals could be lost within its walls, according to temple literature.
The Nile River is the longest river in the world – 4,132 miles in length with a 1,107,000 square mile basin. Loel only traversed about 81 miles of it from Luxor to Aswan. “In Aswan, the Nile is at its most beautiful, flowing through amber desert and granite rocks, round emerald islands covered in palm groves and tropical plants,” according to a tourist leaflet.
Lowel saw the original Aswan dam, as well as the larger Aswan Dam, which was completed in 1970. Behind the dam is Lake Nasser, which flooded the country of Nubia and forced conservationists to relocate the temple and colossal statues of Abu Simbel, considered among the most astounding pieces of Pharaonic Egyptian architecture. Visiting this remotely situated site above Lake Nasser was one of the highlights of the trip for Loel.
Overall, she found her run-in with a camel nasty, but the people extremely friendly – especially since she tried to practice a new Egyptian phrase each day of her trip. She never felt afraid since the country was swarming with security. And after visiting England and France several months ago with friends, and Egypt this month on her own, traveling is in her blood – she’s ready for more!
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