Month: January 2015

Christmas Break 2014 Part 4 – PD/Family Time in the States and Flying Business Class

I know I said I had three weeks off of school but I decided to attend two different PD (Professional Development) sessions in Chicago so I was able to get some family time in too.  The timing couldn’t of been better since my BFF had her second little girl on December 29th so I was able to see her as well as my little monkey.  This was also my first experience flying business class.  My reason behind flying business class was simple.  We landed in Cairo from Bali on January 6th at 3 a.m. and did not get home until 5:30 a.m. due to lost luggage.  My flight to Chicago left at 3 a.m. on January 7th which means I have to leave my house at 11:30 p.m. the same night that I got in from Bali.  So I wasn’t even going to be home 24 hours before leaving again.  My body was still on Bali time which is nine hours ahead of Egypt and now I was headed to the states which is seven hours behind Egypt.  See where I’m going with this? I figured since I was only in the states for eight days I didn’t want to be super tired and jet lagged when I got there so I decided to fly business class.  In short, this was the BEST way I have ever spent my money.  I flew from Cairo to Frankfurt, Germany which is about four hours.  Then I flew from Frankfurt to Chicago which is about ten and half hours.  The long flight is where the business class seat sold itself.  They were the seats that you usually walk through and go, wow I want to sit here or how do these people get to sit here? The perks go beyond the seats that lay down.  In the airport there is usually a separate line to check in, go through security and to board the plane.  If I waited in a line there were no more three people in front of me.  The business lounge was also something of amazement.  It included food, snacks, drinks, coffee, comfy chairs and lounging beds to sleep.  To say I felt out of place at first is an understatement but after a few minutes I was loving every minute of it.  I knew that I would try out business class and never want to go back to economy and I was right.  All of the convinces and perks that come with purchasing that ticket are worth every penny.  On short flights I would really have to weigh the price differences and where I was going but any flight longer than four or five hours this is well worth it.  Since I started teaching internationally I’m obviously flying much more than I ever have and I’m learning what I can put up with and what I’m willing to pay a little more for. 

Business class section

Business class section

Business class lounge.

Business class lounge.

Like I said my BFF (best friend forever) had her second daughter on December 29th.  Originally I was not planning on coming home for Christmas because I was traveling and she was kind of bummed as was I that I was not going to see the new baby until June.  Once I booked my conferences I did not tell my BFF that I was coming home and decided to surprise her.  I decided this back in September and had to keep it a secret for three months which was super hard.  I arrived in Chicago on January 7th at 11 am, picked up my rental car and drove straight to her house.  She answered the door and of course was surprised but she had a feeling that I was coming home, it’s our super power connection that we have.  So in between conferences I was able to see most of my close friends and family.  Luckily I am surrounded with people that will come and see me with a few days notice.  It was a quick trip but well worth it and it makes June not seem so far away.

The new baby - Kennedy.

The new baby – Kennedy.

One of my main reasons to come home - along with the person who birthed her into the world :)

One of my main reasons to come home – along with the person who birthed her into the world 🙂

The monkey moving all my icons around on my iPad.

The monkey moving all my icons around on my iPad.  No her name is not monkey, it’s Raegan; her parents are really into politics 😉

The monkey going for a ride.

Going for a ride.

The monkey and I having morning coffee.

The monkey and I having morning coffee.

Later skaters

-B

 

Christmas Break 2014 Part 3 – Gili Islands – Gili Meno, Lombok, Indonesia

After we left Kuta we headed to the Gili Islands.  The Gili’s are three islands set off the coast of Lombok, Indonesia.  We decided to go by plane, which was the cheapest and easiest.  The flight was thirty minutes long.  Once we landed in Lombok a taxi driver was waiting for us with a sign that read Mr. Brandy, not the first time I’ve been called mister.  The driver thought Brandy sounded like a guy’s name.  Autum and I thought it was awesome and of course took a picture even though the cab driver was really embarrassed.  The taxi ride was suppose to be two hours but apparently because of the New Year celebrations there was a huge party going on or just ending and it took us three hours to get to our boat.  The road was closed off so we sat in the same spot for forty-five minutes.  Once we started moving we basically had a police escort to get through the traffic.  I think we only started moving because Autum and I got out to go to the bathroom and then we were looking around and the police at that point said okay okay let’s go.

That's us!

That’s us!

Autum on the boat to the island.

Autum on the boat to the island.

After we got through the traffic jam we still had about an hour of driving in the pitch black.  The taxi brought us to a “harbor”.  I use the word harbor loosely because really it was just the shore with many boats.  Once there we boarded the boat and took about a twenty minute ride across to the Gili Meno.  We docked at the harbor, again the shore, and Waylan the manager or owner of the resort met us and took our bags to our room.  We ate dinner and then went to bed.  I’ve never taken so many forms of transportation to get to one place, but the view in the morning was well worth it.

The "harbor".

The “harbor”.

Our bungalow

Our bungalow

The view from our bungalow.

The view from our bungalow.

 

We stayed on the island for the next three days.  Here is a rough schedule of what we did each day.

8-9 a.m.

Wake up and eat breakfast.

Sunrise.

Sunrise.

9 – 12 p.m

Explore the island. The first day we walked around the entire island in about an hour and half.  The moment we came back to our place was magical as I was tired and didn’t see it coming! Other days we snorkeled, laid on the beach, read books, did homework, typed this blog, played games, or just sat and did nothing else.  We attempted to snorkel. The wind was really strong most days so the waves were huge and snorkeling was not very good.  Trust me, Autum tried.  Our last day on the island we wanted to take the boat out that took you to different snorkeling spots but it wasn’t running that day.  I’m not sure if it was too rough out or because it was Sunday.  So instead we both walked along the beach and tried to snorkel off the shore.  Autum lasted much longer than I did.  She found some really cools shells and found parts of the shore that were much calmer.

Noon

Lunch

1-3/4 p.m.

Afternoon naps – these were necessary to have energy to keep us going. This was also usually when it rained so it worked out perfect for naps and just chilling at the bungalow. 

Storm rolling in.

Storm rolling in.

4-6 p.m.

Walk to the “village”. The village was comprised of an internet café, a school, a few little shops and lots of huts.  Our purpose in the village was to go to the internet café so I could post some homework.  For a half hour of wi-fi it cost me 12,000 rph which is equivalent to $.97.  Play some more card games and watch movies on my laptop.

6-7 p.m.

Dinner

Sunset at dinner.

Sunset at dinner.

7-10 p.m.

More card games, movies, reading, and writing.

10 p.m. – Midnight

Sleep

Ouch...

Ouch…

Last day sunburns...

Last day sunburns…

A few things that I did not like about island living life:

Sand – it’s everywhere! Yes there is sand in Egypt but we were living on the ocean pretty much and it was just everywhere and it stuck to you because you were always moist.  It didn’t just rinse off easily it took a while to become sand free, well for the most part.

Salt water showers – being an island there was a freshwater mix which was salt water mixed with fresh water.  It wasn’t as salty as the ocean but still salty.  So when it rained yes were outside rinsing our hair and rinsing off and it was great.

Being wet – like I said about Bali it rained everyday here too.  The humidity was worse here, although Autum thinks it was the same.  You never really felt dry you were always damp.  Even at night or when you were cold you were still sticky.

Even with the few things I didn’t like this trip was pretty epic.  Spending my 35th birthday in Indonesia is something that I will always remember.  This was my first time to visit this side of the world and anything below the equator so it was a whole new experience all around. 

Early boat ride to the taxi to catch a plane back to Bali.

Early boat ride to the taxi to catch a plane back to Bali.

Great morning view.

Great morning view.

Later skaters –

-B

Christmas Break 2014 Part 2 – Kuta, Bali, Indonesia

We were home for one day before leaving again.  On Christmas Eve Autum and I left for Bali.  We arrived in Bali Christmas night around 7 p.m. Getting to Bali was three flights, which two of them were delayed.  To catch our third plane we had to rush off our second flight and push through people because we only had ten minutes before our flight left.  It sucked but we made it. 

We stayed in a hostel in Kuta. Kuta is the most popular and most touristy place on the main island of Bali.  We stayed here until Jan 1st.  I’ve never stayed in a hostel before but on Autum’s recommendation it sounded like a good idea.  The price was amazing for seven nights so I thought I should try it out.  I reserved a room right next to the pool that had our own bathroom.  The room was very comparable if not the same as what I’m use to when I stay in Dahab, Egypt.  The hostel also just put in a new pool, which was very nice, and they also had their own kitchen, which made getting lunch and dinner very easy.  Breakfast was included in our package so we got to choose from pancakes (or crepes as we like to call them), omelets or Indonesian noodles (Mei Goreng) for breakfast. 

View of our hostel pool.

The pool at our hostel.  Our room is in the background. 

The night we arrived we were super tired so we ate and went straight to bed.  The Indonesian noodles and ham sandwiches were amazing at our hostel and that is all Autum and I ate for the week.  Now don’t forget I live in Egypt so ham is not easily available and sandwiches are my favorite so it was win-win.  Yes, I had at least one ham sandwich almost everyday – it was amazing!

On our first day we woke up, ate breakfast and went exploring.  The description of the hostel said the beach was a ten-minute walk.  They lied; it was more like 20 minutes.  We got the directions to the beach and headed there on foot.  We were staying in a more of a local part of Kuta so we passed local shops such as food, laundry, and motorbike repair but once we got closer to the beach we started passing tourist shops too.  There were plenty of tourist shops to buy shirts, beach towels, places to get tattoos and tons of massage places.  Once we got to the beach I was very surprised and disappointed by the amount of garbage and debris on and in the beach.  The debris, which included large pieces of bark, sticks and bamboo, were washed up on shore.  There was a large amount of garbage on the shore and was coming in with the tide.  We asked why there was so much debris and garbage and they said it was because it’s rainy season.  The rain floods everything and it all runs into the ocean.  This only lasts for a few months and then the beaches return to normal.  I was pretty bummed by this sight, especially since one of the reasons I came to Bali was for the beaches.  After the beach we decided to get our first massage.  We choose to get a foot massage and I also got a pedicure.  The foot massages were amazing; this was our first of many since they rang in at less than $4.  We were a little jet lagged so we headed back to the hostel, ate lunch, went for a swim then took our daily afternoon nap.  This was pretty much our schedule for the next week. 

Cool things we did while in Bali:

Learned to surf.  The day we had our surfing lesson it rained the whole time and the garbage was really disgusting to surf in.  I would jump off my board right into a bunch of garbage that would get wrapped around my leg – it was gross.  Surfing was super fun, I got up on my board on the first try and then maybe four more times after that.  We were out there practicing with our instructor for about two hours and I can say I successfully got up on my board and rode a wave about five times. 

Learning to surf.

Learning to surf.

Before our lesson...

Before our lesson…

After our lesson.

After our lesson

Went to Ubud to see: Gallalong Rice Terraces, Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, Bali Pulina Coffee Plantation, Gunung Kawi (Temple Carvings in Stone), and Goa Gajah Bedulu (Elephant Caves).  Ubud was about two hours away to Kuta.  To get there we utilized a new form of public transportation in Kuta that was basically a public bus with various stops along the way where you could get on and off.  The Rice Terraces were amazing to look at.  They use step farming to maximize their space.  Because of the climate they are able to harvest rice about four times a year.  The Monkey Forest was crazy – it’s just that a forest with monkeys running around.  Once we walked in there was a lady selling bananas to give to the monkeys so I thought sure we should get some of those so we bought a bunch.  As soon as we walked a little further you started to see the monkeys walking and running all over.  They were walking right in front of you, jumping from the side and sitting on the sides.  There was a family in front of us and the mom said watch out the monkeys just took all of the bananas from their daughter.  We tried to give her two more bananas but she had enough of the monkeys already.  We were told to watch out because the monkeys try to take your phone, camera or anything you might be holding.  Once we walked a little further it happened the monkeys bombarded Autum because she was holding the bananas.  If she was handing one banana to a monkey on the ground then another one would jump on her back and then when she would be giving a banana to that monkey one would climb up her leg.  It was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.  I couldn’t even get a good picture because they monkeys were jumping around so quickly.  I’m not going to lie, the monkeys also freaked me out a little bit. They had really big teeth and I’ve seen The Wizard Oz as well as Planet of the Apes and I wasn’t taking my chances. The Bali Pulina Coffee Plantation was very interesting.  They gave us a tour of how the coffee is planted, harvested and made into coffee.  They also grow a variety of other spices that are used in coffee and teas.  The guide also explained to us the process of making Kopi Luwak coffee or poop coffee as we called it.  There is an animal called a Civet that is in the cat family that eats the coffee beans.  Once they eat the coffee beans their body processes them in a way that enhance the coffee flavor.  Once the coffee beans comes out of Civet’s body they go through an entire process of soaking, boiling, smashing, and grinding to make the Kopi Luwak coffee.  At the end of the tour we got to sample all of the coffee and teas that the plantation offers for free except the Luwak coffee which cost 50,000 rph (approximately $4).  We of course tried the Kopi Luwak coffee and it didn’t taste bad, a little strong for me but not horrible.  Now the Bali coffee on the other hand was horrible, way to strong for me and thick like sludge. The teas they had were really good just as most of their coffees were too.  I really liked the fact that we got to taste test so many different flavors.  I’m glad that I got to try the Luwak coffee there because many other places were selling it for 2-3 times the price as they were.  The Temple Carvings in Stone were absolutely amazing.  Getting to this temple and seeing these carvings was not so amazing.  There were approximately 300+ steps that you had to take to get there.  So naturally going down was a heck of a lot easier than coming up.  It was worth it though.  You are just going down these stairs for what feels like forever and then all of a sudden it just opens up into this enormous carving inside the side of this huge hill and there is another temple right across this little bridge.  The Elephant Caves didn’t require as many steps and were very cool to see too.  You go down a few flights of stairs and then once again it opens up into this huge temple area.  Since we were there for the New Year there were a lot of celebrations going on namely a Hindu holiday that falls on two days prior to the New Year and most of the temples had yellow decorations on them, which was cool to see.

Rice Terraces

Rice Terraces

Coffee Plantation

Coffee Plantation

Civet

Civet

Our samples from the coffee plantation.

Our samples from the coffee plantation.

Autum trying the Kopi Luwak coffee. (Poop coffee)

Autum trying the Kopi Luwak coffee. (Poop coffee)

Getting covered to enter the temple.

Getting covered to enter the temple.

300+ stairs to the temple.

300+ stairs to the temple.

Gunung Kawi - Temple Carvings in stone.

Gunung Kawi – Temple Carvings in stone.

Elephant Caves Temple - Goa Gajah Bedulu

Elephant Caves Temple – Goa Gajah Bedulu

IMG_0811

Autum feeding the monkey at the Sacred Monkey Forest. 

 

Got 6 massages.  The prices for massages equaled $2-$4 USD so it was only right that we kept the Indonesian economy going and frequently got massages, like one a day and maybe one day, we got two.  Autum and I both got a full body massage one day and then the others were foot massages and one head massage usually an hour sometimes half an hour.  I had to tell them soft because a Balinese massage is pretty rough and I’m a baby apparently.  They were amazing and I loved every minute of them.

Massages!

Massages!

Ate street food.  This was all Autum and it was amazing.  I had no idea what she ordering but it ended up being noodles with chicken and it was really good.  Autum also stopped a street vendor one night and we got some sort of bread with cheese in it.  The looked like almost uncooked balls of dough but they were hot and fresh and had cheese in them – amazing! Another great find by Autum.  If you didn’t know Ramen noodles are one of my favorite foods.  I know they are horrible for you, tons of sodium and are a pre-packaged product but nonetheless I love them.  With that being said most of the noodles in Bali are similar to that so I have been eating them frequently.

Drank iced coffees.  I know this isn’t really a Bali thing, it’s totally an American/Western thing to bring to Bali but they did have a Gloria Jean’s which is my favorite and we do not have that in Egypt so it was justified going there maybe 4/5 times.  They also give you a freezing hand towel when you walk in which was nice since the humidity here is crazy hot.  Another great reason for visiting so frequently was their internet was pretty good.  I still had grad school assignments that I had to post and Facebook statuses to update so I was in need of good internet so it was a match made in heaven. 

New Year’s Eve on the beach.  We set out to find dinner around 6/7 and we stopped at a restaurant solely based on the fact that they had eggs benedict.  Eggs benedict is another one of my favorites, remember no ham in Egypt, so we decided that would be perfect for my birthday dinner.  After dinner we walked along a street that was closed to traffic and people watched for a while.  The amount of people that were out that night was crazy, as you can imagine.  Once we got to the beach is stopped raining, which was nice so we grabbed some beers.  Bintang is the local Indonesian beer.  It wasn’t bad I put it above Sakara which is the beer in Egypt, somewhere around Coors Light at home but under Augustiner which is still the best beer I’ve ever had at Oktoberfest in Germany.  Bintang did have a Radler, which is a lemon beer that was pretty good too.  So we found a spot on the beach and even before midnight there are fireworks in all directions going off so that was cool to see from where we were sitting.  I look to see what time it is and it was only 9 pm! I told Autum there is no way I’m going to make it until midnight.  I decided though to hang out for a little bit longer but then decided it was a good time to head back when some guy in front of me lit off a firework and the wind blew the ash back right into my eye.  I’m not blind and it only hurt for a little bit.  So we headed back to the hostel and watched the rest of the fireworks from the comfort of our own room.  This made me old but I really didn’t care. 

Birthday dinner.

Birthday dinner.

Bintang Radler.

Bintang Radler.

Ate seafood.  We went out for seafood dinners two nights and both were delicious.  I’m used to Red Lobster and eating the baby shrimp they bring to you and just the crab legs.  In Bali you picked out your own seafood and yes it was still alive.  The prawns that I ate were huge and came to my plate with there eyes still looking at me.  Crab wasn’t a plentiful choice and I probably wouldn’t have gotten it anyway since they bring you the entire crab and I don’t want to deal with all that.  One night we ate dinner at a restaurant that was over looking the beach.  The restaurant also had dancers who were in costume and had a ton of makeup on.  They did a lot of the dance with their hands and eyes.  It was a little weird but cool at the same time. Another night we ate at a restaurant that had fire dancers and surf/turf.  Autum wanted to eat there for the fire dancers and I wanted the surf and turf.  I had prawns with my steak and again they were huge and very good.  The fire dancers were amazing.  At first a lady came out with chains that were lit on the end and she was swinging and dancing with the fire. Then a guy came out and was dancing similar while swinging around chains that were lit on fire.  Then the lady came back out with basically a hula-hoop that had straight pieces coming our from it that were lit on fire.  She twirled that around her arm, her neck and herself.  They both were very impressive especially with the fire.

Fire dancers at dinner.

Fire dancers at dinner.

Went to a nice beach in Nusa Dua.  We had a driver take us to a beach nearby so we could do some snorkeling.  When we got there we discovered that you had to take a boat out to snorkel.  We decided just to stay at the beach and relax.  There were quite a few fancy resorts on this beach so we ate lunch at one of the resorts and used their chairs.  There was a nice beach area that was not polluted so it was nice for the day. 

Celebrated My Birthday in Bali. Being in Bali for my birthday was pretty amazing. On my birthday we went and got iced coffees and I had some homework I had to finish up.  While Autum was waiting for me to finish homework she wrote me a birthday checklist.  It listed 35 things that I had to do on my birthday.  Now at first I was like no way, then once we started it wasn’t that bad.  We didn’t get to finish the list but it was fun.  Some of things listed were: get a foot and head massage, buy something with my name on it, buy an outfit to go out on New Year’s Eve in, sit by the pool, take a nap, eat gelato, take a picture with 35 random people, and have a birthday lunch – you get the idea.  I did most of my list but not all.  Autum did a great job of making my birthday extra cool.  We were out the night before getting drinks and she had the bar bring me a banana split with candles in it at 12:01 a.m.  It totally surprised me and of course it was delicious.

Birthday beer and ice cream.

Birthday beer and ice cream.

Not so great things about Bali:

The rain. I knew it was rainy season coming here but the only time I really didn’t like it was when we were going somewhere because I didn’t want to sit in wet clothes, other than that, whatever, rain all you want.

The scooters.  Yes scooters or mopeds are a great way to get around Bali especially with all the small side and back streets but EVERYONE had one.  Some drivers were a little dangerous on them and they were always trying to find a way around like driving on the sidewalk.  Sidewalks are for walking not driving your scooter.

Humidity.  I’m used the dry Middle East climate I guess.  It was very damp here.  I’m also used to anything drying in about ten to thirty minutes so when I put something on the drying and I didn’t think it would take three days to dry. 

Garbage.  Now I’m used to garbage being everywhere, I live in Egypt.  But the garbage in the ocean was horrible.  Like I said before it was the worse when I jumped off my surfboard and was wrapped in it.  I know it’s only certain parts of the year but still it was gross.

I really loved Bali even with the few points that I did not like. The food was amazing and the sights were unbelievable to see.  The weather was humid and rainy.  It rained everyday.  Some days it would be quick and then sunny afterwards, other days it would rain for much longer and stay overcast.  It was very humid.  The temperature felt hot because of the humidity but it really wasn’t that hot.  It was nice though to be in this tropical climate in December and January. 

Our last day we checked out early, headed to a Starbucks to get an ice coffee, use the internet, post some homework and wait for our plane.  Our next adventure was four days on Gili Meno, which is one of three small islands off the coast of Lombok, Indonesia.  At the last minute we booked flights from Bali to Lombok for $40. Next up, a taxi to a boat then the boat to the island. 

Until then….

Later skaters

-B

Christmas Break 2014 Part 1 – Nile Cruise

Christmas Break this year brought me three full weeks of time off from my students.  What to do with this time off? If you are a teacher you know exactly how I feel and if you are not a teacher then I’m sure you are hating on me right now.  The first part of my vacation was a 4 night/5 day Nile Cruise.  I’ve heard only good things from others that the Nile Cruise was really nice and I definitely should go.  Taking the cruise is also a great way to see a lot of the history that Egypt has to offer as well as see the different landscapes along the Nile River.  To accompany me on this journey were my friends Heather and Luke and their friend, Justin, who was visiting from Namibia and my roommate Autum. 

We started our journey by getting up for a 4:45 am flight out of Cairo down to Aswan.  Now Aswan and Luxor are referred to as Upper Egypt but are south of Cairo so don’t be confused or think that I’m really bad at geography.  The Nile River flows south to north so even though Cairo is north of Aswan and Luxor that is technically down the river thus Aswan/Luxor are considered Upper Egypt because they are up river.  The plane ride was only an hour and twenty minutes, which was really nice especially that early in the morning.  Our guide, Medhat, met us at the airport with a piece of paper that said “Brandy” and then whisked us off to start our tour.  I got Medhat’s name from some other teachers who have used him as a guide around Upper Egypt and they said he was great.  He turned out to be even better than what I had expected.  He scheduled everything our for us, took care of tipping all of the people that we came in contact with from the workers on the boat to our drivers.  This was nice because we didn’t have to worry about not paying the correct amount or even worse getting ripped off because we were westerners, even though we live here.  Medhat was very professional and knowledgeable and told some great stories. 

Sunrise in Aswan, Egypt

Sunrise in Aswan, Egypt

Our first stop was the Aswan Dam.  First of all I did not even know that Egypt had a dam or how great of significance it played in keeping Egypt from flooding.  Medhat told us that Aswan is heavily guarded by the Army and has fighter jets that are ready to fly within five minutes to protect the dam.  If the dam were to break it would only take about twelve hours for the water to reach Cairo and to flood almost everything.  This really blew my mind because I thought the Nile River just kind of was there and wasn’t as large as it really is.  After the dam we took a felucca ride over to Philae temple.  Now with each temple there is a great deal of history that goes along with.  Most of the history has to do with Gods and Goddesses, Pharoah’s, Kings and pretty much people fighting over religion and power.  I do not remember all of the stories that go along with each place we visited.  I’m going to post pictures and a little history of what I remember. 

Aswan Dam

Aswan Dam

Philae Temple

Philae Temple

This guy means good luck :)

This guy means good luck 🙂

Next stop was our cruise boat.  We checked in, got our rooms, and relaxed for a bit. The cruise boat was very nice.  Now it wasn’t as big as a Carnival Cruise but of course we were on the Nile so for the size of the Nile the cruise boat was pretty big.  The cruise staff was very accommodating and we got the five star treatment.  The dining room was at the bottom of the boat, then the lobby, then rooms along with the bar and dance area, and a sun area on top.  Each day at 4 p.m. there was teatime.  The entire boat would drink tea and eat little cakes.  I love tea so this was very nice.

My room on the Nile cruise boat.

My room on the Nile cruise boat.

 

 

 

 

Top of the Nile cruise boat.

Top of the Nile cruise boat. (Photo by Heather Meinen)

After a rest we took a faluca ride across the Nile to a Nubian village and got to hold a real crocodile.  We went into a families house and got to see how the Nubian people live.  Once inside we looked at items that the woman had made such as bracelets, masks, and scarves.  There were also crocodile’s that the family raised.  We each got to hold one and get our picture with it.  I think it peed on me but I’m not sure.  All I know is that it didn’t bit my face off so I was happy.

Ready, steady and hold the crocodile. (Photo by Heather Meinen)

Ready, steady and hold the crocodile. (Photo by Heather Meinen)

 

 

 

 

Nubian village house

Nubian village house

We headed back to the boat for dinner and to relax.  I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the trip it wasn’t so crazy busy that we were running around sight seeing all day.  We saw just the right amount of sights during the day and then got just enough relaxing time on the boat each day.

The next day we woke up early to drive to Abu Simbel.  This was my absolute favorite.  As we entered we had to walk a little way through the entrance and then took a little shortcut right over a little dirt path.  In front of us was a huge mountain of dirt, sand, and/or rock.  As we walked around the huge mountain the sun was shining directly into huge statues that were cut directly into the rock of the mountain, it was an incredible site to see. My exact words were, “Oh wow!”

Heather, Autum and I in front of Abu Simbel Temple

Heather, Autum and I in front of Abu Simbel Temple. (Photo by Heather/Luke Meinen)

After we walked around for a while we got back on the bus and back to boat for lunch and then we started sailing to Edfu to see the Kom Ombo Temple of Horus and Sobek. Sobek is the crocodile god and Horus is the falcon headed god.  Sobek was the enemy of Horus.  In the story of Horus the allies of Sobek turned themselves into crocodiles to escape.

Kom Ombo Temple

Kom Ombo Temple

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next morning we woke up early to take a carriage ride to the Temple of Edfu after the god Horus.  We had to wait in line for a little bit before it opened and then once we were let in it was a mad dash to see who could get there first.  I’m not sure why everyone wanted to be first but it was nice to get a good picture without people in it.

Temple of Edfu

Temple of Edfu

 

 

 

Autum and I in the carriage.

Autum and I in the carriage.

After that we rode back to the cruise boat in a carriage and we started sailing for eight hours to Luxor.  We went through the Esna Lock where we went down 7 meters (almost 23 feet for my American friends).  While we were waiting in line for the lock small boats would pull up to the cruise boat and the locals would be selling different items.  They were mainly selling scarves.  They would throw them up you at the top of the cruise boat and you would yell back and forth what you wanted to pay.  If you wanted to purchase something they would throw a bag up to you and then you would put the money in the bag and throw it back to them.  I’m not sure if I saw anyone actually buy anything but I did see a scarf land in the water, but they retrieved it, no problem.  Once we arrived at Luxor we went to the Luxor Temple.  This temple was another one of my favorites.  The temple is right in the middle of Luxor and the city is basically built around it.  It’s crazy to think that this temple has been there for 4,000 years and people come to view this site of ancient history from all over the world while the locals get to see it everyday.  I like that we went at night and got to see if with the lights shinning on it.

Ramesses Statue

Ramesses Statue

Luxor Temple

Luxor Temple

The last full day of our cruise we went to the Valley of King’s, Hatsheput Temple, and Karnak Temple.  Most people say that the Valley of the King’s is one of the best things to see especially on a trip like the Nile Cruise but I wasn’t overly impressed.  Now if you are into tombs and such then this would be amazing for you.  Some people I know love going into the tombs and they loved Valley of King’s.  To each their own.  I’m more of a, carve giant statues out of a mountain of rock kind of girl.  Although it was crazy to think that all of these tombs have been under the surface for thousands of years and have only been recently found within the last hundred years or so.  There are still many tombs out there that have not been found.  Hatsheput’s Temple was built for the female god Hatsheput.  She’s one of the few female god’s that you hear about let alone has a temple built for her.  I liked it just for that reason – Girl Power! Karnak was our last stop.  Karnak was huge – so much that is was almost impossible to look at it all before being overloaded.

Hatshepsut Temple (Photo by Heather Meinen)

Hatshepsut Temple (Photo by Heather Meinen)

The group at Karnak Temple.

The group at Karnak Temple. Justin, Autum, Brandy, Heather, Luke and our guide Medhat.

Looking into Karnak Temple

Looking into Karnak Temple.

After the Karnak Temple we headed back to the cruise boat for dinner and then hung out.  We flew out early the next day and were back in Cairo by 11 a.m. This was a great trip and I’m glad I decided to do it December, the weather was perfect for walking around and sight seeing.

Later skaters

-B