Friday, November 3, 2006

Ideosyncratic Travelogue - Egypt

Saturday morning and I'm drifting into a 'travelogue' kinda mood again. Or in fact I'm still in it, as I don't think I quite exhausted this feeling in my Varanassi post. So I started to think about places. And an Egyptian trip bout 10+ years ago seemed to be the way to go. I hope this is not going to be the usual sights and sounds thing but something more ideosyncratic.

I started in Cairo, as you do, cos it's got lotsa pyramids, a medieval souk or market (Khan El Khalili), ... stuff that you can't just go by without almost ripping ya own head off as you turn to look. This pic is of the famous Felfela Restaurant - looks like an early C19 Orientalism oil, but just a lucky shot with a (pre-digital) Olympus OM2. The place oozes atmosphere, in the approved manner.

And then on to a nearby hangout, for local drag queans perhaps?

Beautiful doorways always do it for me too:

Giza is a short bus journey outside Cairo. This (quite successful!) photo is my attempt at a 'Life' magazine spread - it's the lighting that worked:

And this one tries to show just how fucking big 'They' are - the first real sky-scrapers:

Near Cheops pyramid, there is a pharaonic boat, recently-ish excavated and put back together:

And I finished that day doing what decent tourists should never ever do - climbed Menkaure's pyramid and took this (sadly double-exposured) shot at dusk, towards that of Khafre, still with a bit of its outer limestone casing:

Then I trained it to Luxor - the Valley of the Kings (Tutankhamun et al) and Karnak Temple. Best to hire a bike here, take it in a felouka across the Nile and then make your own way to the Valley. You pass Queen Hatshepsut's Temple, looking deceptively modern:

After you've made your way up to the top of the cliff behind this temple, you can whiz down to Tut:
Aswan is further on - in Upper Egypt, before the Nubian border. The Aga Khan's palace (where you can't go) and Elephantine Island in the middle of the Nile (where you can):

And across the desert to Abu Simbel, where the Temple of Ramses 11 was re-located when the river was flooded to create the Aswan High Dam (in the 1950's/Nasser period):

From here, good to take another bus across the desert to Hurgarda (great diving in the clearest water) and then across the Red Sea to Sharm El Sheikh on the tip of the Sinai Peninsular - where there is an old hippie colony with restaurants like the 'Tangerine Dream' - wonder why?!

And another bus to St Catherine's Monastry (first photo), below Mount Sinai, where Moses got the 10 commandments. Great to climb (second pic) to the tiny commemorative church (third photo) and watch dawn break, over an almost lunar landscape (fourth photo).

And what trip to Egypt would be complete without some camel work? Best, I reckon, is to take one of the treks across the desert, from one oasis to another. This was to Wadi Halfa, and then on to the Red Sea.

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