Epilogue Israel and Egypt

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We arrived home somewhat exhausted and we’re still getting up very early trying to get our internal clock on east coast time.

This trip was all about religious history and the 4000 year history of Egypt, with a spattering of political history and events.

We had two excellent guides, in Israel it was Michel Granot, and in Egypt is was Maged (Magic) Salib.  Both guides were excellent, Michel was a free spirit and held very interesting opinions about the history of Israel, but she was very informative and knew her history.  Magic had more information in his head that most of the books written about the subject than one could imagine. Both guides made the trip a pleasure to be on and both were fun individuals as well as helpful and kept an eye on everyone all the time, an some really needed to be watch!

The food, wait for it…

The buffet at The King David Hotel in Jerusalem, with cheese cake for breakfast

The food was good, not great, unfortunately both countries do not know that meat can be served any where below medium, there is no pink in the middle eastern diet, and while many dishes held up the the philosophy other did not.  In Egypt they are in love with cumin and I do mean in love, it in everything, including sprinkled on croissant when baked for breakfast. We were exposed to many variations of falafels including both meat Balls and fish balls rolled in chickpea flour and fried, kabobs were very popular and the one are they excelled was when some thing was grilled.

Smoked brisket at a restaurant in Jerusalem name the Culinary Workshop and it was excellent!

Spices in the spice market, notice the large bag of hibiscus used for tea, and to make jam.

The various spices and excellent prices in eluding vanilla beans from Madagascar and saffron from Egypt.

Baking bread at our lunch spot, 9 Pyramid Lounge

Chickens on the rotisserie and quail  on the far side being flipped.

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DAY 20 February 14, 2023

We got up at 0645 on Monday and did not go to bed until we arrived home it New Point, VA; a very long day.

Leave Cairo at 2:05 Am flying to Frankfurt, Germany. Leave Frankfurt for Newark NJ at 11:05 AM. Leave Newark NJ at 3:40 PM for Richmond, VA

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DAY 19 February 13, 2023

Roman Amphitheater

Our tour of Alexandrine history and culture continued with a visit to the Roman Amphitheatre. In 1965, a semicircular Roman amphitheatre was discovered under what was known as Kim al-Dikka (mound of rubble) after the remains of a Napoleonic fort were leveled for a housing project.  The 13 tiered rows of marble seats, excavated by Polish archaeologists aided by Graeco-Roman Museum, date to 2nd century AD. Originally a small theater, the building was altered over time to serve as an assembly hall. A couple of sections of original mosaic floor are on view. Other excavations are still underway. To the north lie brick ruins of a Roman bathing complex. A series of basins and channels reveal water would have passed through the heating system to marble covered baths. To the east lie ruins of a residential area dating from 1st century AD where the Villa of the Birds, a colorful 9 paneled mosaic was uncovered.

After, we returned by motorcoach to Cairo and checked into our hotel, located in the upscale Cairo suburb of Heliopolis, conveniently close to Cairo Airport. After a short afternoon to catch up on transferring photos on the hotels’ slow wifi, drink a final toast to our Egyptian journey during a Farewell Dinner at the hotel with our new found travel mates.  Our transfer to the airport, required us to have our suitcases out by 11:00 pm and to meet in the lobby to transfer to the hotel at 11:30 pmmfor 2:05 am flight to Frankfurt


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DAY 18 February 12, 2023

After breakfast, we began our exploration of Alexandria’s historical treasures. We started

From the bottom looking up

with the underground catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa (Mound of Shards), an extensive subterranean burial site that dates to  the Greco-Roman era of the 2nd century. Many of the features of the catacombs merge Roman, Greek, and Egyptian cultures; for example, some statues , reliefs, and frescoes are Egyptian in style, yet bear Roman clothes and hairstyles. The location of the site had long been lost and was only rediscovered in 1900 when an unfortunate donkey stumbled into one of the shafts. Dug into the rock to a depth of about 115 feet, the complex has three levels. However flooding has made the lowest level inaccessible. The catacombs are reached by a spiral staircase encircling a shaft down which bodies of the deceased were lowered. On the first level there is central rotunda and a large banquet hall, the triclinium, where friends and relatives gathered to pay their last respects. To the east of the rotunda is the Caracalla Hall, an older burial complex that became accessible from the main chamber when robbers broke through the wall. This area is dedicated to Nemesis, the goddess of sport. From the central rotunda, stairs lead down to a second story with a vestibule and burial chamber. Here the decorated sarcophagi and wall reliefs display a mixture of Egyptian, Greek, and Roman styles: by the doorway, Anubis, god of the dead, is depicted as a Roman legionary with a dragon’s tail. On either side of the burial chamber, below heads of Medusa, are carved two serpents wearing the double crown of Egypt. From the burial chamber, eerie passages lead off in all directions to rooms containing 300 loculi – small chambers for bodies.  Back above ground, the enclosure is strewn with sarcophagi and broken remains of sphinxes. In addition, a tomb from Tigard (about 5 miles away) has been relocated here and its frescoes are in excellent condition.

We visited Alexandria’s tallest monument, Pompey’s Pillar. Dating to the 4th century, it stands 100 feet tall and 30 feet wide and was hewn from a single block of red granite brought all the way from Aswan, almost 700 miles away. It was erected around AD 297 in tribute to Roman emperor Diocletian. On its base in Greek is written “to the most just of emperors, the divine protector of Alexandria, Diocletian the invincible: Postumus, prefect of Egypt. The monument’s popular name may have come from medieval travelers who thought that Pompey (Roman General murdered in Egypt in 48 BC) was buried here. But, the pillar came from the Serapeum complex which was built in mid 3rd century BC.  It is all that remains of the temple of Serapis which was once a repository of important religious texts and the “daughter” library of that of Alexandria. They are attempting to recover more of the site and you can see the bases of the columns of temple and visit the sanctuary.

Interior view of the ceiling

We visited the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, built in 2002 as a worthy successor to the lost Ancient Wonder of the Great Library of Alexandria, the extraordinary library and cultural center contains millions of books in English, French, and classical Arabic, as well as four museums, including a planetarium. The main library is encased in a giant cylindrical building at the northern end of the corniche. The circular outer wall is made of Aswan granite engraved with letters from all of the world’s alphabets. The partly glazed roof which tilts toward the sea is designed to angle sunlight on the desks of the 2,000 seat reading rooms, which we noticed were in extensive use today. 

Our day contained scattered showers, sometimes on the way in and sometimes on the way out and temperatures only 60 degrees as a high. We enjoyed a grilled seafood lunch at a seaside Mediterranean seafood restaurant. Then, we continued our exploration of Alexandria.

The museum exit

This afternoon, we ended our afternoon with the group with a visit to the Royal Jewelry Museum, home to the vast collections of jewelry (most collected from the mid 19th century to 1952) and acquired by the royals of Egypt’s Muhammad Ali Dynasty. The building was originally constructed for Mohammed Ali’s grand-daughter, Princess Fatima el-Zaharaa (1903-1983) and later used as a palace by King Farouk. Key pieces include a gold snuff box with Mohammed Ali’s name spelled out in diamonds, King Farouk’s gold and diamond-studded chess set, and a platinum crown glittering with well over 2,000 diamonds. The palace is decorated with stained glass vignettes of life in 18th century France. A Ladies bathroom is tiled with scene’s of nymphs bathing in Alpine surrounds; while the men’s is tiled with scenes of French fishermen and seagulls. Mike took a video of the bathroom!

The Four Seasons Hotel in Alexandria from the “beach”

Once back at the hotel, we took a walk to the beach in the sun and were confronted by a sand dune constructed to protect the beach level villas from the sea about 16 feet high. The grounds are beautifully manicured around these villas which are actually condominiums for the wealthy to spend the summer months in Alexandria, where the temperature is mostly in the 90’s.

Afterwards, we accessed a multi-story mall connected to the ground level of our hotel. It was a typical mall with a food court, shops, perfumeries, and even a fresh food grocery store reminiscent of the Grand Epicurean in Paris. Returning empty-handed, we decided to enjoy the remaining afternoon on our balcony and prepare for our departure from Alexandria tomorrow.

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DAY 17 February 11, 2023 – Alexandria


Today we bid farewell to the Nile and the crew of the order Pregabalin online h/s Nebu, as we moved on to the city founded by Alexander the Great, Egypt’s port with a decidedly Mediterranean feel – though it was their coldest day of the winter when we arrived. After a flight to Cairo, lunch at a restaurant an hour out of Cairo and a bus ride through the countryside to Alexandria, we arrived at our boutique hotel overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. After checking into our sumptuous shorefront hotel (the Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria), we discovered a beautiful spacious room with a sitting and desk area, sleeping area, luxurious bathroom with tub and separate shower, and a balcony overlooking the heated pool and the Med. We met a few of our travel buddies in the bar/lounge, sipped some Egyptian rose (dry, good, cheapest wine on the bar menu and two for one during Happy Hour), and enjoyed a snack of calamari and shrimp for dinner


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DAY 16 February 10, 2023 – Back in Luxor

An optional balloon ride over the Valley of the Kings was offered – but it required leaving the ship at 5:00 AM – just a few days after we finally adjusted to the time changes. The day broke pretty hazy, since the wind was very light. We decided to pass.



Today, we explored the Karnak Temple complex. Said to be the world’s largest religious structure in area (162 acres), the vast Karnak Temple complex was built and used over a period of 2,000 years. At the heart of the immense complex is the Temple Amun, dedicated to the king of gods, Amun-Re, who was also the god of war and his wife, Mut, the goddess of motherhood, and their son, Khonsu, god of the moon. With its endless courts, halls, and colossi and huge sacred lake, the scale and complexity of this complex could be overwhelming. A row of sphinx’s create a walkway to the Nile. The temple’s exterior walls are covered with reliefs showing military scenes. The interior walls are carved with scenes of offerings.. Colossus of Ramses II, an imposing granite statue of Ramses II with one of his daughters at his feet, stands in front of the entrance to The Great Hypostyle Hall, where a monolithic forest of 134 huge columns is laid out in 16 rows. The largest are 33 feet around and soar to 80 feet in height. The hall has the basics of basilica architecture with a central hallway higher then its two side corridors.  

From its modest 11th dynasty beginnings, pharaoh after pharaoh added to and changed the existing buildings, seeking to leave their mark on the country’s most important temple. No expense was spared and during the 19th dynasty some 80,000 men worked as laborers, guards, priests, and servants. The temple was buried by drifting sand for 1,000 years before excavation began in the mid 19th century. Restoration is ongoing. The Great Festival Temple, behind the Great Hypostyle Hall was built by Tuthmosis II and was designed to resemble the tent he lived in while on his campaign in Syria. The Botanic Gardens, part of the temple built by Tuthmosis II, is a roofless enclosure decorated with bas reliefs of exotic flora and fauna he brought back to Egypt from Syria.  The Sacred Lake is where priests cleansed themselves with its holy water before performing rituals in the temples.  North of the lake is a huge stone scarab of Khepri built by Amenhotep III.

Sphinx lined avenue

Sphinx lined avenue

A walkway lined with rams-head sphinxes leads all the way from the Karnak complex to the 3,500-year-old Luxor Temple complex, we had visited a few days ago.

On the way back to the ship, we stopped at a papyrus factory, learned how papyrus paper is made from pieces of papyrus stem and visited a gallery where items were for sale. Mike videoed the talk about how papyrus paper is made.

The rest of the day was free-time: to have lunch, to pack to fly to Cairo and then go on to Alexandria, to sit in the sun on the roof deck, or just relax.

After dinner this evening, we were treated to a belly-dancing show on board ship. Famed for its controlled and precise movements, this gyrating art form is said to have originated in Cairo’s nightclubs before graduating to the silver screen. We were also visited by a whirling dervish.

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DAY 15 February 09, 2023 – Edfu

Early morning we left our overnight stop and headed to Edfu where we arrived about 8:30 AM. Before breakfast I was finally able to catch a sunrise photo! Horse-drawn carriages waited for us along the waterfront at Edfu this morning for the ride through this dusty small river town to the well-preserved temple of Horus. The largest temple dedicated to the falcon god, it is notable for the two stone falcons at its entrance and the huge relief figures on its façade.

Edfu Temple

Edfu Temple

The temple was built in the Ptolemaic Kingdom between 237 and 57 BC, but was literally lost beneath the sands of time as drifting desert sand and river silt deposited by the Nile buried it to a depth of 40 feet. Local inhabitants built their homes over it and, by 1798, when the temple was discovered by a French expedition, only the upper portions of the pylons were visible. The temple is of great interest because, despite relatively recent construction, it imitates much older Pharaonic designs. The imposing 118 foot high first pylon is decorated with scenes of Ptolemy XII defeating his enemies in front of Horus and Hathor. Two elegant black granite statues of Horus flank the entrance to the pylon, which leads to a large colonnaded court and the first hypostyle hall. Behind this is a second smaller hypostyle hall with chambers off to the side for gifts to the god before they were taken to the hall of offerings. Stairs from the hall of offerings lead to the roof (inaccessible) but the walls of the staircase are decorated with scenes from the New Year Festival a ritual celebrated in temples all over Egypt where priests carry the statue of the temple god to the roof to be revitalized by the sun. Beyond the hall of offerings is the sanctuary of Horus with its black granite shrine which contains a model of Horus’ sacred barque. Southwest of the temple lie the remains of Horus birth house.

Maged explained how the standard design of the temples is a physical representation of the ancient Egyptian story of creation. Why, for example, as you enter farther into the temple, the ceiling slopes downward and the floor slopes upward. The temple is of stone and usually surrounded by a mud brick wall so that if the Nile flooded and damaged the surrounding wall the wall could be easily or at least quickly replaced.  The palaces of the kings, residences of the notables and priests, etc. were all constructed of mud bricks, which is why we haven’t found any remains of them. The mamesi or birth house was only unearthed twenty years ago and continuing excavation work is being funded by National Geographic and Discovery.

As soon as we were back on board, the Nebu took off to return to Luxor through the Esna lock.

The Temple of Edfu. The first pylon is decorated with large reliefs.

Come along on the horse drawn carriage ride from Edfu temple back to the Nebu (Nile River boat).