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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

An Excursion Into Egypt

In October 2006, my wife Diane and I made a port of call in Alexandria, Egypt, while on a 12-day cruise aboard the Norwegian Jewel from Athens, Greece, to Istanbul, Turkey. Ours was the first cruise since the terrorist attacks in September 2001 that was allowed to make overnight excursions to Cairo. Everyone participating got on their assigned buses and then all 13 of them pulled out the port and drove bumper-to-bumper at about 70 miles an hour with police cars leading and following and a plainclothes policeman with a submachinegun on board each. 

Below, the relatively unimpressive modern lighthouse of the port is a reminder that Alexandria was once home to the Pharos, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.  

Here the vast size of the Great Pyramids, the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World that still exists, is evident by a view of them from the outskirts of the city.

Above left, Diane stands in front of the 19th-century Mosque of Muhammad Ali in Cairo, respectfully attired to enter it. Above right top, an interior view of the main area within the mosque. Above right bottom, a detail of the nearby sprawling 12th-century Citadel of Cairo, constructed by the famed Muslim general Saladin. 

Above left, a view from the Citadel across the smoggy sprawl of Cairo toward the Great Pyramids in the suburb of Giza. Above right, a whirling dervish, a type of mystic that achieves ecstasy through a spinning dance, who we had the opportunity to see during a Nile dinner cruise. The real highlight of that night, however, was being seated with and meeting Richard and Laura Allan, with whom we have been close friends ever since! 

Above is the massive Sphinx of Memphis. Our Egyptian guide, Hanan, spoke pretty good English but sometimes got key words confused, as when she described this statue to us: "It is ver-ry heavy ... It weighs 90 pounds!" (Its actual weight is, of course, approximately 90 tons.) 

Above left, Diane demonstrates how to "walk like an Egyptian"! (Note that we did not actually see any Egyptians walking like this during our trip.) Above center, Diane and I at the Step Pyramids of Saqqara, which predate the Great Pyramids of Giza. Above right, Diane and some of our traveling companions in one of the temples at Saqqara; in the background with the sign is our local guide Hanan. 

Above the Great Sphinx and one of the Great Pyramids at Giza! Below, what would a visit to Egypt be without a camel ride? I took one at the same location 20 years earlier, when I visited Cairo while stationed with the U.S. Army in what was at that time known as West Germany.