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Luxor- Edfu - Kom Ombo - Aswan, by taxi

Home -> Africa -> Egypt -> Travelogue Egypt -> 15 January 2004

Thursday 15 January, Luxor- Edfu - Kom Ombo - Aswan, by taxi

At 5h30 our alarm clock tells us it is time to wake up. Today we leave for Aswan and one has to travel with a guarded convoy. In the past, one could travel unlimited through Egypt (except the Sinai desert) but that has changed after several terrorist attacks on tourists, like the shooting of 58 tourists at the temple of Hathepsut. Egyptians tell us these attacks were done by foreigners but we know that Egypt also has a group of fundamentalists. Tourists and touristic places are now heavily guarded, everywhere are soldier with rifles and machine guns, at hotels and museums and temples one has to go through a screening detector. Whether it really helps... We wonder what these young boys will do when anything happens. Probably they will be the first to run away.
We share a taxi with Susan and Astrid who also stay at the New Winter Palace and who want to go to Aswan for a day. We like to be on our own, but we get along very well. Time flies while we are talking an d we soon arrive at our first stop. We are welcomed by a laughing Egyptian at a restaurant and we soon find out why: one has pay 1 pound for using the toilet and already 50 people are waiting in line. A cup of tea is 5 pound, a price worthy in a 5-star restaurant. But everything can be negotiated, the tea and even the price of the toilet. I pay with a peice of chewing gum.
Temple of Horus, EdfuOur next stop is at Edfu where an almost intact temple from the Ptolemaic period. It is dedicated to Horus, the falcon god, and build between 237 and 55 BC. On this spot, Horus supposedly defeated his evil adversary Seth.
Temple of Horus, Edfu Temple of Horus, EdfuOn the walls we see the detailed reports of this battle. It is a pity that the Copts (the early Egyptian christians) demolished so many of the faces on religious grounds.
Temple of Horus, Edfu Temple of Horus, EdfuThe lower level of the temple is still rather intact. We think the reason for that may be lying in the fact that the temple has been buried under sand for centuries, the lower parts the longest.
Although this is a late Egyptian temple, it closely resembles a classic Egyptian temple from the New Kingdom, more than 10000 years earlier. Probabaly the originally Greek rulers tried to make a statement here, that they had become fully Egyptian and were therefore the rightfull rulers, not just conquerors.
EdfuFor a long time the village of Edfu was on top of this temple, but now it has been relocated to outside the temple walls. Poor shanties are decorated with satellite dishes and the hunderds of tourists that crowd the temple make clear where the money comes from.
Kom OmboOur driver races on, 20 centimeters behind the bumper of a touringcar to spare petrol, but we are chatting very pleasantly and before we notice we are at Kom Ombo. Here stands another temple from the Ptolemaic time, devoted to two gods: Sobek, the crocodile god and Haroris, the falcon god, an appearance of Horus.
Kom Ombo Kom OmboThe temple is not very large and more a ruin but the walls still show some nice scenes. This temple also resembles the classic ones from the New Kingdom but one can see that the shapes are a bit more fluent and a slight Greek influence is noticeable, even for people who fon't know much about art.
After our visit we order a cup of tea when we are called by our cabdriver. He sure is in a hurry although we still should have 20 minutes. No, we should come immediately, the whole convoy is waiting, we are the last... Strange fellows, tehse Egyptians, they are never in such a hurry! We can't even finish our tea and hurry back to the car.
Old Cataract, AswanBecause of this hurrying we arrive at Aswan before two o'clock and the driver drops us at the New Cataract hotel, beautifully situated south of Elephantine island. We haven't made a reservation for a room with Nile-view, but after some insisting we get one, without having to pay extra. When we would have arranged that in Holland we would have to pay almost € 15 more per night! We take Astrid and Susan up to our room to make them a bit jealous of the view which is really fantastic. But when we sit together on the famous terrace of the Old Cataract they decide to spend their night there, in this much more luxurious hotel.
Susan and AstridAnd here they are, the two girls we have had so much fun with, today, in their room, not far from where Agatha Christie wrote her famous novel 'Murder on the Nile'. They only stay for one night and then return to Luxor. We will see them there, next week, without a doubt, since we left some luggage with them in their room.
Old Cataract hotelThrough the nice lobby of the Old Cataract we walk back to our room to take a short rest. Teije often stayed here but he claims the hotel has deteriorated since that time (more than 13 years ago).
View from the Cataract hotel View from the Cataract hotelBut the view is still magnificient, a wonderful picture. Below our feet the blue Nile flows between the many islands while the desert is surrounding it. A good place to sit and watch the panorama for hours.
At night we walk through Aswan, though the souks, to the Ramseshotel where Teije also spend a lot of time with his tourist groups. One of the former bellboys now is the manager. He doesn't meet any acquaintances but they talk about people both know from that time. We return early to the hotel since we are quite exhausted from this long day. And we still have almost a week to explore Aswan. And it is here a bit warmer and more pleasant than Luxor, a great place to be!


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