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Walking through Aswan


Home -> Africa -> Egypt -> Travelogue Egypt -> 16 January 2004

Friday 16 January, walking through Aswan

When we open the curtains we see a grey sky. We hope it is only sand in the air but soon we find out it is really totally clouded. I have never seen it so cloudy in Aswan! But the temperature is ok and in t-shirt we walk outside after breakfast to drink coffee on the terrace of the Old Cataract. At least, after we have been freed from the elevator which is stuck on the way to our room. Fortunately, we don't have to wait very long before a mechanic arrives with a crowbar..
Farouk terrace New Cataract hotelTo the right the modern New Cataract hotel which is build next to the classy Old Cataract. We have a room on the 6th floor, almost at the top. To the left King Faoud's corner, which was build for him in the thirties of the 20th century so he could enjoy watching the sunset from there.
Building activitiesThe Old Cataract is only three floors high, but it is a very elegant building. One could walk in at any time to walk around or have a drink but now there are guards at the entrance to check if one stays in the hotel.
We don't have any plans for today, so we start walking along the Nile. There is a long boulevard, the Corniche, and of course lots of people who want to sell or rent things, almost as bad as in Luxor. This used to be quite different 15 years ago, but Aswan has become a large city. There is only one man who doesn't take no for an answer and he keeps walking behind us for ten minutes until he is sure that our 'no' really means no.
Square, Aswan Mosque, Aswan15 years ago Aswan was a town with about 50,000 inhabitants, but according to our new travel guide there are almost half a million people now! And, I must admit, the city is bigger on all sides. The desert that surrounded this calm and quiet town now has been replaced by huge residential areas. It isn't anymore the small, cozy and quiet town I remember and in fact, I find it a bit disappointing. From the boulevard we go into the souk to walk south again. At least, the souk hasn't changed too much, a bit more touristic perhaps.
This mosque used to be at the eastern border of town, now the town continues for at least another kilometer. Although it is friday, the holy day for the muslem, the garden is closed and the building is heavily guarded.
Old Cataract hotelNext to a busy square which was once the southeast corner of the town we take a break. In this local bar the people only speak Arabic but we can manage. More and more words start to come back in my memory but I still can't make any whole sentences.
Then we enter the new suburbs, but we soon find out it is a much poorer area. Within a few seconds we are surrounded by more than thirty children who beg for money, pencils and bonbons. After a few minutes we are 'saved' by an older man who chases them away. We exchange hello's with some of the adults and they seem to be surprised that we walk around here, but they are very friendly. Of course we don't make any pictures, we feel we cannot do that in places like this.
We come across a few fields where excavations are being carried out. Probabably these area's were pointed out as building locations and they found the remains of ancient foundations that first have to be examined. Unfortunately, we couldn't make any clear pictures from the places.
Terrace Old CataractAfter having walked for hours and seeing all of Aswan as it used to be 15 years ago, we decide to call it a day. It is time we find a nice place along the Nile to enjoy the sun which shines more and more through the clouds. And what better place is there in Aswan than the terrace of the Old Cataract hotel. A friendly waiter takes this, not totally clear, picture of us.
Elephantine The Nile at AswanThe view on Elephantine, where in ancient times the village was situated, is magnificient as the Nile which surrounds the island. Felouka's and motorboats crowd the Nile while paddling boys in small rowing boats try to keep up with boats with tourists to sing a song in exchange for some bakshiesh.
FeloukasThe ever changing angle of the sunlight changes continuously the colour of the water, from green to dark blue to sometimes almost black. For hours we can sit here and watch this beautiful panorama. This is one of the prettiest places where we have ever been, Elisabeth agrees with me.
The Nile at Aswan Sunset in AswanWhen the sun descends quickly to the horizon more and more boats appear on the Nile, probably tourists who want to see the sunset from the Nile. We also have a good place to watch it.
The clouds fall apart into hundreds of small dots and we hope to be able to watch the sunset the coming days with a clear sky.
The Nile at Aswan The Nile at AswanWe don't have words to describe the beauty of this place, caused by the combination of the Nile seeking it's way between the islands and the desert surrounding everything. It used to be wild water here, but the ferocity of the river has disappeared after the building of two dams in the 20th century.
On a nice spot as this we will not soon be bored. There are less things that we have to see here than in Luxor, so it will be a real resting holiday here in a perfect place!

 


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