Didn't we have a loverly time, the day we went to.............

Yes, Dear Reader, that's part of the first line of a song by 1980's one-hit-wonders; Fiddler's Dram. They went to Bangor, in North Wales, but we were priviledged to go to Aswan! And we went in some style, on the Royal Viking Nile Cruiser, again!

So, why did we choose to sail on the RV (Royal Viking) for the third time in less than a year? Of course, the special rate that we are able to negotiate with our good friends at Viking is a great help, but the fact that it's a really nice boat/ship (or whatever) with comfortabely sized, clean cabins and perfectly nice food also goes a long way to my being more than comfortable with recommending it as well as sailing as often as we can afford to. It's a joy to sit on the sun-deck as you leisurely make your way between the glorious banks of the world's longest and most famous river.

We mustn't forget the pleasurable visits which the tourists undertake on their journey; the magnificent temples at both Edfu and Kom Ombo, as well as the various visits arranged for them in and around Aswan itself. But, for us, it's all about the actual cruising, and meeting fellow Brits who are (in the main) visiting the wonders of Egypt for the first time. We can re-live the thrill of our first encounters with Egypt's treasures as we converse with them, it's fab!

Mind you, they can include some queer folk, as you well know, Dear Reader!!!!

We were amazed to meet the husband and second daughter of a lady whom we met when we sailed in October! The husband was fascinating, with lots of special interests. It seems that his working life is spent making metal rust! Now, if that's not strange, I don't know what is!!!!! Never mind, a thoroughly nice chap, anyway. He was also "game for a laugh", and a bit anti-authority! Here he is, with the rest of the Ingleezy gang, displaying his anti-authoritarian streak by not wearing his life-jacket whilst on the felucca:

That's him, at the back, the fashion-conscious one with straw hat and daughter.
(Click on any picture to get them all up together, and bigger.)

As they made their way across the river, the local boys arrived, I'd almost forgotten all about them over the years, but they then had very small, and ramshackle, home-made boats, in which they paddled up to any unsuspecting tourist-laden felucca and sang "Row, row, row your boat" or "Freres Jacques", depending on what nationality they imagined the tourists to be. Of course, they had to be rewarded with cash before they would go away; a canny little earner on a good day! (Colloquialism: canny, in this context, = good.)

I decided to catch a little video of the boys and their vessels as they approached their quarry:
video


They don't seem to have boats any more, they look more like surfboards!
Freda and I got to chat with several other people, too. One couple (retired, I presume) have a "project" on the go in Tanzania, where they work with children. They're a registered charity where 97% of the money goes directly to where it does good. (That's an impressive figure compared to most others!) Their website is: www.farajasupport.org.uk 

The husband of the pair is in cahoots with another passenger with their (combined, I believe) idea of building houses to cover the northern Sahara, with solar panels on the roofs, which (in theory) could supply all the energy needs for Europe and more, housing for countless displaced populations and some way of reclaiming the desert for agriculture! Very grandiose, but perfectly plausible when explained properly, it sounded really innovative. This second bloke has a head full of ideas, I'm surprised that he manages to turn off and sleep at nights. Utterly fascinating conversations with them both.

Another retired couple were equally fascinating; they spend six months at sea each year! Not on cruiseboats, as you might imagine, but on their own yacht. Apparently, they set off in April and sail away and around, all over, for the whole of the summer, and have done for years! Again, this was a couple whom we could have spent days in conversation with, more insights into completely different lifestyles. Simply wonderful! 

Those two travelled to Egypt with the widowed brother of the wife, who had yet another story of his own. Ex Royal Greenjackets, and ex international wine and spirit dealer, and also an old motorcycle afficionado. I tell you, we get all sorts here in Egypt!

Added to this mix were the Chief of the Luxor Traffic police and his family, and a particularly self-assured young lady travelling solo, whom I was informed was very close to President El Sisi as a member of his equivalant to the American CIA and the Russian KGB!!!!!! Of course, it still being relatively close to the annual Egyptian holiday period, there were a good number of Egyptian families aboard, too.


The Journey South

We left on Tuesday, at about 2pm, and came across over a dozen cruiseboats which had also left at lunchtime-ish. Here are a few of them as we prepared to overtake them all, the RV is one of the fastest boats on the Nile.

Of course, the usual stops were made, so that the tourists could make their visits at Edfu and Kom Ombo Temples. We saw the Tuk-tuks and emaciated carriage horses at Edfu:

(And I still covet a Tuk-tuk!!!!) We also saw the rubbish collecting boat alongside while we were tied up, with one of the rubbish men carefully going through each bag before it was slung with the others:

Just like last time we cruised, we came across fishermen getting a tow home:

Quite unlike the last few times we've been on the Nile, we noticed that the stallholders at Kom Ombo were mostly open, and (Hallelujah!) were quite busy!

I feel sure that you will agree that Kom Ombo Temple looks gorgeous from the river at night, when it's illuminated:

Another glorious sight which many miss as they slink about in the bar, or where ever, is the equally impressive Aswan Bridge, which is just so photogenic!



In Aswan

We docked at Aswan on Wednesday evening, mooring directly opposite the "Tombs of the Nobles". You'll remember the view from an earlier post, I'm sure, Dear Reader:

Gaudy, but quite impressive, nevertheless.

The mountain lights in Luxor don't compare at all! But they're very different places, after all. We like Aswan a lot, and especially the Old Cataract Hotel, where we stayed on our very first trip there in 1997. It has real character!

After lazing round the boat all day on Thursday, we decided to stretch our legs with a stroll along there on Friday. It's only about 25 minutes or so, and we don't walk too fast, being ancient, you know? On the way, I always keep a lookout for things of interest, as you're aware, I'm sure.

I don't know whether you remember me mentioning the cruiseboat on wheels, with the accompanying picture? I brought it to your attention as the rumour was that Ethiopia was going to take more water from the Nile, and that the cruiseboat operators were considering stealing a march on the situation by sending the cruiseboats and passengers, via a magnificent new road (yet to be constructed) across the desert. Here's the proof which I provided at the time:

Well, on our little hike along the Corniche in Aswan, I couldn't help but notice that someone there has seemingly cornered the market for when the oil runs out and we all have to revert to horsedrawn transport, thus:

The owners might think that these were well hidden from prying eyes, but they didn't reckon on old "Eagle-eyed Mr Edward" did they?

We made it to the Old Cataract, where we found comfortable seats in an advantageous position for watching other visitors as they came and went (as usual!). I took the obligatory pictures of the beautiful Moorish arches etc as we waited:



The whole place never ceases to amaze me!

All of a sudden, a familiar face presented itself in front of us! "What are you doing here?" it demanded. It was an old acquaintence from the Winter Palace in Luxor. What a lovely surprise! After we had exchanged the usual pleasantries, and told him about our cruise etc, he ushered us outside and onto the terrace, taking our order for tea and decaf coffee, with some cake, as we went. The waiter took a while to arrive with the goodies, and we just luxuriated in the warm sun as it drifted towards the Western horizon, it's final resting place beyond the Aga Khan's Mausoleum and St Simeon's Fortress Monastery. Pictures and a small video begged to be taken.



video
(The Aga Khan's Mausoleum is the building which I first zoom onto, and St Simeon's is the large low building in the distance at (and after) 20 seconds. This monastery is a great place to visit. It necessitates a short camel ride, but it's well worth the discomfort!)

When we finally asked for the bill, we were astonished to find that our refreshments were "Complimentary, Mr Edward". How nice, it made the walk back to the boat all the sweeter!

Our journey back to Luxor

Was quite uneventful. A slight headwind was magnified by the motion of the boat as it cut along at a fair old speed, but it wasn't enough to deter many of the passengers from catching the sun on the open top deck. Everyone wanted to make the most of their time here.

We stopped off at Kom Ombo and Edfu to facilitate the new arrivals' visits to the two temples.

I noticed a concrete barrier, of sorts, across a part of the river which ran behind an island.

I was looking at it with my small binoculars when the Egyptian man standing nearby piped up " I built that!" He went on to explain that it had been intended to stop the incursion into the main flow of the river of "hashish", meaning general vegetation, which causes problems at Esna, in particular, but that it had not been maintained properly. (Strange, for Egypt?)

Freda's mosquito bite on her calf flared up during the return journey too, here it is, in all it's glory:

Very painful, and still being treated with an anti-biotic ointment and tablets.

Approaching the bridge and lock at Esna each cruiseboat is regaled by the local galabiya/table cloth/bath towel salesmen. Shouts of "Excuse me" "Hey Ingleezy" or (of course) "Hey beautiful" "My queen" "My sweetheart", usually get some response, and then the goods come flying through the air, being stuffed into a plastic bag for fear of falling into the water and being ruined. The idea being that the prospective purchaser can inspect the item before agreeing a price and throwing the cash (in the bag) back down to the seller. More often than not, though, it's the item which gets thrown back down in the bag, and often landing in the river! Here's some ideas of their tactics:

video



I don't know how they are managing to make a living by doing this in the current tourist situation.

Whilst waiting for the lock to empty into the downstream section of the river, I couldn't help but notice this particularly fine looking hydraulic press:

Boy oh boy! Could I have made good use of that 30 or 40 years ago? The 100 ton press, which I had access to at the time, often used to make horrendous (and frightening) groaning and creaking sounds as it progressed towards it's maximum pressure whilst pressing out seized king pins! The one in the above picture would have made short work of them, I'm sure.

I think that that's about it for this journey, I do hope you've enjoyed coming along with us, even just as spectators. See you all again soon, I'm sure. TTFN.

(p.s. I hope these videos play properly for you, as I'm still not getting them on my machine. Grrrrrrrr!)

5 comments:

  1. Can't see any of your videos on an ipad! Shame because I enjoy reading your blog and particularly your photos! :-(

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm sorry about that Anon. I can only get one of them to play properly in this blog, the others have a still picture and normal sound. I imagined that it had something to do with the scabby Internet here in Luxor, but perhaps it's something else entirely? I'll try to have a look tomorrow. (If I still have them stored!!)
    Thanks for your kind comment, by the way.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm dreadfully sorry Playmates, these vids play OK on the laptop but not when they're loaded! I cannot fathom it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Never mind, Edward. As long as you remember your devoted fans out here and keep publishing the photos! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Just returned from Luxor. Have been many times and stayed at the Mercure Karnak this time. Was upset to see, one morning while sitting in the gardens watching the river flow by, a trail of rubbish 800 metres long (mostly plastic water bottles and plastic bags) float on by. I have been reliably informed that some of the rubbish collectors for the cruise boats sift through for anything worth keeping and chuck the rest into the river. My source of this information filmed this happening from a balloon flight and handed it to the authorities but nothing was done about it. It is such a shame they would pollute the river that 'feeds them'.

    ReplyDelete