Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Finally walking like an Egyptian


I am back from holidaying in Egypt.

I cannot even attempt to describe the feeling of stepping into an era when the mighty pharoahs ruled, when daily life was richer and much much advanced than today. A civilization that flourished 5000 years ago.

But I will still attempt. More of the experiences than the facts and figures.

The first thing that struck us as we landed in Cairo was its size. Huge and bustling with life. The women are sizzling HOT. They dress stylishly, cover their heads and drive very fast, sometimes with a slim cigarette between their fingers.

The Sheraton is a beautiful hotel. But going by 5 star standards in India, it lacks a wee bit in grandeur and doesn't intimidate you, thankfully. The food was good, though vegetarians will not have much to choose from. But we were there to explore, gawk, gape and admire. And we did just that.

The pyramids, the sphinx told their own story. But the Cairo museum is the master storyteller. Everything discovered, that could be moved without any damage has been moved there. The rest like the mummified body of Tutankhamun still lay in the Valley of the Kings.

We got a taste of Cairo's famed nightlife as we walked about window shopping after a long dinner where we were entertained by belly dancing and some amazing performances.

A 4 day cruise on the Nile was very relaxing. Beautiful cabins to sleep in, a lounge bar, a swimming pool, and a sun deck to lounge on were the best part. We didn't bother much with the other areas on the liner. As we sailed along the Nile, it was a journey through thousands of years of an ancient civilization.

While the ship docked at every port, we scampered with an Arabic accented, barely speaking-English guide to seek some more. The magnificent Karnak Temple, built over several centuries by several dynasties on 65 hectares of land. Close to it, the Luxor Temple, another monument of awesome beauty.

On the west bank lay the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens. Easily one of my favourite sites, we walked across the valley to have a look at the tombs of ancient pharaohs that ruled history. Thutmosis III, Ramsis II, Tutankhamun.

At pretty little Edfu, we visited the Temple of Horus, the best conserved temple in Egypt. That evening saw us at the Temple of Kom Ombu, with the picturesque little town below. We roamed the streets lined with pretty little ethnic shops.

Sailing on to Aswan, the Nile turned more blue. We woke up to the sight of pretty feluccas all around, the gorgeous botanical garden ahead and the Agha Khan Mausoleum in the distance. We realized why Aswan is called the most beautiful city in Egypt.

After two more divine days of sightseeing, sunning and eating, it was time to head back home. As our newly made British friends from the cruise hugged us tight, invitations and promises flowed back and forth to visit each other. I admit the holiday was better with them thrown in.

As we flew back, the warmth of this land of mystery and magic was hard to shake off. The loud and friendly greetings of the locals, always looking for baksheesh (tips) rang in my ears as I smiled at my dependable cabbie in Bombay. And I sent up a silent prayer of thanks.

21 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

hiii anumita, me first!!
oooh god the way u describe is just awesome, you've got a way with words.
wow cruising on the nile! u rock girl:-)) excellent post.worth all the wait

4:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry i dint write my name in the previous comment

Veena

4:40 AM  
Anonymous runa said...

awesome.. let me now go bug my hubby ;)

9:47 AM  
Blogger shub said...

mmmmmmmmmmmmmm :)

11:20 AM  
Blogger anumita said...

Veena: Thanks a ton! I couldn't do justice to the amazing holiday I had with this post. But I tried :)

runa: Yes, yes, bug him for the time and money. I ll give you all the info and the travel guys nos.

shub: You approve or disapprove? :)

12:51 PM  
Blogger Parna said...

wow! more pictures please.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Swathi said...

that sounds like a wonderful trip, xpecting to see more pix

2:23 PM  
Blogger Amys said...

Interesting. Th place is full of history.Amazing.

3:19 PM  
Blogger Rat said...

Wow!!!

4:59 PM  
Blogger Prerona said...

hey - want more pictures! preferably of the water :)

6:48 PM  
Blogger Abhishek said...

thats sahi...
some more pics plz

6:50 PM  
Blogger Akruti said...

sounds like a dream:)

8:12 PM  
Anonymous Chandrika said...

The photos are great. Am waiting for the next installment. Bring all the photos you can carry to lunch on Friday. We are meeting around 12.45.

2:08 PM  
Blogger hope and love said...

wozooohhh..!! great.. lucky u..!! and txs for sharing ur experiences..

2:22 PM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

too jealous to write anything nice. will come back when the mean-streak passes :)

11:05 PM  
Anonymous pallavi said...

beautiful.. am very familiar with the Egyptian mysticism so this place holds a special place in my heart.. nice pics.. good to know that you enjoyed yourself...

3:40 PM  
Blogger anumita said...

parna, swathi, abhishek: They are up.

amys: Welcome. Yes, the place IS history.

rat: Plan your trip soon. You wont be disappointed. I ll give you all the info.

prero: Water pics coming up.

akruti: It came true :)

chandrika: Will see you for lunch. But dont have prints yet. You see, I too have graduated to a digital camera now, like someone else :)

hope n love: It's my pleasure.

gratis: You are supposed to think good and feel good now. Banish the mean streaks! I promise not to go for any more holidays :)

pallavi: Then you ll absolutely love the place! You must talk to M, he's gone crazy and will drive you crazy too!

7:57 PM  
Blogger Rhyncus said...

Seeing all those names again brought on a huge surge of nostalgia. I did the place in Dec 2003 and came away in awe. But you know what stands out apart from all those huge hunks of sandstone? It's how the present-day Egyptian, owing allegiance to a different culture from his ancestors, still values his heritage. Am sure the poor Bamiyan Buddhas are pretty jealous of Rameses.

1:32 PM  
Anonymous sherriff said...

great pics Anumita...and u have way with words...I agree with Vina...For a moment i felt as if i was in Egypt...just one question...do they manage their tourism industry better than India??

4:36 PM  
Blogger Namrata Goswami said...

Do I need to say how good you are at words.

Its a pleasure and delight to read you
love

11:02 AM  
Blogger Raccoon said...

I've been catching up on your blog from where I left it months back...and wow...you did Egypt..!!!
awesome...its been a dream to go there!

10:52 AM  

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