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Monday, 16 December 2013

EGYPTIAN JOURNEY 5

 
A fellow sketcher has just reminded me about the art of David Roberts. In 1838 he travelled to Egypt to record the monuments that had recently been discovered buried in the desert sands.  Have a look at his drawings if you can and you will see the temples we now know so well from documentaries half covered with sand and people were able to walk almost on the level of the decorations at the tops of the columns.  I bought a book while we were on the cruise and was totally captivated by the beauty and accuracy of his pictures, some of which almost match the photos I took from the ground.  The archaeologists and restorers of Egypt have done a phenominal job excavating these amazing monuments for us to see.
 
 
Back to the trip now: on the third day of the cruise we were woken at 6 am to visit the temple of Kom Ombo. This temple is dedicated to Horus and Sobek, the crocodile god and we saw a 2000 year old mummified crocodile there. The reason for the very early starts was that so many people visit these temples and the heat of the sun in the daytime makes it more pleasant to go at dawn. 
We were back on board by 0830 and cruising on down to Aswan where the boat tied up alongside several other cruise boats. We were about the 4th boat out from the dockside! After lunch we were taken to see the temple of Philae (above) which had been completely rebuilt on another island when it's original island had been flooded after the construction of the Aswan dam. I can still fel the hot sun I felt on my back as I drew this sketch.
 
 
After the temple we went to a perfume factory and another papyrus shop where we were expected to spend more money! At this stage we still had no Egyptian pounds as all the shops took euros and the street sellers preferred them, often exchanging them for Egyptian small change which we could use to buy small items.
The next day some of our fellow passengers were up at 3 am to visit Abu Simbel temple a few hours further south of Aswan but we had decided to spend the morning exploring the town itself and going out to see the dam which was very interesting. 
The afternoon was brilliant, we had a trip on a fleet of feluccas which took about 20 people each and were powered only by the wind in their huge sails. We sailed up the river, around several islands and then back in the sunset, when the wind dropped and we had to be towed the last few metres by a motor boat.
 
 
The next day (5) the boat set off again heading north back to Luxor and the wind was against us most of the way, making it pleasantly cool on the sundeck but making quite a splash on the side of the boat. We realised at lunchtime that the boat wasn't completely waterproof as our bags were quite wet when we picked them up after lunch in the dining room which was at water level. We had to stop at Esna on the way to await our turn through the lock and although we didn't go ashore we were moored right by the bustling harbourside and able to watch all the activity for a few hours till we were on our way again.
 
 
The view of lake Nasser which was formed by the construction of the Aswan dam was quite beautiful, fading into the distance in shades of blue  and purple.