During a trip around the world like this you rarely get to visit a place twice. You may fall in love sometimes (with the city/town), but after a few days (or weeks in some cases) it’s time to move on and explore other corners of the world. Even though you know you may never be returning again you can not possibly see everything a city has to offer. You see what you saw & miss what you missed. Before I arrive I look at the guide book if I have one or search online to see what are “must sees”, or just anything that may interest me. I then make a rough plan in my head of what I want to see and do with the amount of time I will be in that city. The reason you can not possibly see it all is because this is not a vacation you are going to be seeing a lot of things in many amazing cities around the world. So you give and take because many of the “must sees” cost money and well the truth is you don’t want to get burnt out of sight seeing.
Lucky for me after a few weeks in Egypt I knew I was going to be coming back after my 3 months in India. Even though I don’t always see it all in a city/town I knew I didn’t have to anyway, because I was coming back. Last time I was in Egypt I visited Aswan and Luxor and was able to see many amazing things. In Aswan I visited the Temples of Abu Simbel and Philae and fell in love with the colorful Elephantine Island. In Luxor I visited the Valley of the Kings, Queens, Karnak Temple and many others, I also rode a hot air balloon ride and got a view of Luxor the Pharaohs didn’t have. Even though I did a lot while I was there I still managed to miss a few things so was happy to go back. I had already been back in Egypt for a month and honestly I had not done much… aside from a lot of tea drinking and hanging out with friends the only significant things I did were witness history first hand by going with my boyfriend to vote for the Presidential elections and then a week later celebrate the historic announcement of Egypt’s new President in Tahrir Sq. So yup I got off my lazy ass and made my self (oh the torture I know) go to Aswan and Luxor for some unfinished business.
ASWAN BOTANICAL GARDEN
When you visit Aswan you will see several islands infront of the main Corniche in the middle of the Nile. Last time I was here I spent all my time at Elephantine Island and didn’t make time for the Island that is the Botanical Garden. This time around it was the first place I visited when I arrived to Aswan. Given to Lord Horatio Kitchener in the 1890’s when he was the commander of the Egyptian army he turned it into what it is till this day an amazing garden with plants from all over the world. They charge about $1 to enter and it was quite the surprise to see that it is very well maintained. If you have time you could easily spend an after noon here reading a book or even picnicking. You will see many locals here that will be so happy to see you and thank you for visiting Egypt. To get here just barter like crazy from any man on the Corniche with a boat.
SHOPS OF ASWAN
I love buying souvenirs, but sadly because of the type of trip I am on I can not buy many. Anywhere you go in Egypt you are going to find the same souvenirs… some are tacky, some ar nice and some are eh. If you are on a trip where you CAN buy souvenirs wait to do it in Aswan. They have a long tourist market and in between are the local markets. It’s nice to see the locals shopping at the same place as the tourist. What is even better is in Aswan they are much more calm about it and not in your face or agressive like they are in Cairo, Luxor or even sleepy Dahab.
I am not much a museum person and don’t visit many of them. However when I told my Egyptian friends I was going back to Aswan they asked me if I visited Nubia Museum. I told him I hadn’t and they said, “you must it’s one of the best in Egypt”. I couldn’t agree more and am glad I went. It is a very organized museum (rare in Egypt) that has the history of Nubia chronically written & photographed filled with amazing artifacts. It was the city of Nubia that was flooded to create Lake Nasser (the world’s largest artificial lake) and in the process they relocated the people along with the Temples of Abu Simbel and Philae. It was quite the engineering feat of the time and to this day one of the biggest relocations of any ancient temples. It was amazing to walk around the museum and see it all unfold and learn more about the history. If you are not much a a museum buff like me… I would recommend you to visit this one. It won’t disappoint.
I love visiting Cemeteries when I can while I am in a new city. It is always interesting to see just how different they are form home or how similar. Fatmid Cemetery was on my way from the Nubia Museum to the Unfinished Obelisk so thought I would walk through it and give it a view. Glad I did because come to find out some of the tombs here go way back to the 9th century.
The Unfinished Obelisk is actually part of a tour I took last time I was here that took me to the Temples of Abu Simbel and Philae, the High Damn, Lake Nasser and this. However we didn’t make it in time to see this, because we spent much more at the Temples. I’m glad though that we didn’t rush our time at the Temples to visit this. The Temples are much more impressive. I visited this and was impressed because you are actually looking at what would have been the heaviest piece of stone the Egyptians ever made. It was abandoned when a crack was revealed in the stone. Aswan was the source of Egypt’s finest granite and is where some of the stone used for the many pyramids over 800kms away was brought from. As I looked at this I just imagined hundreds of people just chiseling away… still mind boggling to think how they ever made these amazing structure thousands of years ago.
STREETS OF LUXOR
Luxor is sadly sometimes recognized by two names “the worlds greatest open air museum” and because of that all “one of the worlds worst hassle city”. It has the luxury to have some of the worlds most amazing Temples and because of that is a must visit. With tourist come hassle… everyone wants to make some money. This time around I just had one thing I wanted to see the LUXOR TEMPLE that I skipped last time. So I spent more time exploring the streets of Luxor. When I arrived a festival was going on for one of the Mosques in the city it was amazing to see them celebrate… for some reason it reminded me of Mardi Gras because they even had floats and were throwing fruits to the crowds instead of beads. Along the marches were lots of camels and men dancing with sticks in the air. As I wondered further away I found an amazing wall with paintings of Martyrs from the Egyptian Revolution. I was more impressed with these than the art I found in Cairo. I love them both equally but when I saw these it almost brought tears to my eyes, because I could never imagine having to die in the name of “FREEDOM” it just makes me so grateful of where I come from.
The Luxor Temple is in the heart of the modern city Luxor. It is a temple built over 3000 years ago that has been over time used and abused by many civilizations. One of the things I found most interesting about it is that as you walk around you find a lot of reliefs with ancient Egyptian men with ERECTIONS. I haven’t looked into it much yet, but plan on doing so in the future and maybe writing about it. The one you see above looks like it even has SPERM coming out and it’s crazy because they didn’t have microscopes back then… so how could they have known that is what SPERM looks like? I don’t know that is what crossed my mind… I loved the shadows the temple makes as the sun sets. Sadly my camera was running out of battery when I got here and I wasn’t able to take many photos. If you visit Luxor and know you are never going back be sure you don’t miss this temple.
RANDOM LUXOR SHOTS
These are just more random shots from my time in Luxor. The 1st one is of the food… I am addicted a little restaurant that is around the corner from my hotel that sells the full meal shown for only $4. ahhh it’s so damn good. The rest are from the alley way I would walk through to get from one side of town to the other. I am addicted to taking photos of hanging laundry… I have tons and don’t know why I just love them so much. The family is a random family that saw me photographing the laundry laughed at me and then asked if I could please take a photo of them so did.
So these are a few of the things I had unfinished in Aswan and Luxor that I needed to finish. These were however not the most important things on my list to finish while I was down there. My main reason was to take a Nile Cruise from Aswan to Luxor and also visit two of the least visited Temples in Egypt. I will be sharing those stories next. For now I’d like to know… so what do you think of what I had left to do in these two amazing cities? When you travel do you try and see it all? Have you returned to a city to finish unfinished business?