Currently traveling

Africa

October - November 2019
Currently traveling
  • Day42

    Petra & Turkish Bath

    November 11 in Jordan ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    Today we spent 8 hours at Petra, and walked about 18 km. It was extremely windy much of the time but not too hot. We walked long and old roadway that went through a slot canyon with much the same colors in the rocks as is found in some American national parks such as Zion, Capital Reef and Arches. Suddenly it opens up to a magnificent Temple entrance carved into the sheer rock face. Continuing on, there are many palaces, buildings, tombs and a Colosseum. Most of the group climbed up the 800 stairs to the monastery. Itwas a very long climb in the uneven stairs and pathways carved into the side of the mountain, and donkeys carried a few people up and then came back down the mountain without riders. The Monastery was spectacular, and the viewpoint beyond it revealed rugged dry mountains beyond the deep valley. Returning to the bus proved to be a long slow climb up hill and we were very tired! A perfect recovery was the 75 minute Turkish Bath which included a steam bath, scrub down, and massage.Read more

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  • Day41

    Mt. Nebo, Karak Castle & driving

    November 10 in Jordan ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    Today we had a lot of driving but it was broken up with some interesting stops. Very cool and windy, we visited Mt. Nebo, where Moses ascended to view the promised land, which he did not enter. There were a lot of marble tile mosaic pictures and floors. Then a stop at a workshop and store of many items made by handicapped people. Lunch was from a clean takeout restaurant in a poor area: pita pockets with falafel balls and vegetables. The Karak castle, built and occupied by various people’s over the decades was an interesting stop; the Crusaders were the main occupants. Only 10% of the castle area remains, the rest has homes on the land. From there, it was a 3 hour drive to our hotel near Petra. With great Wifi on the bus, it makes travelling easy. Our guide is doing a fantastic job. Jordan is dry but has enough water for many crops, numerous plantings a year due to the excellent growing climate. Energy in Jordan is interesting. They have a huge number of windmills and solar panels. The goal is to change to electric vehicles by the end of 2020 so reduce dependence on neighbouring oil producing countries. Garbage is a big problem in 25% of the country that they are trying to address. We were able to catch the sunset!Read more

  • Day40

    Jarash and Dead Sea

    November 9 in Jordan ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Today we left the hotel at 7am, and it was well worth the early start because when we got to Jaresh, the remains of a city built around 200BC, there was nobody else there. The guide was very helpful in teaching us to identify Roman vs Greek parts of the city architecture, and the highlight was the coliseum, which is nearly fully intact. The sound is incredible; even the smallest whisper carries so far. After locally made ice cream, we took two hours to drive to the Dead Sea. It was hot, so we enjoyed the activities there after a great buffet lunch. The salty Dead Sea is so easy to float in, and in fact its a bit hard to right oneself once lying on your back. Sharon, like many of the people there, opted for a mud covering, which dried in 20 minutes, when she washed off in the Sea, and then showered. The pools at the complex were clean and welcome, along with visiting with our group members. The hot sun today tired us out so we had a low key evening.Read more

  • Day39

    Flights to Jordan

    November 8 in Jordan ⋅ ☀️ 13 °C

    Up at 4:30am, a flight to Cairo and then Amman, we said goodbye to Michelle and “Em”. I will include the photos from yesterday’s visits to the Temple and Palace.

    Jordan is amazing! Our guide, Khared, is excellent....more about Jordan tomorrow!

  • Day38

    Hot Air Balloon Ride and more history

    November 7 in Egypt ⋅ 🌙 25 °C

    Sharon went on a hot air balloon ride this morning with 3 other ladies from our tour group! We took a short bus ride, a boat ride across the Nile, then another bus ride and finally arrived at the start point. The ride was 45 minutes long, and smooth sailing 100% of the time, including a soft landing! We saw temple ruins, Valley of the Gods, agricultural crops, irrigation channels, homes and farm workers. Although nervous at first, the ride turned out to be a delight. (US$85) Afterwards, we met up with the rest of our group and we went to the Valley of the Gods, and entered three underground burial areas, which had lots of sculpting on the walls, including a lot of colour which stayed since it was protected from the sun. They were much more impressive and beautiful in colour! After that we went to the Palace, which again had some protected areas with colour, but massive sculptures and columns. We ate lunch at a local family home: chicken, beef, mixed cooked vegetables, salad, tahini and bread, rice and potatoes. It was the best meal we have had in Egypt. We took a boat back across the Nile, then a bus back to the hotel. The rest of the afternoon was free time so we showered and went for a walk in the local market, but honestly, it is so unpleasant with vendors hounding you, they are so aggressive. We tried walking up a street for the locals, to see if we could find a shirt for Grant, but instead, found 3 young men who he struck up a conversation with about our cell phone, which started acting up this morning, only working occasionally, otherwise frozen. It ended up that Carlos, who spoke excellent English, told us he was a Christian, as were his friends, so we had quite an in-depth conversation about the Islam faith of Egypt, the women’s clothing, etc. He went with Sharon and got a new battery installed in her watch for only $2. The he took Grant in a taxi to a cell phone store that has Apple phones, and it was finally determined that the phone was not fixable, so Grant bought a refurbished one, and they transferred some of the data onto the new phone, total cost was $300. It took 3-4 hours though. While waiting for the data to upload, Grant, his new friend, “Koko” and the taxi driver, had a beer and cigar while in the taxi! Our tour group was supposed to have a Farewell Dinner but since most of the group was still full from the excellent lunch, that really didn’t happen, so Grant brought some home with his new phone.Read more

  • Day37

    Crocodile Museum & Karnak Temple, Luxor

    November 6 in Egypt ⋅ 🌙 23 °C

    We had to get up just after 5am, it was a bit chilly on the Nile still! We had breakfast and then went by bus to Luxor, a four hour drive. We passed through a lot of rural area, and saw many people farming sugar cane, corn, cabbages and cauliflower. It seems that all work is done by hand with little mechanization. There were many carts along the sides of the roads, pulled by donkeys, and stacked with sugar cane, a cash crop. We saw some kind of smelter from the mining done in the area. There were many villages along the highway, where there were enormous speed bumps to slow the traffic. The men mainly wore the long robes, and the women wore headscarves or complete burkas. Most of the homes were not completed, with one or two floors completed and occupied, with another floor started, but apparently most of them never actually get finished. Again, the garbage and plastic along the sides of the road was very noticeable. When we arrived at our hotel in Luxor, we had a shower and got settled. We went to the Crocodile Museum and Temple which created crocodile mummies, (the whole idea of appeasing the evil gods by mummifying crocodiles can’t be comprehended) and there was a huge temple with excellent sculpting. Again, the way it is at any temple or palace, there are older men who wear their long robe around and try to show us things and then want money for it. Then after a break, we went to the Karnak Temple, which is HUGE, with so much sculpting, and columns, and all kinds of amazing things. Outside every pyramid and historical spot, there are vendors trying to sell things from T-shirts and sculptures to trinkets and sculpted anything. They drive Sharon crazy because they are so persistent and bothersome and rude. We stopped at a perfume and essential oils factory, but after having to listen to the man talk and show us the products for half an hour, our group left without buying anything. We went to dinner on the 6th floor of a restaurant, overlooking the Luxor temple across the street, with a row of amazing sphinx. The history here is quite staggering.Read more

  • Day36

    Felucca down the Nile

    November 5 in Egypt ⋅ ☁️ 30 °C

    We had a slower start, and drove to the felucca, a type of sailboat active on the Nile River. We were divided into two groups, and each felucca had two men who worked it, moving the sail back and forth as we tacked down the river. We were accompanied by a motor powered boat that had washrooms, and a long table where we ate our lunch, dinner, and breakfast the next morning. We lay around all day on the foam mats, which was relaxing and made a stop at the beach were we waded in the Nile River! We enjoyed our time with Michelle, Yung and Helen, Sun and Em. The food on the mother boat was really good, but our sleep overnight was not wonderful, although it was better than we expected.Read more

  • Day35

    Abu Simbel

    November 4 in Egypt ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    We were all to receive a wake up call from the hotel front desk at 3:45am, meet for coffee or tea on the second floor, and leave at 4:30am. Unfortunately, we didn’t get our wake up call, until they wondered where we were at 4:35. We rolled out of bed, and checked the time at 4:40, and its a good thing we had all our stuff laid out because we were able to get down to the bus by 4:50. After a 2 1/2+ hour hour drive, we saw drove across the Aswan Dam, and then got to visit the amazing reconstruction of Ramses II, where in the 1960’s and 70’s they cut and transported two amazing structures that were going to be flooded by the dam, so they had to move them. It was easily the most amazing thing we have seen....the actual art and sculptures in sandstone, but also to know that they had been cut up and moved and reconstructed into what we viewed today.Read more

  • Day34

    Aswan

    November 3 in Egypt ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

    We got to our hotel and had a two hour nap and a shower! Then we set out on foot to explore a bit of the city. The hotel was right on the Nile River, with a great view, so we saw how the river wound through the desert, with green on each side, before extending into limitless sand desert. We visited the Coptic Church, which is the second largest Christian Church in Egypt and is massive, holding 3,000 people. We had a brief tour, finding out that men sit on the left, and women on the right. Women cover their heads while in the church as a sign of respect and tradition. It will take another ten years to be fully finished inside, with many stained glass windows being planned and made in Aswan, so it will be stunning when completed. We then tried 6 ATMs before we found one that worked! We met the group at 3pm and went to the Nile River and rode a boat around Elephantine Island, where about 3,000 Nubians live. They are descended from one family, 7 generations ago, and have homes and agriculture on the island and some adults take the boat over to Aswan for work, and the teens for high school. They walked us around the maze of homes and then to a home with an open air deck, where they fed us dinner of: lentil soup, chicken, eggplant dish, zucchini and potato dish, bread, and an olive, Filo and cheese dish. It really was excellent, and great to have a local, traditional meal that was so fresh, healthy and delicious. Tired, we rolled into bed by 8:30pm! Toros evenings photos are going here a day early where there is room...we took a bus and then boat to the Phelae Temple, built in the 4th century BC, it was being flooded by the Nile, so international efforts in the 1970’s moved the temple piece by piece, about 500m. We saw a one hour spectacular light show; it was a bit hard to get photos but I will include a few for the memory of this event.Read more

  • Day33

    First Full Day with Tour Group

    November 2 in Egypt ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    Full, tiring day today! We went to the Giza district of Cairo, where we viewed two pyramids and the Sphinx. There were thousands of people everywhere, it was crazy. We paid extra to take a tunnel and walk inside the second pyramid, but it was not very exciting, and a long low walk down and then up into a ‘room’ with an empty stone casket. The Sphinx was amazing, but somehow not as large as we imagined, although it is huge. There were men with camels who would take you for a camel ride but we didn’t do it today. After swarma for lunch (chicken and peppers in a wrap), we went to the Cairo Museum, the largest in the world. It had so many artifacts from the pyramids, and they were so amazing; we could not take it all in. Cairo is such a huge city, and although some areas have a lot of garbage, other ares have a huge amount of garbage, unimaginable, really. There are millions of unpainted high rise buildings, with an equal number of dishes on the roofs, some of the residences didn’t have windows, so I guess that was their air conditioning. We got to the train station and watched as some trains came and went while we waited. One train which was taking workers from Cairo back to their homes in villages outside Cairo, had hundreds of people, mainly men, pushing and shoving to get on....they pushed and pushed until nearly everyone made it inside; it was quite a sight. We boarded our train at 8pm, and we had a sleeper compartment for two that had seats that converted to a bed, with a bed that folded down from the wall. They served us a chicken dinner which was so-so, but we had our own snacks to supplement it. The train and beds were decent enough, but the noise, movement of the train, stopping and starting all night meant a very poor sleep.Read more