|First Posted Nov 19, 2008|
Jan 2, 2016
Egypt's Pyramids and Jordan's Petra
Picture Galleries: Egypt, Cairo, day and night scenes on the Nile River, Old Cairo (Coptic Quarter, Christian and Jewish Quarters, the Hanging Church, St. Sergius Church, Synagogue of Ben Ezra, the Citadel of Mohammed Ali, the Pyramids of Cheops and Chephren, the Sphinx, the world famous Khan El Khalili bazaars, Amman, Jordan, Jerash, the village of Taybeh, Petra and much more.
"My treasures do not click together or glitter. They gleam in the sun and neigh in the night."
Day 1: Depart USA. Our journey to Egypt and Jordan began this afternoon with American Airlines from Reagan National International Airport (DCA) to JFK. We were delayed for several hours on the runway because President Bush was in NY. All the airspace was shut down, incoming and outgoing, for several hours, because of Air Force One. We luckily made our connecting flight in JFK in the evening. We departed JFK International Airport in New York for our overnight flight to Cairo via Amman, Jordan.
Day 2: Cairo. We arrived in the evening in Cairo, where East and West came together in a wonderful and chaotic mix of old and new. Our representative in Cairo assisted us with visa and customs formalities. Then, we transferred to our hotel in the heart of Cairo and right on the Nile River. Ramses Hilton Hotel Our room was lovely. It overlooked the Nile River. We could see in both directions all the water activity and lights. In the evening there were the brightly lighted dinner cruises going up and down the river. In the morning there were the fisherman casting their nets. We saw the sunrise and the sunset. It was spectacular. I would also like to recommend that you go to the Citadel Grill while you are staying here. We had a wonderful time and were treated like royalty. Mostafa, the maître d' and Yasser, our server, exchanged cultural and political views that were illuminating. They were warm and friendly beyond what their job would require. Lots of tid bits started to show up at our table that were not actually ordered. We really got the taste of Cairo. In my galleries we have some pictures. They presented us with a surprise at the end of our meal. It was a large slab of dark chocolate. Written on it with icing, by the chef, were the words "Our best guests." After dinner Bill and I went down to the smoking bar where we ordered a smoke on the Egyptian water pipe, called a Hookah or shisha with apple tobacco. You have your choice of apple, strawberry or mint. Neither Bill or I smoke, however, we wanted to try this tradition. It was actually very relaxing. Both Mostafa and Yasser came down the stairs from the restaurant and watched us smoke in the smoking room down stairs. They were both laughing and applauding while we smoked the water pipe.
Bill and Debbie smoking the Hookah or Shisha in Cairo
Mostafa and Yasser with an after dinner surprise for Bill and Debbie
Day 3: Cairo. There is plenty to see and do in Cairo including the Coptic Quarter, centerpiece of Old Cairo, the Christian and Jewish Quarters of the Old City, the Hanging Church, the St. Sergius Church, the Synagogue of Ben Ezra, the Citadel of Mohammed Ali, built on the remains of a Crusader style fortress dating from the time of Saladin, and the amazing Egyptian Museum. This museum houses the world's greatest collections of Egyptian artifacts, with more than 136,000 objects from every period of preIslamic Egyptian history as well as the Mummy Museum containing the petrified remains of some of Egypt's greatest Pharaohs. Egyptology
Day 4: Cairo. We took this day to tour the Pyramids of Cheops and Chephren. The Fourth Dynasty These monuments have stood for 46 centuries and are considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World, possibly the most visited monuments of Egypt. The Sphinx, a feline character with the body of a lion and the face of Khufu (Cheops in Greek) is 50 meters long and 22 meters high. Carved from a single stone, it lies just before the Pyramids, and even today its meaning and origin remain shrouded in mystery. We enjoyed lunch at a local restaurant, then continued to Cairo and a visited the world famous Khan El Khalili bazaars. The sights, sounds, spices and exotic clothing and jewelry, hand hammered copper, ceramic ware were everywhere. The textiles were also very beautiful. We did the cultural thing and bargained to win them at astounding prices. Whatever you are quoted as the price cut it in half and start negotiating from there. This evening we took an excursion to a spectacular Sound and Light Show at the Pyramids at Giza. When the music and lights started in a dramatic fashion a number of wild dogs came running out and howled to the full moon, just like wolves. They were not part of the show, but it was really quite something to see and hear. Giza Pyramid Complex
Day 5: This morning we had another buffet breakfast. Remember, you cannot drink the water--not even in the 5 star hotels. You must drink only bottled water. Even when brushing your teeth use bottled water to clean your mouth and your toothbrush! Do not eat fresh vegetables because they are washed in the tap water. The same goes for fresh fruits. If the fruits can be peeled like a banana they are relatively safe to eat. I stick to everything cooked. After breakfast, we transferred to the airport for a short flight to Amman, Jordan. Arrival was early in the afternoon. After customs formalities, we boarded a touring coach and drove via the King's Highway south, to Petra. We arrived at our deluxe hotel, located only 9 km from the archaeological site of Petra, where we enjoyed a spectacular view of the ancient site and surrounding mountains. We also enjoyed some of the amenities of our hotel. Taybet Zaman (Located 10 kilometers from Petra, the village of Taybeh has been converted to a 5 star resort with the support of the local community. The old village was almost deserted as the community had moved away during the 1960s, and in the early 1990s the mayor proposed turning the old village houses into a tourist resort, rebuilt and owned by the local community, keeping alive old crafts skills and bringing employment and money to revitalize the villagers.) The old village houses have been converted into 105 comfortable rooms, each with modern facilities. Tucked away off the old village streets is a swimming pool, Turkish bath and restaurant serving traditional Arabic meals. A small market area sells locally produced pottery and textiles. Since its completion in 1994, Taybet Zaman has won numerous awards, including the 1996 British Airways Tourism for Tomorrow Award and the 1997 Green Global Commendation Award.
Day 6: Petra and Amman. After breakfast we headed for a spectacular day of exploration of the lost city of Petra. We rode on horseback (Arabian horses) and then walked through the Siq; a narrow gorge flanked by huge cliffs. As we reached the end of the Siq, we had breathtaking sight of the Treasury, its elaborately carved façade looming high above. We spent the rest of the morning touring the various tombs and structures in this site and marveled at the artistry and creativity that must have inspired the Nabateans to construct so marvelous and dramatic a city. We continued to drive north to Amman, Jordan's modern capital. Radisson SAS Hotel
Day 7: Amman. Today we spent the day exploring one of the region's most progressive cities, Amman. Our deluxe hotel was conveniently located in the heart of Amman's diplomatic and business districts, just minutes away from the vibrant city center and close to major historical sites including the Citadel and the Roman amphitheatre. We took another tour to Jerash, located 48 kilometers north of Amman and considered one of the largest and most well preserved sites of Roman architecture in the world outside Italy. To this day, its colonnaded streets, baths, theaters, plazas and arches remain in exceptional condition. Within the remaining city walls, archaeologists have found the ruins of settlements dating back to the Neolithic Age, indicating human occupation at this location for more than 6500 years. This evening, we enjoyed dinner and a folklore performance.Jerash: A Brief History
Jerash Map and Sites to See
Hadrian's Arch, Hippodrome, City Walls and South Gate, Oval Plaza, Colonnaded Street, Macellum, South Tetrapylon, South Bridge, Unnayed Houses, Cathedral, Church of Saint Theodore, Nymphaeum, Propylaeum, Temle Esplanade, Propylaeum Church, Ummayyad Mosque, West Baths, North Tetrapylon, North Colonnaded Street, North Gate, North Theatre, Church of Bishop Isaiah, Temple Artemis, Three Churches, Church of St. Genesius, South Theatre, Temple of Zeus, and Museum.
Day 8: Amman and USA. Today we boarded our return flight to the USA. The plane was a direct flight from Amman to JFK. It takes approximately 13 hours. Then American to DCA.
We used Friendly Planet Travel as our tour agent. They do a good job for an extremely affordable price. Also, you do not have to do everything with the tour. Bill and I often do our own thing once we are at our destination. For example, we go to restaurants that we have researched before the trip. Most of the meals with this agency are buffets. We try to stay away from buffets. Also, we like to horse back ride in the countries that we visit. Any divergent itinerary can be setup beforehand or from the hotel. We just advise the guide in advance so that the group is not inconvenienced at all. It works really well. You can also work out with the travel agent longer stays, etc. There is a premium that must be paid, but still is a more affordable way to travel.
Things to buy: Silver jewelry (make sure it has the sterling marks on the silver), brass, textiles, pure perfume oils. (We visited a perfume factory and learned all about how the perfumes are made, etc. They are extremely expensive but will last forever. Also, if you are allergic or sensitive to scents, these oil essences do not have any additives--they are pure. Egypt exports the essences to Paris where many of the designer perfumes are made. We purchased a bottle of rose oil essence(for Kate), and lotus oil essence (for me). The cost was $85.00 per bottle. Remember if you purchase your goods in the bazaars there are no guarantees. At Petra the Bedouins sell government approved silver and stone jewelry. I purchased two bracelets for presents to bring back for my daughter and my dear girlfriend, Eileen.
Suggestion on Female Dress
When in an Islamic country it is really important to be mindful of the way you dress--especially if you are female. Women should cover up and not expose themselves. It is considered distasteful and disrespectful. This is an example of how not to dress. Tight clothing and very short skirts are frowned upon. Always cover up your shoulders especially when going into a mosque. Try to remember that you are a visitor in another country and also a representative of your own.