Art, architecture, history, travel

We spent our honeymoon in Egypt 1982

Egypt has been in the news a lot lately. That’s where Katie and I went on our honeymoon.

I had wanted to go to Egypt, ever since I had taken a class in ancient art at Vanderbilt. We studied the art of ancient Greece, Mesopotamia and Egypt, Including the Old, Middle and New Kingdoms of Egypt.

We flew  from Cincinnati to New York Kennedy  airport  JFK. Margaret was still living in New York. We were looking for Margaret at the airport everyone sounded like Margaret. We flew on TWA to Egypt. When we told the stewardesses that we were on our honeymoon, they bought us a bottle of champagne. We really appreciated that.

Trans World Airlines Jet

Trans World Airlines Jet

My Greek friend from Regensburg had been to see the pyramids and told me how great they were. If you live in Athens with the Parthenon that’s quite an endorsement.

Athens We didn’t stay long in the airport in Athens, but I did want a cup of coffee. I had some change from other trips I had taken. I asked the man what kind of money they took. He replied, sir we take any kind of money you have! With that KT and  I started a list of funny things people said to us on the trip. Another man came running up to us at the airport shouting, are you strange here?

The plane made a scheduled stop in Athens ATH then on to Cairo CAI. We cleared customs and passport control. Unlike Europe they really look at your documents here. You have to buy a $2 cultural stamp to aid the reconstruction of Abu Simbel even though weren’t going there.  We got in at night. We took a taxi from the airport downtown.

With the help of a tout we found the Hotel Tulip. What a dump! The bathrooms were the worst. I hear it has improved. You still can’t beat the location, though. I think it cost $6 a night. KT held that over my head for years. Right in downtown Cairo at Midan Talaat Harb, not far from Tahrir Square. Tahrir square isn’t a square at all. It’s a traffic circle with a large pedestrian walkway.  Even then they were using a computer for check in at the hotel. Common now but not in 1982. Most places were still using those little cards.

Athough it means third war in Arabic Talaat Harb was a person. He set up the Bank of Egypt in the 1930’s.

Travel in the middle East is not as easy as in Europe. You are marked as a take from the beginning. Kids follow you around asking for bakshish–money.

images

Cairo We began our walking tour of Cairo with Garden City the embassy district. We learned the Arabic word for notebook, daftar they also use the French word or bloc-note. I need one to record my photographs. They have all kinds of interesting shops here, including dentists and prosthetic arms. We saw a really old jar of Tang in a window. The company I worked for at the time made an ingredient for Tang.Even then the banks were protected by machine gun nests.

That night we went to the island on the Nile. It is very hard walking around here because of the traffic. Went to the Nile Hilton for a beer. The food situation is very interesting. We have been eating a lot of falafel and chicken. Even though it is hot here, we have to keep covered up with long pants and long-sleeved shirts because of the sun. It is fun walking around and looking at things, because it is so different from home.  The farther South you go the hotter it gets. Thirty in Cairo, forty in Luxor, even hotter in the Sudan.

We saw the Mamluk treasures including the Mosque of Ibn Tulun and Sultan Hassan madrassa, near the Citidel of Cairo. One thing we missed which I wanted to see was the Coptic or Christian sites of Cairo. We just ran out of time. http://www.touregypt.net/cairo/cairoold.htm

Not far from Tahrir square are the headquarters of the Arab League and the American University of Cairo.  The AUC has a wonderful press to purchase books in English and Arabic.

Even though I studied Arabic at Regensburg, I can’t understand anyone here. Arabic is a digloss and the vernacular is impossible. It’s a completely different language. I studied modern standard Arabic or MSA.

The Egyptian museum was one of the highlights of the trip. Mummy of king Tut. It is full of antiquities. It was not far from our hotel.

Luxor  الأقصر or ancient Thebes is the home of the Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens and many other things such as the tomb of Queen Hatshepsut. The fifth pharaoh of the eighteen dynasty (New Kingdom) of Egypt. Wife of Tutmoses II, often considered one of the most successful pharaohs of Egypt and the first woman of history, even older than Cleopatra. She ruled 27 years in her own right after her husband’s death until usurped bby her son Tutmoses III. She lived 1550 bc. Her tomb was being excavated by the archeology society of Poland at Deir al-Bahri. One of the highlights of the trip for us. We had the whole place to ourselves.KT got her picture taken with the mummy for a dollar.

The Nile is fantastic and fits right in with my love of rivers. Like the Rhine the Nile flows from south to north. Luxor is in Upper Egypt, that is the south. Very important in ancient Egyptian history. The source of the Nile was unknown for centuries. It is one of the world’s largest rivers. Longer than the Mississippi.

Schistosomiasis

There is no set fare for the ferry here. Everyday we paid half what we paid the day before and no one ever complained. We never saw what the Egyptians paid. You cannot drink the water or swim  in the Nile for fear of contracting schistosomiasis. A waterborne disease carried by snails. Treatment is difficult. It is a tropical disease affecting over 120 million people, mostly in Africa and Brazil. It’s nothing to be taken lightly.

You have to cross the Nile by boat to get to the side with the monuments. We rented bicycles to get around.  We rode our bikes by the Colossi of Memnon just like the 150 years old painting in the art museum in Saint Louis  they haven’t changed a bit. Erected 1350 BC they are the first things you see on the way to the Valley of the Kings. We have to be more careful KT is getting sick from the sun.

Medinet Habu and Karnak are one the right bank of the Nile they can be explored in the evening. There is also a nice museum in Luxor. Small but not as cluttered as the National Museum in Cairo.

We saw the famous Winter Palace Hotel. For people who come by boat from Cairo, the boat docks right there. the people get right off and enjoy a cold drink before sightseeing. We should have done that too. We are trying too hard to save money. It is our honeymoon after all.

We are staying at the Hotel Luxor. We learned or lesson in Cairo, we looked at the room first this time. After exploring Luxor for a few days, we headed south. The train made a stop in the interesting town of Kom Ombo. The farthest south  we made it was Aswan.

When we returned to Cairo we stayed at a hotel near the al Azhar University. The second hotel was much better. There was some kind of festival going on. It may have been Eid,  the end of Ramadan.

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  1. Pingback: Who’s been on a train lately? | My Thoughts about art

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