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Old October 29th, 2006, 05:31 PM
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Here is my last post -

Silversea is particularly special for the care and expertise they put into taking care of their guests. About 200 of us left the ship in a big caravan of buses going from Safaga on the Red sea over the desert to the Nile Valley, a trip of about 3 hours. We had security with us, as loing as an excellent tourist guide. Everyone stayed in the same hotel, and for those of us leaving the cruise early we even had the same guide accompany us to the airport. That is first-class service.

Once we arrived we went straight to Karnak, the home of the Egyptian King Ahmen.

One of the interesting tidbits our guide told us is that this while religion preceded Christ by 1000+ years, and coincided with the earliest beginnings of Jewish tradition (we all know how Moses freed his people from the Pharaoh). During ceremonies in this temple the "priests" would say incantations and the listeners would echo each uttering with the name of their God, Ahmen. Imagine, Ahmen, Ahmen... Amen, as we say today.

Whether you are religious or not, it is undeniable that humanity shares a common history, and there are many commonalities between all the world's religions (especially the Western ones) that tie us all together. This is just one of them.

We arrive at the temple known as Karnak. It was a temple for the Egyptian God they called Ahmen. It was built and added to by many different Pharoahs...

[img]/gallery/galleries/3127/thumb58067.jpg[/img]

Karnak begins with a line a sphinxes lining to road to the Temple gate.

[img]/gallery/galleries/3127/thumb58071.jpg[/img]

You walk past them and enter the first open area which was for the common people. This was surrounded by sphinxes inside as well (all of them were different though,
[img]/gallery/galleries/3127/thumb58078.jpg[/img] these were bulls, but
sometimes they were lions, dogs or human heads). You have to visit the photo gallery to see all the pics:
http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/view.php?id=3127

Inside the first common area we see the only remaining clue as to how the Egyptains built their temples - with mud ramps. They had no pulleys or levers. They built ramps to walk up and add stones, then they decorated the stones and took the mud away a little at a time to decorate the walls.

[img]/gallery/galleries/3127/thumb58077.jpg[/img]
This is the last remnant of a mud wall anywhere in Egypt.

Below, our guide (working on his PhD in Egyptology) shows us an actual statue of Tutankhamen and the hole that held the gold crown and mask that once fit on this statue.
[img]/gallery/galleries/3127/thumb58076.jpg[/img]

As we approach the area for offerings to be made by the priests to Ahmen, we start to see the staues of Pharaohs and the obelisks. Their size is daunting, and to think they have been standing for 3500 years is even more astounding...
[img]/gallery/galleries/3127/thumb58079.jpg[/img]

At the foot of this staue is a "smaller" statue, actually life-size to us, believed to have been this pharaoh's queen.
[img]/gallery/galleries/3127/thumb58080.jpg[/img]

I invite you to go to the photo gallery to see all the pictures:
http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/view.php?id=3127

Later in the day we visited Luxor, which was another temple built at a later time: Here is the gallery for that: http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/view.php?id=3128

[img]/gallery/galleries/3128/thumb58183.jpg[/img]
Luxor, though smaller than Karnak, is just as impressive.
Luxor is remarkable for many reasons, but especially for two - it was visited by Alexander the Great in about 300 BC as a youth, and he predicted he would be a great man someday. He later returned and built a temple within one of the temples where we inscribed his likeness and his name in heiroglyphics.
[img]/gallery/galleries/3128/thumb58123.jpg[/img] Our guide points out where Alexander inscribed his name.

The other thing Luxor is known for is one of the earliest known Christian paintings, and the only one we saw in Egypt.
[img]/gallery/galleries/3128/thumb58121.jpg[/img]. It is believed to be the earliest depiction of the Last Supper ever. It dates to about 400 AD. There was a time after the Romans conquered Egypt when it was all Christian, until the Muslim invasion in about 800 AD. At that time most people converted to Islam, but there are still about 10% population as Christian in Egypt, the rest Muslim, and so few Jewish people that you can count them.

Our guide was Christian, but strangely Catholic as opposed to Orthodox or Coptic which are the two most common Christian religions there.

What is really interesting are the faces of Egyptian people who have Caucasian features, with Arab mixed in, and black curly African hair. They were originally Caucasian back in the old days, they enslaved the Black people of Sudan and were invaded by the Arabs. At one time their empire touched on Asia. So you actually see all these roots in their looks.
[img]/gallery/galleries/3128/58213.jpg[/img]


Thank you for reading this - Silversea was great, and this trip was the trip of a lifetime.
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