Nile Cruise Day 2, May 7
What a way to travel (one might say the only way to travel) on the Nile! The boat is all wood with 10 cabins on the lower deck, plus a dinning room/salon where we haven’t eaten yet. The deck is big and covered with a woven grass awning and has plenty of chairs, divans, small tables and dominoes and cards. There’s a large table in the middle where 9 of us eat: we three, the Americans and our English-speaking guide Ishmael, and the 2 Austrians and their German-speaking guide. The large, motorized cruise boats make the trip in 2-3 days; we are taking 5.
After finishing my log last night I turned off the light at around 10 and was lulled off to sleep until after 5 am! I dozed some more and went up on deck after 6. We departed around 7 once the decks had been swabbed and the furniture polished and the glass tops cleaned! and breakfast was at 8 (a platter of cheeses, tahine, pita, fruit, yogurt…). Still not enough wind to sail, but we’re promised later!
We passed the ancient capital of Upper Egypt, but all that was visible was mud brick walls. Then on to Edfu, where we docked for a trip to the (best preserved Egyptian) Temple of Horus – built in the Ptolemaic period (ie around 300 BC). One reason for its state of preservation is that it was completely buried in sand until it was rediscovered by a Frenchman in the 1860s. We had horse-drawn carriages waiting for us; I went in the front and had to drive for a period! By chance or otherwise, we got to the temple as the early-morning tours were leaving (there were several of the motor cruise ships docked as well (they take from 60 to a couple of hundred passengers), so we largely had the temple to ourselves, except at the end when a large local party arrived. Because most of the temple columns and ceiling is in place, it is much cooler than the open-air temples of yesterday, and although we were there from noon to 1:30 or so, we weren’t as exhausted as yesterday!
Time for a quick freshen-up and then lunch was served: rice and fried Nile perch and tahine which comes with everything and is much nicer than I remember it being at home! Fresh fruit for desert. Then they finally put up the huge sails – one forward and one aft, big triangular sails. At first we kept the tug as well, but later on we went on our own power, until the winds dropped and the tug rejoined us and the sails went down. But so lovely! We’ve spent the afternoon relaxing, reading, a little dozing, taking photos of the Nile and its people… It’s now 6:10 and the sun has set behind the low sandy hills (the strip of fertile land is quite narrow) and we seem to be coming up on an island we might be stopping the night at…Actually, not an island but the ancient sandstone quarries and temple at Gebel Silsila. Colin and Tim went ashore to get a head start on the rest of us by flashlight; we waiting till the next day. Dinner under the sliver of a new moon was pasta and meat and several salads, with a local pudding to follow (rather like soggy corn flakes but nicer than that!).