Saturday, January 27, 2024

Traveling from Safaga to Luxor Egypt

When I was in elementary school we studied ancient Egypt.  I was fascinated by all things Egyptian. I even had a scarab bracelet and a watch with a scarab band. Later my sweetheart gifted me a scarab necklace and a scarab ring.  In high school my world history teacher took us to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to an exhibit with Egyptian mummies.  I remember visiting this fantastic place that showcased everything from jewels to ancient vessels used in the mummification process.  I remember thinking how wonderful to be viewing things that were three to four thousand years old. I've never lost my interest in ancient Egypt.  Never in my wildest young dreams did I think I would be able to visit the ancient land of Egypt! 

Today I'd like to continue sharing one of our World Voyage destinations.  When the Queen Mary 2 docked in Safaga, Egypt we had the perfect opportunity to take the excursion of my life!  Though it was going to be quite a long day on our journey to Luxor (ancient city of Thebes), we felt honored to have this opportunity to travel with an Egyptologist to the land of the Valley of the Kings.

This is our first visit to Egypt, so please pardon our excitement as we take off on our journey to Luxor.

The scenery out the coach window was desert with mountains and beautiful blue skies.  As we rode along our guide filled our heads with so much information about Egypt.  He called us all by the Arabic enduring term--Habibi.  Clearly this gentleman loved his job!

As we giddily looked out the window, it could have been a landscape from the moon!

 Continuing on we see small villages doting the landscape along with small farms. We see a canal that allows crops to grow along with people to live in small villages.

Egypt's major cash crop is cotton.  Because of the long strong fiber and softness of Egyptian cotton it is popular all over the world.  You may have Egyptian cotton towels in your home.

Islam is the official religion of Egypt.  The government only recognizes three religions--Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.  

Everywhere we looked folks were busy going about their daily tasks.  

The modes of transportation varied greatly.  We saw a lot of mopeds, small trucks, and carts pulled by donkeys.  Men were selling fruits and vegetables alongside the roads.  

Muslim Mosques dot the landscape.  The tall tower (minaret) call the followers to prayer five times a day by a man called a muezzin.  Some mosques use recordings and we heard both.  

Passing Police checkpoints we were cleared for our journey to Luxor.  Though troubling to pass through these areas, it made us realize that the world is not the same as it is at home. These checkpoints occurred every 30km (18.64 miles).  Of course we wanted to be safe and felt that way during this journey.

I could hardly believe we were about to cross the Nile and enter Luxor!  

The Nile river runs north flowing into the Mediterranean Sea at Alexandria.  Most of the population of Egypt, since ancient times, have been around the valley of the Nile. It is considered the longest river in the world, but when we went down the Amazon a few years ago they made that claim as well!  Let's just agree that they are both long flowing rivers.

We are headed into the Valley of the Kings as our first stop.  I can hardly hold my excitement upon visiting a site that was part of the ancient city of Thebes.  It is the burial site of almost all of the pharaohs from 1539-1075 BC.  

Our guide tells us that the structure we see was the home of Howard Carter.  You may remember that he was the British archeologist and Egyptologist that led the team that discovered Tutankhamun's tomb.   

Lord Carnarvon (of Highclere Castle) hired Howard Carter to lead the excavation in the Valley of the Kings.  In November of 1922 Carter and his team discovered the secret chamber of the Boy King known as Tutankhamun.
As most of you know Highclere Castle was used in the filming of Downton Abbey. 

Hopefully I'll be sharing our time at this extraordinary site that will forever be imprinted on our hearts and minds.  I need to post this time in Luxor in several parts as we visited many sites that day.  I hope you will join us as we remember our time in Luxor!




Friday, January 19, 2024

More from Colonial Williamsburg

Today I wanted to share more about our time in Colonial Williamsburg.  Going in the winter can be tricky, but delightful.

 Maybe you would enjoy going ice skating.  Though those days are over for us, many young ones were indulging in the cool weather that supports this outdoor space.

Taking our morning walks along the Duke of Gloucester Street is wonderful no matter the cold temperatures.

All bundled up, we walked here most of the weekdays we were there.  I can only guess the number of times we have walked this street!  We never tire of the scenery. 

The Colonial Capitol housed both houses of the Virginia General Assembly and the House of Burgesses from 1705 when the capitol was moved from Jamestown.  In 1780 the capitol was moved to Richmond.

As you can see the Raleigh Tavern is open for business.  How would you like to stay in a tavern that you would probably be sleeping alongside a stranger?  For men only, in those days you were lucky to have the money to indulge in such accommodations!  Most of the men were of the gentry class that had business at the Capitol. 

 We walked past these little darlings all bundled in their wool coats resting.

As well as these oxen in this pasture. These very large bovines are quite peaceful.  These strong bulls are used for pulling carts and plowing fields in the area.

  As you can see the sky is rather threatening.  The Sycamore trees that have been pollarded are so interesting in the winter!  Pollarding is an ancient technique of pruning a tree to keep it from growing too large.  Folks used to use the pruned wood to heat their homes. 

Colonial Williamsburg is known for the lovely live decorations that adorn the homes at Christmas.  Since we were there the first week of the new year it was too late to see the decorated homes.  Bruton Parish Church still had their wreaths and swags hanging until Epiphany, so I took a few photos there.

There is something so lovely about using fresh and dried materials in wreaths and swags!  If Virginia winters are too warm, these fruits do go bad and need to be replaced.  It's a good thing to share these spoils with our feathered friends.

Thank you for coming along with us to one of our favorite places!  I hope you are staying warm and cozy, my friends.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024


 Reflections of the past month all seemed to come in a blur.  Christmas was lovely with both of our children and our three grandchildren spending the holidays with us.  It all seemed to pass so quickly--good times seem to do that!  Blogging about our family times eluded me, though we have many happy memories together.  

Do you find the holidays to be exhausting?  I must admit that I do.  As I have been aging (and very thankful to have that privilege) I have less energy to do "it all." 

Our gift to each other this year was to spend the first week of the new year in Colonial Williamsburg.  What?, say you, you were just there in October.  No matter, we love it there.  It is a short distance to travel and we have timeshare points to use.  So off we went to one of our favorite places after all the family returned home.

Powhatan Plantation has lovely grounds and is in close proximity to Colonial Williamsburg by car.  If you look closely you can see Canadian Geese on the front lawn.  During our walks around the property we found them eating their breakfast.  Being mostly herbivores there are still grasses for them to enjoy.  They also enjoy eating insects and we suspect they are finding these choices here.  

We suspect these geese are trolling for some type of aquatic food such as small fish.

Having been around aggressive geese in the past, we gave them a wide berth.  I'm sure that their past aggression was in defense of their nearby nest!  This is not nesting time.  Though it was a little chilly it was a lovely day to enjoy our surroundings.

  As you can see there are several lakes around the property.

The morning was so lovely with the warming sun and the reflections it provided.  

It's lovely to see the silhouettes of the Crepe Myrtles without their leaves.  Though the leaves have left the Crepe Myrtles, they still look nice to me.  I love seeing the structure of them, particularly when they have been pruned properly.

Grayden has been feeling so much better in the new year.  We are so thankful!  There are still mysteries to be solved, but we are both hopeful.

"Reflect upon your present blessings-of which every man has many-not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some."   Charles Dickens 

Thank you for stopping by, my friends!