A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: kmmk17

Luxor at Last

Egypt - Luxor

sunny 28 °C
View Egypt on kmmk17's travel map.


Having spent the morning at Kom Ombo, we continued our drive north, making a brief supermarket stop in the very dusty Edfu, before making our way to the final major stop - Luxor. It took several hours, but by early afternoon we had arrived.

The hotel was located in the centre of town, and fortunately the room Erik and I had been given was front facing - meaning we had beautiful views over the Nile, the Luxor Temple, and the Avenue of the Sphinxes.

View over Central Luxor

View over Central Luxor

We had a few hours to chill before we headed out to the first major site we'd visit in Luxor - the Karnak Temple.

Karnak

Karnak

Karnak is a vast open air temple complex - the largest religious building ever made. It contains multiple entrances and inner temples, as well as a huge Hypostyle Hall of 134 columns.

Hypostyle Hall

Hypostyle Hall

We had a look round, saw many more hieroglyphics, some obelisks, a pond, as well as a scarab statue! Good luck is supposedly upon anyone who does 7 loops of the beetle, so I thought I'd try my luck!

The Scarab Statue

The Scarab Statue

Considering the size of the place, we didn't have that long, as by now the complex was getting ready to close for the night. Just as sunset came over Luxor we headed back to the hotel and for the first time all week had the evening to ourselves.

I joined several of my travelling companions as we were given a quick orientation by our group leader, Saad. We stopped for some falafel, before Erik and I took a short walk past the Luxor Temple to the Winter Palace

Winter Palace

Winter Palace

This hotel was built in 1905 and was the place that most foreign visitors (including the Egyptologists of the time) stayed during the early 20th century. We took a quick look inside this famous luxury hotel, before we continued back towards the centre of town.

Inside the Winter Palace

Inside the Winter Palace

After grabbing food, we walked around the outside of the Luxor Temple, and then made our way back to the hotel.

Luxor Temple

Luxor Temple

That evening I got a knock on the door. When I answered it, it was Claire, our travelling companion from Ireland. I asked if she was ok, and she said not really, and showed me her ankle where she had been bitten a few day ago - the whole thing had swollen up and did not look good at all! She was after Erik, who had just popped into the shower, and once he was done we went over to her room and he gave her some meds.

She was leaving earlier than everyone else, and therefore only had another 36 hours before heading home - hoping to be able to plod through until then. Turns out she'd gone and got cellulitis!

The next morning was another early one, as we wanted to beat the crowds and the heat. After getting up, I went to take my tablet, where for some reason I gagged... then what followed was a 15 minute episode of first feeling, and then actually being sick - it well and truly put me off my breakfast that I didn't even have time for.

We then got on the coach and made our way to the Valley of the Kings. These tombs are the locations of some of the later Egyptian Pharaohs (relative to the ones at the Giza Pyramids anyway), and dating back 3,000 years. The tombs are located in the valley immediately behind the Nile on the Western Bank, and contain almost a hundred tombs, literally carved into the hills.

Valley of the Kings

Valley of the Kings

We got given a ticket which enabled us to visit three of the open tombs. In addition, we were also able to buy tickets for any of the three tombs that aren't included within the main entrance fee. Having done a bit of research online before, I decided to visit two of them (the third being particularly expensive, at an additional £33!).

Saad recommended which of the free ones to visit, in order to give us an overview of the different variety between them. The first was that of Merenptah, which was one of the longest tombs here, but was somewhat plain.

Tomb of Merenptah

Tomb of Merenptah

Whilst the next was the double tomb of Tausert and Setnakht. This was also large as it featured two halls and more interesting artwork.

Tombs of Tausert and Setnakht

Tombs of Tausert and Setnakht

The tombs were actually quite slippy to walk around. With the corridors being at downward angles, there were wooden planks to walk on with grippers to help prevent slips. But only if you walked carefully!

As she was trying to leave, the sister of the Canadian who lost her bumbag in the Nile missed the step and fell flat on her face. No major injuries but with the tombs being so echoey, of course everyone came running to check she was ok. The Canadians needed watching on this trip!

The final free tomb we visited one was that of Rameses III, which was very pretty with more of the paintwork intact, but was only open halfway.

Tomb of Rameses III

Tomb of Rameses III

I then took a look inside the Tomb of Rameses VI (which had originally been planned to be used by his nephew Rameses V, before he took it over). This was very grand, with beautiful hieroglyphic decorations.

Tomb of Rameses VI

Tomb of Rameses VI

The final tomb I visited was that of Tutankhamun. This was located below that of Rameses VI, and is noticeably different.

Tomb of Tutankhamun

Tomb of Tutankhamun

Access was via a small but steep shaft, as opposed to the others' gentle sloping long corridors, and the tomb was much smaller. This is the only tomb here that still contains the mummy - with Tut being fully on show, despite the rest of the belongings having been moved to Cairo, as I had seen earlier in the week.

Mummy of Tutankhamun

Mummy of Tutankhamun

Photos are not permitted in this tomb, but the guards are more than happy to ignore this for some money, and I fell into the trap of having a photoshoot here...

Inside Tutankhamun's Tomb

Inside Tutankhamun's Tomb

After having spent a little while at the Valley of the Kings, we then headed to the other side of the hill, to the Temple of Hatshepsut - the mortuary temple of one of Egypt's few female Pharaohs.

Temple of Hatshepsut

Temple of Hatshepsut

It is a huge complex, and unlike any other temples we'd seen so far... a far more modern type design with huge terraces, despite being around 3,500 years old.

After this we then paid a visit to a local alabaster factory, and it was here that I was once asked the same old question I get asked every time I go travelling:
Them - "Where are you from?"
Me - "England"
Them - "Which [football] team? Manchester?"
Me - "I don't like football"
Them - "What?!?"
🙄

Having seen some very odd ornaments, we then made our way around the corner to the Colossi of Memnon. The site contains two large statues of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III, that guarded his mortuary temple.

Colossi of Memnon

Colossi of Memnon

The temple was built in 1350BC, but was destroyed around 150 years later by an earthquake. Then in around 27BC, another earthquake destroyed the statues, after which they were rebuilt (pretty badly) by the Romans.

After a long busy morning, it was now time for lunch. We visited a local family who live close to the Nile, and after eating we then took a brief tour of the house, including seeing the traditional stove that the food had been cooked on.

Traditional Stove

Traditional Stove

We were now done with the western bank, and instead of heading back on the coach, to take the long trip to cross the bridge on the southern outskirts of the city - we instead took a boat across the Nile to right outside the Luxor Temple.

Boat

Boat

By now I'd seen enough temples and hieroglyphics, so whilst we had a few hours to ourselves I had a rest and used the WiFi

We then went for a last group meal together at a restaurant around the corner from the hotel. Here we had reserved a large table on the rooftop balcony, overlooking the centre of the city.

The final day had a horrifically early start, as we were booked on the day's first flight back to Cairo. After waking up at 3am, we headed to the airport half an hour later for our flight departing at 5:30am!

Via the Avenue of the Sphinxes

Via the Avenue of the Sphinxes

Ridiculous security checks endured - including three bag searches, where we had to physically write down our passport document numbers in a book... Eventually we boarded the small plane and flew over the Sahara and parts of Cairo before landing before 7am.

Cairo Citadel

Cairo Citadel

We had been advised not to book our onward flights before 2pm, as the flight back to Cairo is prone to delays. My flight wasn't now until 6pm - but there was in fact an earlier flight heading back to London in jut two hours time!

I tried my luck, and went to see if I could have my flight brought forward. Things looked good - until they told me I'd have to pay £400 for the privilege. No thanks - I'll stick out the 10 hours...

There was a final, additional excursion taking place for the group today - a visit to Saqqara and Memphis. However as I wasn't sure how I'd get back to the Airport, and wasn't that bothered about seeing more Egyptian ruins, I decided to stick it out at the airport instead.

Most of the group were headed off to continue their trip in Jordan, and so had all been booked on the same flight which was leaving at lunchtime. However annoyingly it was departing from the other terminal, so I wouldn't be able to sit with them!

But Erik was more than happy to give me company for a few hours, so we sat in the Arrivals Hall chatting the time away, before eventually saying goodbye. I then moved around the Arrivals Hall to try and waste more time, before eventually it was just a few hours to go.

Sadly, after all the waiting, the departure lounge was pretty poor - having only a few shops and little to buy with my remaining Egyptian Pounds, and no Currency Exchange.

I eventually bought some overpriced sweets and chocolates and then continued waiting for the flight, when I realised the details had gone missing from the board!

Eventually it came back on and confirmed I was in the right place. Not long later it was finally time to board. At the gate there was a final document and security check. Everyone seemed to take ages, being asked many questions about why they were travelling to London. Then it got to me - I showed them my British Passport and went straight through! Western Privilege....

The return plane was certainly nicer than the outgoing one, but after such a long day, I spent half of it napping. Before long we were coming in to land and after a relatively quick journey through immigration and baggage collection, I was on my final leg home. It was good to be back, but I wasn't enjoying the cold at Heathrow!

Egypt was a great trip. It had been 32 months later than planned, but finally I had got to see the Pyramids!

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 20:47 Archived in Egypt Tagged boat temple hotel airport river egypt tomb ancient mummy Comments (0)

Drama on the Nile

Egypt - Aswan

sunny 29 °C
View Egypt on kmmk17's travel map.


The train ride wasn't too bad... we got a lie in and didn't get woken up by the Adhan at 4:30am. But the toilets were grim and breakfast was a three course selection of different types of stale bread. We had a bit of chance to enjoy the Nile Valley, as most of the population (and therefore all the transportation routes) are along the banks of the great river. By mid-morning we had arrived in the southern city of Aswan.

Welcome to Aswan

Welcome to Aswan

We started by taking a visit to Philae, a temple dedicated to Isis (the goddess, not the group...). The temple sits on the island of Agilkia, in the Aswan Reservoir - the area between the Low and High Dams.

Temple of Philae

Temple of Philae

Until the construction of the dams, it sat on the island of Philae (hence the name) which was then submerged and required it's relocation to the neighbouring island. However it is near enough the same as it was - same position, almost the same orientation, and still requiring a boat to get to it.

Boarding the boat

Boarding the boat

We arrived at the marina, which as surrounded by locals selling tat, as well as millions of flies. Trying to avoid both, we eventually made it onto a boat, where we were joined by some local salesmen before we finally reached the island.

Philae

Philae

The temple was a standard Egyptian complex, with colonnades leading to a gateway portal and inner sanctuaries. Was it the best temple in Egypt? No. But it's setting on an island did make it very interesting, plus it had some pretty cats to look at...

Cat at the temple

Cat at the temple

We headed back into Aswan, arriving at the hotel - the same one I had originally booked to stay in in March 2020. We checked into the room and had a few hours to ourselves. Some of the group decided to take a walk around the area, grab some food and visit the souq. I had Pringles and decided to have a rest instead. I've overdone it on previous trips and having had a rubbish breakfast... (If I never see stale bread again, it'll be too soon)... I was best off resting.

It was also the first time since the brief few minutes in Cairo that I'd had chance to connect to the WiFi and the outside world - so the time went by pretty quickly. Before I knew it, it was time to regroup, and after meeting in the lobby, we headed across the road to board a small boat.

At this point of the river there are many islands. The largest of which, Elephantine, contains luxury hotels to the north and a Nubian village to the south. The Nubians were the original inhabitants of this part of Egypt, and are of more African complexion as opposed to the majority of the Arab Egyptians from the north. For the first time it felt like we were actually in Africa. Northern and cosmopolitan Egypt is very much part of the Middle East.

Boat Tour

Boat Tour

We circled the island, including views of the Old Cataract Hotel (where Agatha Christie wrote Death on the Nile), before taking a walk around the village.

Old Cataract Hotel

Old Cataract Hotel

After the tour we then visited a local family's home for dinner. Once again it was local food - grilled chicken, rice, tagine, stale bread. Fine, but nothing special. Thankfully it was still relatively early, as the next day we had a very early start.

Sunset from the Nubian Village

Sunset from the Nubian Village

At 3:45am the alarm went off... I took my travel pillow and blanket with me and prepared to board the coach that would take us south to Abu Simbel. I was ready to knock any grannies over if necessary in order to claim that back row all to myself. But thankfully I boarded first so didn't need to... I settled in to grab a few more hours sleep, as it was a four hour drive to Abu Simbel. To ensure our safety, this was via a police escort which had enforced this disgustingly early start.

After a few hours of sleep I awoke to find sunrise as we drove the last hour or so through the Sahara Desert.

Waking up through the desert

Waking up through the desert

Abu Simbel, like the temple at Philae was moved due to the construction of the dams at Aswan. Previously located within the cliffs on the banks of the Nile, it has now been moved to relatively flat land above Lake Nasser (the lake that was formed by the Aswan High Dam). Consequently artificial domes have been created to house the relocated Temples, which look ridiculous and so out of place!

Back of the Temples

Back of the Temples

But the temples themselves are very impressive. As we had a fast driver, we were one of the first groups down to the Temples.

Abu Simbel

Abu Simbel

This allowed our group to take what was essentially a photoshoot outside. Just half an hour later and the place was completely crowded!

Not long later...

Not long later...

There are two temples. One for Ramses II, and one for his wife Nefertari (not to be confused with Nefertiti).

Nefertari's Temple

Nefertari's Temple

We looked around the temples, impressive, with lots of side rooms, but quite small, considering the scale at their entrances

Inside the Temples

Inside the Temples

After spending several hours here we then headed back through the desert towards Aswan. We were so far south that we were on the other side of the Tropic of Cancer, where even before midday, it was hot enough to form a mirage. An incredible sight.

Mirage

Mirage

After having had some lunch out of a snack box, we arrived back in Aswan. We crossed the Low Dam, just managing to get some sights of the High Dam, before we stopped at an Essences store.

Aswan High Dam

Aswan High Dam

The store showed us examples of natural oils that can be used as an alternative to medicines. I didn't buy anything but came out smelling lovely... That evening we went for dinner at a restaurant beside the Nile, before taking a night time walk through the souq.

View from the hotel

View from the hotel

The next morning, thankfully later than yesterday, we had breakfast at the hotel before heading back down to the river. We were now leaving Aswan, but slowly... We would sail down the Nile on traditional Feluccas - wind powered boats.

On the Felucca

On the Felucca

The boats had mattresses upon which we would sit. And with our luggage aboard, we sailed off. The group had been split into two, which allowed us views of the other boat at close proximity. We didn't travel very fast, as the wind was not overly strong, and was coming from the north! Therefore we spent much of the time travelling across the river from side to side.

Felucca

Felucca

As the boat had no toilets or other facilities, we would make regular stops with the support boat in tow. Having sailed for a few hours already, we stopped along the western bank of the river just outside the city for lunch before restarting our journey north.

Getting to know our travelling companions, the sunshine and views meant despite being stuck on a boat all day, time went by quickly. It was also a well needed opportunity to have some relaxing on what was so far a very busy trip.

After a few hours we stopped again. And this is where the first disaster took place. The support boat pulled up beside us and everything was roped together. Then we were able to get off and have a walk around or use the facilities. One of the older ladies from Canada popped to the toilet, then when she came back attempted to walk on the boards heading to the river bank. As she did this the boat moved slightly, she grabbed the pole holding the boat in place, which dislodged and then she fell into the river. Queue panic with all the staff...

She was fine, but shaken up, as she had been fully submerged into the river. She stayed behind with her sister and our tour leader on the support boat to clean herself up, get changed and recover from the experience. A little later, the support boat caught up with us, and the three of them re-joined us.

It wasn't much later before sunset. And as the boats did not have lights we needed to stop sailing for the evening. We pulled up at another riverbank on the western bank, and began to get sorted for the evening. We re-joined our other travel companions and chatted over dinner.

Evening on the boat

Evening on the boat

Many hours of great conversation went by, discussing our experiences and before we knew it, it was already pretty late, with a busy day tomorrow.

The boats had a blanket wrapped around them to give us some privacy, but it made it pretty difficult to find our way around! I managed to grab my bits, sort out the blankets and settle in for the night. It was a bit cold, but pretty peaceful, and I got a better night's sleep than I expected.

The transformation into beds

The transformation into beds

We awoke to a pretty chilly morning, and this is when the second disaster on the Nile occurred. One of the younger Canadians had been sorting through her stuff ready for the day when she suddenly heard a plop... she looked over and realised that her bum bag containing her passport, money and phone had dropped over the edge of the boat and into the river, sailing submerged under the water downstream.

Cue panic, for the second time in 15 hours... The felucca began untying itself to sail down the river and see if it could locate the bag, before the support boat joined. But sadly, to no avail. The bag and it's contents were lost forever...

Early morning hunt

Early morning hunt

After returning to the one remaining static boat, everyone moved their belongings onto the support boat where we enjoyed breakfast. The sun was starting to rise and I was finally feeling some warmth for the first time in hours!

We then made our way across the river where we were picked up by a coach and began heading north to Kom Ombo, where there is a double temple - dedicated to two Gods, Sobek and Haroeris. The former of which being the Crocodile God.

Temple at Kom Ombo

Temple at Kom Ombo

We took a look around the temple in the morning sun, before heading next door to the museum full of mummified Crocodiles, in Sobek's honour.

Mummified Crocodiles

Mummified Crocodiles

After a short time at this odd museum, we made our way back past the tat sellers and onto the coach, to continue to the final major stop on this Egyptian Adventure - Luxor!

Posted by kmmk17 18:44 Archived in Egypt Tagged desert boat temple train river egypt museum island ancient mummy Comments (0)

Chaotic Cairo

Egypt - Cairo

sunny 25 °C
View Egypt on kmmk17's travel map.

For a long time I had wanted to visit Egypt. A land full of ancient wonders. However this part of the world has been through a lot since the Arab Spring, and it took until 2019 before I finally felt it was stable enough for a trip.

We would visit Cairo, Luxor and Aswan for a week in mid-March of 2020 - just in time to enjoy some summer sunshine before the summer would arrive at home. We had everything booked, and our suitcases packed.

But as the global pandemic was coming ever closer, lockdowns inevitable, and the thought of being stuck in Egypt unappealing, two days before our flights we cancelled. In hindsight it was right - what would have been 5 days into our week long trip, Egypt itself went into a partial lockdown, closing all the airports. And just two days after we intended to fly back home, the UK went into a full lockdown itself. We had managed to reopen our flight tickets, which could be used later in the year. No problems - we'll just postpone it all until October.

Two long years passed and in 2022, with the pandemic finally easing, maybe Egypt was back on the cards?
However I was now going to be going alone. And after three years of non-exotic travel, I decided to join a tour instead of attempting a visit alone. G Adventures (who I'd gone to Antarctica with a few years back) had a tour that covered near enough everything I'd wanted to do anyway, and so I booked one of the last slots on the tour running during the week I'd already booked off.

A few weeks later (and coincidently the 100th anniversary since Tutankhamun's tomb was opened, beginning the modern age of Egyptology), I was at Heathrow. There were flights with both British Airways and Egyptair available. Both similarly priced, but as BA classed the 5 hour flight to Cairo as short haul - hence no entertainment or food, I went with Egyptair.

Time to go!

Time to go!

Annoyingly, the flight was delayed by over an hour, so it meant getting to Cairo super late. The plane was pretty old and grim, meals were average and the entertainment was poor. There was also three separate sets of turbulence en route - one of the worst flights I'd ever had!

Eventually I arrived in Cairo, and after getting off the plane I walked towards immigration, where I was met by a representative from G Adventures, who was picking me up and taking me to the hotel. "Your flight was so late" she says - as if I didn't know. She was now behind as had another pickup, and so whizzed me through the airport. Immigration was instead done in a side room that I didn't even enter. Not that the jumping the queue made much difference - I now needed to collect my baggage, and this took ages. However she was so paranoid about the time that I didn't get chance to get to the cash point, instead watching the luggage belt like a hawk.

Whilst waiting, she had a call from the group leader, Saad. As I had missed the welcome meeting, he was updating me with the essentials. I'd be sharing with Erik, breakfast was at 6:30 tomorrow morning, and we would leave at 7:30.

Eventually my bag arrived. We then whizzed again through the airport. She chatted to the staff and I bypassed all the security checks. We then eventually headed out of the airport and into a taxi to head to the hotel. "Pharaohs [Hotel]?" she asked - I dunno, you tell me...?

I was then driven through the streets of Cairo. It wasn't quite India, but the lane markings were clearly guidance only. After an hour of chaotic road travel, I finally arrived at the hotel. Jumping out of the minibus, I whacked my knee on the door, making it super achy - but I didn't have time to worry about it. Reception gave me an overview of the basics - basically everything Saad had already told me, plus the WiFi codes. The porter then took my suitcase to the room, knocked on the door and then showed me in - despite Erik now being half asleep - bit awks...

After finally getting the porter to leave, I introduced myself to Erik, and we got to know each other a bit whilst I quickly tried to sort myself out ready for tomorrow's early start. It was now almost midnight and there was very little sleep achieved. The pillow was incredibly firm, and then the dawn prayer woke us up at 4:45.

Managing a few hours of sleep scattered through the night, as dawn broke I realised we had a balcony overlooking the Nile - not that we got to use it. I gathered my bits ready for the first day in the city, before we headed up to breakfast. I started to meet my travel companions - a lot of Canadians, a few Brits, and a scattering of others (Irish, Spanish and Swedish).

View of the Nile

View of the Nile

Breakfast was bland - lots of bread, an omelette, boiled eggs, (frozen) butter and some juice. I had a bit and then headed down to reception to meet Saad properly. The Irish lady, Claire, was also down there as she had arrived on the slightly later BA flight last night (which had also been delayed).

It was now time to leave and start exploring the city. We began by heading to the iconic symbol of Egypt - the Pyramids. It was still early, but even now it was still warm enough for shorts! A welcome treat.

The complex was already very busy even early in the day. For anyone who isn't aware - the Pyramids are on the very edge of the city, and surrounded on all sides by developments or roads - but thankfully enough distance not to be fully consumed by it.

The Great Pyramid

The Great Pyramid

After some security checks, we entered the complex right outside the largest one - the Pyramid of Khofu. After a brief overview from Saad, we were then free to wander around and explore. I decided against heading inside the Pyramid, as I didn't want to overdo it too quickly, and knowing it would be a long sweaty experience. I did nevertheless walk on the Pyramid, which is made of huge limestone blocks piled to 140m tall.

On the Pyramids

On the Pyramids

I then went for a wander right around - there is an entire complex including mini pyramids for the Queens, tombs and buried artifacts.

We then headed back to our coach, to drive over the the other side of the complex for views over the area. From here there were beautiful views of the scale of the Pyramids, and somewhat benefitting from the haze over the city obscuring it from view.

Pyramids

Pyramids

The second (middle) pyramid appears bigger, but only because it is built on a mound slightly above the others. It does however still have a cap of the original casing stones.

After a while around here, and getting to know some of the travel companions a bit better, we headed over to the other side of the complex to visit the Sphinx.

Giza Pyramids and Sphinx

Giza Pyramids and Sphinx

The Sphinx sits as a guard to the complex from the city side entrance, and was unsurprisingly surrounded by tourists trying to grab a view. We walked through the Temple, seeing how huge the slabs used in the construction were, before getting close to the statue itself.

Huge blocks in the Temple

Huge blocks in the Temple

After eating some local food at a restaurant opposite the entrance, I finally managed to get some money out of the adjacent cashpoint. We then headed back into the centre of the city, to the Egyptian Museum in Tahir Square.

Egyptian Museum

Egyptian Museum

Thankfully, despite being "99% ready" since the Spring, the new Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza has not yet opened, and thus many of the famous artifacts have not yet been moved out of the Egyptian Museum - including the mask of Tutankhamun, allowing us to view them.

Tutankhamun's Treasures

Tutankhamun's Treasures

We were guided around the museum viewing many of the different sights, before being left to wander around ourselves. I took a look at the collection of Tutankhamun's treasures (the only thing left in his tomb in Luxor is his body and coffin), as well as the various statues and mummified pets.

Mummied Cats

Mummied Cats

After a good look around, I headed out to the gift shop at the exit, bought a souvenir, and then met the rest of the group in the café outside. It was then time to head back to our hotel to collect our baggage, before finally making it to a supermarket.

Hurray! finally I could stop rationing the water I had brought with me from London... It also gave me an opportunity to buy some snacks in case the next breakfasts were also bad. Along with some drinks, it equated to just £104EGP, (around £3.50) and helped break down my large notes. We then headed to the station. It was still a few hours before our train so we all sat at a café and got to know each other.

Eventually the train arrived and we boarded our cabins. The train was the best Egypt has - it wasn't too bad, but far from high quality. Erik and I were given dinner and then went for a bit of wander.

Our Cabin

Our Cabin

We joined our companions in the bar carriage before heading back and trying to get some sleep before we would arrive in Aswan the following morning.

Bar Carriage

Bar Carriage

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 18:46 Archived in Egypt Tagged food airport train city egypt pyramids pollution mummy covid Comments (0)

The Covid Party

Sherwood Forest

all seasons in one day 16 °C
View Sherwood on kmmk17's travel map.

After last year's trip to The Fens, we repeated a trip to a log cabin, only this time going to Sherwood Forest - home of Robin Hood.

With Covid cases rising, and my sister working in a hospital, we took some Lateral Flow Tests before we left. All were negative so after work we began our journey for a weekend away.

We unfortunately had to leave a little bit later than we'd have liked, and also needed to travel via Milton Keynes to pick up my sister and her boyfriend. It was also a horrific day - with much of the journey up the M1 being through torrential rain.

After stopping en route for dinner, we eventually arrived at the forest just before 9pm. There was a barrier at the entrance and we were provided with the code in advance. When we arrived though, there was a car in front who had no idea what the code was. We then had to endure the arduous process of one of the passengers getting out of the car, phoning up to find out the code and then driving so slowly to the reception...

Then at reception they hadn't prefilled in any of the details and didn't know the car's registration number. Thankfully by this stage we were able to be served by someone else, get the keys and head to our cabin.

But then, we needed to head straight back out again to go and grab some food for our weekend trip. By the time we arrived back at the cabin and got to get in the hot tub for the first time it was gone 10 - thought at least it had stopped raining!

We had a catch up and enjoyed some drinks before heading back in to play some games. However after a really long day we were all pretty tired, and so headed to bed.

None of us got a great sleep that night, but nevertheless felt a bit fresher in the morning and after having some breakfast we headed out to explore Sherwood Forest itself.

We headed out in the car just 10 minutes before reaching the village of Edwinstowe. After parking up, it was only a short walk to the visitor centre for Sherwood Forest.

After walking through the visitor centre, we began following the paths to the Major Oak, supposedly the shelter where Robin Hood and his Merry Men would stay. This Oak Tree is around 800-1000 years old and is only still surviving due to the huge supports in place for it's overloaded canopy.

The Major Oak

The Major Oak

After a nice, but short walk, we headed back to the cabin for some time in the hot tub, before playing some games. Myself and my sister were both feeling pretty tired after the busy times and lack of sleep, so had a nap before coming back to play some more games and the have some dinner.

A quiz had been advertised at 6, so we headed over in good time, only to find there was no one there, so headed back to play some games by ourselves!

We then headed back into the hot tub for a bit, before playing some final games. However by now we were all feeling petty tired, and so headed for a relatively early night.

The next day was our last, but we didn't need to leave until late. We all awoke to find we had various degrees of colds - hardly surprising as the country was full of it. Nevertheless we had breakfast, and then went for a little walk around the forest area of Sherwood Pines.

Sherwood Pines

Sherwood Pines

After getting back we got in the hot tub for the final time, before playing a few games. It was only early afternoon but feeling tired, and with a long drive we decided to start heading off now.

Hot Tub Time

Hot Tub Time

Stopping for some food on the way, we eventually arrived home, unpacked our stuff and then took an early night - it had been a busy few days

Or so we thought... at around 10pm, I awoke to find my sister ringing me... she had just done a lateral flow and found it was positive. She had Covid, and it was so strong she must have had it all weekend - explains the colds. We decided to take some tests ourselves, and instantly Chris's came back screaming positive... uh oh... mine was weak but also positive. We'd had a Covid Party...

Turns out Chris must coincidently, like my sister, have brought it with him, and so we'd spent the entire weekend spreading it around. We'd managed to dodge it since the start of the pandemic, but finally it had got us, and it meant the rest of the week was a write off. But don't worry - I did live to tell the tale!

Posted by kmmk17 17:13 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged trees rain lodge forest sickness Comments (0)

The Road to Rhodes

Rhodes

sunny 29 °C
View Rhodes on kmmk17's travel map.

When it came to our summer holiday this year we were pretty open minded - all we wanted was somewhere warm, a nice hotel with good food, and not in Spain.

Nothing against Spain - they do what they do really well, but after going to Gran Canaria last year, and having been to Spain 11 times before, I really wanted to go somewhere new this year.

We looked around for a while and started to settle in on Greece. I had been to Athens 10 years ago, but that was all. Visiting one of the islands would be a different experience, and we started to settle in on Crete. Nevertheless, we didn't want to book anything too far in advance - all the Covid related cancellations and reschedulings had scarred us, so we waited until relatively close to the time.

Then just as we were ready to book at the hotel I had found, I had a thought - is Crete the island we wanted to visit? I started to think about Rhodes, and realised it had more to see. Last minute change of plan!

We looked at the flights and they were all pretty awful timings. Looked at hotels and last minute bookings meant a small choice that met our wants. In the end it worked out better to go on a package with Tui than to book everything independently. Going All-Inclusive with Tui was no more expensive than our usual Half Board independent trip, so we decided to make our lives easier and do that. Let's treat ourselves - after all, we had scrapped a holiday in August anyway!

The hotel we found looked pretty good - but there were some sketchy reviews - ants, dodgy WiFi, smelly nearby sewage works. But the reviews for other good places we'd stayed before had sketchy reviews, and did some of this matter anyway? We took a punt and decided just to go with it!

The Kresten Royal

The Kresten Royal

Several weeks later, it was almost time to head off. Then two days before we were due to leave, the Queen died. How annoying - all the drama, special TV programmes and general excitement of this generational event was taking place whilst we were heading out of the country. We had talked about going down to London - maybe to see the lying in state. Then there was the funeral - when would this take place and would be able to see it?

As our flight wasn't leaving until mid afternoon, we got to see the official proclamation of the new monarch on TV that morning. We had heard rumours that the funeral would take place on the Monday after we returned, which would give us time to head down to London the day before (the day after we got back) but this wasn't yet confirmed

Mourning

Mourning

It was soon time to head off. Once arriving at the airport there was no mistaking the country was in mourning. There were images of the Queen everywhere, as well as a Book of Condolence, which we had signed as we didn't have time to visit one at home.

Book of Condolence

Book of Condolence

By the time we would arrive in Greece, we would miss dinner so we grabbed food from the recently opened Burger King in the departure lounge, before boarding our plane.

It was a four hour flight, so we'd got some newspapers, puzzle books and music to keep us entertained. Some beautiful views en route over the Alps and Italy and then just after sunset we arrived at Rhodes Airport.

The Matterhorn

The Matterhorn

Frustratingly most of the UK flights were arriving at the same times, and so there was a lot of hanging about. Baggage reclaim took around an hour, and then we waited ages for our transfer coach to leave. It then decided to reverse the drop off route and so we were one of the last to get dropped off. By the time we arrived at the hotel it was just after midnight - even accounting for the loss of two hours, this still meant 10 hours end to end. Being late there was just one poor man on he reception dealing with all the new arrivals. Eventually we managed to get our key and head to the room.

The bar was still open for another half hour, so we decided to go and get a drink so we could at least do something on our first day!

The following morning we headed down to breakfast, had our fill and then headed to the nearby supermarket to get some supplies. We sussed out the local buses and headed back to the hotel. It was then finally time to start enjoying ourselves! We made our way to the top pool - just next to the hotel where there was a bar. Found ourselves some sun loungers and grabbed some drinks. All-inclusive meant free, so we started working our way through the cocktail list.

By the Pool

By the Pool

After having dinner we headed down to the bar and then sat and enjoyed some evening entertainment.

The following day we decided to head down to the lower pool, which we realised we didn't enjoy as much, despite being closer to the restaurant with the Souvlaki. We briefly went to the beach, where the pebbles hurt our feet, before heading back up to the top pool.

After two days in the hotel, on the Tuesday we had a day out - heading south to visit the ruins at Lindos. After breakfast, we headed to the bus stop and got on a direct bus to Lindos. It took around 90 minutes and picked up more and more people until there was no room left, but eventually we arrived at the very busy tourist town.

The buses stop on the outskirts of the town, and everyone then walks down the hill, passing numerous stray cats, towards the quaint, traditional Greek town.

Streets of Lindos

Streets of Lindos

Many winding streets made this very busy, but before long we arrived at the entrance to the ruins. We bought out tickets online so we didn't need to queue for ages and headed straight through.

Lindos

Lindos

To be honest, these ruins were no more special than any other set of Greek ruins, but nevertheless they were still pretty and had beautiful views over the nearby bays.

Lindos Bay

Lindos Bay

We had a nice look around, before we headed back down through the beautiful town and eventually back to the bus station.

Arriving back at the hotel earlier than expected, we had time to go into the main restaurant for lunch (normally the effort to get dressed meant we opted for the Souvlaki and Pizza at the outside restaurant). We then had some more sunbathing before dinner and a visit to the bar that night.

After a day out, Wednesday was spent chilling in the hotel. However we overdid it a bit on the alcohol today. Too many strong cocktails too quickly. I had aimed to beat my record of 7 earlier in the week - but with 5 before lunch I ended up feeling queasy all day and gave up! A lesson for the rest of the week...

Cocktails Galore

Cocktails Galore

That afternoon there was a big changeover at the hotel. Many of the nice courteous (and mostly German) guests headed home, to be replaced by bus loads of Israelis who can only be described as "pushy". They made their presence known instantly and it meant and end to the nice orderly queues in the restaurant and the peaceful relaxing by the pool for the rest of the holiday...

The following day we again headed out of the hotel - making our way up to Rhodes Town. There is a lot of history here and it was a beautiful place to visit.

Site of the Colossus

Site of the Colossus

We started around the harbour - heading past many of the old buildings before reaching the site where the Colossus stood before being destroyed in the earthquake in 226BC, and now graced by a pair of Does. Pretty, but not quite on par with one of the seven Wonders of the World.

The Doe

The Doe

We then headed around to the other side of the harbour, passing three beautiful traditional windmills.

Mandraki Windmills

Mandraki Windmills

Just past these was a man looking after numerous cats, and finally at the end of the harbour entrance is another doe statue, and from where the Turkish coast can be seen, just 12 miles away.

Cats

Cats

We then headed south, entering the Old City, to where many of the most important old buildings on this island are located.

Grand Master's Palace

Grand Master's Palace

We walked past numerous souvenir shops, cafés, defensive and religious buildings of different types, representing the history of the rule of this island by the Romans, Ottomans, Italians and Greeks.

Old Town Streets

Old Town Streets

We then headed back towards the bus stop and eventually our hotel. Once again, being back at lunchtime we headed into the main restaurant for lunch. It was outside the entrance where we noticed one of the new guests, a young girl from Britain was hurriedly buying a T-shirt from the neighbouring gift shop, so she could enter for lunch - apparently dismayed that this 5* resort won't allow their guests to enter (barely) wearing a bikini...

The following day was our last full day. We again spent it around the pool, with cocktails and snacks before heading for dinner. Tonight the entertainment was "International Night", which basically meant getting out the bouzouki.

Bouzouki Time

Bouzouki Time

I decided to take a nice evening walk around the resort, taking a night time walk down to the beach and around the complex.

Evening view from our room

Evening view from our room

Our final day was now upon us, and thankfully our All inclusive wristbands weren't taken off us at check out, so we could again enjoy some drinks and snacks - particularly useful as our pick up was just before dinner time.

The airport was again full of faffing - lots of delays and extremely busy. A particular 'highlight' was the boarding of our flight at the exact same time as those at the gate next door. Everyone must get on an airport bus, and as there wasn't room to board both at the same time, we had to wait for all the stragglers heading to East Midlands before we could even start. In the end it meant boarding the flight 90 minutes later than departure was supposed to be - at around midnight - with estimated arrival back home at 2am (accounting for the time difference). Great...

This essentially made this a short haul overnight flight, and we eventually arrived home at around 3am (5am Greek time).

As planned, the following day we got up and headed into London to see the interesting, but busy and hectic funeral preparations - thank God for the extra bank holiday giving us chance to finally rest... even if my Out of Office was completely wrong...

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 11:45 Archived in Greece Tagged sea architecture history airport memorial sun pool tourists drunk Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 249) Page [1] 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 .. »