Egypt Adventure

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A two day layover on the way to Egypt.
Milan: Loraine at a giant sculpture of a needle near the train station. It goes into the ground here and then the thread comes out at the other side of the street. The Castle Sfuerza is in the background down the street.
Milan: Matt at the base of the Duomo at night after a nice dinner on the "street" inside the Galleria nearby.
Milan: Us at the intricately carved doors to the Duomo.
Milan: Matt inside the Duomo.
Milan: The museum of science and technology had a big exhibit about Leonardo da Vinci. Here, Loraine poses with one of his flying machines.
Milan: A beuatiful cobblestone street near the Brea art museum. We went to the Museum before heading to seeing Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper. We returned to this street to have our own supper on a beautiful sidewalk cafe.
Milan: Matt below the massive wall of the Castle Sfuerza, built in the 1300 or 1400's. We spent a long time inside its walls wandering around, but most of the museums it houses were closed (Monday). We spent some of our time in the bookstore reading about Leonardo da Vinci.
Milan: Us outside the Castle Sfuerza at night.
Night Train to Luxor: The first time we were brave enough to take out our camera in Egypt to stop and take a picture. Here, Matt makes himself comfortable on the top bunk of our sleeping car on the way from Giza to Luxor. He slept pretty well!

Luxor, Nile Valley, Egypt

Luxor: Us at the Karnak temple avenue of the Sphinxes, and the first pylon, marking the temple entrance.
Luxor: Us at the entrance to Karnak temple.
Luxor, Karnak Temple: Beautiful hieroglyphics adorned the walls and were remarkably well preserved at some spots inside the temple. Here, some of the preservation was intentionally poorer. The name and image of Queen Hatshepsut (pharoah of the New Kingdom) are stricked from the story. Her stepson was bitter that she took the throne from him when he was young and tried to erase her legacy.
Luxor, Karnak temple: Loraine with a fallen obelisk tip and three equal sized-obelisks in the background. These were built by Queen Hatshepsut and once gilded in Gold. The granite comes from many miles away in Aswan. It took an expedition 7 months to float the obelisk down the river as a single, solid piece of granite for the obelisk.
Luxor, Karnak temple: One of the obelisks up close with writing up along its edge. Looking closely, you can see a color change about 3/4 of the way up. Queen Hatshepsut built the obelisk and her stepson wanted to destroy everything she built. The priests, however, would not allow him to destroy this monument to the sun god. So, he built an enclosure surrounding most of it so that it did not appear impressive.
Luxor, Karnak temple: Matt with deeply carved hieroglyphics.
Luxor, Karnak Temple: Loraine with the massive columns. There were about 136 of them.
Luxor, Karnak Temple: Matt with the massive columns. While the temple appears empty, this shot is a case of strategic timing as we snapped to avoid the hundreds of tourists combing the site. It was, however, breathtaking to wander through the shadows of the colonnade.
Luxor, Karnak Temple: Matt with one massive column. These were clearly the most impressive part of the temple.
Luxor, Luxor temple: Loraine at the avenue of the Sphinxes with the pylon of Luxor temple behind.
Luxor, Luxor Temple: Loriane in a quiet room out of the way in Luxor temple.
Luxor, Luxor Temple: Matt with the papyrus flower columns.
Luxor, Luxor Temple: Matt particlarly liked this carving at the base of a statue. It shows two kings holding what appears to be a rope, but is in fact one stem of papyrus, symbolizing the northern kingdom, and one stem of lotus, symbolizing the southern kingdom. The two stems are intertwined, symbolizing the union of the two kingdoms in one united Egypt. Matt insisted on having this photo taken of us holding hands in front of it to symbolize our unity.
Luxor, Luxor temple: Matt with a massive statue of Ramses.
Luxor, Luxor Temple: Matt with a collanade and beheaded statues of Ramses. We think that these statues were beheaded intentionally by a foe.
Luxor, Luxor Temple: Us with the massive head of Ramses.
Luxor, Luxor Temple: For scale, Loraine's foot with the massive foot of Ramses.
Luxor, Luxor Temple: The temple was eventually buried by sand for thousands of years. During that time, a mosque was constructed on top of it. After unearthing the temple, they wanted to keep the mosque and so the two coexist today (with the entrance to the mosque way high above the present-day excavated surface).
Luxor, Luxor Temple at night.
Luxor: Loraine at one of the wonderful buffets on which we dined.
Luxor: While our hotels in Egypt all had their flaws (plumbing was usually among them), this hotel made us a fun crocodile out of towels and bedding. Only problem was that they didn't actually clean the hotel room...
Luxor: Here a family just sort of walks in front of our moving car, a regular event on Egyptian streets.
Luxor: Street scene.
Luxor, Valley of the Kings: We stand here outside Ramses VI's tomb looking up the hill. The air quality here is awful because of burning sugar cane fields.
Luxor, Valley of the Kings: The tomb entrances look like this today, but were covered in dirt immediately after burial to hide the entrances. They were robbed shortly after that because the people that did the burying knew exactly where the tombs were.
Luxor, Valley of the Queens: Our guide told us that the Tombs in the Valley of the Queens were much smaller and less impressive than the Valley of the Kings, in part because of the quality of the rock. Geologically, this makes sense. Here, the tilted bedding implies substantial deformation, while the Kings bedding was nearly flat and therefore undeformed. The deformation event probably pulverized the rock. Several queens and their children were buried in these tombs, and the colors are spectacular.
Luxor, Mummification Museum: Matt with a mummified ram. Two mummy cats are also visible.
Luxor, Mummification museum: Loraine with the gilded coffin cover of a distinguished lord.
Luxor, Mummification museum: A mummy in glass case with Loraine barely visible at its feet.
Luxor, Hatshepsut's temple: Parts of this temple have been reconstructed so that we can get a feel for how it would have looked at the time of its height.
Luxor, Hatshepsut's Temple
Luxor, Hatshepsut's Temple
Luxor, Hatshepsut's Temple: These are statues of the queen. You can barely tell that this figure is a female, as she used the standard false beard and idealized facial features.
Luxor, Hatshepsut's Temple
Luxor, Hatshepsut's Temple: The ramp on the left shows how much has been reconstructed -- you can barely make out a change in the character of the rock where the rebuilt material begins.
Luxor, Hatshepsut's Temple: Matt with Horus, the falcon god protecting the entrance to the temple.
Luxor, West Bank: A mud brick village. We snapped this photo from a moving car. It captured some of the feeling on the Nile's West bank.
Luxor, Habu Temple: Despite the hords of people at the entrance in this picture, Habu is actually off the beaten path, which is part of what made it one of Matt's favorite temples. This fantastic battle scene also contributed.
Luxor, Habu Temple
Luxor, Habu Temple: Excellent color preservation on the ceiling here.
Luxor, Habu Temple: Loraine with an offering of food.
Luxor, Habu Temple: The best part of the temple was the beautifully preserved rooms that you could just walk around in. Because they were so intact, you really got a feel for how it must have been to be wandering around at the time of the pharoahs.
Luxor, Collosus of Memnon: These massive statues marked the entrance to an even more massive temple. Like all the temples we saw, it was located very close to the Nile and was destroyed in a massive flood. All that remains are the statues.
Luxor, Collosus of Memnon: These massive statues marked the entrance to an even more massive temple. Like all the temples we saw, it was located very close to the Nile and was destroyed in a massive flood. All that remains are the statues.
Luxor, view from the East Bank of the Nile across to the West Bank.
Luxor, sunset Fellucca ride on the Nile.
Luxor, sunset Fellucca ride on the Nile. Matt is not really driving us -- there was no wind so the skipper started rowing and asked Matt to hold the rudder straight.
Luxor, sunset Fellucca ride on the Nile. Us with our fellucca captain. Though he never attended school and is illiterate, he speaks amazing english.

Sinai Peninsula

Sharm el Sheik: Loraine walking across the Red Sea. Because the beach has such a gentle slope, you can walk very far away from the beach before it gets deep. Our hotel put this walkway out to a floating platform for people to get to the part deep enough to swim.
Sharm el Sheik: Loraine swimming in the red sea.
Mt. Sinai. Our bedouin guide leads us up the hill as sunrise approaches.
Mt. Sinai. Loraine near the top of Sinai as the first colors start to show.
Mt. Sinai. The view here was absolutely remarkable as the colors lit up the steep canyons around us. one of the most beautiful panoramas I have ever experienced.
Mt. Sinai. Us enjoying the view. In my mind, the Israelite people would have been in the valley below us while Moses was up here on the mountain.
Mt. Sinai: A small church at the summit. There is also a mosque next to it.
Mt. Sinai. Beautiful shadows and light after sunrise.
Mt. Sinai -- an awesome panorama.
Down the trail from Mt. Sinai.
St. Catherine's Monastery at the base of Mt. Sinai. It houses what is rumored to be the original burning bush (still alive today), and also marks the site of the well where Moses met Zapporah, his future wife.
Salloum, 8 km from the Libyan border on the Mediterranean coast.

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