MW Mobile Blog

For friends, family and the random search engine visitor. This blog started as an experiment in mobile blogging from my Palm TREO 600 700 Prē HTC Evo,Samsung 5. Now it serves as a simple repository of favorite activities. Expect bad golf, good fishing, great sailing, eating, drinking, adventure travel, occasional politics and anything else I find interesting along the way including, but not limited to, any of the labels listed here...

Monday, January 16, 2017

Egypt Day 3: Birthday at the Pyramids

Itinerary Day 3:  Giza Tour / Great Pyramids of Giza 
"After breakfast at the hotel, you depart via private Coach with the guide to the Pyramids of Giza, where you’ll embark on an unforgettable tour of the pyramids built for the Pharaohs Cheops, Chefren, and Mycerinus. They were constructed about 2500 B.C. with limestone blocks from the plateau and the Turah hills on the outskirts of Cairo. The Great Pyramid of Cheops alone, the only present-day survivor of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, required over 2,300,000 blocks of stone, each weighing about 2.5 tons. At its base, it covers 13 acres of land. 
You’ll also tour the Valley Temple, housing the mysterious Sphinx, located in what was once a quarry to the east of Chephren’s pyramid. One theory suggests this Pharaoh's workers shaped the body into a lion and gave it their king’s face, as a guardian of the necropolis. Almost a thousand years after its construction, King Thutmose IV placed a stela between the front paws. It describes how the Sphinx had spoken to their prince in a dream, promising him kingship if he cleared away the desert sand that was choking the Sphinx. – Then around 02:00 pm, we booked a private lunch at the Terrace of Restaurant 139 at the Mena house with great look Over the Great Pyramids and celebration of Mr. Mike Birthday."
Journal:



Editors Note: I intend to pre-load and schedule automated blog posts with the daily itinerary for our Egypt and Jordan adventure. For those interested, this may be an easy way to follow along. Internet access is always a crapshoot. My hope is that by pre-loading the itinerary it will be easier to add some pics and journal commentary as time and the internet permits. If there are no pics or commentary, you'll just have to wait until we get back. Further!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Egypt Day 2: Cairo City Tour


Itinerary Day 2:  City Tour / Egyptian Museum 
After breakfast at the hotel, you depart via private Coach with the guide to start historical day at the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities. The Museum, open since 1902, exhibits over 120,000 objects in its 107 halls, comprising the world’s greatest collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts. Two grand halls containing countless artifacts and one room reserved for the golden treasures from the world-famous tombof the boy-king Tutankhamen After our visit to the Egyptian Museum.  
After that we are heading to Citadel of Saladin which was Built between 1176 and 1183 CE the Citadel of Saladin stands on the highest point in Cairo, Mokattam Hills, giving it a superb view over the city. Salah Al Din (Saladin) decided to build it here to protect Cairo from any invaders, being part of a wall that surrounded the city and the nearby city of Fustat. On the highest point in the citadel, and therefore the highest point in Cairo, stands the Mosque of Mohamed Ali. Built between 1828 and 1848 this mosque is one of the ‘must see’ sites in the Citadel, and in the whole of Cairo. Mohamed Ali built it in memory of his second son, Yusun Pasha, who had died in 1816. Its massive structure dominates the skyline and it, along with its twin minarets, can be seen from any direction.

Journal:
We meet Adham, who will be our guide in Cairo for the next few days He said his friends call him Idoo. We are now his friends. He has been a Cairo guide since 2004, speaks excellent English, and he is getting married in a few weeks. I feel I should warn him give him some guidance about what to expect from his imminent state of marital bliss, but have thus far resisted.


Idoo is quite an interesting guy. He tells us there are about 8,000 guides in Cairo. In 2011, he and many of his fellow guides worked shifts forming a human chain around the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities to protect it from looters during the Arab Spring Revolution.


The usual drill for our first time in any major city is to simply hit the major tourist sites. No exception here, with our first stop the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities founded at the turn of the century and the Citadel of Saladin located at the highest point in Cairo. The two sites will serve to provide historical and geographic context for the rest of our visit. That was our hope. However, the phrase "embarrassment of riches" was never more applicable than when applied to the history and treasures to be found in Cairo generally and this Museum specifically. 

Antiquities Museum



The massive display of antiquities on display at the museum represent less than a third of the treasures they own. Most are in storage. A massive new museum is under construction near the pyramids and is designed from the ground up to accommodate, preserve, protect, and present the collection. It will be worth another trip back to Egypt just to see the new museum when complete. 

For purposes of this blog post, I can do no more than scratch the surface and highlight a few items that caught our attention, In no particular order or context...






For me, the most fascinating figure in ancient Egyptian history was the Pharaoh Akhenaten. Here is the ruler of richest kingdom in history who, like his predecessors and progeny, he governs with complete control and an iron fist over his subjects. Yet unlike all other Egyptian Kings, he upends the status quo by rejecting the multitude of gods and goddesses of a religion that has lasted millennia. In it's place he promotes the radical new notion of a single all powerful sun god. In addition, instead of having his likeness carved into an image of perfect human strength and form (some examples above), his statues are misshapen, almost comical caricatures of a man - rendered in granite. This was his choice. There is great mystery wrapped up in this figure. An enigma that may never be solved:






Next, I want to mention these pics... They are for my Master Brewmaster cousins in the Rea family. Here are 4,000 year old figures depicting the first Brewmasters in history, plying their craft in the Old Kingdom in Egypt:



And finally, one more from the museum... The Egyptian Cow God. This one is for Bob F. He knows why.


Old Cairo
After the museum we took a stroll through Old Cairo. "Old" in this case, being a relative term. Some of the history in the immediate area is quite new. For example:


Tharir Square Today
This 360 panorama is of Tahrir Liberation) Square, designed and named for the Egyptian revolutions of 1919 and 1953, but most recently the focal point of the 2011 Revolution that toppled Mubarik. The yellow buildings with balconies is the vantage point used by newsies that broadcast the perspective that informed most of us in the U.S. about the events on the ground in 2011:

Tahrir Square in 2011
Continuing our stroll, the central roundabout of downtown Cairo still reflects the original turn of the century design of the city that named Cairo the most beautiful capital in the world.

Downtown Cairo Today
Downtown Cairo early 20th Century
 Restoration work is underway downtown to restore the area to it's previous glory. 



We stopped at a local eatery for lunch where we enjoyed local food and beer in a neighborhood ambiance.



Falafel
Kabob


 Final, we finish the day at the Citadel of Saladin and Mohamet Ali Mosque. Too much history to pretend to do it justice here, so how about a few more pics?










I think we overdid for the first day.  Too much touring. Too much blogging. We cannot maintain this pace. I will at least endeavor to reel in the blog posts before the next entry.


Editors Note: I intend to pre-load and schedule automated blog posts with the daily itinerary for our Egypt and Jordan adventure. For those interested, this may be an easy way to follow along. Internet access is always a crapshoot. My hope is that by pre-loading the itinerary it will be easier to add some pics and journal commentary as time and the internet permits. If there are no pics or commentary, you'll just have to wait until we get back. Further!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Egypt Day 1: Arrive in Cairo - The adventure begins

Nile Valley

Sigrid planned the Egypt portion of the trip through Sayeed at Oriental Tours Egypt. We love the itinerary and have great expectations.

http://www.orientaltoursegypt.com/

As usual, I am going to try and maintain a photo journal throughout the trip on this blog. We'll see how it goes.

Itinerary Day 1:  Arrive in Cairo 
"Arrive at Cairo International Airport, where you will be met and assisted with customs and visa formalities. You will be transferred to your hotel – overnight in Cairo. Sleep and relax at the hotel."
Journal:

Almost 30 hours of elapsed time door to door. The long London  layover and connection from Gatwick to Heathrow was a mistake. Should've stayed overnight to relax between flights.


Heathrow is a big beautiful Airport. The airport rivals shopping malls in the US. Our thinking was that - between the stores, restaurants and frequent flyer lounge - we would have plenty to entertain ourselves between flights. Problem being, all that stuff is behind security and EgyptAir does not show up at the departure terminal until a few hours hours before flight time. We had no way to get behind security to enjoy the Heathrow amenities. 

We were both feeling completely beat up by the time we got on the flight to Cairo. To make matters worse they don't serve alcohol on EgyptAir flights.

Landed in the dark around 5:00 AM.  Ramadan, our representative from Oriental Tours Egypt, was the to greet us with our prepaid visas and escorted us through customs.


I don't know if it was the time of day or Ramadan's expediting services, but getting through customs was a breeze. Probably the easiest Transit into a country I've never experienced. no lines, in the car and heading to the hotel within minutes.

Didn't spend much time enjoying the view from the terrace of our room...


... as we crashed as soon as we got to the room.

It's a Marriott today but was originally a palace back in the day. After recovering we spent some time in the evening exploring the grounds and enjoying a drink in the Billiard Room Bar.


Sigrid is ready to move into her living room


Editors Note: I intend to pre-load and schedule automated blog posts with the daily itinerary for our Egypt and Jordan adventure. For those interested, this may be an easy way to follow along. Internet access is always a crapshoot. My hope is that by pre-loading the itinerary it will be easier to add some pics and journal commentary as time and the internet permits. If there are no pics or commentary, you'll just have to wait until we get back. Further!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

OAK => LGW => LHR => CAI

Egypt Tour
A four airport day is always a bad day. But it's not so bad when accompanied by the excitement at the beginning of a new travel adventure. At least we've planned this so that we are leaving before Friday 13th and arriving in Cairo after Friday the 13th. We will only be on airplanes and in airports during Friday the 13th. But I'm not superstitious. So no problem.

We're off on a tour of Egypt and Jordan. As per usual, my Travel Advisor has planned an extraordinary cultural and sightseeing packed (possibly over-packed) 3+ weeks. It'll be great. But exhausting. But great.

Also as per usual, I will attempt to maintain a daily photo journal of our travels on this blog - time and internet availability permitting.  The Itinerary is pre-loaded and should appear on a day-by-day basis. But the the map is never the territory and it's likely we'll diverge from the plan. Also as per usual, the journal will be incomplete and sustain significant gaps while en-route. I'll finish it eventually. If interested in our travels, watch this space.

This trip has been on Sigrid's list for a while. It'll be our fourth trip to Africa (Ethiopa in 2012, West Africa and Mali in 2007, Southern Africa in 1995) and first to the Middle East.

We've received more than the usual expressions of concern from friends and family about this trip. Truth be told, Early in the year I told Sigrid to forget about it and plan a trip in some other part of the world. There are a lot of places we have yet to visit. Then - at a Thanksgiving table with friends - we sat across from a couple who had recently returned from a trip to Egypt (you know who you are). They were effusive about the people, the trip, and the experience. As I sat there listening, I knew it was game over.

The fear is, of course, terrorism. But when you look at what has actually transpired over the last couple years, it's not like you can eliminate the risk by being in an airport in Fort Lauderdale or Brussels, a nightclub in Orlando or Paris, on the waterfront in Nice, at an office party in San Bernardino, or at a Christmas market in Germany. The risk is small and just staying home is not something we are going to do.

Finally, for my friends and family in Chicago, I'd just like to point out that the murder rate per capita in Cairo and Amman is about 1/3 of what it is in Chicago. So, while we're gone - you guys be careful out there.

Can't wait. We're off.