We landed in Aswan at 9:30am.
We went straight from the airport to the Nile River, where we boarded a small boat piloted by a child to Isis Temple at Philae.
This was our first temple in Egypt; my bride and I were amazed at how well the carvings had been preserved and all we could identify of its markings. The children were amazed at the cats.
Afterward, we rode to the Philae Perfumes Palace, where we watched artisans blow glass and learned about the history and uses of essences in ancient Egypt up until today; it’s essential oils without the multi-level marketing! We bought several varieties and fully expect to never need a doctor again.
Then, our guide took us to an unfinished obelisk started by Hatshepsut, and had it not cracked, it would have been over 100′ high–33% taller than any others found throughout ancient Egypt. I was worried the glue on my shoes would liquefy and separate, the dusty rocks where we walked were so hot. Our stop there was brief, but I’m glad we saw it. Immediately afterward, we pulled up to the night’s hotel, at about 1:45pm.
Our hotel was one of my favorite places we’ve stayed anywhere in the world: the Old Cataract, right on the Nile River, and our suite was across the hall from the one in which Agatha Christie wrote “Death on the Nile.” If that’s not enough to make it awesome, it’s also in my go-to travel planning book: 1000 Places to See Before You Die! It has a pool next to the Nile, just across the river from temple ruins thousands of years old, and attendants brought us drinks, hats, towels, food, cigars, or sunscreen. And not just any hats; they brought quality:
We spent several hours cooling off in the 110+ temps, next to the Nile, in a pool with drinks and cigars brought whenever such struck my fancy.
That night, we did a sunset cruise on the Nile, and it was every bit as romantic as it sounds, save for the tour guide, boat operators, and 3 children.
The next day we took a drive to Abu-Simbel (to be explained in a future post) and then spent more relaxing time at the hotel pool and bar before taking a boat to a Nubian Village on Barbar Island to get hennas, see crocodiles, and have local children swim up to our boat, grab onto its sides for a ride, and sing “The Macarena.”
That night, we had dinner at the hotel’s French cuisine place, 1902 Restaurant (also featured in the “1000 Places” book), and it was awesome. While we were there, we saw a couple dining and dancing in 100-year-old period clothing, and when we got home, we saw them on the National Geographic channel’s Lost Treasures of Egypt special on Egypt, and now we’re instagram friends!
We were sad to leave the Old Cataract Hotel but excited to head north to Luxor, where our adventure continued…