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"AROUND THE WORLD BY PRIVATE JET"

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EGYPT - JORDAN - BACK TO EGYPT (1-17/18-09)

EgyptEgypt was a whirlwind of activity. We landed at Luxor and immediately got on a charter plane for an 80 minute flight to Aqaba. (However, most of our group stayed in Luxor to see the Valley of the Kings, but we'd already seen it/wanted to go to Petra.) From Aqaba we took a 90 minute bus ride to Petra, arriving at ten p.m. (A bus ride on a private jet tour?? However, this wasn't just any bus. It was a fully outfitted luxury conveyance made by Mercedes, with leather reclining seats, footrests and adjustable head rests, little TV monitors in the back of the forward chair; etc. etc. Our guide suggested it was part of the King's transportation fleet and that may well be true because it was, without question, the most upscale bus imaginable.)

The next morning we arose early and walked to the gate of the ancient city of Petra (picture above). Petra was the home of the ancient Nabateans, who grew rich controlling this caravan particular trading route. The site stretches 3 miles through a winding canyon with high rock walls in many places. Although dusty, it turned out to be an interesting and pleasant walk. The ancient city is reached by following an old river bed that cut a deep canyon through sandstone. The path through the old river bed is spectacular. The 3-mile traverse is riddled with tombs carved out of sandstone on both sides of the canyon walls (after the design of a particular fašade was determined, the Nabatean stone masons apparently started carving at the top and moved downwards).

Most of these tombs are simple caves but others have elaborate facades. The center city, at the end of the canyon path, was rebuilt by the Romans and contrasted sharply with the early Petra style still visible in the tomb carvings. After walking the 3 miles back up to the gate of the City, we boarded our luxury bus and drove back to catch our charter plane in Aqaba for the return flight to Luxor.

Luxor

EgyptThat evening we gathered for our farewell party in the Temple of Luxor. Everyone was in a festive mood, many wearing clothes they had purchased on the trip. It was a United Nations of color and costume. Because National Geographic has long supported the work of a pre-eminent Egyptologist, Dr. Zahi Hawass (who is also Egypt's Director of Antiquities), Nat Geo was able to rent/borrow (we don't know the details of the arrangement) the entire Temple complex for the evening.

We traveled from our hotel to the Temple in horse-drawn carriage. Greeted by torch bearers in Egyptian costume as we entered, we then were able to walk through the entirety of this fabulously lit Temple. The night was cool but comfortable, the stars were out, there was subtle background music of stringed instruments, and the immensity of the space at night all worked to create a quiet hush as all of us moved in semi-awestruck fashion through this incredible space.

What remains of the Temple, which the city of Luxor now surrounds on three sides (the fourth side is the Nile) is a series of huge colonnades leading to stone covered rooms. The walls are decorated with hieroglyphics and frescos. All in all, just breath-taking. This was an exceptional event and accomplished in grand and sweeping Pharonic style.

Giza

Egypt!Early the next morning we flew to Cairo to spend a few hours touring the Pyramids and Sphinx. The hawkers and the camel drivers are incredibly tenacious. In fact, they got so bad that the government posted armed guards on the site to keep them away from the tourists. Now it's the guards that accept money for taking or helping pose your picture! As with many of the sites we have seen over the past couple of weeks, the viewer is blown away by the massiveness and grandeur of what must have been spectacular when it was new (because it is still spectacular now).

After ample photo-opp time, we battled our way through Cairo traffic and then boarded our jet for the flight to Morocco, our last destination on the tour.

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So We Begin  |  Cusco  |  Machupicchu  |  Easter Island  |  Somoa  |  Port Douglas  |  Cambodia
China-Tibet  |  India  |   Serengeti  |  Egypt  |  Marrakech 2009  |  Impressions


HOME  |  AUSTRALIA 2003  |  ACROSS AMERICA  |  IMPRESSIONS OF CHINA  |  VIETNAM  |  AFRICA  |  AROUND THE WORLD 2009  |  SOUTH AMERICA 2009  |  LEGENDARY CULTURES 2011
  |  TURKEY AND GREECE  |  CIRCLE THE ARCTIC