I guess Rabbi Mark usually writes a daily travelogue whenever he goes on a “big trip.” And, when he’s on a group trip, he asks his companions to take turns writing. I got the first turn (after Rabbi Mark of course) on the Egypt Tour led by none other than Rabbi Deborah Prinz. So, here are my observations and summary of Day #2.
It’s rather hard to define when Day #1 ended and Day #2 began. You see, yesterday, after doing pyramids, the Sphinx, Egyptian Museum, shops, the Ben Ezra Synagogue, the “floating” church, the “solar” boat, eating, drinking and SWEATING and drinking and SWEATING some more, we ate a late dinner and then retired to our rooms around 10:30 pm. Between then and 4:30 am, we had to pack, sleep, take our showers and get dressed (not necessarily in that order). By 5 am today, we were in the mini-van eating our bagged breakfasts on the way to the airport.
It’s hard to believe that when our flight arrived upriver in Aswan at about 10 am, we had already been up for over 6 hours! And – that’s assuming that we slept some between 10:30 pm and 4:00 am!
So, at what point did Day #2 start? It doesn’t matter, since I so seamlessly segued into our arrival in Aswan…
At the Aswan Airport, we were met by our travel guide Yassir. From there, we were driven (in an air-conditioned mini-van) to our cruise ship on the Nile, the Sonesta Moon Goddess.
The Moon Goddess is a beautiful cruise boat that is actually much smaller than what most people envision as a cruise ship. However, it has the amenities of a first-class cruise ship including a cocktail lounge, swimming pool, casino, shops, restaurant and lovely rooms (all with balconies). We were greeted with fresh fruit juices and had the opportunity to explore the boat a little (or nap a little) before lunch at 1 pm.
Our group of 7 got the round corner table by the window – which is actually slightly below sea [river] level. The lunch buffet and cold drinks really hit the spot. After lunch, we split into sub-groups – some going to sleep, others trying to figure out how to dial our various phones to help Janet track down her luggage – which still has not arrived!
By 5 pm, the time of our “felucca” sail up the Nile, our guide for the next few days (Mahmoud) came to pick us up and walk us over to the boat.
Four out of 7 were out like lights – so Bill, Rabbi Mark and I represented our group.
The boat was a long and wide wooden sailboat with linen sails and no motor at all.
Although there was hardly any wind,
the boat sailed pretty fast and we enjoyed the incongruous views of both lush & green river valley and barren, dry desert. On the desert side we could see cave-like pharaonic tombs built into the side of the sandy slopes.
On the green side were both lovely homes and makeshift shacks, hand-made boats and the Nubian people of the area.
Once back on the ship, we had afternoon tea with a couple from France, then met up with the rest of the group for dinner. After dinner we were entertained with a “Nubian” dance & music show. Except for Jeff, who went to sleep early, we all attended, enjoyed and participated to our own individual degrees.
The night was perfect – with a pleasant breeze, nice temperature and almost full moon. We sat around the deck, chatting & laughing until midnight, thus, ending our 2nd day.
Observing the 7 of us as a group – We’re actually all fairly easy-going with about the same preferences for activity level, heat capacity, and together v. separate time. Bill & Jeff provide humor, Janet is a good sport – in spite of not having her luggage for 3 days, Anita is “bravely” traveling on her own for the first time & cracks zinger one-liners when you least expect it, Mark is a fountain of knowledge & questions, Debbie is relaxed and sees the beauty in people & places. I can’t describe myself as an outsider so just know that I am thoroughly enjoying this experience. It is so special to be able to see sights that I never thought I’d see “in person” with a small group of great people!
By Sheryl Rowling (additional info by MH)
Additional photos thanks to Sheryl Rowling.
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