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Posted 16/07/2021 in Middle East by Fiona Boileau

Wonders of the Nile

I knew we were in for an exciting time in Egypt when our driver was suspicious of Ken’s Golf Bag. He was convinced there was a body in it, and from then on it was known as the body in the bag. Ken had to take care of it for the entire trip as our guide Kimo would have nothing to do with it. Perhaps at this stage, I should mention that we were travelling with a friend of mine and her sister. We thought nothing of this and were just excited about the thought of travelling together. It didn’t take long for us to realise that we were seen as Ken’s Harem and that he was a lucky man. We decided to play with this for the rest of the trip. Naturally, I was wife number one, and apparently worth many camels!

Our first few nights were spent at the Oberoi Mena House. This was on the outskirts of Cairo overlooking the Pyramids. A magnificent complex that was once the summer house of Kings. It was filled with beautiful antique furniture, various works of art, mosaics and had a fabulous pool. It had been a big day of travel but we were itching to visit the Pyramids, even though they were part of a tour the next day. I had visited these fascinating structures over 30 years ago, and little has changed except more hawkers and “Hangers on” We explored for a while but the crowds and the jet ag finally caught up with us and we headed back to our sanctuary, quite happy to sit on our balcony with a cool drink and gaze at the Pyramids from afar.

Egypt is so full of history and incredible architecture I could not possibly do it justice, just to think of the age of what you were seeing is hard to fathom. I love the stories that we are told, some true and some perhaps fantasy, but they bring the history to life.  There is a story as to why the Sphinx has no nose. An historian told me that the noses of statues were cut off by the enemy so as the spirit could not take a breath to enter the second life. Sounds reasonable…or there is the idea that Napoleon shot off the noses for target practice. If this is the case, it was a waste of time as it did not help him In winning wars!

The majority of tourists do a cruise on the Nile and we took ours from Aswan to Luxor. I had visions of an old fashion vessel, one that Agatha Christie would be comfortable on and sip Gin and Tonics as we sailed along. At the time the only ship that ticked the boxes was the Oberoi Philae. It was filled with old-world charm, built along the lines of an Edwardian Paddle steamer. It had extraordinary comfort and turn of the century elegance. Each cabin had a balcony with views of the Nile where you could see it come alive with Feluccas, fishermen and wildlife. My Camera would certainly have a workout!

The Restaurant and Bar were beautiful and Ken and his Harem were the main attraction most nights. The staff loved us, and we enjoyed the cocktails in the Lounge with the pianist as we chatted about our day and the fun we had.

It would be remiss not to mention some of the architectural sites we visited. My favourite is a toss-up between Abu Simbel and the Valley of the Kings, such overwhelming history. I am impressed by Abu Simbel, dedicated to Ramses II, not only for the original engineering feat but then to be relocated in the 60s following the construction of the High Dam and its functions remain intact. The Valley of the Kings is just phenomenal. 63 tombs and counting. I was lucky enough thirty years ago to visit Tutankhamen’s tomb, not an option this time, but still some incredible tombs to be seen. It really intrigues me with the whole mummy thing and embalming. I still do not understand how your brain comes out of your nose!

Ken enjoyed Kom Ombo the most. It is dedicated to 2 gods, and because of this has been built with beautiful symmetry.

I learned many things in Egypt, firstly I am worth many camels, secondly don’t take Golf Clubs and thirdly, I don’t like Gin and Tonic. But seriously it is an incredible country and I hope that Egypt remains on the tourist radar for many years to come


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Fiona Boileau

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