Second day in Egypt:
After an exhausting first day, during which we visited different sites in Cairo, we went to the hotel to shower, eat, and pack our belongings because we had an early flight to the southern city of Aswan.
A call from the front desk woke us up. They called to let us know that it was time to get ready because the people from Memphis Tours would be picking us shortly.
On the way to the airport, I was amazed by the number of police and military personnel on the streets. Later, I found out that all those soldiers were the president’s guards; the president was traveling to Russia, and that was why they were on the street.
The check-in at the airport was smooth. They took us to the airplane on a bus. After a calm flight of about an hour, we landed on a runway in the middle of the desert. By the way, I liked Egyptair’s service on the domestic flight more than that on the international. Memphis Tours’ personnel were waiting for us at the small terminal and took us to the river cruise.
The first thing I thought when I saw the boat was, “Damn, it looks old.” At cruise, we met Shaman, our tour guide for the next five days. We proceeded to check-in and get some rest before we headed to Abu Simbel.
At noon, we had to go to a nearby military base to join a convoy of cars that were going to Abu Simbel. My two friends were afraid when they heard the word convoy. However, the convoy was for precaution in case one of the cars broke down. Each car had a military man and two drivers. Overall, it took us three hours drive to get to the temples.
It was a burning hot day, but everything was worth it. Since I went in a low season, I felt like Indiana Jones, the temples were empty. I enjoyed my visit to the maximum.
These temples were built by the greatest pharaoh, Ramesses II. Although they seemed like monuments to Ramesses II and his wife, both temples are actually temples dedicated to the gods. The larger temple with four huge statues of Ramesses II seated in front of it is dedicated to Amun, Ptah, and Re-Harakty.
The second temple, still huge although significantly smaller than the first, was built to honor Ramesses’ favorite wife, Nefertari, and is dedicated to the goddess Hathor. The larger temple is aligned with the sun so that twice a year the sun shines into its deepest recesses to illuminate a statue of Ramesses and the gods the temple is dedicated to.
These temples are fantastic, like the pyramids. It is hard to describe how impressive these temples are on the inside. Unfortunately, the government does not allow people to take pictures of the inside. We headed back to the little cafeteria area where we ate lunch that the we brought for the cruise.