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Sunday, 25 March 2012

Monday 12th March

The first of our day trips...... Gebel el Silsila, I've been here before but the temperature was in the high 40's and mum never saw it all and also Esna Temple.

We have a mini picnic with us but the first stop on the itinerary is at Esna and our guide, Mohamed, goes off to buy some oranges, banana's, sprite, cola but also returns with some Egyptian Turkish Delight known as 'Malban' and other sweet treats.

The next stop of the day was an unscheduled one, we were driving past El Kab when our friend, Hazel, who had joined us for the day as she also loves Silsila commented she would love to see inside the mud brick walls, quick as a flash Mohamed got the driver to stop, we all piled out of the mini bus, walked along the side of the railway tracks, crossed over them, then over a narrow plank of wood over a canal and over to one of the open gateways that lead inside the enclose of the mud brick walls.  

Strictly tourists are not allowed in there, Mohamed was keeping his fingers crossed the guardian didn't notice us ;-)

The site is HUGE, there are remains of a temple,  sacred lake and cemetries, we all thought if excavated it would throw up a few surprises!!!!!

Inside the walls are remains of a temple, sacred lake and cemetries

I climbed up this ramp on the way out - the views from the top - amazing!

on top of the mudbrick walls!!!

Climbing up the ramp to the top of the mud brick walls

View from the top of the mud brick walls

The walls are 12m thick!!!!

Before crossing..... look left

And then look right...... listen for on coming trains

And then make a mad dash over the railway lines

After the unscheduled stop which was fantastic we headed further south towards one of my favourite sites 'Gebel Silsila' 

For those who have cruised the Nile - can you remember sailing past and seeing these shrines somewhere between Edfu and Kom Ombo?

At Silsila you can see the 'Speos of Horemheb' (a rock cut chapel) and a series of shrines and stelae.  You can also see the sandstone quarries where stone was quarried for a lot of the construction work on temples during the 18th Dynasty such as Karnak and Luxor Temples.  

As we traveled down the East Bank we needed to cross the river, a motorised felucca came over to get us.

While waiting for our guide to agree a price for our crossing I took a wee paddle in the Nile, while I wouldn't want to swim in the Nile (it's not the cleanest) I don't mind a paddle in areas where the water looks clean.

paddling in the Nile, the water was clear and cooling on my feet.

On the other side we see a dahabeya and felucca sail boat moored up, the big cruise boats don't stop here (there is nowhere for them to dock) so you can only visit Silsila either by road (like us) or via a Felucca, Dahabeya or Sandale Nile Cruise (I'm going to be taking a Dahabeya cruise for my Birthday (a special one) next October)

First stop at Silsila is the Speos of Horemheb.......

Afterwards our guide asked if we would like to climb the dunes and walk along over the top of the shrines before visiting them on the way back.  I instantly said yes !!!!

The skies look grey but it was more of a haze and around 33 degrees!

Waving to the passengers on one of the big cruise boats sailing past

And at the top - a 'pyramid' shaped peak!!!!!

The sand was beautiful, soft and fine but quite hard to walk in, especially climbing up hill!!!

Our guide and I met the others back down on the path and we continued along to the end of the quarry and along to the shrines.

Time was getting on, we had spent over an hour at El Kab, a fair bit of time at Silsila and we still needed to get to Esna so we headed off.

It was around 3-ish when we came to Edfu where the mini bus stopped for anyone who wanted the toilet, over the road from where the van stopped was a stand selling some variety of food.

Now, when we discussed the tour with Ahmed,  the owner of Petra Tours in Luxor,  he said we should bring our own food, although I said I would be happy with a falafel sandwich along the way he said to bring our own as he didn't want us getting sick on one of his tours.  So.... we had packed some bread, cheese triangles and crisps and had the oranges and lovely sweet bananas that the guide had bought for us us.

Now, I looked down at my bread and cheese triangles and bag of crisps and just knew what the stand was serving up was going to be better, our guide and driver were buying from it - always a good sign.  So before 'anyone' could stop me (for a chunky girl I can move fast ;-) ) I had ran over the road and purchased some 'liver sandwiches' - they were absolutely delicious - so good I had two (greedy of me I know)!!!!

Liver Sandwich - delicious - I tried to 'recreate' one at home last night and failed miserably!
And............. no ill effects after eating it either!!!! I often eat from stands similar to this (including salad if I'm having a falafel sandwich) and have never suffered from an upset stomach afterwards, I also drink sugarcane and orange juice from the juice bars with no ill effects (but I do ensure my hands are always cleaned religiously beforehand with anti bacterial hand gel)

It was around 4pm when we arrived in Esna, drove over the bridge crossing the loch and the mini bus parked on the corniche and we walked through a tourist souk up to the temple of Khnum, it was late in the day and most had shut up shop. 

The temple is situated in a deep pit surrounded by houses, if they excavate more the houses will need to be demolished.........

The Temple of Khnum at Esna

Inside the temple they have been doing restoration work and cleaning the temple walls (similar to that up at Dendera) 

I've probably read more negative comments about Esna temple than positive which has always put it on the back burner for a visit but I absolutely loved it, I think it being in the 'pit' added to the fascination - seeing the town built up all those layers of earth above it.  However if they excavate more (and there probably is more underneath all the built up layers) then they have to demolish some of the buildings and there are some really beautiful buildings in Esna if you take a look (though a lot are in need of some TLC)

Here you can see clearly the colours showing on the parts they have cleaned up - Amazing isn't it!!!!

After the visit to the temple I assumed the mini bus would be waiting to collect us outside.......... wrong!!!! our guide had other plans up his sleeve, a walk through Esna town centre and the local souk!!!!!

The sun was beginning to set and light not great for taking photos...........

There are some beautiful buildings in Esna.

An absolutely beautiful door - complete with stuffed crocodile attached. 

Esna Souk - mum and Mohammed shop for some fruit.

Egyptian Tomatoes - delicious!!!!

And the butchers!

The sun sets over Esna
I actually really liked Esna, it's not a tourist town but we were made very welcome and I would like to head back, spend more time in the temple and walking around town.

We don't get back to Luxor till after 7pm where we head straight up onto the roof terrace of our hotel for some lentil soup and a few colas.

All in all it was a superb day,  the unscheduled stop, walk through the souk and not the normal 'parrot talk' text book speech from our guide either - he managed to combine a perfect blend of history, culture and knowing some tourists don't always like to stick to the well trodden paths!!!!

1 comment:

  1. I'm so pleased that you liked Esna Temple. Did you see the wall made of pots, behind it? The empty pots provide a 'cavity wall' type of insulation. It might no longer be there though.
    We too thought that being down in the hole made the Temple more interesting. The colours seem to be coming up lovely.