My last lunch was Chicken Shawarma which is a traditional Middle Eastern dish of spiced chicken in a wrap. The wrap was much more delicate than the wraps one usually gets in the UK. Again there was too much food as it also came with fries and a salad. I must admit I am uncomfortable about the waste but there is no way I can eat all of the enormous portions. In the evening I just didn't order any food.
Saturday, February 18, 2023
17th of February 2023 - Relaxing prior to flying home on the 18th
Thursday, February 16, 2023
16th of February 2023 - Return to Aqaba
15th of February 2023 - The ancient city of Petra
On the last full day of our cruise we visited the ancient Jordanian city of Petra. There is also a modern day Petra above the historic and archaeological city in southern Jordan. It is adjacent to the mountain of Jabal Al-Madbah in a basin surrounded by mountains forming the eastern flank of the Arabah valley running from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba.
The area around Petra has been inhabited from as early as 7000 BC and the Nabataeans might have settled in what would become the capital city of their kingdom as early as the 4th century BC. Archaeological work has only discovered evidence of Nabataean presence dating back to the second century BC by which time Petra had become their capital. The Nabataeans were nomadic Arabs who invested in Petra's proximity to the incense trade routes by establishing it as a major regional trading hub.
Petra is also called the "Rose City" because of the colour of the stone from which it is carved. We reached the city by the eastern entrance which leads steeply down through a dark, narrow gorge called the Siq ("shaft"). This was formed from a deep split in the sandstone rocks serving as a waterway flowing into the Musa Valley. Ruth and I took the option of descending the Siq in a golf buggy rather than taking the demanding walk down. This provided a somewhat hairy ride as the Siq is only 10–13 feet wide with walkers and golf buggies going in both directions.
On our return to the site of the Treasury we had to queue for around fifty minutes to get a buggy back up the Siq. This ride was even more hair-raising than the ride down as the driver seemed to be in even more of a hurry than the driver on the way down. Someone fell just in front of our buggy and I don't know how the buggy driver managed to miss her.
When we reached the end of the buggy ride we left the ancient city of Petra for a hotel in the modern city of Petra for lunch. It had a light fitting that reminded me of a UFO.
I have never had mint tea before that was just mint leaves in hot water. It didn't taste too bad once I'd forked out the mint leaves and added a little sugar.
14th of February 2023 - Eilat and Timna Valley
Eilat is Israel's southernmost city and the country's only access to the shores of the Red Sea which it shares with Jordan and Egypt which both have a land border with the city. The shores of Saudi Arabia are clearly visible from the mountains around Eilat and its southernmost beaches.
Coral Beach Nature Reserve Eilat, is a reserve that extends along the sea for 4,000 feet under off the coast of Eilat. We visited The Underwater Observatory, a large aquarium in the Coral Reserve, which includes an underwater aquarium which allows visitors to view the actual coral colony and a large number of aquatic species. This is below a white observation tower which I didn't climb but apparently gives great views of the coastline.
Taking pictures of the coral and inhabitants from the aquarium was challenging however are some pictures that I did take.
Afterwards we wandered around the aquarium complex taking more pictures before doing a little shopping. I found some rather interesting silver and mother of pearl earrings, not that I need any more earrings.
The Timna Valley is located in southern Israel, approximately 19 miles north of the Gulf of Aqaba and the city of Eilat. The area is rich in copper ore and has been mined since the 5th century BC. There is controversy whether the mines were active during the biblical united Kingdom of Israel and its second ruler, King Solomon. A large section of the valley, containing ancient remnants of copper mining and ancient worship, comprises of the Timna Valley recreation park.
Copper has been mined in the area since the 6th or 5th century BC. Archaeological excavation indicates that the copper mines here were probably part of the Kingdom of Edom and worked by the Edomites, described as biblical foes of the Israelites, during the 10th century BC in the period of biblical King Solomon. Mining continued until the copper ore became scarce. We were shown some of the techniques used to extract the copper from the rock.
The first site we visited in Timna Valley was the “Mushroom” which is an unusual natural formation formed by the erosion of the red sandstone. The bottom of the rock experienced a more rapid erosion resulting in the beautiful mushroom shape we see today. I found the walk down to the rock tricky and Ruth was surprised that I had attempted. Ken, one of my fellow cruise passengers, kindly gave me a hand.
Monday, February 13, 2023
13th of February 2023 - Safaga Port
Safaga, also known as Bur Safaga or Port Safaga, is another Egyptian city located on the coast of the Red Sea, south of Hurghada. Tourism centres around the beaches and diving.
Ruth and I skipped the excursion which ferried people to a Safaga beach as neither of us are sun worshippers. There was little else to do in Safaga so we relaxed on board the ship. This included a trip to the jacuzzi where we sampled some fruity mocktails.
12th of February 2023 - Hurghada and a celebration
Sunday, February 12, 2023
11th of February 2023 - Great Pyramid of Giza and Sphinx
On the 11th of February we were taken by coach past Cairo to Giza. Giza is most famous as the location of the Giza Plateau, the site of some of the most impressive ancient monuments in the world.
Cairo is situated on the east bank of the Nile and is the twelfth largest in the world by population located. A number of constructed buildings in Egyptian cities and villages have been declared by the state as “unplanned” with thousands of buildings being built without licenses. Many of these buildings do not comply with safety regulations or can even threaten the safety of aviation for being illegally too tall. Some of these buildings have been partially demolishing. The décor of some of the demolished apartments was clearly visible.
Giza is the third-largest city in Egypt and is located on the west bank of the Nile, about 3 miles southwest of central Cairo. It is part of the Greater Cairo metropolis. including a complex of ancient Egyptian royal mortuary and sacred structures, including the Great Sphinx, the Great Pyramid of Giza, and a number of other large pyramids and temples. Giza has always been a focal point in Egypt's history due to its location close to Memphis, the ancient pharaonic capital of the Old Kingdom.
My first view of the Great Pyramid of Giza was from the coach. I had imagined the Pyramids to be out in the desert however they are practically in the city of Giza itself.
The next view was from the entrance to the Giza Plateau. The entrance was incredibly busy as it is half term in Egypt.
There was quite a few hawkers actually in the Giza Plateau especially those selling camel rides. I hadn’t considered there would be camel poo over large parts of the Giza Plateau.
I met my goal of sitting on the Great Pyramid of Giza but decided not to attempt to enter any of the Pyramids.
The highlight for me of the Giza Plateau was seeing the Sphinx despite the Sphinx having lost its nose and beard.
After the Giza Plateau we were taken to a shop where we saw how paper is made from papyrus. This is apparently a process taking up to a few weeks rather than days.
The trip took over eleven hours. I wasn’t expected to watch Sonic the Hedgehog on the way back. The sound was patchy and the subtitles were in Egyptian but at least this passed the time.