Christmas Eve. This was a freakin' busy day! Up early, on the bus then a quick boat ride to an island located on Lake Nasser . The attraction here was a gorgeous temple on an island called Philae. Well, it used to be on that island, anyhow... when the Aswan Dam was built, that island was submerged. Aware of that possibility, UNESCO up and moved the entire temple complex to a higher island.
DH, his sister and I had had a late-ish night the previous evening and were feeling a smidge cranky. We breezed through the temple and made right for the Ancient Egyptian Coffee Bar. No sooner had our Turkish coffees made their way to the table then our guide indicated it was time to move on. Not willing to waste perfectly good coffee (oh sweet nectar of life), all three of us gamely shot our demitasses. Suddenly, the sun shone just a little brighter... the three of us were annoyingly happy for the rest of the day. It was, clearly, just what was required.
Next we toured Aswan Dam itself.
The Nile's beginnings at the dam.
Lake Nasser, formed by the damming of the Nile.
The Soviet-Egyptian friendship monument at the dam; it was funded, designed and given assistance during construction by the Soviets.
Next stop? The Unfinished Obelisk in the ancient quarries at Aswan.
This was insanely huge. There is controversy to this day as to how these are actually moved and raised into position, as such tasks are beyond modern construction techniques.
I think at this point in time we finally went back to the boat, ate quickly, and then were herded out for the afternoon's sights, beginning with the Aswan Botanical Gardens.
DH is being loomed over by some of the larges poinsettias I've ever seen. Free range!
I don't know what these were, but they're pretty.
There is a story I missed capturing in this picture. The laughing couple on the left were romancing a little in the park. Seconds before I managed to take the picture, he had her by her wrists and was spinning her madly around himself. Feet in the air, black abaya and veils streaming, her giggles lit the grove like sunshine. It was a truly magic moment, and I'm glad I was witness to their joy and love.
DH and I are Pied Piper to stray cats around the world. They see us and come a-running!
Our next stop was the Nubian village, an enclave of displaced Sudanese outside of town. It was a long-ish boat ride, through the First Cataract on the Nile. The Sahara desert begins here, and it was so annoying to be so close but not have the time to step on its legendary dunes and watch the sun set. Next time, I suppose.
Once there, we (evaded the hawkers) had a glass of tea, toured a rather primitive house, and petted their cat.
Whaddya mean, that's no cat??!!!
Free-range camels, too. It was on a mission... it dangled through town like it was a school kid late for dinner.
That was the end of the scheduled activities for the day. Rather then being drained, we were still giddy. Tonight represented the first free evening in a town we had, and to my sister-in-law and I, that could only mean one thing: shopping!
Aswan had a lengthy market district, and although it was almost 1800 by the time we were ready to go, everything was in full swing and would be for hours yet. Middle Eastern markets often are open until midnight. We waded through street after street, SIL and I doing most of the shopping (shoes, clothes, luggage) with DH being baggage boy. We were having so much fun that when it came time for supper on the ship, despite it being the nicest dinner of the cruise (according to the guide), we decided to give the meal a miss. For our fancy Christmas Eve dinner, we ate, from a street-side vendor, some of the best shawarma I ever tasted.
We returned to the boat hours later, poorer and tired but still giddy. What a fun day.
We were glad the next morning that we had opted out of dinner- a handful of other passengers were ill from it. The turkey was suspected as the culprit.