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Location - Middle East/North Africa; Capital - Cairo; Population - 99 million; Currency - Egypt Pound MORE EGYPT

Next up was a very early 3hr bus journey from Aswan to my favourite sight, Abu Simbel, not far from the border with Sudan in the far south - January 2020.


egyptnoteAbu Simbel features on the 1 Pound note










egypt688The first glimpse of the Temples of Abu Simbel: the Great Temple of Ramses II on the left, and the Temple of Hathor obscured on the right - Abu Simbel


egypt693The Great Temple of Ramses II is a superb sight, the statues rising over 20m high - Abu Simbel


egypt694The temple was built in the 13th century BC by the great builder himself, Ramses II, arguably the most powerful of all pharaohs - Abu Simbel














egypt697Between and below the colossal Ramses statues are smaller statues of his family - Abu Simbel














egypt701Following the construction of the Aswan High Dam the rising waters of Lake Nasser threatened to submerge the temple. So between 1964 and 1968 the temple was moved piece by piece to a higher level just a few metres from its original location - Abu Simbel


egypt711Between Ramses II stands Ra-Horakhty, a falcon-headed sun god that merged the gods Ra and Horus. The temple is dedicated to the gods Ra-Horakhty, Ptah and Amun - Abu Simbel


egypt71219th century graffiti etched on Ramses II's leg - Abu Simbel















egypt713Above Ramses II are 22 baboons worshipping the rising sun - Abu Simbel














egypt714These small statues are likely of Ramses II children and maybe his wife Nefertari. Tell me if you know - Abu Simbel


egypt715Captured slaves or prisoners are tied together at the neck - Abu Simbel


egypt702The mummified body of Ramses II can be seen in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, soon to be the Grand Egyptian Museum - Abu Simbel














egypt705The Ramses II on the left collapsed shortly after being built, possible following an earthquake. The remains lie at its base where a tourist poses - Abu Simbel














egypt721The first room inside the Great Temple of Ramses II is the Great Hypostyle Hall - Abu Simbel


egypt728The hall contains eight Osiris statues representing Ramses II - Abu Simbel


egypt743Reliefs show Ramses II destroying his enemies - Abu Simbel














egypt747They cover miltary campaigns and battle scenes that took place under his rule - Abu Simbel















egypt746One of the most famous is this relief of Ramses II in his chariot at the Battle of Kadesh. It pitted the Egyptian Empire against the Hittites at Kadesh in modern day Syria around 1,274BC - Abu Simbel


egypt732Walking through a second pillared hall towards the Sacred Sanctuary - Abu Simbel


egypt736It's amazing to think these reliefs, paintings and hieroglyphics are over 3,200 years old - Abu Simbel















egypt733The Sacred Sanctuary houses the statues of Ptah, Ra-Horakhty, Ramses II and Amun, where twice a year the sun's rays cast light on all but Ptah - Abu Simbel















egypt738What looks like the world's oldest porn shoot is actually a circumsion ceremony - Abu Simbel


egypt741Leading off the Great Hypostyle Hall are several storerooms - Abu Simbel


egypt740The storerooms are also adorned with reliefs, each with a story to tell - Abu Simbel














egypt752The second temple is the Temple of Hathor, also known as the Small Temple - Abu Simbel














egypt754The exterior features 10m statues of Ramses II and his wife Nefertari. Apparently it's unusual for a queen to be portrayed as the same height as the king - Abu Simbel


egypt760Inside the Hypostyle Hall - Abu Simbel


egypt764Reliefs show the Queen making offerings to the god Hathor, as well as representing Ramses II in battle - Abu Simbel














egypt763A blessing of Ramses II by gods Set and Horus - Abu Simbel















egypt773A Movenpick cruise ship was docked at Abu Simbel, on the waters of Lake Nasser


egypt771The small rocky outcrop opposite is the original site of the temple, overlooking Lake Nasser, which stretches all the way south to the Sudanese border - Abu Simbel


egypt683We set off from Aswan around 03:30 and saw the sun rise over the desert - Abu Simbel drive













egypt685Apparently these stone pyramids are natural phenomenon - Abu Simbel drive













egypt686On the return journey there was the occasional mirage in the desert - Abu Simbel drive


egypt778After returning to Aswan at lunchtime we were straight off downstream to Luxor via Esna - Aswan to Esna















egypt801The Esna riverside as seen from the sundeck and swimming pool of our MS Emilio boat - Esna


egypt803Horse-drawn carriages and tourists aren't usually too far apart - Esna


egypt805Tuk tuks, or rickshaws, are also commonplace - Esna















egypt808As there's not enough space for all cruise ships to dock, don't be surprised to open your curtains to find another boat blocking your view. It's often the case to walk through several boats to reach land - Esna













egypt812A short walk from the Nile is the Temple of Khnum - Esna


egypt816Originally constructed in the 1st/2nd century BC, the Romans built this section of the temple, the hypostyle hall, in the 3rd century AD and comprises most of what can be seen today. Roman Emperor Commodus is pictured with offerings to the god Khnum, a way for the Romans to curry favour with locals - Esna


egypt818Work is underway to clean the decorations, which look so bright and colourful here - Esna




















egypt826Before reaching Luxor boats have to negotiate the Esna lock - Esna















egypt829Merchants take advantage of the queues to dangerously manouevre through the ships and sell their wares - Esna


egypt837We drop around 8m in height and continue our journey - Esna


egypt835Workers rest on a pile of sugar cane - Esna















egypt846Riverside activity on the approach to Luxor


egypt848This small island next to our jetty is made the most of, with much being turned into farmland - Luxor


egypt849Working the land opposite our jetty, after which he'll row back home - Luxor














egypt177The original drive from Hurghada to Luxor made a refreshment stop en route, where women put baby goats on donkeys and ask for money. Different! And I guess it works - Hurghada to Luxor


After we returned to Luxor it was overnight on board, followed by the Valley of the Kings the day after, but I sandwiched the photos together on Egypt 4 for the sake of continuity. I decided to split from the tour and took a speeding taxi (in a good way!) from the Valley of the Kings via the bridge to Luxor train station, with minutes to spare. It's a 13hr day train from Luxor to Alexandria arriving around 01:45.


egypt861 There's some great scenery from Luxor to Alexandria















egypt864Countryside as seen from the train ride from Luxor to Alexandria















This was taken on the bus from Hurghada to Luxor but the road follows the same route as the train between Luxor and Qena - Luxor to Alexandria


egypt180Trains are comfortable and pretty cheap, though buses are likely to be faster, but it's a great way to take in the rural way of life along the Nile - Luxor to Alexandria


egypt866I arrived in Alexandria around 01:45, bed around 02:30 then back up at 06:30















egypt865Alexandria is the major city along the Mediterranean coast, but attracts very few tourists















egypt868Alexandria is famous as the location of the Pharos of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Pharos, or lighthouse, was built in the 3rd century BC but was destroyed in an earthquake in the 14th century. It's thought that the lighthouse ruins were used in 1480 to construct Fort Qaitbey, pictured


egypt885A mural of what I presume is the Pharos of Alexandria - Alexandria


egypt871Casual fishing on the beach, on a cool and windy morning - Alexandria














egypt878Colonial buildings along the seafront Corniche - Alexandria
















egypt874The black and silver globe is a planetarium which belongs to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, a major cultural centre and library - Alexandria


egypt879Al Qaed Ibrahim Mosque is just off the Corniche near Midan Ramla - Alexandria


egypt880Interesting military street art on an electricity power box - Alexandria















egypt882The main square along the seafront is Midan Saad Zaghloul with Cecil Hotel behind, another historic Egyptian hotel - Alexandria














egypt886There was a substantial military presence in the city; I had to take small detours from the train station to my seafront hotel due to soldiers cordoning off several roads. Alexandria is seen by many as kickstarting the 2011 revolution against the Mubarak regime so may be seen as a political hotbed


egypt889Liverpool and Egypt football star Mohamed Salah must be the most famous Egyptian right now. That's sugar cane on the left by the way, ready for pressing into sugar cane juice, just like Mo's holding - Alexandria


egypt893That looks a little painful Mo. Mo Salah was born near Basyoun, in the Nile delta less than 150km from Alexandria













egypt892Welcome to the Octopus Big Size shop - Alexandria














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