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Rooms to Explore: Staying in a stateroom on the Nefertiti on the Nile River.
This Rooms to Explore feature focuses upon places to stay that become part of a visit to a destination. These are accommodations that help to bring alive the local history, culture and lifestyle in a very meaningful way — where part of the sightseeing and travel experience is the lodging itself.
Discovering Egypt Pyramids and Palaces from a river boat.
As I sat on the outside sun deck overlooking the surrounding scene, many of the fabled attractions of Egypt came into view. There were the towering Pyramids of Giza guarded by the Sphinx whose face, believed to portray a former pharaoh, sits on the body of a lion.
While Egypt’s pyramids (there are over 100 throughout the country) and recumbent Giza Sphinx get much-deserved attention, monumental temples that were dedicated to the worship of gods, and commemoration of pharaohs, compete with them in size, beauty, and wonder.
The temple complex at Karnak, on which construction began in the 19th century BC, encompasses shrines and monuments built for a series of rulers. Walls are covered by hieroglyphics that are as deeply etched and detailed as when they were carved. The colors of wall paintings are as bright as when artists applied them thousands of years ago.
The temple at Luxor was a center for some of Egypt’s most powerful pharaohs. They included Ramses II, whose reign lasted 67 years, and Tutankhamen (“the boy king”), who took the throne at the age of about eight and died nine years later.
The riverboat tour is spectacular and educational.
These were among treasures that became assessable as the room in which my wife Fyllis and I were staying was making its way along the Nile River. We were passengers aboard Nefertiti, a boat that was designed for the Overseas Adventure Travel tour company to ply the waters of one of the most famous rivers in the world. Our stateroom was sizeable and comfortable, the cabin attendant left towel sculptures on our beds each night and onboard meals were as diversified and delicious as any we ate at restaurants.
What makes a Nile cruise so inviting is that the river passes close to a number of the must-see archaeological gems that have been attracting sightseers since ancient Greeks and Romans came to Egypt to goggle at its structural riches.
While land-based day trips during our week-long voyage took us to some of the most prized places, our time spent on the boat provided introductions to equally fascinating aspects of the people, life, and culture of Egypt.
From our cabin, we could see locals going about everyday lives.
Whether peering through the oversized glass door that led outside our comfortable cabin, or seated on our private deck, we were able to observe people going about their daily lives. We passed by tiny towns of modest mud-brick and concrete houses where women were grinding seeds into flour between two stones, much as their ancestors did, We saw farmers working in fields using tools that might have been passed down for generations. We watched fishermen in tiny rowboats pulling in their catch, and helmsmen steering felucca, traditional wooden sailboats used to ferry both good and people.
Men sitting in the sun sipping tea and smoking a sisha (hookah) pipe watched us as we peered at them, while children playing at the river’s edge jumped with joy and called out greetings, which we returned. After washing clothes in the river, a woman gathered them into a metal pan, balanced it on her head and headed for home.
The Nile is important to Egypt and its history.
We came to understand the importance of the Nile in the history, growth and everyday life of the people who live along and around it. Without the river, there would be no fertile land, a scarcity of food and little electricity.
Given the scarce rainfall in Egypt, the Nile nourishes a narrow stretch of verdant growth along its banks, which quickly gives way to barren desert. It’s little wonder that over 90 percent of the country’s population lives along the waterway, on 3 percent of the country’s territory.
Seeing the dramatic difference between the ribbon of green that winds through an otherwise arid wasteland, and observing villagers whose lifestyles have changed little over centuries, would be reason enough to visit Egypt. Throw in its rich history, and magnificent monuments to that past, and it’s clear why the country ranks high on many a “must visit” Bucket List.
Fyllis and I have visited several of our Bucket List destinations with Overseas Adventure Travel which offers “Small group adventures on the road less traveled” to 80 countries around the world. For information about Overseas Adventure Travel call (800) 221-0814 or log onto oattravel.com. For information about Egypt log onto egypt.travel.
After gallivanting throughout the United States and to more than 75 other countries worldwide and writing about what he sees, does, and learns, Victor Block retains the travel bug. He firmly believes that travel is the best possible education and claims he still has a lot to learn. He loves to explore new destinations and cultures, and his stories about them have won many writing awards.