Next up… Aswan! We took a 13-hour overnight sleeper train from Cairo to Aswan which is always an experience in itself to say the least. I’ve ridden on a few overnight sleepers in the past couple of years while traveling abroad and the experience is always about the same for me. I’m a light sleeper so it’s hard for me to sleep since the train makes frequent stops, they often slam on the breaks to the point where you almost fall out of the cot, it’s loud, the bathrooms are sub-par, and people never understand to NOT throw toilet paper in the toilet since there is no plumbing and it gets clogged. But, when in Egypt!
Philae Temple Complex (7th or 6th century BC)
After arriving at the Aswan train station we headed straight to the Philae temple complex. This temple is located on an island in the Nile river and can only be reached by boat. Interestingly when the Egyptians built the Aswan high dam the temple complex had to be relocated to higher ground to keep it from being submerged under water. So they cut the temple into small pieces (~40,000 pieces) and rebuilt it 500 meters away on a different island between 1977-1980.
Abu Simbel (1264 BC)
One of the main temples I was looking forward to visiting in Egypt was Abu Simbel. This iconic temple was carved into the mountainside during the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II to commemorate his reign along with his wife Nefertari. This temple complex is located in southern Egypt on the border with Sudan. We did a day trip here waking up bright and early at 4 am for the 3.5-hour car ride there and back. You can also fly if you are short on time.
Dinner with a local family
One of my favorite things that Intrepid incorporates into their tours is interactions with the local community. So one night in Aswan we went to a local home for some food, conversation, and dancing. The meal we had was one of my favorites from the entire trip! I prefer a home-cooked meal to eating out any day.
A popular thing to do in the Middle East is to shop for spices. So during one of our nights in Aswan, we went to a local shop and got to taste test and buy some spices. I opted to buy some hibiscus tea since we had been drinking it everywhere we went and it was so good warm or cold. Hibiscus and mint tea are popular in the area and are available at most restaurants and shops.
Next up: Luxor, Egypt