Samstag, 31. Januar 2009

Since today we are in Siwa, an oasis in north-western Egypt in the libyan desert. We just arrived before sunset, so I can't really say a lot about the oasis but I've already had a small glimpse on the old village built from mud which seems to resemble some malian villages like Djenne - and I fell in love with it immediately. The evening we spent now with some people living here and - as I already discovered in Syria - I have always less problems to understand the Arabic from desert people... don't know exactly why but it's fun after all these big towns where I understood nothing at all that I start to understand here at least 25%, although the egyptian dialect is really hard.

Dienstag, 27. Januar 2009

As I already mentioned we finally didn't take the train ro Luxor but went directly straight into the very south of Egypt, to Assuan. In the beginning before seeing the train we were a little bit worried because we knew that we had to spend one whole night in it - and because of financial calculations we had agreed on 2nd class. But arriving at the train we found out that the 2nd class was not bad at all, lots of space to stretch the legs, a much too good working aircondition (luckily I know this allready from other experiences and had my sleeping bag with me) - only a little bit dirty, but who cares? So we were happy and spent the night in the train, arriving after 13 hours quite tired in Assuan where we went to a hotel we choosed before from our guide books. Rachid wanted to sleeo but I decided to discover the town a little bit and went out alone. First and last try in Assuan because walking down the market street which is incredibly touristic is just like being in the pillory - lots of questions and hassle to buy something but more anoying the guys who said: 'I know you are looking for an egyptian man - here Iam'. After a while I got quite aggressive and started to shout at one of these guys things like if he doesn't know how to treat a woman, if his parents didn't educate him, if he doesn't know how to treat guests coming into his country which earns him a living... blablabla. Was very releaving to do that! This guy didn't answer anything, the others around excused the whole time. So well - I didn't really like this town, also because all the picures in guide books or on the internet don't really show whole Assuan, only small parts, obviously the most beautiful ones. Also the next day didn't really start better because I was just taking a shower when the receptionist from rge hotel started to knock on our door. I wasn't completely dressed, so it took me a whole to answer, Rachid didn't move because he was still sleeping. The roughly 10 seconds it took me to get dressed rhis guy banged like crazy against our door and when I opened he just wanted to know if we stay one more night. First we said yes but decided after this incredibly unfriendly way of behaving to change the hotel - so we got ready in 5 minutes and changed the hotel. In the next one the staff was much friendlier so we were happy. That day, wednesday the 21.01., we decided to take a ferry to a small island in the Nile which lies just in front of the town. As Egyptians mostly use very old cars - especially for taxis - the towns are always very polluted and smoggy, so we were very very happy to see some nature on this small island, smell some fresh air and just walk around through a small Nubian village there, where people were al;so very much less demanding for Bakshish or asking us to buy something. We finished the day with a look at thr temple ruins on Elephantine Island which were specially interesting because a german-egyptian team of archaeologists is still doing excavations there, so visitors can see for example how many layers of buildings were just built on top of each other. Also interesting were the Nilometers which the old Egyptians used to set taxes each year, depending how high the flood was and calculating on this basis the harvest. On our way back we got to know a man in his roughly 60, french origin, who lives on this island every winter. He was incredibly friendly (specially because he just realized after talking about 20 minutes that I wasn't french ;-) and willing to help us find a good captain for a sailing trip down the Nile. So we spent this day and the next mostly on endless discussions about prices for this trip and finally got 2 days and 2 nights for about 30 Euro, including water and nutrition. Before we left we still had to see Abu Simbel, a trip we had to do in an organised tour because of terrorism danger. we started early at 3am from our hotel, went to a place in Assuan where about 50 busses waited to go in an enomous konvoi with police to Abu Simbel. I never in my life felt so insecure under this bunches of rich tourists which seemed to be the most easy aim for any terrorist attac anyone can imaginbe - but that's ecyptian policy. Arriving at Abu Simbel around 7am we went straight inside, visited the temple which was really really worth his 15 Euro entrance. Also the surrounding of its nowadays place just above Lake Nasser is very nice. Afterwards we went back in our bus onto the direction of Assuan, but stopped before to see the in the 60ies by the Russians constructed highdamm. I payed - without really reflecting - 3 Euro entrance just to see almost nothing. Rachid had decided not to pay so he waited outside, very clever! After this waste of money we almost missed out the last pont on the trip bevause we were adriaid on spending money without seeing anything worth the entrance - but the temple on the island of Philae are worth the entrance as you can also see on the pictures I already uploaded. All in all the trip was still a good one - but I hope the one and only day on my trip to spend 50 Euro only on entrances and transport (not even including food and hotel). Friday the 23rd jan. we left Assuan after endless waiting for our Felukka (that's how the small sailing boats are called here), endless discussions about the price of the trip again, hundreds of promises which weren't fullfilled - but finally we left after about 3,5h waiting with a group of people around my age. Unfortunately there was no wind at all so we just drited down the Nile with the currency - but as the curreny is almost not existing, we made just about 5km that day. On the evening the crew lit up a fire and sang some egyptian and nubian songs - and smoked constantly weed. Intersting to see, because they very much identified wioth Rastas, had Rastas, talked the whole time about Bob Marley and seemed so much out of the Egyptian society, spending their life on a Felukka woith tourists, smoking the whole day and night, singing and dancing and drinking beer in the evening. Interesting in comparisson to what we got to know about Egyptians before. The night was ok though quite windy, but at least I didn't freeze. The next morning we couldn't do anything but waiting because quite opposite to the day before we had now storm - too dangerous to start sailing. So we waited until the afternoon and started then, but just made about 15km, so we were still 20km away from Kom Ombo. Nevermind, the 2nd night was quieter, I slept better, and the next morning Rachid and me took a taxi with a canadian couple to Kom Ombo, where we finally decided not to visit the temple because nobody wanted to take care of our luggage - so we took the train to Luxor, this time we wanted to save even more money and took 3rd class (very dirty, very noisy, very bad smell from the toilets), so we only payed 1 Euro for about 250km.Now we are still in Luxor, in the same hotel as the canadian couple, trying to figure out if it is possible to go into the desert without a konvoi or the military. Yesterday we went to Karnak temple and I was happy to see this place again because last timne I went there I was too sick to concentrate on anything else than not just vomiting into every temple and tomb we visited. Tomorrow: Valley of the kings...Kisses to all of you, I'll try soon to answer emails from you personally but this text took me like 1,5h just because you can't see the letters anymore on the keyboard. So sorry if it's sometimes hard to read because of typos.

Sonntag, 25. Januar 2009

our sailing group with the crew

2nd day was quite stormy and grey, interesting new atmosphere

the first evening on the sailing trip with a perfect sunset

sunset on the west bank of the Nile between Assuan and Kom Ombo

on the felukka

sailing down the Nile

Beautiful (and quite calm) island of Philae with parts of the temple

Tempel on the island of new Philae, they were rescued from the floods of Lake Nasser onto another island, the former island of Philae doesn't exist anymore

A Nubian village on Elephantine-Island near Assuan

Marketstreet in Cairo

Inside the al-Azhar mosque

al-Azhar mosque in Cairo, the most famous of Egypt, known in the muslim world for its important university since centuries

The monument of Abu Simbel lies just above Lake Nasser, so not only the site is interesting and impressing but also the nature around

Abu Simbel, the (until now) most impressing site, about only 50km away from the Sudanese border

Pyramides in Gizeh with the Sphinx

Evening in Cairo, picture from the al-Azhar Park

Montag, 19. Januar 2009

Finally we are not going to Luxor today but more to the south, to Assuan. Rachid and me are going to take the night train at 10pm from Cairo, arriving in Assuan after about 12:30h.

Sonntag, 18. Januar 2009

A mummy in the egyptian museum. Pictures are not allowed so I had to take this secretely with my mobile phone - that's why the quality is not that perfect.

Mmh, I didn't want to post the last picture but now I don't know how to delete - anyway, this is the manager of the Hotel where I stayed in Dahab, a very nice and friendly guy who was always willing to help me.

That's now the right one, a picture from the Darwish-Show last night.
Since we are planning to leave Cairo tomorrow after a week here I want to tell you what Rachid and me did here. All in all it was a very nice week, as rachid yesterday said, every day something very special happened - be it some interesting tourisic site or a nice evening with some people we got to know here. But I'll start from the beginning...
After the first day which we spent just walking through the streets, letting this town get into our minds, we spent the next day with one of the guys I met on the Gebel Musa trip in the old Islamic part of Cairo, walking down the streets, looking into some shops, drinking tea... We went into the Mosque al-Azhar, which unfortunately wasn't that impressing as I imagined - maybe also because I prefer the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus. Still it was good to see this very important Mosque. After we went through the small streets of Khan el-Khalili, the market here. It is in some parts very touristic but it"s also very easy to lkeave these touristic paths to walk through the places where locals buy everything they need for their daily life. Afterwards we took a taxi to drive to the park al-Azhar, which lies on a hill - very good idea to see the sunset over the whole town. Unfortunately the smog is that bad that the sun sometimes just disappears behind it for a while, but still it was a quite a great spectacle. Especially when it was then time for the sunset-prayer and the muezzin startet to sing the call for prayer from every Mosque around. In fact Cairo seems to be a very religious town, I didn't expect that in such an intense way. Everywhere around - no matter where you go - you hear all day long from Mosques or from shops, cars etc recitings of the Koran. Also interesting is it to realize that there is a certain "africanity" here - I can't really describe it but it doesn't feel like only being in an arab country but as well in an african country (at least I think so). Wednesday evening we spent with the guy from Gebel Musa and a Canadian (which is on the same trip as I just up to Istanbul to start working there as well) in a bar called Hurreyya, which means freedom. The name ois in fact proramm as they sell cheap beer there (thanks Matthias for the advise!). On Thursday the 15. we went to see the Pyramides. Well, difficult to explain what I think about it - but I was much more impressed by the Pyramides in Mexico, although it is of course somehow a "Must" to see them. Interesting but nothing more. Maybe also because I know so few about this time in history... In the evening we went with the Canadian, his name is Brendan, to a Shisha bar, drank tea and watched everything around us. On friday we decided it was time to see the egyptian museum. Very impressing are the mummies you can see there, still wrapped in. Also interesting was the treasure of Tutenchamun - seeing it, all the gold and jeweleries, you could imagine how much must have gone lost through tomb-robbers. Friday we also got to know a french girl who is at times travellling together with a canadian-french couple who are already on the road since three years. With them and Brendan we spent the evening on the terrasse of our new hostel, to which we changed on thursday, because the other one was too expensive (best idea ever, the new one is just perfect with its wonderful terrasse on top of the building, just in front of the door when you step out of your room). Of course the travel-couple haas to tell a lot of interesting stories, also Audrey, the french girl, so we spent a nice evening talking about a lot of different things. Next afternoon (getting up early becomes different after spending a night with Audrey, Paco and dennis) we decided to go to Mogamma, some administrative building to get new Visa. In fact they told us that we dont need to have new ones ( I didn't really understand why, but I hope this guy knows what he tells us). Later we visited the koptic quarter of Cairo, went into some churches, listened to their prayers and walked through the streets. It is interesting to see this quarter because it seems to be very different than the rest of Cairo, much more quiet. Then the evening yesterday we went together with Audrey, the french girl, Dennis and Paco, the travelling couple, to an old Khan (Karawanserei), which was restaurated in a very nice way. There, a group of about 20 men performed a Sufi music and Darwish dance show, which was just impressing. I very much enjoyed the music, although it was still a little bit too touristic. But half of the guests for the show at least where egyptians - so still ok in a way. Rachid was very much moved by the show which was funny to see. Afterwards we went through some more hidden side streets of Khan el Khalili, the market, stopped to drink tea and got after a beer at Hurreyya home around three o'clock, incredibly tired after this day.
So today we try to get a train ticket to Luxor, want to walk again through the market because we discovered yesterday night some interesting places we want to see at daylight - and I'm pretty sure spend the evening with Audrey, Paco and Dennis.
Hope you are all doing fine, thanks for news from Mirja, Judith, and Muli.

Mittwoch, 14. Januar 2009

Currently I can|t open my email-account - I don|t know why but I|ll try to find out....

Dienstag, 13. Januar 2009

White Canyon

Mount Sinai

An oasis in the desert where we stopped to have beduine lunch

Coloured Canyon

Well, this one is is ok

Sunrise at Mount Sinai - the real pictures from the real sunrise are unfortuantely too bad to post them because my hand were trembling too much of the cold

my hut - for less than 3Euro each night I lived there quite comfortable and the staff was incredibly friendly and helpfull
view from outside my hut in Dahab
Since yesterday I|m now in Cairo with Rachid and we started to walk around the city today - but not that motivated because I spent ten hours in the bus yesterday from Dahab to Cairo and he arrived late from France. Tomorrow we|ll start the real programm...
But I haven|t written anything about Dahab so far, so I still have to tell what I did there. The first thing I did was to climb on Mount Sinai, also known as Gebel Musa. Christians belive that this is the mountain where Moses got the ten commandements from God. Muslims belive it is the mountain on which the horse of Muhammad last set foot before disappearing into heaven with Muhammad on his back. As this mountain is that important to both religions and also known for the fantastic view, huundreds of tourists in groups were climbing it the same night as I did. I was quite disappointed because I knew before that it is a very touristic place, but I thought I have chosen a good moment to climb it because it was not the high season. Still it was not in any way a spiritual experience... too many tourists, guides, beduins, and camels. The beduins on Mount Sinai try to rent Camels to the tourists, so the whole way up you hear all around you> Want camel< I make good price/ We left Dahab in a group around 11pm, arrived submontane around 1am and started climbing in masses. At around 4am we arrived on top and it was freezing cold although I was waering every of my jackets and even took my sleeping bag with me to warm me. So until sunrise - which we wanted to see with all the hundreds other tourists - we still had to wait for 2,5hours, time the beduins used to sell tea, make us poor by using the toilets and renting blankets to those who were ready to pay about 3Euro. When the sun got up I wasn|t tired although I didn|t sleep the whole night, but freezing that much that my hands were trembling enourmously - so I couldn|t take proper pictures of the sunrise. Only when the sun went higher it became warmer and I finally managed to take some nice pictures. Bad luck...
The next day I slept a lot and relaxed in Dahab and booked another trip to two canyons in the desert, one is called Coloured Canyon and the other White Canyon. It was a nice trip, worth the money and I spent the whole day in the desert. Sadly ion our way back my mom called me to tell me that my grandfather died the night before - so I arrived in Dahab feeling very lonely. But the staff in my hotel was very nice and the owner was taking care of me - even willing to give me the key to his private alcohol-reserve to make me - in his words - happy again and to forget about it.NICE - BECAUSE THEY REALLY TRIED TO DO THEIR BEST TO CHEER ME UP AGAIN.

Donnerstag, 8. Januar 2009

Hey everybody,
I arrived happily in Dahab - although I didn't organise or plan anything things went out very well. Now I'm in the Seven Heaven Hotel which I tried to contact before and which is a very good choice. I have a hut for myself on top of the roof of the hostel, very basic but clean and for 4 Euro per night. The staff is very very friendly so I'm happy. Tomorrow I think I'll relax a little bit - I need to get some sleep but maybe I'll do a small snorkeling trip. The weather is hot enough - incredible!
So everything is perfect, I"m hapy to be here, hope you are also doing well...
Anybody who wants to call me - that's my egyptien phone mobile number: 0020-195327376
Kisses to all of you