Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pictures from my Egypt Trip

Our last day in Cairo we went to the Egyptian Museum. First of all I want to say that it was amazing and overwhelming. They have so much stuff in there that they just start piling stuff up on top of each other because they need room. Another thing... There is NO air conditioning! It was sweaty hot in there, after a while I couldn't even enjoy myself as much because I just wanted to go somewhere and sip on cold water. Instead of temperature controlling all the ancient artifacts they just use the hot weather air to do the job.

Above is one peice of the amazing tomb treasures of "King Tut". The tomb was found remarkably intact by Howard Carter in the Valley of the Kings in 1923. Artifacts on display include the gold funerary mask and sarcophagus, four huge gilded boxes that fit inside each other, an ancient trumpet, thrones, and even a royal toilet seat.

So the picture above is from Luxor, previously known as Thebes. It flourished from the mid-22nd to the 18th century b.c. as a royal residence and a religious center for the worship of Amen. Luxor Temple, Karnak Temple, Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens, and The Colossi of Memnon are all located within or near Luxor.

Luxor was a pretty nice city... for being super... um... poor. The experience of being there was great. The people were friendly (especially the shop owners ;I ) and the sites were amazing.
Haha, here's a pic of some Fanta, Sprite, and Cola Cola in Arabic. These drinks were only about $.50 each :)
These pictures coming up are from the Karnak Temple in Luxor. This site was one of my favorite because it was huge, open and had SO much to see. It covers about 200 acres!

Little history lesson:

The temple complex of Karnak, dedicated to the Pharoah Amun, was the center of his worship and of his wife Mut and their son Khons. Each of them had a "precinct" (area) in the temple complex, the greatest and largest belonging to Amun. There was also a precinct for Montu, the falcon-headed local god.

Construction on the Karnak temple complex began in the 16th century BC and continued into the Greco-Roman period - a period of up to 1300 years of construction. Around 30 successive pharoahs added their own touches to the complex: a new temple, shrine, or pylon and carved detailed hieroglyphic inscriptions (

Karnak Temple is one of the main tourist destinations in Egypt, it comes in 2nd to the Pyramids of Giza.
We met some nice people at our hostel and walked around with them for a while. We ened up going to dinner and to see the Luxor Temple (below). Luxor Temple is a temple complex in Luxor dedicated to Amun, a creator god often fused with the sun-god Ra into Amun-Ra. What's interesting is that at the entrance there used to be (and there still were a few left) a line of sphinxes that lead all the way to the entrance of Karnak (they're about 2 kilometers apart)!
This road was known as the Sacred Way or Avenue of Sphinxes.

Egyptian tea was served everywhere and was really good! It black tea, and sometimes it was mint black tea.
Below- Still Luxor
Colossi of Memnon (below)
The original function of the Colossi was to stand guard at the entrance to Amenhotep's memorial temple (or mortuary temple): a massive cult centre built during the pharaoh's lifetime, where he was worshipped as a god-on-earth both before and after his departure from this world.

Temple of Hatshepsut (below)
Maatkare Hatshepsut or Hatchepsut (late 16th century BC – c. 1482 BC) was the fifth Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty of Ancient Egypt. She is generally regarded by modern Egyptologists as one of the most successful pharaohs, ruling longer than any female ruler of an indigenous dynasty. To legitmize her powerful position, Hatshepsut had herself depicted with a pharaoh's kilt and beard.

After Hatshepsut's death, Tuthmosis III became pharaoh. Perhaps fearing a challenge to his legitimacy as a successor, he immediately chiseled all images of Hatshepsut off temples, monuments and obelisks. This temple has been reconstructed because it was destroyed by Tuthmosis. Inside we were able to see some of the original parts of the temple.

As far as the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens goes... We were not able to take in any cameras :( This was a new law that was just created like a year before. Real bummer!
More Luxor photos...

This was the rooftop of our hostel. Very cool little area that we would go to and hang out, sip some hot tea (in 100 degree & humid weather, lol) and talk to people.
Above we are waiting for our sleeper train to arrive. The trip from Cairo to Luxor was about 8-9 hours long.
When we were in Cairo David took some sneaky shots around our hostel (from a balcony). The top one is hilarious!
Below is our Egyptian tourist Visa. When we landed we had to go to a bank window where they sold us these for 15 US dollars or Euros. Little David had dollars so he got the better deal (US dollar is worth less than Euro)!
Pyramids of GIZA!!!!!!!
Yes... We ARE standing on one of the Pyramids!
It was so hot and sunny that it made sense to get some head coverings.... At this point I didn't have one yet and it sucked!!!! I was getting so dehydrated and whoozy (even though I was chugging water).
The picture below was a complete fail. It was taken by the tourist police. :D

This Sugar Cane Juice bar was in Luxor. I was going to try to stay away from juice bars and many other things because of the easiness of getting something like Mummies Tummy... but... I couldn't miss out on the local cuisine... This juice was pretty good, it was milky and sweet. Very refreshing.
Below we are standing in a very ancient Mosque.
One of the days in Cairo we met up with an Egyptian guy (whom we met through Facebook because he's married to Blanka, who is Bara's sister) who took us to the Citadel.
In the 12th century, Saladin and his successors built an impenetrable bastion in the Citadel, using the most advanced construction techniques of the age. For the next 700 years, Egypt was ruled from this hill.
Below: The Mosque and Madrasa of Sultan Hassan in Cairo is one of the largest Islamic religious buildings in the world.
Local cafe... tea and hookah!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Luxor: Part 2

So today is our last day in Luxor. We were able to go see all the sites we wanted and now are just hanging out. You see it's not so easy to just head out and wonder the streets like it would be in cooler places, it's peak time for the heat right now and it sucks! When you stand outside for 10 minutes you start to sweat so much that it just pours off of you. The nice thing is that by now were used to it and it's not as bad as it was the first few days. Everyone is sweating and it's all right! What's funny is that nobody really smells.... It's so hot that the sweat doesn't really have a smell ( thank god).

Today we went to go see Karnak Temple. I think it was my favorite site yet. You're able to see how grand the temple would have been back then because they reconstructed a lot of it and its huge! I guess it was buried for a long time ( thousand years I think) and it's one of the most impressive ancient temples to see.

Our night train leaves tonight at 8:30pm, so we'll be there an hour before, luckily it's only a short walk away. One nice thing about traveling here is that the cab rides are crazy cheap. For a 2mile ride it cost us 10 pounds (only $1.75 US) and I it would have been a few pounds less for an Egyptian.

Another thing I wanted to mention was how cheap the food is here in Luxor. It's even less expensive than in ciaro. For lunch today David had a traditional past mix thing, I had a falafel sandwich, other David had an egg sandwich, and we had 2 sprites for 16 pounds ($2.80). I love the cheap food thing... Now I only wish we had more money for more shopping. I would have loved to get presents for people but it's just impossible for us to do so. So sorry to disappoint everyone but no room or cash for gifts.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Cairo continued: part 1

Being here just a few days has done wonders and I already feel more comfortable. I now know how to ride the metro, take a taxi, and barter. Man oh man can I barter! Haggling is like a game here, you ask how much something is and then cut that price down at least to half ( we sometimes even go less if they are way up there). You go back and forth trying to get a price that works for both people. I'll go through some examples of things I've bought. When I tried to buy my head scarf the guy offered me 50 Egyptian pounds (about $8 US), I cut that price down to 10 pounds, he starts with lowering the price to 40 pounds, I still keep my firm 10, he goes to 30 pounds. I say "he'll no" and stay with10 pounds. After he doesn't budge I say "fine, goodbye" and leave. He follows me a ways and finally buckles to 15 pounds. I gave in and said fine.... So I got my scarf for about $2 dollars.... Not bad right! This is how it goes... I also got myself a white tunic, a long Egyptian dress (like the ones many of the ladys wear here), and a cool aladdin looking lamp.

One annoying thing about here is that as a Western woman I get a lot of attention here. It's not as bad as if I was in other Muslim countries, but it's still annoying. I made sure to wear leggings and a sweater covering my arms and body but I still stand out. My clothes are tight fitting and that makes me stand out. Many of the younger girls will wear tighter jeans and shirts, but at least they have the head scarfs and full coverage (my neckline is showing). It defiantly sucks wearing all these layers (sweater & pants in hot humid weather= too hot and sweaty).

Even though this is a liberal Muslim country they still don't allow hugging and kissing in public (you can get arrested for it) only if you're engaged or married you can hold hands. I don't remember if I mentioned this earlier but the metro station has designated womens train cabins. When we were getting on David had to pause and step back because he noticed it was an only female cabin.... So we took the next train, me on the female one and the boys on the male ones.

So right now we are hanging out at our hostel, waiting to head to our night train. We ended up ordering the *way more expensive* private train so that we could get sleeping beds and our own space. You see we were going to take the cheap first class egyptian train but then we met some fellow hostel peps who said that their worst travel experience was on that train. I guess they said that the air-conditioning went out and all the 2nd class people were coming into the 1st class to use the bathroom and there was crap all over the floors( and spilling into the 1st class cabins, tons of it!)

Alrighty, I'll have to write more later, bye!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Culture Shock: Cairo, Egypt

Oh man, I made it! I'm here in Cairo and in awww at what I see! Everything is so different here it's crazy. First of all, when we landed And entered the airport I could see the differences right away. The difference in dress is one of the first things I noted. Most women are very modestly dressed, wearing head scarves and long sleeved shirts under their fashion clothing. The men wear mix of Western clothing with their traditional Egyptian wears. I'll have to post pictures later because I can't remember details right now.

Before being able to leave we had to go to these windows where banks exchange money and sell the Visas. The Visa cost David and I 15EUROS while bro David only had to pay $15US dollars. Lucky he had the US money, it cost him less! After we got the visas we headed out to the customs booths and they inserted the visas. Then we headed out to find our ride. David arranged our pick up through our Hostel. At first we couldn't find our ride so we just headed outside to see if he'd be waiting out there. The second we got out there the heat blazed against our faces! Man that airport was really well air conditioned! Then, right away, the taxi drivers start coming up to us and asking if we'd like a ride, "for a great price of course". I think I got asked like 20 times in 10 minutes!

Finally we heading inside because this tourist info guy told us he could help. So as we're asking to make a phone call to our hostel the guy starts up this little act... "oh.... You're staying at that hostel... It's a really bad one... You should stay at this one instead." At first we were totally listening but then we realized that this was what was to be expected. Everyone gets some commission if they get people to their friends hosels/tours/taxis. Anyway, right then a guy comes up with the sign from our hostel and David's name. Phew! He was just in time! We didn't even say anything, we just left rigtt away with him.

Man... All I can say is that it can be a battlefield out there for tourists I'd they aren't a wear of some of the tricks people use. Luckily we got a great little hostel with some funny guys managing it. I have sooooo much more to say, but it's got to be continued cause little David wants to see the iPad too! I'll write more later.... Byebye!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Museum of Communism

Yesterday the two Davids and I ventured into the Museum of Communism and I'm glad we did. The museum focuses on the totalitarian regime from the February coup in 1948 to its rapid collapse in November 1989. The theme of the Museum is "Communism- the Dream, the Reality, and the Nightmare." Starting out we read up on the history of how the Communist Party came to power. We moved along and followed a path through time. There were different sets, a factory, a historical schoolroom, and an Interrogation Room. All the information was very interesting and extended beyond just what it was like in the Czech Republic. There was also a video on that I thought was awesome because it showed footage from different protests (Spring 1968, Velvet Revolution 1989, etc).

One of the best parts for me was all the different Propaganda posters. Throughout the museum there were Lenin busts & corky posters. We couldn't help ourselves and had to buy some posters in the gift shop... I have to post some of the posters here (these are obviously the ones made for tourists):

My photoshoot by Peter DeLong

So right before I left for Prague I noticed that an old high school friend of mine was offering anyone to do a mini photo shoot. I jumped on the opportunity. Normally I am not the type of person who enjoys photo shoots since I can be pretty critical of myself... however I want to have some nice pictures of myself. Peter did a pretty good job for just 30 min. Having some background in posing people had me throwing some ideas out, but I think his ideas were basic poses for maximum results. Looking at the pictures I also now know to relax more. Some of my smiles and poses seemed anxious... Anyway take a look and enjoy.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back to Prague

I can't believe I'm heading to Prague tomorrow! It seems totally nuts.

I'm so glad this summer is over. Seeing everyone was just what I needed, but I'm completely ready to head back and start some traveling before school starts. So my flight out of Portland is at about 1:30pm. The poor Davids are getting up super early to leave before me, I think they'll be at the airport by 4am. Meanwhile I'll be sleeping in... Today Janet and Paul are coming to Seaside to pick us up and we will stay with them the night. It's nice they can do that and that they live so close to the airport.

I will be arriving (with the pups) into Prague about 2:30pm, the 16th. Since the Davids will be in Prague before me they get a taxi ride home from Pepa (lucky!), I'll be taking the metro back. Speaking of, I really need to find some $crowns$ so I can buy the tickets to get home! I think Art said he had some left over money from when he came to visit. That would so be perfect...

Yesterday was a really awesome & busy day. I went to visit my grandma, grandpa and uncle to say my goodbyes. Then I headed to the Lumberyard Restaurant in Cannon Beach. My dad, David, and brother David all came (this early dinner was for my birthday & a goodbye treat). Thank you dad for the amazing steak & beer!
Then we made plans to meet up with friends at the Wine Haus at the Outlet Mall. It was super fun. I'm so glad we went there for a last hang out... When the Wine Haus closed at 8pm we all headed to my moms. It was a perfect ending for a perfect day!
I'm really going to miss everyone... I'll try to make sure to keep up with this blog. Later!