Travel with Mona to Ancient Egypt

After a non-stop flight of about ten hours, we had a glimpse of the pyramids from the plane and landed at Cairo International airport. My husband had spent a month organizing our April trip with an Egyptian travel agent from the comfort of our home. He even booked a car with an English-speaking driver for the time spent in Cairo.

Our driver received us at the airport and drove us to Le Meridien, a five-star hotel, at about a mile from the airport. We were spending only one night, and flying early next day to Luxor. We had a delicious dinner of shish-kabob, avoided salad and fruits and sipped a cold Stella beer. We’ve been advised to stay away from any food that wasn’t grilled or fried, and drink sparkling water, to make sure the bottles weren’t filled with tap water.

After a night of rest we badly deserved, our driver took us back to the airport before dawn, and we flew to Luxor in Upper Egypt where the temperature could reach 110o at mid-day in summer. A new driver sent by the cruise-line met us at the Luxor Airport, loaded our luggage, and drove us to the first historic site.

In the time of the Pharaohs, Luxor was called Thebes, the most important capital of the civilized world. The Colossi of Memnon are two monumental statues representing Amenhotep III (1386-1353 BCE) of the 18th Dynasty of Egypt. They are located west of the modern city of Luxor and face east looking toward the Nile River.

The figures rise 60 ft (18 meters) high and weigh 720 tons each; both carved from single blocks of sandstone.
The statues depict the seated king on a throne ornamented with imagery of his mother, his wife, the god Hapy, and other symbolic engravings.

Temple of Hatshepsut was a funerary shrine to Queen Hatshepsut, a place for people to appreciate her power. The temple is cut into the stone of the cliff-side to make it seem as though it is a part of nature. Queen Hatshepsut was the the most powerful, female pharaoh.

You must walk up a long ramp to enter into the temple (reminiscent of the horizon).
We can see the symmetry of the columns (Egyptians didn’t know how else to hold up a roof!)
Though we can tell that she is female, she has many male physical features: her breasts are de-emphasized, she has the classic beard of the pharaohs, and wears the royal male headdress. Her masculine depiction is consistent with the upkeep of continuity and stability for Egyptian rulers (there is no word for “queen” in Pharaonic language–she truly saw herself as a king). 

By the time we finished visiting the Temple of Hatshepsut it was so hot we couldn’t wait to hide in a shady place. Our driver took us straight to the Nile River and our cruise ship.

During a pharaonic festival, the procession of gods would begin at Karnak and end at the temple of Luxor. Each god or goddess was carried in a separate barge towed by smaller boats along the Nile River. Large crowds consisting of soldiers, dancers, musicians and high ranking officials accompanied the barge by walking along the banks of the river. The people were allowed to ask favors of the statues of the kings or gods that were on the barges.

Cruising the Nile River
Aboard our comfortable ship
Along the Nile River
I bought table clothes and robes (galabeyas) embroidered with pharaonic designs. The merchants would throw them up to the ship and we threw the money in plastic bags. They were so cheap.

We spent two days in Luxor walking or rather rushing from one temple to another until I begged our guide to slow down. We could have easily spent four days for a more relaxed tour of the monuments.

Inside a ruined temple
One of several obelisks

The Luxor temple was not built in adoration to a god or to a god figure of the kings and pharaohs; instead, Luxor Temple was built in dedication to the rejuvenation of kingship.

One of the entrance with pharaohs statues.
An entrance with an obelisk

Its construction began by Pharaoh Amenhotep III and was completed by Pharaoh Tutankhamun.

A statue of Ramses II with
his beautiful wife Nerfertari standing by his feet
The Alley of the Sphinxes, the path of pharaohs, once connected Karnak to Luxor. It was a 2.7 km long road, with 250 lamb-headed and 807 human-headed sphinxes on both sides of the alley. In total, there are more than 1000 statues whose age exceeds 3000 years. The avenue was built during the reign of the 18th dynasty of pharaohs (about XVI century BC) and was used for the solemn processions of the rulers. It had been covered with sand for thousands of years. Its restoration began in the middle of the XX century.

On Day two, we visited the Great Temple of Amon at Karnak, This great national monument of Egypt has no equal. Built around 2055 BC, it is not a single temple, but temple within temple, shrine within shrine, pylons, chapels, and other buildings where almost all the pharaohs, particularly of the New Kingdom, wished to record their names and deeds for posterity.

As the new pharaohs changed entrance pylons, erected colonnades and constructed temples, they often reused valuable blocks from earlier periods. In the core of the Third Pylon built by Amenhotep III, for example, there were blocks of no less than ten temples and shrines from earlier periods. Though most of the structures were built in honor of Amon-Ra, his consort Mut and son Khonsu, there were numerous shrines within the complex dedicated to what might be called “guest deities’, like Ptah of Memphis and Osiris of Abydos.

In addition to the temples of Luxor and Karnak, Luxor boasts the famous Valley of the King that harbored more seventy tombs, including the tomb of Tutankhamen—famous King Tut. It is assumed that many more tombs are still hidden under the desert in this area. We visited four of the tombs going down the steps under the rock to admire the incredibly well preserved sculptured and painted walls. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures.

Tomb of Tutankhamen: White color: gypsum, calcium carbonate. Black color: carbon suit and coal. Red color: red ochre and red iron oxide. Blue color: from a mixture of copper, calcium and sand. Green color: malachite

To visit the Temple of Edfu, where the god Horus is honored, the cruise provided a horse carriage for our transportation. It was a lovely ride.

At night, we stop in a town called Kom Ombo and climbed a hill right out of the ship to visit a double temple dedicated to two different deities: the local crocodile-headed god Sobek (or Set) , and the first “god of the Kingdom”, the falcon-headed god Horus.

Set (with the crocodile head) and his wife
Horus (with the falcon head)

The next day we stepped from the ship into small boats that took us to the island of Philae, and the lovely temple of Isis, goddess of fertility. Built during the reign of Ptolemy II (Egypt’s Greco-Roman Period), the Temple of Isis at Philae is dedicated to Isis, Osiris, and Horus. The temple walls contain scenes from Egyptian mythology of Isis bringing Osiris back to life, giving birth to Horus, and mummifying Osiris after his death.

On Day 5, we disembarked at 4:00 am. A new driver led us to his car and waited with a convoy of 100 cars, with several police cars driving ahead, beside and behind us for tourist protection. After a two-hour drive, we arrive to Abu Simbel, site of two temples built by the Egyptian king Ramses II.

In the 1960’s CE, the Egyptian government planned to build the Aswan High Dam on the Nile which would have submerged both temples (and the Temple of Philae). Between 1964 and 1968 CE, a massive undertaking was carried out in which both temples were dismantled and moved 213 feet up onto the plateau of a cliff. We were not allowed to take pictures inside the temples where the statues and paintings beat everything we have seen before.

If you have a chance to take a cruise on the Nile River, you’ll never regret it. The sceneries are fabulous, the monuments unbelievable, and the shopping so inexpensive.

My book THE GODS OF DARK LOVE is the story of Isis and Osiris. It’s part of the box: Tangled Paranormal Nights which is free.

The Gods of Dark Love: The jealous god of storms Seth killed his brother Osiris and chopped his body. The goddess Isis, who loves Osiris, brings him back to life, and searches for one last missing part. But Osiris’s past threatens to separate them more than Seth’s mayhem and curses.

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From best friend to lovers. But she’s engaged. What better way to get rid of the undesired fiancé? Finding him a girlfriend.


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About Mona Risk

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author, Mona Risk, received an Outstanding Achiever Award from Affaire de Coeur Magazine. She's a two time winner of Best Contemporary Romance of the Year from Readers Favorite; a winner of Best Romance Novel of the Year from Preditors & Editors Readers Poll; and an EPIC Award finalist. Mona Risk's name has often been posted on the Amazon.com 100 Most Popular Authors in Romance list, and her books have garnered: Top Pick, Outstanding Read, Sweetheart of the Week, and Best Book of the Week from various reviewers, and received two mentions in Publisher's Weekly. Mona lives in South Florida and has traveled to more than eighty countries on business or vacation. She writes contemporary romances, medical romance, romantic suspense, and paranormal fantasy. Sprinkled with a good dose of humor, her stories are set in the fascinating places she visited or more simply at home. If you like to travel and love to read, come and enjoy her international romances. Meet the spirited heroines and special heroes who share irresistible chemistry in stories that simmer with emotion.  View website

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