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.

NEW RELEASE on August 2nd

KISSING PLANS, (Love Plans Series, book 6) available at Amazon

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

The Secret To Happier, Stronger Relationships by Taylor Lee

I’m personally and professionally a relationship freak. Personally, I’m lucky to have a lot of relationships, most of which are incredibly satisfying and bring me joy. Professionally, I’m a romance writer which means that my “work life” revolves around writing about relationships. In all my books, the relationship challenges between my heroine and hero are an important part of the story. Some books feature the guy as the troublemaker and the woman tends to be the problem solver. In other stories, the woman comes close to being a pain in the ass, while the guy is the peacemaker. Or, more often, they mix it up. Given that I’m a stickler for Happily Ever After endings, my books always end with peace, at least for the moment, between my main characters.

Relationships

In addition to analyzing and creating fictional relationships, I also like to study them. I came across some interesting research that identified the factors that mark a successful relationship. The most intriguing element of the research, which was done at the University of Georgia and published in the journal Personal Relationships concluded that two words were the determinants of happy successful relationships.

What are the two magic words that make couples happy with their relationships?

Drum roll, please.  The two words are: Thank You.

The University of Georgia research confirms that individuals who take the time to say thank you to their partners, their lovers, their family members, and friends tend to have the happiest, most fulfilling relationships.

Given that, I want to say thank you to all of you, my readers, my newsletter followers, my treasured team, and my fellow Authors’ Billboard authors, who make my life so fulfilling.  Thank you, guys.  I appreciate the heck out of you!

Taylor

And a tangible confirmation of my appreciation, check out:

 

Betrayed

 

BETRAYEDBook 3: The Criminal Affairs Collection

By Taylor Lee

FREE! FREE! FREE TODAY July 26

BETRAYED: Book 3 in USA Today best-selling author Taylor Lee’s Sizzling Hot Detective Series, The Criminal Affairs Collection.

A rising-star political hotshot wants Viviana’s expertise and to bask in her media aura. And not incidentally, he wants her!

Viviana is hard enough to control. Now Jax has to fend off an interloper who is almost as sexy and arrogant as he is. And that’s saying something.

In the ultimate betrayal, Viviana is forced to acknowledge that her infamous go-it-alone MO has not served her well. In fact, she almost loses everything important to her, including the man she loves above all else.

Finally, Viviana has spent her life denying her ugly past. But her nightmares have caught up with her. Disregarding her fierce refusal, sexy police chief Jax insists that together they will find and punish the evil men who abused her.

 

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Line of Fire

Line of Fire: Passion Meets Politics

Facing political opponents is a piece of cake for Gia. Facing her insecurities about her superstar lover is another matter.

Gia’s unconquerable political skills make winning the election a sure thing. If only she was as confident of her ability to capture and keep her inimitable lover. The arrival of one of his former paramours doesn’t help. Particularly, when the sexy blonde agent isn’t above sowing seeds of doubt in the insecure Gia—just for the heck of it.

Corrupt doesn’t begin to describe Gia’s political opponents. Try hooking up with international terrorists. Oh yes, and silencing a pregnant mistress when necessary. They might have been able to get away with it, if not for Logan and his super- secret agent team.

Unfortunately, the villains conclude if they can’t take Gia down at the polls they’ll have to take her down… permanently.

Grab Line of Fire today. Discover how challenging elections can be when sex and violence are in the mix.

 

The Statue of Liberty

From the moment of its dedication, the Statue of Liberty has been an enigmatic monument.

The colossal statue was a gift from France and the brainchild of French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi to symbolize America’s message of liberty to the world.

The sculptor behind the Statue of Liberty, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, was born in 1834 in France, in the Alsace region on the border of Germany. When Auguste was nine, his mother Charlotte moved with her children to Paris and allowed them to study under some of France’s most accomplished artists, braving the city’s civil unrest for her sons’ education.

After completing his first commissioned work at age twenty, a large bronze statue of Napoleonic General Jean Rapp, Bartholdi traveled with a group of French cultural ambassadors to photograph works of antiquity in Egypt.

They encountered desert landscapes where ancient cities lay in ruins but colossal statues remained, inspiring Bartholdi to write “These granite beings, in their imperturbable majesty, seem to be still listening to the most remote antiquity. Their kindly and impassible glance seems to ignore the present and to be fixed upon an unlimited future.”

As an emerging artist, Bartholdi actively searched for commissions as well as inspiration, and he secured a meeting with Khedive Isma’il Pasha of Egypt, the ruler overseeing and funding the French construction of the Suez Canal. Bartholdi presented a figurine for a colossal lighthouse depicting an Egyptian fellaha, a female serf, entitled Egypt Carrying the Light to Asia. This design was ultimately rejected by the khedive.

In 1865, a French political intellectual and anti-slavery activist named Edouard de Laboulaye proposed that a statue representing liberty be built for the United States. This monument would honor the United States’ centennial of independence and the friendship with France.

The Statue of Liberty was built in France between 1875 and 1884. Bartholdi required the assistance of an engineer to address structural issues associated with designing such a colossal copper sculpture. Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, just prior to creating his famed Eiffel Tower, was engaged to design the massive iron pylon and secondary skeletal framework that allows the Statue’s copper skin to move independently yet stand upright.

Construction of the Statue was completed in France in July 1884. The massive sculpture stood tall above the rooftops of Paris. For its trans-Atlantic voyage aboard the frigate Isère, the Statue was reduced to 350 individual pieces and packed in 214 crates. The ship arrived in New York Harbor on June 17, 1885.

Back in America that same year architect Richard Morris Hunt was selected to design the Statue’s granite pedestal, and construction got underway. The pedestal was completed in April 1886. The statue was reassembled on Liberty Island in 1886, although the torch has been redesigned or restored several times since its installation. Finally, on October 28, 1886, President Grover Cleveland oversaw the dedication of the Statue of Liberty in front of thousands of spectators.

The sculptor behind the Statue of Liberty, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi found his inspiration in the Land of the Pharaohs. You can take an armchair trip to Egypt, visit the Pyramids of Giza, and cruise along the Nile to Upper Egypt and the famous temples by reading SECRET KISSES.

Katy Mahoney, Hoda Seif, and Sarah Kohn. Three girls from different backgrounds and religions pledged to maintain their friendship forever.

On Graduation Day, Katy meets Hoda’s oldest brother Tarek, a dark and handsome medical graduate who can’t take his eyes off her. The graduation celebration ends with Hoda and Omar breaking off their engagement, Hoda exchanging a secret kiss wit Liam, Kathy’s cousin, and Omar befriending Sarah and renting a room in her house.

Three best friends, three secret and forbidden romances.

For five years, the three friends meet and exchange confidences and advice. Sarah is concerned about Omar’s narrow-mindedness and decides he has to change. Katy knows she’ll have a battle royal on her hands with her pious Catholic mother. And Hoda is in a worse shape. Her family’s religion forbids her to marry an infidel.

Will they choose the men they love and break with families and traditions? Difficult choice.

ON PREORDER

Kissing Plans: From best friend to lovers. But she’s engaged. What better way to get rid of the unpleasant fiancé? Finding him a girlfriend.
Family Plans: A plane crash destroyed their lives. Can it bring them together despite the painful secrets it uncovered?
Healing Plans: He adopted two minority children but lost his wife. Finally things settle for him, until the lovely surgeon he hires turns his life upside down.

Happy Birthday to Me! by Taylor Lee

What do Nancy Pelosi, Donna Shalala and Maxine Waters have in common? Clearly, they are all women. If you guessed that they are older women, you’re right. But how old? In their fifties, sixties? Try in their 70’s and 80’s and you’d be right. We all know Nancy Pelosi is 81. Not to be outdone, Representative Donna Shalala, the former US Secretary of Health, became the oldest freshman in the new House class when she was elected in 2019. (She was 79 at the time.) But Representative Maxine Waters can top that. She became the first woman and African-American to lead the Financial Services Committee at age 80. She is still serving at age 84.

Women

According to a fascinating article by Jessica Bennett in the Jan. 8, 2019 New York Times, older women are doing a heck of a lot more than “roaring”. They’re rewriting the roles they are playing in the US today. Is it just political women who are rewriting the “you’re too old” rules? Hardly! Glen Close, at age 71, broke those rules in an arena that, to say the least, does not value age in their women stars. Close beat out four younger women to win the Golden Globe for Best Actress.

Let’s Face It…

The movie industry is not known for their deference to age. Except when it comes to men. Female movie stars rarely crack the “age ceiling”. According to Time magazine, “male actors hit their professional peak at 46, while female actors top out at 30.” Responding to that report, Helen Mirren recalled that, at 37, Maggie Gyllenhaal had been told she was “too old” for a role opposite a 55-year-old man. Apparently she adds “As James Bond got more and more geriatric, his girlfriend’s got younger and younger. It’s so annoying.”

Even in the business world, it was breaking news when it was announced that Susan Zirinsky will take over CBS News in March, 2019. Ms. Zirinsky was the first woman to hold the job. She was also the oldest person to assume the role, at 66. Amazing! Bennet quotes Ms. Zirinsky when asked about the effect of age on her new job, “Age — don’t worry about it. It’s a state of mind. I have so much energy that my staff did an intervention when I tried a Red Bull.”

Representative Donna Shalala agrees. “Age is just a number. What the women’s movement did was develop generations of strong women. We had professional careers, we were achievers in our fields, and you’re seeing the result of that now. And we’re comfortable in our own skin, and we don’t put up with nonsense, and we have a sisterhood.”

Gayle King, who was 64 at the time, a co-anchor of CBS This Morning, said in an email, “I’ve embraced every birthday … what’s the alternative, bitch and moan? I believe if your body and brain are healthy and you love what you do and the people in your life, what’s the downside of THAT?! So I’ll say it loud, I’m 64 and (oh so) proud.”

Happy Birthday to ME!

Personally, I couldn’t agree more. Point of information. Today is my birthday and I am 78 years old today!  Whoee. I have three extraordinary daughters, four gorgeous grandsons and an 83 year old best friend/lover who’s added even more sparkle to my life these last five years. I work out in some way seven days a week. (Usually 8 miles on the elliptical). I do pull-ups on the chin-up bar. I can now hold my weight for ten seconds with my legs extended at a ninety degree angle. My goal is 30 seconds…

Was my life always this great? Heck no. In fact, in the not-too-distant past, in my late 60’s, it was downright crummy. I needed to do something different. So, I decided it was time to turn my strategic consulting firm over to my daughter. I also left a marriage that was making my then husband and me most unhappy.

Then something miraculous happened. On one of my multi-mile runs, I started hearing voices and envisioning almost movie-like scenes. Rather than checking myself into the loony bin, with the encouragement of my daughters, I did something I had never considered. At the ripe old age of 68, I began writing romance novels. Make that steamy romance novels and sexy mystery thrillers. It wasn’t as if I had a choice. My characters insisted that they come alive on the page. Ten years later, I’m writing my 50th novel. Frankly, I’m amazed and a little more than awed at my gift of creativity.  It’s magic!

So happy birthday to me and all of us older women who are not only “surviving” our age, but “thriving in it”. As we should. We are older women. Hear us roar!

My Birthday Gift to You!

5 DAYS ONLY

FREE – July 1-5

RAMPAGE; Book 1: Mayhem on the Mountain

Rampage by Taylor Lee

*She’s an investigative superstar.

*He’s a formidable county sheriff.

*She’s as determined to reveal the insurrectionist leaders as he is to stop her dangerous exposé.

Calian Begay’s an archetypal rugged county sheriff. Arrogance rolls  off of him in sheets. But then having been elected by seventy-plus percent of the voters justified his cockiness. No small feat for the grandson of a famous Ute Indian chief.

Determined to capture the treacherous domestic terrorists threatening to take over his county, Cal admitted the only thing standing in his way was the media bombshell intent on riding  the simmering inferno to national fame.

From her inauspicious role as a beat reporter, Scarlet Comstock clawed her way to the top of the heap, becoming a local, then regional, and soon, if she had anything to say about it, national investigative media phenom.

She knew all her blockbuster exposé needed was for her to capture the leader of the American Patriotic Front addressing the “White is Might” conspiracy crazies.

Remembering Cal’s fierce warning what would happen if she disobeyed him, Scarlett admitted the formidable sheriff had done what no man had. Made her think twice before she blew him off. Which she concluded only confirmed he was to be ignored.

Face it, which was more compelling? Winning a coveted national award or obeying the arrogant sheriff who, after warning her for the third time, had the temerity to threaten her physically if she “didn’t behave.”

If you like brazen media stars, tough-as-nails lawmen, and scorching passion, you’ll love Taylor Lee’s sizzling new thrill-ride. Discover how challenging exposés can be when sex and violence are in the mix. Grab Rampage: Book 1; Mayhem on the Mountain and prepare to be wowed!

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Don't Stop Believin

Don’t Stop Believin’

*She’s an accomplished attorney.  He’s an arrogant District Attorney.

*When the sparks start to fly, her past rears its ugly head threatening to take them both down.

Kiera Burke was an enigma.  The super-star District Attorney was thoroughly taken by the beautiful, Mensa-smart woman but couldn’t figure her out. What he’d assumed was aloof superiority, he quickly realized was painful shyness. Which he could have handled.  It was when he saw worrisome signs of a much deeper trauma, that he admitted he was facing his biggest challenge yet.

Grab Don’t Stop Believin’ and restore your belief in the power of love to heal the most devastating wounds.