Leaving Thanksgiving Day for 5 days in Europe. Visiting Amsterdam and Paris. Wednesday we fly to Egypt to spend a few days before cruising the Nile then head to Petra, Jordan. It should be an exciting trip. See you later.

Heading to Europe for 5 days then on to Egypt and Jordan. Flying into Amsterdam then Wednesday fly to Cairo for Cruise on Nile then to Petra.

We leave tomorrow. It’s getting real.

Lunch in Polaris lounge before leaving

We have arrived. Waiting for rain to stop so we can start sightseeing. \240We did a canal cruise and walked in the sleet.

You can see 7 bridges at once

Restored bridge

Dancing houses because they are all leaning different directions

Holly and I on canal cruise

Today was windmills, cheese and fishing village

They make 15,000 lbs of cheese a day.

We visited Henri Willig farm which produces cheese.

How they carry cheese

Windmills turning

Baby goat


Henri Willig cheese

Robo mailing machines

Edam in front of church

Herring in Volendam

Statute of gentleman wearing typical clothing of Volendam

The port

Stroopwafel bakery

Making stroopwafel

Sinter Klaus’s (Santa Claus) helpers

Dinner at Pancake Bakery. Chicken, cheese and onions. Oh it was delicious.

Today we stayed at hotel and I got some work done. We are rested and ready to go for tomorrow.

Today we met Jon and Holly in Paris. First stop Galeries Lafayette and Louis Vuitton. \240After successful shopping we went on a 3 hour introductory tour to Paris.

Christmas decorations at Galeries Lafayette

The Louvre

The Eiffel Tower

Sacre Couer

Inside Sacre Couer, one of the largest mosaics in the world

Today is easy day. We are changing hotels to airport hotel so we are ready to leave for Egypt tomorrow. \240

Flying to Cairo today. A day of airports and airplanes. I highly recommend the Zurich airport.

We have made it to Egypt home to 25-30 \240million people.

The Rhine from above

Zurich airport at 12:20 pm. The entire airport was this way

Our room overlooks the Nile river which is the longest river at close to 7,000 kilometers long

Egypt was a Christian country until 641 AD. \240First mosque built 642 AD. The Mosque of Mohammed Ali was built as a fortress. \240Mohammed Ali was the first ruler of Egypt. He modernized Egyptian 1805. \240Strong army and navy. \240The mosque was built in 1819. Muslims washed their faces 5 times a day. \240From 1000 to 1150 AD, Egypt was country of Shiites. Now it is Suni Muslims.

At 12 o’clock on Fridays everyone is required to go to mosque. They believe Mohammed was last messenger from Allah. Muslims pray and wash 5 times a day. \240They have to be clean to meet God. \240Women normally pray at home. If they go to the mosque, women are separated from men. They also must fast 1 month per year. Rhamadan is to give up with your senses anything bad. \240Once in your lifetime they are expected to go to Mecca.

Muslims are to give 2 1/2% to charity and the poor even within your own family.

Heiroglyphics were first understood in 1822. Chariots were known to exist in Egypt prior to 1800 BC.

We have armed guards on our bus and saw police everywhere in Cairo. Even saw several bomb squads in gear.

The Mosque of Mohammed Ali

The fountain where they washed their faces.

The well that brought water to the fountain from the aqueduct.

The masoleum Mohammed Ali buried with his feet facing Mecca so when he is resurrected he is facing the correct way.

Inside the Mosque

Everything faces Mecca when they pray

Sultan Hussein mosque

Stone found in Rosetta written in heiroglyphics, dynastic and greek

Statute from about 2940-3100 BC

Artwork found inside a tomb

The builder of the second pyramid

The scrolls. The falcon behind his head.

Recovered from King Tut’s tomb

Recovered from King Tut’s tomb

Outfitted bomb squad

Sunset in Cairo taken by Jon


Sweet potato vendor at market

Dinner at Cairo restaurant

Today we visited Saqqara the site of the first pyramid, the Step Pyramid.

Second stop was Great Pyramids of Giza. They were built in 2700 BCand consist of 2,706,000 blocks. The quarry was 3.5 miles from the pyramids. \240There are 9 pyramids in Giza area.

We then visited the Great Sphinx. What an amazing day. \240The blocks of granite were brought there from Aswan via the Nile River.

The Step Pyramid of Giza

Inside one of the pyramids

You had to crouch down to get into one of the tombs

Block walls that surrounded the pyramid

The pyramid on left is called leaning pyramid and was the first attempt but had problems standing.

The Giza Pyramids

The Great Sphinx

The carpet weaving school. \240Someone I know bought a couple but not me.

Today we fly to Luxor. We are all exhausted and day 2 is definitely an exhausting one. We had to be up at 4 am for our flight to Luxor. There are 350 boats that cruise the Nile. \240Luxor became the capital of upper and lower Egypt 2700 BC. In 331 BC, Alexandria became capital of upper and lower Egypt. The Hall of Columns has 143 columns. The colors are original from 1500 BC. Luxor has 1/3 of the artifacts of the world.

There are only 48 passengers on board out of possible 70.

The grate was the only way to get light in

Statute of Ramses II

Karnack Temple

The dirt ramps were how the blocks were pulled up to build the temple.

Ramses III built temple to honor Ammen

The Hall of Columns

There were 4 obelisks. 2 are at Karnak Temple, 1 is broken and 4th is Cleopatra’s needle moved to the Thames River in England during Cleopatra’s rule.

It took 3 1/2 months to carve

This indicates where prisoners were from by the hieroglyphics

This avenue linked Karnak Temple with Luxor. A distance of 3 kilometers

Today we had to get up at 3 am for the hot air balloon ride at sunrise. It was amazing.

After lunch, we went to Dendera Temple. More than 50% of population of Egypt are farmers. The main crops are cotton, rice and sugar cane.

Since 1952, 9 years of education are mandatory for all citizens. There is more than 30% illiteracy. If they choose they can go to high school and college. It is entirely free. 10% of population attend private school. After school, military service is mandatory. If they cannot read or write it is 4 years service. Higher educated, 1 year service.

As you cross the border from province to province, there are armed security and every tourist vehicle is constantly escorted by security.

Farmer tending his field by hand

Our mode of transportation to hot air balloons

Crossing from province to province

Most residences go unfinished because they are not taxed until finished. Once started, they have 5 years to complete.

Dendara Temple built from 1st century BC to 1st century AD

Bas relief

The colors are still visible

Uncovered in 1843

Cleopatra and Caesar

The Hall of Appearances. 6 chambers were found inside full of artifacts

The furthest chamber where statutes of god or goddess was left. This was first part of temple built

Innermost chamber of temple

Zodiac signs on ceiling

Gate at Dendara Temple

The Temple lake where Cleopatra bathed

Today we visited the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of Queens. 62 tombs have been found so far. 2 are still missing. \240We visited the tomb of King Tut. \240King Tut’s tomb was discovered in 1962. \240The Valley of the Queens has 84 tombs. \240The tombs were cut below ground into the rock. They always had a pyramid on top of mountain to indicate burial site.

At the Valley of the Queens we visited the tomb of Queen Nefartari. \240Queen Nefartari’s tomb was the largest found in the Valley of Queens. It was found in March, 1904 by an Italian archaeologist.

Everyday is more tiring but absolutely amazing. Wednesday is the day we are looking forward to but these are not disappointing.

King Tut’s remains

Walls of King Tut’s tomb

King Tut’s sarcophagus

On walls entering King Tut’s tomb

Pyramid on top of mountain

Inside Queen Nefertiti, wife of Ramses II

The colors inside these tombs have not been restored

Ceiling of Queen Nefertiti tomb

Queen Nefertari, principal wife of Ramses II

The Temple of Hatshepsut

Today we are in Esna, Egypt. \240The vendors here are very aggressive. If you can’t deal with it just stay on boat because it doesn’t get any better.

The Esna Temple is being restored but you will notice the bullet holes where it was used as target practice while still buried under sand. The colors are magnificent. They are using special chemicals to remove the smoke and grit.

The new town was built on top of the old town including the temple.

The rest of the day was spent cruising the Nile to Aswan.

Indications of water from the upper town infiltrating the walls surrounding the temple.

Esna Temple

To show the depth of old town to new town

Old Egyptian house with mud brick walls

Making men’s galabeya (long garment)

Men selling Egyptian cotton tablecloths outside our ship

Entrance to market

Funeral procession made up of all men. The women stay home.

Man selling cotton to make mattresses

Inside Christian Orthodox Church

Security with the market tour

Falcon on top of building for protection

Outside Christian Orthodox Church

Street view

The new next to the old

Sailing along the Nile


Today we are doing a private tour to Abu Simbel. Abu Simbel is about 30 miles from the Susan border. \240Abu Simbel was originally built where it constantly flooded. In 1863 it was rediscovered buried under sand. When Lake Nassar was built, the Abu Simbel temples were moved 250 feet higher. The mountains were recreated and covered with the original stones. The temples were disassembled and reassembled. The larger temple King Ramses II built for himself. The smaller temple was built for Queen Neferatari, his favorite wife. She became sick while it was being built so he stopped working on his and worked to complete hers. He only visited the site of the temples once. After Neferatari died, he never visited again.

Egypt shares the largest manmade lake in the world \240with Sudan, Lake Nassar. Egypt and Sudan were one country until 1956 when they split. \240Due to the war in Israel, Egypt has closed all of its borders. Trucks leaving Egypt for Sudan are stacked up just inside the border. Gas is becoming a problem because Egypt used to import it from Israel so some of the trucks transporting to Sudan have run out of gas. \240Buses from Egypt drop people at the border.

Crocodiles are not controlled so their population is constantly growing.

Aswan city has a population of approximately 2 million people but Aswan province has a population of over 7 million. \240Egyptians live on only 5% of the land in Egypt. 95% is desert. The people live on both sides of the Nile but not in desert.

The military has started a project of growing agricultural products in the desert. They get the irrigation from Lake Nassar and then drill wells approx 25-30 feet deep. Since the war In Ukraine, they have not been able to import these products so they’ve started growing their own.

They are also building an entire city in the desert for the Sudanese caught in Egypt after the war.

Egyptian rest area in middle of desert

Rest area

Crop fields in desert

Several new cities popping up in desert for all the workers

King Ramses II temple at Abu Simbel

The entrance to King Ramses II

The sunlight shines on 3 of the 4 statutes once a year. It used to be Oct 21 but since temple was moved, it is Oct 22. The statute on the left is the god of Darkness which is why he never gets sunlight.

Lake Nassar from entrance to King Ramses II temple

Queen Nefertari temple

Inside Queen Nefertari’s temple, Goddess Hathor

A depiction of offering to King Ramses II and Queen Nefertari

Today we decided to skip the tours and sleep in so I’ll do a tour of ship inside and outside. \240We leave Saturday to go back to Cairo then Sunday fly to Petra.

Starting at top of ship is covered seating area to watch as we sail the Nile

Unfortunately rockers have no sun shade but comfortable

Next level is small pool off the Aquavit

Lounging chairs by the pool


Typical Viking bar

Typical Viking lounge

Views along Nile

A felucca on the Nile

Security everywhere

Today we are in Edfu. We decided not to go in town today so had late breakfast and got ready to disembark tomorrow morning.

Again enjoying the sailing up the Nile. Tomorrow back in Cairo then Sunday on to Petra.

There are only 48 people on board out of 90. It is very personable.

The vendors will go as far as hooking onto the ship and throwing tablecloths, scarves, etc to passengers.

Edfu port

Turkish tea with mint and other spices

Today we fly from Luxor back to Cairo. We will have a walking tour of Coptic Quarter and church.

While we were enjoying breakfast this was our view

Fort of Babylon

The Coptic Church

Outside of Hanging Church

Inside the Hanging Church. The church is suspended between columns of Fort of Babylon

Metro sign

We flew to Jordan early this morning. The weather is unusual for this time of year. There is usually snow but we have none. Unfortunately we are going to have rain the next 2 days.

The Dead Sea is 1300 ft below sea level. \240The Dead Sea is called that because not many organisms can live in it due to the salinity. The water level is dropping 1.5 inches per year.

The Dead Sea

The Dead Sea Museum

The Dead Sea from above

Glamping huts at Dead Sea Museum

Bedouin camp

Bedouin moving goats

Having a hot drink at hotel

Holly and Jon at our hotel

Still a ways to go to reach the Dead Sea

Our beautiful resort

View from pool looking out at Dead Sea

Today is our day of mosaics. \240There are 10 million people living in Jordan. Approximately 5 million live in Amman. There are almost 1 million Syrians and .5 million Egyptians. 92% of 8 million Jordanians are Arabs. 2% are Armenians.

We visited Mount Nebo where Moses died leading the Israelites out. The battle of Jericho was also fought on the site. This was all confirmed by Franciscan nuns in 1933 on expedition. \240The foundation of the Mount Nebo Church was found and the new Mount Nebo Church was built atop it.

Then we went to the Queen Noor Foundation. There they specialize in mosaics and camel hair rugs.

We then had lunch in Madaba. \240We had maqlooba for lunch. Madaba was abandoned from 749 to 1870 due to severe earthquake. In 1895, a mosaic was found of a map. A family was convinced not to build their house on top of it. They donated the land and the money to build St George’s Church on the site.

St George’s Church is the site of the largest mosaic. Approximately 1/3 of a map was found made of mosaics. \240There are approximately 700,000 pieces in the section uncovered so it is estimated there were 2.1 million pieces in the entire map. The map is oriented East to west instead of north to south.

The war in Israel has resulted in a decrease in tourism of approximately 80%.

Bedouin camel

At Mount Nebo Church

View from Mount Nebo toward Israel

1000 year old Olive Tree

Mosaics found at original site of Mount Nebo

Front door of house

Tree of Life of Jericho - pomegranates symbolize prosperity in Jordan

Hand making the mosaics

My purchase

Micro mosaics

Lunch restaurant


St George’s Church


The last castle of the crusaders - Montreal

Today is Petra. The day I have been waiting for. I can’t believe I’ve made it. \240All I can say is Oh My God. It was everything and more. 18,000+ steps 7 hours and fantastic. Hope my pictures don’t disappoint.

People lived inside these tombs until the 1980’s. At that time the government moved them to new homes as Petra became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Treasury

Walking through the gorge

A tomb for a man and 4 generations of his family denoted by the 4 obelisk on top

Camels in front of The Treasury

The Wall of Facades

The Hall of Tombs


The Temple

The mosaic floor of Petra Church

Petra Church

Rock that looks like Nemo

Same rock as above but from another view looks like elephant

The Cave Bar Petra a bar housed in a setting dating back 2000 years

The Cave Bar

Today we leave Petra for Jerash, Jordan. Jerash, is the Roman Ruins in Jordan. The area in Jerash is 3 times the size of Pompeii.

An interesting thing we learned about family life in Jordan is that the father and mother and all their sons and their wives and children live in the same building. The fathers are responsible for giving their sons apartments when they marry. The girls live with their husbands in their apartments but are given the equivalent value of an apartment given to the sons. This money belongs to the bride only. These family clans eat lunch together every day. \240Each family contributes to the expenses of maintaining building. \240When both of the parents die, the sons start their own building for their sons. The girls family must visit her parents every day.

The Greeks took over the city in 350 BC. \240In 749 AD the town was evacuated due to large earthquake. The east side of the city was Reinhabited but the west side where all the temples and churches were was not.

W arrived at the W Amman for our flight tomorrow to Vienna. Then Friday we head home. \240It’s been an amazing trip. Tired and ready to come home but also an excellent adventure.

Our weather this morning. We’ve been very lucky this trip

Hadrian’s Arch

The Hippodrome

The walls of the city

The Forum

The Main Street

The Public Bath

The entrance to the Royal Palace where Queen Noor lived for awhile

Making pita bread in brick oven

King Abdullah I Mosque

Today we start our journey home. Vacation finished. We leave Amman for Vienna and overnight in Vienna then fly to Chicago Friday then to Houston. Late Friday night return.

View of Amman from my 28th floor room

Leaving Vienna, Austria shortly for our trip home.

We have arrived home. A long 2 days to get home.