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Archive for ‘November 11th, 2022’

Egypt and Beyond Day 08, Date Picking

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Today sees us rise and shine at 3 AM! Well, as much shining as can be done at that hour! We meet our mornings guide (not Mo) in reception at 3:30AM. He takes us for a short bus ride to a River Taxi where we cross the Nile. From there we board another bus and drive for a half hour to a large open field. As we approach the field, we can see they are setting up for us. Dozens of setups that is! We step out of the bus and into the field after promising we have no cameras except cell phones. Little do they know (or perhaps they do) that our cameras are out of site in backpacks!

What is in the field you want to know? Well it’s simple if you haven’t already guessed! Hot Air Balloons! Waiting to be filled and take us over the Luxor Valley and the Valley of the Kings. It isn’t long and they are loading 24 of us (yes, 24!) in the balloon’s basket!

Our cell phones happily catch the action as the balloons fill. Then after we are all in the basket and are rising aloft, our cameras are thrilled to be taken out of their hiding places It seems the Egyptian Aviation Administration has issues with tourists using real cameras to photograph from balloons!

Well, sunrise is beautiful from a Balloon even here in Egypt! Sunrise over the Nile! Who’d have thought I’d ever see that? The Valleys drop away below us and our cameras are in their happy places! Our pilot takes us higher than the other 30-40 Balloons for a short time and we drift silently above the Valley of the Kings!

I had been worried about it being chilly up at altitude so I borrowed a sweatshirt from a fellow tour friend that didn’t come along for the balloon ride. I needn’t have worried as I had forgotten how warm you stay every time they fire the burners. Quite hot actually!

We float above the Valley for most of an hour before the Pilot starts bringing us down. We come closer and closer to the ground and we wonder where he is actually going to set us down. Shortly before touching down we actually scrape through the side of a Date Palm Tree and Elee and I pick Dates off the tree on the way by! No one is hurt or even close to it, but there you go with the title of today’s Blog!

We finally touch down in the middle of a plowed field but nowhere that the Chase Trucks could get to us. The Ground Chase Crews have reached us though and the Pilot hits the burners and keeps the balloon a foot off the ground as the Chase Crews push us almost a half mile to a small service road!

Small children find it quite fun to run to us and get their photos taken and Elee and I give them Dates we picked. They really want money like all Egyptians want but we disappoint them.

Finally down on solid ground, they start collapsing the balloon and we climb out. We DO tip the Chase Crews as they did all the hard work! Back in the passenger vans, we head back to the boat for breakfast.

It is all over by 7:30AM and we eat and check out of the boat! Luckily for me, it seems the Pharaohs have released their Curse on me! We meet up with Mo and he then loads our luggage onto the bus and we visit Karnak Temple for a tour. More ancient Egyptian ruins assault and attack our cameras and they fight back both happily and successfully! Unfortunately, for me, ‘Karnak” brings back memories of Johnny Carson and the Tonight Show with his skit of “Karnak Says”! How many of you remember that?

Karnak visited, we are appropriately exhausted and we check into the Steigenberger Nile Palace Hotel, the nicest lodging yet and I daresay a ‘Real’ hotel. It is considered a 4 Star Hotel but I would rate it easily a 5 Star based on all my travels! We have a room overlooking the hotel pool and the River Nile! We have lunch in one of the many restaurants within and choose an Italian Restaurant and order Pizza and Beer. Refreshing!

Then it is to our room for a much needed nap for 2 hours. We wake somewhat refreshed just in time for another excursion to Luxor Temple at sunset. Sunset photos of an ancient temple are fun to take and our cameras are having a really good day! Even a policeman allows me to take his photo, which is usually a no-no in Egypt!

Now for dinner in a Lebanese Restaurant, also within the hotel, and the food is spetacular! Now back to the room for Blogging & Bed! Goodnight!