This Nile cruise has a double appeal I’m discovering:
First, there’s the appeal of all the ancient tombs and temples; we’ve seen places in the last few days that I never dreamed I’d actually see. Back in high school we talked about the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens – sure you believe they exist, but not really – like they exist in a sort of parallel place that is true but unreachable. But no, you can walk in, and see all the figures, right there, larger than life, still in lavish colours.
It’s unbelievable the embarrassment of ancient riches they have here. I was expecting snatches of hieroglyphics on the walls of a few ruined temples but there are more tombs than you can visit (or would want to in this heat), more hieroglyphics, more temples. The museums spill over with treasures, there are ancient statues littered around the garden, a piece of the beard of the Sphinx is kept in the basement of the Egyptian museum in Cairo, not even on display.
The second level of appeal is the meta-enjoyment of it as a romantic adventure. I’m walking around with a picture of myself as the African explorer while in fact I’m very much on the beaten track, doing the whole thing in luxurious comfort and safety. Still, the sense of adventure is palpable, the possibilities are everywhere. They found a new tomb in the Valley of the Kings just a few years ago, who knows, maybe we walked right over the site of another: stuffed with treasures, artifacts and golden statuettes. Even Edfu temple, which we visited this morning was only discovered 150 years ago and it’s HUGE and almost completely intact, every wall covered in hieroglyphics and tableaus of the gods and pharaohs – so much you don’t know where to point the camera. So anyway – that’s me, being the intrepid explorer-lady: Jane from Tarzan, or Meryl Streep in Out of Africa – all the while cruising down the Nile enjoying 3 course dinners, air-conditioning and twice daily room cleaning… a hard life this back-packing gig!