Thursday, December 31, 2009

And a Happy New Year

We just rang in the New Year here in Germany and as we were sitting here with friends playing Apples to Apples and eating mass quantities of dip I couldn't help but think of how much has changed since Nate and I's first New Years Eve here in Europe, our first New Years Eve as a married couple.
December 31st, 2006 we were in Paris on the Champs Elysses dodging fireworks set off by drunk frenchman and then standing on one of the bridges of the Seine River and drinking champagne while we enjoyed our view of the Eiffel Tower. Tonight when the clock struck midnight we were in the front yard dodging fireworks being set off by our friends and drinking sparkling cider while we listened to the church bells ring out.
No matter where we are and what we're doing I'm glad to be starting another year with my best friend by my side...I love you honey.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

One Week in Egypt

We've been home from Egypt for almost a month now and I'm just now sitting down to write about our trip. I have some legitimate reasons for why it has taken me so long but the truth is that everytime I went to sit down and do it I realized how much I had to say about it and the thought of beginning was daunting. Luckily I'm now feeling up to the task and since it hasn't officially been a month yet I figure I'm still writing in a relatively timely manner, so here it goes...

We left for Egypt on Sunday the 22nd of November. We flew from Frankfurt to Cairo on Egyptair and had a relatively uneventful flight. I was a little overexcited about the little things like all the things on the plane being in English and Arabic, but I think that was just my excitement for the trip spilling over. I took quite a few pictures of things on the plane just because I was so eager to get there. When we arrived in Cairo and were waiting to receive our visas the Reese madness began. All these Egyptian men started pulling out their cellphones and taking pictures of Reese as she wandered around the little area outside passport control. One guy even came over and asked to pick her up to take a picture with her, this was the first but would be far from the last time someone asked to take a picture with her. Once we got our visas we went to catch our next flight down to Luxor. We didn't arrive in Luxor until about midnight so we went straight to our hotel and Reese and I got ready for bed while Nate went with a bunch of other people from our group down to Pizza Hut to get some food since everyone was starving. I have to say that I generally dislike Pizza Hut, but Egyptian Pizza Hut is WAY better than American, that and I was starving so I'm sure that made a huge difference.

We only got about 3 or 4 hours of sleep that night because we had to get up early Monday morning to start our sightseeing. First we drove over to Karnak temple which was an amazing first stop for our trip. Our tour guide, Abdul, had a master's in Egyptology so he could literally answer any question and was able to tell us so much about ancient Egyptian culture. Reese was pretty much passed out the entire time we were at the temple thanks to her late night but when she did wake up she was all over the place and enjoyed just getting to walk around. She found some stray dogs at the temple and in typical Reese fashion she wanted to hug it and love it but luckily she settled for just looking at it from a distance. After Karnak temple we went and saw how Papyrus was made and saw some really cool paintings done on Papyrus. From there we went on to Luxor temple where we wandered around and saw the image of the fertility god. After that it was lunch time so we headed to our cruise ship to check in, have lunch and catch up on all the sleep we missed the night before.

On Tuesday we were still in Luxor and we got up early once again to go to the temple of Queen Hatchepsut. Queen Hatchepsut had tried to subtley suggest to the people of Egypt that she was a man so she could be pharoah so the images of her are somewhat manly but the artisans included details to show that she was in fact a woman so her plan didn't work out so well, though she had another plan later that worked in her favor. Our tour guide had warned us that nothing in Egypt is free which was so true, there would be men in robes at the different sites that would try and show you something and then want you to pay them for doing so or would ask you to take a picture with them and then you would have to pay them, luckily Nate and I had no issue saying no and just walking the other way since I didn't want to get swindled. There was one guy who was playing with Reese at the Temple of Queen Hatchepsut and I did take some pictures of them playing but then he wanted me to take a picture of him with her and I said no thinking to myself how I already had a picture of them together. After the temple we went to the Valley of the Kings where there are more than 60 tombs including that of King Tut. We were able to go inside a few of the tombs and it was amazing how much the colors on the wall had survived the time. We weren't allowed to take pictures inside, though I'll admit that we did sneak one inside Ramses IX's tomb. After we left the Valley of the Kings we stopped at the Colossi of Memnon to take a picture and it was a little sad how deteriorated they were. It's really only an outline at this point but it was still very cool to see. We finally returned back to our ship to sail for the rest of the day which ended up being very entertaining. As we were approaching the locks at Esna, Nate and I were in our room getting Reese up from her nap and I looked out the window to see these little fishing boats rowing towards our ship. I was so confused and then one of the little boats hit the side of our boat, they were merchants who were trying to sell things to the people on top of the deck. They would wrap these blankets and shirts in plastic bags and chuck them up onto the deck, it was hilarious. Then when we were leaving the locks these young boys started throwing old film canisters onto our ship and begging us to put money in them and throw them back. One guy put a euro in one and threw it back and it ended up sparking a fight between these group of teenage boys. It was crazy to watch, but I'll admit it was an entertaining boat ride.

On Wednesday morning we woke up in the tiny town of Edfu and went to the temple there. Edfu is not a typical tourist city, the only thing there is the temple so on the ride over to the temple we got to see what a typical Egyptian city looked like complete with the street market and complete lack of hotel. The temple there is for Horus and had some really cool artwork on the wall. After our tour guide gave us free time to explore we let Reese wander around the outside of the temple and she had a great time exploring. That was pretty much our routine at every stop we made, we'd have her ride in the backpack while the tour guide took us around and gave us the information and then when we were given time to look around on our own, we'd let Reese down and let her stretch her legs and lead us on a walk to see what she was interested in. When we returned to the ship we had the afternoon sailing on the ship so took the opportunity to play in the pool and do a little tanning. The weather was one of the best parts of the trip, getting to sit in the 70-80 degree sun every day as opposed to the dark skies and cold temps of Germany was not a part of the trip that we took for granted. In the late afternoon we docked and went to the Kom Ombo temple which is a dual temple for the gods Sobek and Haroeris. The temple was constructed as like a mirrored image with the two parts side by side. One of the highlights was the extremely realistic depiction of a lion biting a hand, the fact that the ancient Egyptians were able to be so detailed with the technology they had was pretty amazing. We walked from the temple down to a depiction of what an Egyptian farm house would look like, it was a little cheesy but this farmer down there had some animals and it ended up being one of the highlights for Reese. She get to pet a baby goat and once again she was in love, she just wanted to to keep petting it and trying to pick it up and then she cried when it was time to leave the baby goat. That night on the ship we had a Galabeya party which is where we all dressed up in the traditional robes, ate traditional Egyptian party food, and then danced and played games. It was a lot of fun and Reese loved the dancing.

On Thursday we arrived in Aswan and rode a smaller boat down the Nile to a Nubian village. While we were on the boat these kids swam up to the side and were singing to us and basically doing anything to get us to give them money, some people had some little hard candies which they gave to the kids who were quite excited to receive them. We got off the boats a ways outside the village and got on camels to ride into the village. I was so excited for the camel ride and decided to have Reese in the backpack so that she wouldn't fall off, it was so scary when the camel went to stand up since I was afraid the weight off her on my back would throw me off balance and make me fall but our tour guide stood next to me and made sure we got up safely. The ride was fun and the rocking put Reese to sleep pretty quickly, when we got to the village we wandered around and saw the set up of how the Nubian people live and we even got to hold a baby crocodile. Then of course they were all set up to sell us stuff so we bought a pretty cool knife and then got back on the little boat to head back. From there we went in to Aswan and saw the unfinished obelisk which was an obelisk that hadn't been completely removed from the quarry. The Egyptologists believe that they started to extract it but then saw that there was a crack in it so they abandoned it. As we were leaving the quarry we had to walk through a little market place. As I stated earlier, nothing in Egypt is free, so when a little boy said that he wanted to give Reese a present we said no thank you but he kept handing her this book mark and insisted that it was a present, and low and behold he didn't want to be paid for it. This happened over and over again at this market place and she ended up leaving there with two bookmarks, two bracelets, two necklaces, and a few scarab charms. All the men there were saying that she was good luck and so they wanted to give her luck. From there we drove over to the High Dam and then went on to Philae temple which we had to take a boat to. When we finally arrived back to our boat everyone was ready for something different from the usual boat food so we had our Thanksgiving dinner at a McDonalds there in Aswan and then went down to the marketplace to wander around. In the market place once again people were all over Reese, they took pictures of her, wanted to take pictures with her and wanted to give her presents. Nate and I probably could've made a lot of money on this trip if we had charged people for taking pictures of her, but it was just flattering to have so many people commenting on how cute our little girl was.

On Friday we went to the airport in Aswan and flew back to Cairo for a day of sightseeing there. Our first stop was the hanging church which is a Christian church and one of the highlights for me. The architecture and design was so different from the churches that you see in Europe and I just enjoyed seeing something so different. We then went to the synagogue and then over to a mosque where I had to make sure I was fully covered. The mosque was a little anti-climactic since we had been prepped for there being a ton of people there since it was a Muslim holy day, but it ended up being empty between prayer calls. After the mosque we went to the Cairo museum where a highlight would be the mask and various treasures of King Tut, other than that we were all so tired that all we wanted to do was relax and not be wandering around a museum, in a nutshell it had been a very long day. Our last stop was the Khan El Khalili bazaar where we didn't spend much time since most of our tour group was ready to get to the hotel and relax.

On Saturday, our final full day in Egypt, we finally went to see the pyramids of Giza. It was as exciting as I had built it up to be in my head. At the Great Pyramid we got to ride camels for a little bit and we were allowed to climb up the pyramid, the feeling of being on the pyramid was crazy and while Reese didn't quite have the same image going in her head she loved playing on the pyramid. We then went to the second pyramid and the third pyramid before we drove over to the Sphinx. After all that excitement we drove to a restaurant in Sakkara which ended up being the best meal in my opinion. I loved all the different sauces that they had to dip the flatbread in and the meat was really good too. Then we drove over to Memphis and then on to the step pyramids where we got to enter a pyramid. It was this tiny opening and we had to bend over the whole way down and then walk squatted down until we got to the burial chamber. When we got back to our hotel they had one of those huge blow up slides for the celebration of the holiday so Reese played on it for the rest of the night taking turns having us take her to the top.

On Sunday morning we went back to Cairo airport and flew home to Frankfurt. When we arrived we were greeted with a gloomy sky and cold weather, we missed the sun god immediately.

I'm trying to think if there's anything I've forgotten, but other than hoping that I've given you the full impression of how many photos were taken of Reese by people who are not her parents, I think I've said it all. We had a great trip and we had an amazingly well behaved little girl the whole time we were there. We traveled with an amazing group of people and I don't think we could've had a better time, we did everything we wanted to and still had plenty of time to relax and enjoy the sun. (I could only add a few photos to this post but I have a ton uploaded if you click on the "Egypt" link under "Even More of Our Pictures")

Thursday, December 3, 2009


So we went to Egypt Nov 22nd-29th and I've yet to have time to sit down and blog about all the wonderful and amazing things we did while we were there. I'd like to say that that was what I sat down to do right now, but unfortunately I'm not. I did however add the link to all the pictures on the sidebar under "Even More of our Pictures." If you select slideshow on the page of the photos the captions will show up, and yes I'll get around to writing about it very soon since if I don't I'll never remember.