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Egypt PTR - Part 9: Hurghada (with cred)

gavin

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Here we go again then…

I had a long Chinese New Year Holiday this year (it tends to alternate between CNY and Easter, so CNY last year was a bit crap while Easter was much longer, but this year it’s switched), so had time to do a long-haul trip. Egypt was one of those places I’d always wanted to do as a kid, but then sort of lost interest as I got older. I can’t remember why I decided on it for this trip to be honest.

Cairo

I had a “direct” flight from Hong Kong to Cairo, which actually stopped in Bangkok to load/unload passengers, which was a bit of a f**king cheek really, so ended up sitting on the plane for 15 hours. I landed early in the morning, getting to my hotel at around 8:30am, obviously much too early to check in, but I’d deliberately chosen one near the Egyptian Museum so that I could just dump bags and walk over there to kill a few hours without having to make too much effort.













There’s a new museum being built in the Giza area to replace this one, but information was pretty scarce when I was planning this trip, and it was very unclear as to whether that one had opened yet and whether most of the stuff at the old one was still actually there. Anyway, turns out the new one isn’t ready and most stuff is still in this old one.

















I was most concerned that the Tutankhamun stuff would be gone/moved, but it was there. Along with the room of royal mummies, you couldn’t take pictures in there though, and they were really vigilant in making sure nobody did. It was all very impressive though.

The museum as a whole is full of cool s**t, but feels a bit neglected and dusty with the exhibits thrown together quite haphazardly, so it’ll be interesting to see what they do with the new one.



























I could’ve probably checked into the hotel at this point, but had a bit of a walk around the area first, crossing over the river and paying a relatively stupid amount of money to go up Cairo Tower.





























From there it was to the hotel to check in. I’d been planning on doing creds a bit later in he trip, given the long flight/lack of sleep etc., but decided to knock some off that afternoon. Honestly, given the lack of information/reports from the Egyptian parks and the fact that 10-year-old RCDB photos already made stuff look like it was on its way out, I was expecting a lot of spite.

Wonder Land

I’ll just quickly point out that after the initial walk to/from the museum and tower, which were close to where I was staying, I used an app called Careem to get around Cairo. It’s Middle-Eastern Uber basically. Uber was also available in Cairo, but there were always more cars around on Careem.

I was surprised to find a busy, lively park. It’s only small, but had a fair bit crammed in. As with most Egyptian parks, it consisted of old European stuff, presumably mostly ex-travelling rides.























I only did the cred. I was tempted by the magic carpet since I haven’t seen one for ages and used to quite like them, but this one looked quite violent.

Onto the next place then:

Magic Galaxy

This was a small shopping mall park. The mall itself was pretty fab, being very new/modern/high-end and not what I’d have expected to see in Egypt to be honest.













+1 and moving on:

Family Park

This place didn’t have any pictures on RCDB, but it was pretty big and very nice. It’s kind of a weird mix of regular public park and amusement park. Most people seemed to be using it just as a place to hang out, have a picnic etc, with the few rides there not getting much attention. There’s just a powered dragon thing, and I was surprised to see a fairly major rapids ride, which seemed massively out-of-place here.



























As you can see, it was starting to get dark. One of Cairo’s “major” parks wasn’t too far away. Different sources had it opening at different times – Google Maps, Facebook etc. - but they all had a closing time of at least 8pm, so I thought I’d risk it. Looking at existing RCDB pictures, this was a place I was expecting to find either closed down completely, or with SBNO rides.

Gero Land

It seems that since the last RCDB photos were taken, more stuff has been built in the area. It seemed that this place used to be out in the middle of nowhere, but now there’s a huge Carrefour supermarket, along with other shops, restaurants etc, with the park being behind these.



I was worried at first since there was nobody in the ticket office, but someone came over fairly quickly. Turns out they were closing at 7pm (it was 6pm at this point), and weren’t expecting anyone else to show up. There were still a few people around the park though.

Any kind of water ride (log flume, water chute thing, tow boats) were down, but I’ve got no idea if that was permanent or a seasonal choice since it was winter. The tow boats looked done though. Quick note – the weather was warm in the afternoons without getting too hot, but mornings and evenings were pretty cold. Still, perfect time of year to go I’d have thought.







I was convinced the Boomerang was f**ked. Pictures from 10 years ago made it look knackered back then, I didn’t see any train going round, and it seemed fenced off.





The powered coaster and Vekoma family thing were running anyway. Operations were actually decent. Considering the entrance price was so low (I can’t remember exactly how much now, but maybe the equivalent of around $5?), I was surprised that they’d set stuff off as soon as anyone was on it rather than wait.

















And then it turns out the Boomerang was actually open, so yay?





I hadn’t seen it running because it was an upcharge. As I said, there were a few people still around, but it was very close to closing. These people may well have ridden the Boomerang earlier, but wouldn’t be doing rerides at an extra cost, and were happy to whore the Vekoma roller skater thing. While it looked fenced off, and it was separated from everything else, there was actually a gate that accessed it. It wasn’t great, but I’ve done worse to be fair.







And then it was back to the hotel. Not a bad first day at all. I’d done one of the world’s most “important” (hate that word) museums and managed to knock off 4 parks and 6 coasters when I’d been fully expecting to find closed gates and SBNO creds.
 
The museum as a whole is full of cool s**t, but feels a bit neglected and dusty with the exhibits thrown together quite haphazardly
Dusty is the word. I'm amazed you managed to get such decent pictures of the stuff behind all that grimy glass.
 

Hixee

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And then it was back to the hotel. Not a bad first day at all. I’d done one of the world’s most “important” (hate that word) museums and managed to knock off 4 parks and 6 coasters when I’d been fully expecting to find closed gates and SBNO creds.
Yeah, that's a heck of a first day. Especially following a 15 hour flight (we... 15 hours sitting on a plane - is there a difference?)! Good work. :)

Looking forward to the Gavin take on the rest of Egypt now.
 

gavin

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Next bit then. I tiredly and stupidly agreed with my hotel to let them sort out a driver for the next day to go and see some stuff around Cairo. It wasn’t expensive, but I definitely could have done it a fair bit cheaper by just using Careem/Uber. I could have easily got one of those guys to go off the app and just keep them for the day. Public transport was an option - the Metro gets you pretty close to the pyramids, for example, but you still need another bus or taxi after that, so no, not when faster, more comfortable methods cost f**k all.

Some pyramids and stuff then. I got there earlyish, so there weren’t too many people around at first. Well, other than pain in the arse “staff” trying to “help” you, complete with fake ID badges on lanyards, and constantly having to get rid of offers of horse/camel rides. I’m fairly adept at spotting this kind of crap now and have no qualms just ignoring people and walking off, but I can see how others get taken in, especially if they’re worried about appearing rude.

You get a really impressive view right from first going in.

















It really is very close to the city, but when you’re facing the “proper” way, and once you get further inside the area, it does feel a lot more like you’re out in the desert.





There’s a proper, asphalt road around one side, to the right, but I went up the other side instead, which was only being used by horses and camels. This wasn’t really a well-thought-out decision, more of an accident since I was on that side anyway, but it definitely worked in my favour as there were very few people around.



















The proper road joins up at the back, so I went back down that way, realising as I did so that I’d definitely done things a better way.









The main road cuts between the two bigger pyramids, with a beautiful coach park right in front of the biggest one.











Quite a lot of people had arrived since I had, and that road was full of tour groups, coaches, minibuses etc. It just goes to show how stupid and/or lazy some people are though; they could’ve spent 2 minutes walking around to the back of those pyramids, with very few people around, but were happy to stand in a car park for their selfies. Whatever I guess.





I know that all sounds quite negative, but it wasn’t really. The whole area was stunning and it was easy enough to get away from people by just moving slightly off that proper road. It wasn’t even that busy to be honest; I imagine it gets a lot worse at busier times of year and in the afternoons. Also, I’m not some Lonely-Planet f**kwit, and am under no illusions when it comes to the realities of famous tourist sites.

Anyway, it’s well, well worth doing, but go early, ignore anyone that tries to talk to you unless you actually want an overpriced horse/camel ride, and don’t be afraid to go against what everyone else is doing and get off that road. I’d also go even earlier than I did. I was there for around 9:30 in the morning, but it’s open from 6.











There was another, less well-known pyramid area called Saqqara 45 minutes south of the main Giza Plateau, so I decided to check it out. Meh. The Stepped Pyramid is apparently the oldest in the area (in the country?), and there’s a couple of other bits and pieces around. People will no doubt lie and say that this place is better as it’s “off the beaten track” and there’s nobody else there, but there’s a reason for that; it’s a bit s**t after seeing the bigger ones.













Nearby was Memphis, the ancient capital city, but there’s actually nothing left of it; it’s just a very small compound with a few statues now.













The giant statue of Ramses II was amazing to be fair. I think there are plans to move it to the new museum I mentioned earlier, and get it upright again, but I might have misunderstood something I was told and/or be talking out of my arse.















There’s a park not far from the main pyramids at Giza. I’d originally thought to start off by heading down to Memphis/Saqqara, then doing the main Giza stuff and finishing at the park, but I figured, rightly, that despite the slight back-and-forth, it would be better to do Giza earlier to avoid the crowds as much as possible.

The driver was a bit funny about taking me to the park since it wasn’t part of the itinerary he’d been given by the hotel, but I think he thought that I expected him to wait there for me. Once I made it clear that he could just drop me there and f**k off, instead of dropping me back at the hotel, it was fine.

Some real culture then:

Dream Park

I actually went back out to the main road (about a 10-minute walk from the entrance) when I left the park to get pictures of this amazing sign I saw from the car on the way in. Love it.









I wasn’t expecting to find such a major place to be honest, but there was an on-site hotel, as well as other hotels nearby, shopping malls, a golf course etc. Dream Park itself is just one part of the whole thing.















They, supposedly, offer various packages. Most rides are included with the “silver” ticket, but the “gold” ticket also gets you a couple of coupons for rides which were an upcharge (the biggest of the 3 roller coasters, gyroswing thing, shot tower, top spin, enterprise amongst others). They weren’t selling gold tickets though, only silver, which was fine for me really since I wasn’t bothered about most stuff there. It was cheap anyway, at around 5 quid and then another 1.50 for the SLC.

I’ll just throw some stuff in. There was a fair number of rides, but mostly very generic, off-the-shelf stuff.

















There are not many of these Huss towers around. I didn’t bother with it because they’re f**king s**t.



The SLC wasn’t toooooooooo bad, but was far from good. It’s the model with the extra helix (Blue Tornado, Arkham Asylum etc.)











This bothered me:



More stuff:





















From the flat rides, the only ones I bothered with were the Condor since it was there and didn’t have a queue, and the Breakdance. I’d done a few of those ages ago, and never really rated them, but people seem to hold them in quite high regard, so I thought I’d try again. Nope. Awful.

The second coaster was just a generic Vekoma family thing, the exact same model as at Gero Land the day before. +1







The final coaster, Dark Ride, was more interesting since it’s a Vekoma Enigma coaster. At the moment, only 2 of these are listed on RCDB, the other one being that Walking Dead thing at Thorpe.

However, Space Adventure, a coaster I did a few years ago in South Korea (https://rcdb.com/1398.htm) and now in Indonesia under the name Dark Coaster, used to be listed as one, but now it’s not, and I have no idea why.

I am almost certain that this ride in Egypt is a clone of Space Adventure. The trains are the same, as is the split lift hill layout (short lift hill followed by a turn into a longer lift hill followed by a turn into the coaster section), so either they’re both Enigma coasters, or neither of them is.











It’s not a bad little thing. It feels like it picks up some decent speed, but it’s very short and, despite the name, not in the least bit dark, unlike its twin. It the epitome of cred-in-a-shed really.

Overall, this park quite impressed me. Sure, there’s nothing standout in terms of rides, but it’s a solid collection and is a very complete park. It’s not what I was expecting given the parks from the previous day, but, behind Gold Reef City, I’m guessing it has to be Africa’s best park at the moment.

Another long day done then, including some famous old rocks and some proper Vekoma culture.
 


The main road cuts between the two bigger pyramids, with a beautiful coach park right in front of the biggest one.
Many people assume the Great Pyramid of Khufu is the one on the left but it's actually the one on the right. Khafre's pyramid to the left only appears taller because it's built on higher ground.

Not only that, the Great Pyramid has a lower angle to the sides so it consists of a lot more stone.

Khafre was the son of Khufu so he was clearly trying not only to outdo his old man but also cut back on builders' bills.

Here endeth thine Egyptology lesson.
 

davidm

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I dunno - on that picture isn't it Khufu on the extreme left (looking smaller in the background) and then Khafre in the middle with Menkaure to the right with the 3 little Queens next to it?

Here endenth thine Wikipedia lesson. ;)
 

roomraider

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Nice report as always.

On the Enigma issue. I think that the answer is neither. Both this model and the one from Kumdori are Vekoma Scramjet models not Enigmas.

page_5.jpg
 

gavin

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^ Never heard of that model at all. I guess if that's the case, then X:The Walking Dead The Ride is the only Enigma model.

I dunno - on that picture isn't it Khufu on the extreme left (looking smaller in the background) and then Khafre in the middle with Menkaure to the right with the 3 little Queens next to it?

Here endenth thine Wikipedia lesson. ;)
That's exactly right. This picture is from the west, behind the main entrance to the area.

From the main/typical vantage point, Khufu, the biggest one, is on the right, with Khafre just to the left of it. From there, Khafre looks bigger because of the higher ground level. The more complete tip of it probably adds to that as well.

But yeah, in that picture, Khufu is on the left, Khafre is to the right of that and the smallest of the three bigger pyramids, Menkaure, is on the far right.
 

Hixee

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Wow, inspiring stuff that actually. Thought those pictures of the pyramids (and sphinx) were great!
 

gavin

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The next day I went up to Alexandria as a day trip. I’d planned at first to stay for a night or two, but then realised that is was only a 2-hour train ride from Cairo and there didn’t seem to be a great deal to do to justify a lot of time.

I think I got a train at around 8am to arrive there for a bit after 10. Cairo Train Station is quite fab:





Alexandria

Right next to the train station is some old Roman stuff.



















The next piece of old crap to see wasn’t too far away so I walked. As with a lot of Egypt, once you step away from the actual tourist bits, which most people are ferried between on guided tours, the “real” bits of it are pretty s**ty.





There was some old Roman column which is, apparently, important, with a bunch of other old stuff scattered around. Why I’m not a documentary presenter on TV I’ll never know.













Just around the corner were some old catacombs, which were small, but quite fab. They’re Roman, but designed with some Roman and some ancient Egyptian stuff. You had to leave cameras at the ticket office (they check bags for literally EVERYTHING in Egypt – everywhere has metal detectors etc.), but I sneaked a few pictures with my phone after slipping a security guard a dollar.















From there it was a taxi to some 15th Century fortress, which was all very nice from the outside, but had f**k all to look it inside. The Lighthouse of Alexandria used to sit here.













Some mosque:





Right at the other end of the city – it’s really long and narrow, following the coastline – was some palace/gardens which I wasn’t going to bother with, but when I was looking at Google maps, something else popped up which sparked my interest.

An hour in a taxi to get here then:





I didn’t go in. Instead, I walked about 15 minutes to check out something I’d noticed.

Kouta Park

Yaaaaaaaaaaaas to culture and “unknown” parks.



At this point, RCDB hadn’t listed it, but they did a few days later. I’m not sure if it’s because I’d put stuff on the CF Facebook pages or it was just a coincidence with timing.

There was a bunch of older flat rides. It was quite a decent collection really. I’m assuming all ex-travelling stuff.































CRED!!!!!!





The name on the sign clearly shows where it had been relocated from (turns out to be some small park near Venice), and they’d done an excellent job with matching the giraffe theming to the Golf Mine name.





The plan was to finish off at another park called Fantazyland. This place became a bit notorious for being “the world’s worst theme park” ages ago when Dubai Dave did a report which got shared all over the place.

It wasn’t showing up on any of Google Maps, Uber or Careem, which I took to be a bad sign, especially with Careem, which was very detailed and up-to-date with everything else, but headed over anyway since it was kind of close to the train station.

Fantazyland



Yeah, it’s f**ked.







It was kind of disappointing, but the surprise cred earlier at least made up the numbers for the lost one from here, assuming it’s still even in there somewhere.

It was back to the train station area from there, getting some food at some nearby shopping area and getting back to Cairo for around 10pm.
 

gavin

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Yeah, there’s quite a bit more to this. I probably won’t write too much, but just dump a bunch of pictures.

After Alexandria, I had pretty much another full day in Cairo. This was originally going to be a mix of culture and creds, but I’d hauled ass on that first day and grabbed them all. I headed to the citadel area, which wasn’t too close, but I decided to walk anyway since I had plenty of time and it wasn’t hot. On the way there:

















If you laugh at the name of this museum, which I obviously didn’t, you’re a racist.



The area at the base of the citadel had a bunch of mosques and was all very nice. It was grey and rainy though, which was annoying, but was the only bad weather I had on the whole trip.





The citadel is up on a hill and consists of a couple of mosques, a military museum and other various bits and pieces.













Fab views back down over those other mosques, and the main mosque up there was stunning.





























After that it was down to the “Old Cairo” area, which is pretty much just a pedestrianised street with various churches and museums along it.





























All-in-all, a pretty good day considering those two areas were on the “maybe” pile depending on creds.

From there I picked up my stuff at the hotel and then headed to the train station for an overnight train to Luxor. It’s not the sort of transport I’d usually go for, but I needed to arrive there to join a Nile cruise sometime in the morning, but flight times didn’t work out for what I needed.

Anyway, the train was fine. I paid slightly extra to get a cabin to myself rather than have to risk socialising, and it was all comfortable enough. I’ll chuck Luxor into the next bit.
 

Hixee

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Ahhh some nice Middle Eastern architecture there. Particularly like the citadel interior and views back down the hill.

Good stuff. :)
 

gavin

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Luxor then. No creds, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a sneaky one hiding out somewhere.

I’d booked a four-night Nile cruise from Luxor to Aswan. A cruise is not something I’d been really interested in before, but when I looked at where I wanted to go and what I wanted to see, it ticked it all off. I could have done the same thing with trains, but it would’ve meant a lot more hassle, lugging luggage around, hotel bookings, overnight stays in places which only needed a couple of hours to see etc.

The itinerary I had was to check into the boat around lunch time, then see two of the main temples at Luxor in the afternoon. I had no idea how the whole cruise thing worked, but it turns out the boat is really just a floating hotel used by a bunch of different tour operators.

I had it in my head that everyone on the boat would be following the same itinerary, and I’d be stuck in huge groups for everything, but that wasn’t the case. It turns out that what I’d actually got was a private tour guide for the whole thing, which worked out really well.

My train arrived really early in the morning, around 5:30, so instead of going to the boat, we did the “afternoon” stuff right away, which turned out to be amazing since both places were massive tourist traps, but completely empty at that time in the morning.

First up was Karnak, apparently the 2nd most-visited site in Egypt after the Giza Pyramids. Bunch of pictures:































All very impressive and very cool to have the place to myself (Well, with the tour guide and a couple of staff members). More pictures of old stuff:



























From there, it was a short drive to Luxor Temple. Karnak is just outside the city while Luxor Temple sits right in the middle.













There were originally two obelisks at the entrance, but the one from the right is now in Paris (Place de la Concorde for anyone who’s actually stepped out of Disneyland on their “Paris” trips. Philistines.).











I loved this place. Along with every other Egyptian temple (there are a few more coming up), every surface is just covered in carvings/hieroglyphics, which I wasn’t expecting. When I’ve seen the odd bit of stone in museums with these carvings, I’d thought they must’ve been pretty special, but it turns out they’re covering literally f**king everything.

Another cool thing about this place is that a mosque has been built partly into it on one side. I guess, technically, it’s vandalism and wouldn’t be allowed now, but it looked nice.

Massive Photo dump:























































So yeah, despite being pretty tired, I loved getting those places to myself on that morning.

It was still slightly too early to check into the boat, but we headed there anyway and just sat in the lobby for an hour or so. No idea why, but I got upgraded to one of the four suites. I thought it might be the white privilege I get in Asia occasionally, but most other people on the boat were European, so it wasn’t that. I wasn’t complaining though.





I just had lunch on the boat (all meals included and the food was fab) and hung out on the top deck for the afternoon, going back to Karnak that night for some “sound and light show” which was mostly gash and my pictures turned out crap so I won’t include any.
 

Hixee

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I've been thinking this throughout your report, but that last set of pictures down the 'corridors' of columns has finally given me enough oomph to say it - there's something about both the scale and age of those sculptures that is simply mesmerizing. It's something I just cannot wrap my head around. Same with much of the Roman/Greek stuff.

The big Gothic churches in Europe are impressive enough, but then quadruple the age (at least?)? Man, it's cool.

Good stuff - next please. :)
 

gavin

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^^ It is ridiculously impressive when you (try to) get your head around the ages of it all.
Excellent report. I love Luxor and never get tired of seeing photos of the place.

May I ask which boat you were on?
Al Jamila. Pretty mid-range in terms of prices, but I thought it was really nice.
 

gavin

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The next morning, still in Luxor since the boat hadn’t gone anywhere yet, was a stupidly early one to do a hot air balloon ride. I’d never done one before, and it seemed cheap (not that I know what they normally go for), so I added it onto the tour package I had. I didn't realise until later that day that this was where 19 people were killed a few years earlier when one of them exploded and crashed. Oh well.

This was the first time on the trip that I bumped into hoards of Chinese tour groups. No exaggeration, there were around 20 balloons going up, with around 20 people in each one, and I was the only non-Chinese passenger. This was fine though as my white privilege ensured that I went up in the first balloon to take off, meaning that I was hanging around less at the start and also got out of there quicker at the end.

















The ride was cool. It didn’t last very long – around 40 minutes I guess – but that was fine. It alternated between going really high up and floating along much lower right above fields, houses and power lines.





















Yeah, loads of similar pictures, but they’re uploaded now, so f**k it.



































Loads of ‘em:







The balloons landed near the Colossi of Memnon, which were impressive in size, but lacked any discernable detail.







From there it was to The Valley of the Kings.







I kind of f**ked up here a bit. They had a ridiculously overpriced “photo-taking” ticket, which I didn’t get but ended up wishing I had. At around 20 quid though, it was a total rip-off. Without that, you had to leave any cameras in some cloakroom area, and the guards in each tomb were particularly overzealous if they saw a phone popping out.

The first tomb I went into (Ramses IV?)) was incredible, with passageways just covered in paintings, all of which were still really colourful due to being underground for thousands of years. I was the only person in there, but some guard was following me around very closely. I probably could have bribed him to be honest, but the whole thing seemed more "above board" than other places and there were cameras and s**t.

In the next one (Ramses I?), I managed to sneak a few pictures on my phone since there were a few more people around and the guards were busier. It wasn’t as impressive as the one before though; the colours weren’t as well-preserved.

















I went into a third tomb which was pretty similar to the second. The ticket I had allowed for three tombs - my guide pointed me to those three, but I think I could've chosen others - and there are some that cost extra. Tutankhamun’s tomb was a pretty hefty upcharge, had a ridiculous queue and is, apparently, not all that impressive compared to some others, so I skipped it.

Anyway, my advice would be to suck up the rip-off photo ticket.

From there it was a short drive to Hatshepsut’s Temple. I’ll just dump a bunch of pictures.

































I needed to back to the boat for lunch since it was due to leave in the early afternoon, but since I’d got out from the balloon trip earlier than expected thanks to getting on the first balloon, and since I couldn’t be arsed hanging around for Tutankhamun’s tomb, I’d been getting through stuff quicker than planned, so the guide suggested stopping off at another temple, which wasn’t on the itinerary, on the way back to the boat.

I was kind of “meh” about it, but he seemed pretty enthusiastic and it was only going to cost me a couple of quid for the ticket. The guide was kind of doing it “off-the-book”, rather than as an up-charged extra as part of my official trip, so I went with it. Anyway, it was the Temple of Ramses III, and I’m glad I popped in since it was all very impressive.





































From there it was back to the boat, which ended up not leaving until 4pm (supposed to be around 2pm) anyway.
 
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