Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Round, round, get around...

Hey there campers!

So I thought it best to update you on our recent tourist adventures right here in the UK. Since only those OS ones seem to get a mention… AND… since our days here are now numbered (what with all these public declarations of love and unifying of hearts *enter eye roll here*) we have upped the anti on playing happy tourists by creating a list of things to do before we leave London!

So far we’ve done the following:

Avenue Q:
In an effort to be more cultured, we have added to our list to attend more theatre; the first was Jarratts choice: Avenue Q. An amusing comedy played out by sesame street like puppets who sing and dance about modern day woes including smash hits like "It sucks to be me!", "Everyone's a little bit Racist" and "The Internet is for porn". We highly recommend it for a good laugh!!!

Tower of London:
I met J after work one Sunday with the view of climbing to the top of St Peters, however our hopes were quickly dashed as on Sunday climbing up the dome is forbidden but entry is free!!! So we wandered around inside and made the quick decision to stroll down the Thames and visit the Tower of London. Here we um-ed and ahh-ed as to whether we could justify the inflated prices and see it all in our now shortened window of time. In the end we decided we were there and only lived once so off we went. Inside we saw some funny dressed patrons, the bloody tower, the execution site of Anne Boleyn and the crown jewels, where Bec was caught trying to take a happy snap and quickly confronted!

Tower Bridge and HMS Belfast:
Again meeting J after work one Sunday we headed to the Tower Bridge Experience (!) to visit London’s most treasured landmark. Here we were treated to some amazing views, a remarkable interactive display and one quirky old man who took a real shine to Bec, pointing out that this would be a lovely site for a wedding. Afterwards we headed to the HMS Belfast via Tower Bridges engine room (which proved more of a treat for J’s eyes, than Bec’s). At the HMS Belfast we got an insight into how navy officers and the like lived aboard the ship – no help due to the mundane audio guide. Also despite the best efforts of modern day (and elaborate!!!!) signage, Bec still managed to hit her head on the lowered doorways!

Stonehenge and Bath:
To warmly welcome the arrival of Jess and Frawley, the roomies organised a day trip out to Stonehenge and Bath. Despite leaving early, traffic got the better of us and we ended up arriving late at Stonehenge which resulted in shortened time at Bath. However, we had a wonderful time together jumping for joy because (of) Stonehenge rocks and leisurely checking out Baths… Baths. At the end of the day we headed home via yet another cheap burger at the local watering hole, O’Neils!

Shakespeare’s Globe:
Last, but not least, we spent last Sunday attending our first performance of Shakespeare at the Globe Theatre. We aptly choose King Lear and did not in the least regret our choice, despite the 3 hours standing on concrete and slight threat of rain; the 5 pound yard tickets certainly did the treat! Afterwards we strolled along the Thames and somehow ended up at Temple Walkabout for a few cold beverages to wind up the weekend!

And that’s it… We still have a few points left on our list despite efficiently knocking a few off over the last few weeks, but like our travel planning as soon as one is ticked off and done, four more are added…. But, I’m sure there are harder problems to have.

Anyways, how are you all?

Outside the Tower of London.

Tower Bridge from the outside...

... and from the inside. You can just see St Pauls dome (by Bec's sunglasses) and the HMS Belfast (on the Thames) in the background

Inside HMS Belfast... before the head bumping incident!!

At Stonehenge...

Attempt number 3 - this didn't take much talking into either! Its surprising how convincing an early years teacher can be... even to grown men ;)

Inside the Roman baths at Bath with the Abbey in the background!

Inside Shakespeares globe... with front row (standing) um... seats?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Walk like an Egyptian

Sorry, its a long one....

Day 1 Cairo. We arrived at Cairo airport at 1am on Sunday morning after a poor flight from BA, where there in-flight movie service didn’t work and after booking the flights together, all three of us were split for the flight. We quickly retreated to bed to best preparing ourselves for the busy week ahead.

Day 2 Cairo. After about 4 hours sleep we awoke to start our tour of Cairo, we made our way to Sakkara, the first capital of ancient Egypt, famous for its step pyramid built by King Zoser in 2700 B.C. We were also able to go into one of the pyramids called Titi Pyramid, which was awesome to see inside, and how they decorate the walls. The afternoon was spent visiting the Giza Plateau to explore the world famous pyramids of Cheops, Chephren and Mycrenos. In the evening we boarded an overnight train to Aswan. We were in first class seats, (Egyptian first class) which smelt of cattle and the facilities were just as good. But after a restless sleep we tiredly awoke.

Day 3 Aswan. Our train was delayed during the night so we headed to the hotel to have lunch and freshen up before visiting the Philae Temple - dedicated to the Goddess Isis. That night we headed to a local nubian village for a traditional dinner, with entertainment and a few cold ones.

Day 4 Aswan, Felucca Cruise. Today saw a very early, miserable start to the morning! At 4am we jumped on our tour bus and meet up with a police convoy for our 2 hour journey towards the Sudanese border to visit Abu Simbel, Ramses II most impressive temple. After that we looked at the High Dam before a drive-by visit to the unfinished Obelisk. After a late lunch we boarded our traditional Felucca to start our voyage on the Nile. With the wind in the sails we headed downstream, sailing north. We remained on the felucca overnight where we were treated to a delicious local meal prepared by the crew.

Day 5 Felucca Cruise. Today we kept sailing on the Nile all day long, enjoying the relaxing atmosphere of one of the greatest rivers on Earth. We jumped in and out of the river along the way. That night we set up camp on the shore and had a bomb fire and games before retiring to our felucca.

Day 6 Felucca Cruise, Komombo, Edfu, Luxor. After breakfast we made our way to the Komombo Temple which was built during the Ptolemaic and Roman periods. The temple is dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek and god Horus. Afterwards, we continued on to Edfu to visit the largest and best preserved temple in Egypt. The temple is dedicated to the falcon god Horus and was built over a 180-year period from 237 BC to 57 BC.

We then made our way to Luxor. After checking into our hotel, we headed straight to the pool (via KFC) to lap up some Egyptian rays before being escorted by our Egyptian tour guides to a local irish pub (?!) for our group dinner.

Day 7 Luxor, Valley of the Kings, Hatshepsut, Cairo. An early wake up call, or 3 (!), we stumbled out of bed for our sunrise hot air balloon over the Valley of the Kings and Luxor. We had a great view and really enjoyed it. The flight lasted for just under an hour with captivating views of the Nile. After the hot air balloon ride, we started to explore this magnificent site, The Valley of the Kings and Queens. “the city of the Dead”, where majestic tombs are carved into the desert rocks, decorated richly, and filled with treasures for the afterlife of the Pharaohs. We visited a number of tombs including Ramess II, Tuk an Kahm and the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut.

With the mercury rising we had a quick spin around Karnak and Luxor Temple before the sun gave way to heat stroke and we wanted nothing more than a dip in our luscious hotel pool! After a pretty amazing dinner of steak and pepper sauce, we boarded our overnight train to Cairo, which was better than the first although the air con made for a rather (freezing!) cold night.

Day 8 Cairo. Our journey continued with a visit to one of the most important museums in the world, the Egyptian Museum. Which houses more than 100 000 relics of ancient Egypt and 30 percent of the worlds ancient relics. We also explored an Egyptian Mosque, the Hanging Church and the world famous Kahn El Khalili bazaar. Where Bec escorted by two “very luck men” (Michael and Jarratt) was continually asked by the curious salesmen “You have two husbands?” That night Bec and I went to the very Disneyfied sound and light show of the Pyramids and the Sphinx, a great way to cap off our Egypt tour

Day 9 Cairo. We left our hotel for the airport at 5am for our flight back to London. Where we landed at lunch time only to wait half an hour to go through the customs line, than to wait another hour for our bags to arrive! BA and Heathrow, what a team!

Happy snaps time...

Sakkara Pyramid

The three of us on the Great Pyramid of Cheops

Lookout spot at the Giza Plateau

Pucker-up Sphinxy!!!

Philae Temple near Aswan

Abu Simbel

and again (Abu Simbel)

Its a hard life...Clilaxing on the felucca

In the middle of the Nile...

a LITTLE excited to be in the Nile!!!

Wow, right? Our sunrise view from the hot air balloon.

Doesnt get much better!!!

In the valley of Kings.

See, Becs not the only one to do silly statue poses!!!

*cough* Ahem, our FIRST class sleeper...

Had to be done... hehe.