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Archive for January, 2019

Jordan Revealed

by on Jan.26, 2019, under Happenings

January 13, 2019

We flew from Cairo to the Jordanian capital of Amman which was an extension of the Wendy Pangburn’s (PI) YPO Egypt trip. Twenty-eight of the original group plus a couple who joined us made our group thirty in total experiencing the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. We were met by our two excellent Jordanian guides, Zak Salameh and Majdi Saleem. Amman is a clean, more modern city with more orderly traffic than Cairo with one-sixth the population. Our first stop was the Citadel which is at the center of the city on one of the hills upon which Amman was built. The Citadel is important because it has a history of being occupied by many great civilizations. There is evidence from pottery excavated of use during the Neolithic period (12000 years ago). Monuments show the historical names of Amman including Philidelphia. The prominent structures include the Temple of Hercules, a Byzantine church and the Domed Umayyad Palace.

January 13, 2019

We then traveled by bus to our hotel the Kempinski Ishtar Resort on the shore of the Dead Sea. The hotel complex is amazing and we enjoyed a little downtime although the windy cool conditions precluded a float on the famed Dead Sea. We worked out in the hotel gym which shocked our bodies back to reality before of course more cocktails and dinner.

January 14, 2019

After breakfast, we boarded our bus with the first stop being the site on the Jordan river where according to the bible Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. The Al-Maghats ruins are located on the Jordanian side of the Jordan River that includes ruins of churches, baptism ponds, as well as pilgrim and hermit dwellings. Thirty yards across the river is Israel and a baptism location which was in use at the time of our visit. There is also a new church on the site for worshipers on the Jordan side of the river.

We then traveled to Mount Nebo the highest point in this part of the ancient kingdom of Moab. In the Bible, Mount Nebo is the mountain where Moses was granted a view of the Promised Land. This is also the place where Moses died and was buried. The Franciscans have excavated the site and in 1993 completed the Memorial Church of Moses. They have incorporated mosaics from the ancient basilica that occupied the site. There is a cave stone used to close cave dwellings from biblical times on display on the approach to the church.

From Mount Nebo we continued the short distance to the City of Madaba, known as the “mosaice city”. The city is on the site of a very ancient settlement. In 1881 settlers discovered mosaics buried beneath the rubble. The most famous is the unique partial map of the Holy Land in the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George. We visited the church prior to having a fun lunch at a Jordanian restaurant.

After lunch, we traveled to the ancient city of Petra and checked into our unique hotel which was originally built by the Bedouins. The next morning we got an unauthorized 5:00 AM wake up call with the call to prayer from the nearby mosque.


January 15, 2019

After breakfast, we visited one of the new Seven Wonders of the world. Petra is a vast, unique city, carved into the sheer rock faces by the Nabataeans, who settled there more than 2000 years ago. The Nabataeans, prospered taking advantage of the location at an important junction for the silk, spice and key commodities trade routes that linked China, India, and southern Arabia with Egypt, Syria, Greece, and Rome. The entrance to the city is through the “Siq” a narrow gorge, which is flanked on either side by soaring cliffs. The Siq has tombs and temples carved on the cliff sides as well as an amphitheater and advanced water control and distribution system. With sea trade supplanting overland transport Petra faded, but it was rediscovered in 1812 and has become Jordan’s number one tourist attraction. The film “The Last Crusade” with Indiana Jones that was filmed in Petra didn’t hurt tourism, but the place exceeds its hype. Petra is truly a wonderful wonder.

Faces of Petra


January 16, 2019

After breakfast, we left Petra and headed south towards Aqaba, a city on the Jordan/Saudi Arabia border location of the world-famous Wadi Rum. It is an amazing desert landscape made up of monolithic rock formations that rise up from the desert floor to heights of 5740 feet. It was made famous by being the place where Prince Faisal Bin Hussein and T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia ) headquartered during the Arab Revolt against the Ottomans. This where the movie Lawrence of Arabia was filmed as well as the recent film “The Martian”. We explored by four-wheel vehicle and saw the narrow gauge train like the one that Lawrence targeted and viewed the unique landscape. We had tea in a Bedouin tent and lunch cooked in the traditional Bedouin style under the sand.

After lunch, which got a little gritty when a sand storm started, we began our drive back to Amman. The sand storm intensified, then turns into a thunderstorm, then a hail storm and finally as we entered Amman a snow storm. We checked into the Four Seasons and showered the sand out of our hair, had dinner and then after a little weather based uncertainty took four-wheel vehicles to the airport to catch our one AM flight back to the United States through Paris. What an incredible adventure!


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Egypt Revealed

by on Jan.22, 2019, under Happenings

We traveled to Eygpt as part of a trip sponsored by the YPO group and organized by Wendy Pangburn principle of Pangburn International (PI). The people on the trip and the PI team were absolutely great, with outstanding guides (Egyptologist), lecturers and information resources. This was not just a fabulous sightseeing experience it was an in-depth educational opportunity. We arrived a day early, and checked into the famous Mena House Hotel. The next day (normal arrival day) we had a bonus excursion to the village of Saqqara. There we saw the oldest stone structures in Egypt, the Step Pyramids 2700 BC, the tomb of Pharaoh Zoser, the Saqqara temple complex and a local rug weaving school. That evening at the opening reception and dinner the keynote speaker was Dr. Zahi Hawass, former Egyptian minister of Antiquities and world-renowned archaeologist.

January 6, 2019

January 7, 2019

The next day we visited the Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx and got a preview tour of the new Grand Egyptian Museum. We started at the largest pyramid the tomb of Pharaoh Khufu built between 2560 and 2580 BC. It is 481 feet high and the base is 756 feet square. It is constructed of 2.3 million blocks of limestone and granite. There are three other smaller pyramids in the complex, tombs of son and grandson of Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure as well as pharaoh’s wives.

We then visited the Khufu ship which is an intact full-size vessel (143 feet long 19.6 feet wide) from ancient Egypt that was sealed into a pit in the Giza pyramid complex at the foot of the Great Pyramid. The ship now is preserved in the Giza Solar boat museum.

Next Stop the Sphinx

The new Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) under construction will be 5,000,2000 square feet, housing 125,000 artifacts. We did a preview tour of the construction and some of the exhibits under development.

Finally we toured the current Egyptian Museum

The first day ended with dinner Nile riverside with Professor Salima Ikram and students from American University in Cairo. Quite a first day.

January 8, 2019

We checked out of our hotel and go by bus through the chaotic Cairo traffic to the airport. On our way, we pass by miles of blighted buildings, evidence of a weak economy and/or failed government programs. We boarded our chartered Jet for the short flight to Luxor (Thebes in ancient times) on the Nile. We boarded our home for the next few days, the Sanctuary Nile Adventurer. After lunch, we explored the Temple complex of Karnak. The complex covers over 200 acres and was in constant expansion and use for over 2000 years. It is considered one of the most sacred sites in Egypt. We visited the main restored area, that is connected by the avenue of the Sphinx. Other parts of the avenue are being excavated that connects to a secondary complex that we visited as the sun sets. The complex is across the Nile from the Tombs of the Valleys of the Kings and Queens.

January 9, 2019

We crossed the Nile in local boats for our visit to the Valleys of the Kings and Queens. Specifically, we will visit King Tuts and Rameses VI Tomb as well as Queen Nefertari’s Tomb. We passed by Queen Nefertari’s Temple and the Colossi of Memnon. Whereas the Pharaohs in the north built pyramids to house their tombs in the south, they dug the burial chambers into the sandstone mountains. There are 62 tombs identified in the Valley of the Kings, numbered in the sequence of discovery. For more information about the Tombs go to http://www.thebanmappingproject.com/ The most famous is number 62 King Tuts, which contained a trove of artifacts, primarily because it was overlooked by tomb robbers. King Tut was historically a minor king since he lived only to age 19. In the afternoon we cruised south on the Nile to the next stop which is the city of Esna.

January 10, 2019

On our cruise to Esna, we got a good view of the Nile river valley, two things that strike you is how narrow the fertile area is adjacent the river and that every village has a mosque with a minaret usually broadcasting. In Esna, we focused on the Greco-Roman Temple of Khnum. The Temple was completed around 250 AD and features 24 beautifully decorated pillars and the walls covered with reliefs. On the western exterior façade, we saw reliefs showing the god Horus (god of Victory) as well as Khnum (god of creation). The surrounding site is being dug out and there are markets catering to tourists around the excavated temple site.

In the evening its dress like an Egyptian night, and after cocktails and dinner our boat crew introduces us to Egyptian dancing. FUN!!

January 11, 2019

Overnight we cruised to the city of Kom Ombo and in the morning visited the Temple with the same name. This Temple is for the worship of two gods, Sobek: the crocodile god, and Horus the falcon god. This is a classic temple design of the Greco Roman period but made up of two parallel temples. The design starts with huge entrance structures, opening into pillared courtyards, leading to the ceremonial chamber at the back of the complex.

We then had lunch as we sail to Aswan our last stop. After lunch, we go by bus to the Philae Temple, which was rescued from underwater. After a cofferdam was built it was dismantled (40,000 pieces) and moved then reassembled on nearby Agilkia island. We then experienced a sail on the traditional Egyptian sailing boat called a felucca. After the sail we had tea at the famous Cataract Hotel at sunset before returning to the Nile Adventurer. That evening we heard from Ambassador Karim Haggag regarding Egypt’s perspective of the U.S.

January 12, 2019

We left our floating hotel and boarded our chartered Jet to Abu Simbel, the site of the Abu Simbel Temples. The Temples were built by Ramses II one of the longest reining Pharaohs in 13 century BC. The walls depict the pharaoh in his various exploits and next door is the temple dedicated to his favorite wife, Nefertari. The temples were originally carved out of the mountainside. The complex was relocated in its entirety in 1968, to an artificial mountain high above the Aswan High Dam reservoir to save it from submersion in Lake Nasser, once the dam was complete.

We re-boarded our jet and flew to Cairo for our last night in Egypt. On the way in from the airport we had a special treat, a private tour of Abdeen Palace. The palace was built in 1863 by order of King Ismail. It was the scene of the bloodless Coup staged by the military that ousted the last Egyptian king Farouq I in 1952. The refurbished 500 room palace has been visited by heads of state and is not open to the public. Our group was the first, non-government group to receive a tour.

After the tour, we had our last dinner in Egypt at the U.S. Embassy. The next day some returned home or continued elsewhere on their own and we join the part of the group that continues on to Jordan.

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