A Journal, with Pictures

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 facade, 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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