January 13-31, 2002
Because we were looking for a cheap way to Israel we went to Egypt. Jan found a package deal, flight and hotel, on Lastminute.com to a dive resort in the Sharm-El-Sheikh/Naama Bay area and we grabbed it. While at Sharm we mostly relaxed or unlaxed. For one brief moment, Gerry chilled out. He jumped into our hotel's pool and lasted all of 30 seconds in the winter-chilled waters. Another day we spent at Ras Mohamed snorkeling .
After the included seven nights were over we'd planned to take a bus from Sharm to Taba, Eilat, and Jerusalem. We'd been in Egypt in 1985 and had passed through the region and we thought we knew the route. It didn't work out that way. While in Sharm, the idea of seeing the temple of Abu Simbel, which we had missed on our first visit to Egypt grew and grew on us. Our "Let's Go Mideast" (which we had bought for 15% of the cover price) said there was a convenient ferry across the Red Sea — that and an all-night bus would get us to the city of Aswan, the jumping off spot for Abu Simbel.
One reason this was of interest was that it was still ten days until our pre-paid furnished apartment in Jerusalem would be available. It was either (a) float about Israel, (b) go to Israel via Jordan, or (c) go to Egypt for ten days. Since we could travel Israel after our Jerusalem stay and since Jordan was still too cold, we opted for (c) - Egypt.
On Saturday, with one day left in our resort, we went to buy tickets for a Sunday — next day — departure. We suddenly found there was a hitch: Our guide was out of date and didn't know about the Intifada, Sept 11, etc. that had cut tourism and tourist routes. Ferries to mainland Egypt now left only on Saturday (and Tuesday). We threw in the towel, or more exactly, threw our paid accommodations in the basket, and bought the tickets anyway. That night we were off.
We arrived in Aswan very early the next morning and roamed the streets an hour waiting for hotel lobbies to open. Soon, though, we had a room, breakfast, and sleep, in that order. Then we signed up for a one-day tour to Abu Simbel the next day. It was great. After a few more days in Aswan we took a two night Nile Cruiser to Luxor and spent three nights there. The cruise took us to the wonderful temples of Edfu and Kom Ombo, which we had never seen. In Luxor it was great going back to its wonderful temples and getting a half-day tour to Dandara. Then an overnight train took us to Cairo for our last three nights. From there we took a bus from Cairo to Jerusalem.