Friday, November 10 - CAIRO
Arrival in Cairo about 6:30 PM. Once we clear customs we will check in to our hotel, meridian Pyramids which is 15 minutes from the center of Cairo and we will have a view of the pyramids from our room. We will probably walk around gawking like tourists, acclimating to the sounds, smells and sights of the place - find some good food, maybe take a dip in the pool and then try to get well rested for our big day to come.
Saturday, November 11
Our driver/tour guide will pick us up at 8:30 AM. We will drive to Giza and visit the pyramids. We'll see the great pyramid, a royal burial chamber, the Valley Temple, and the Sphinx. Then we go visit the Solar Boat and continue to Memphis, capital of the Pharaohs during the Old Kingdom. We'll see the recumbent statue of Ramesses II and the 80 ton Alabaster Sphinx. We'll get lunch somewhere en route. Next we go to Sakara to see the prototype of the pyramids we all are familiar with, the smaller step pyramid, built for the 3rd Dynasty Pharaoh Djoser by the exalted architect Imhotep. Continuing south, we will visit the Pyramid of Dahshour. King Senefru, father of King Cheops, built this pyramid, also known as the Red Pyramid, approximately 4,6000 years ago.
After all that we return to Cairo where we will visit a Papyrus institute then head back to our hotel.
Sunday, November 12
We will depart Cairo and drive to the Suez Canal. (about a 6 hour drive). We'll take the tunnel under the Suez and go check in to our hotel, Morgenland Village, which is nestled in the mountains of south Sinai, only 2 miles from the monastery of St. Catherine. There is a Bedouin tent hosting traditional barbecues and desert music folklore shows, a medicinal herb shop, and a few interesting things there.
Monday, November 13
Wake up at 3:30 AM and head up the Mountain of Moses. It lies south of St. Catherine's Monastery and rises to a height of 7,497 feet. We may make it to the top to experience the spectacular sunrise as dawn breaks over the land. We may wimp out before that and just enjoy the journey without focus on the destination. But either way...we'll be walking where holy things have happened and pondering much.
We descend the mountain and have breakfast at our hotel. Then we go visit the monastery of St. Catherine, which sits at an altitude of 4,150 feet on the reputed site of the "Burning Bush". Commissioned by emperor Justinian, the monastery was built between the years 527 and 565 in the name of the Alexandrine martyr who died in 307. The first things we will see as we approach are the gardens surrounded by cypress trees and the monastery's impressive walls. Once inside we will be able to experience the amazing icons, and feel a spirit I am sure will touch our souls.
In the afternoon, we will drive to Sharm el Sheikh on the coast of the Red Sea where we will relax and think deeply on all we have experienced.
Tues, Nov 14 - Thursday, Nov 16
Our time in Sharm is up for grabs. Here we did not plan anything specific...we have three days to allow it to unfold however it unfolds. Our hotel, the Renaissance Sharm El Sheikh, was opened in 2004 overlooking 300 meters of private landscaped beach frontage overlooking the national marine park of Ras Mohammed where some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling in the world is to be found. Larry is a diver so he is very much looking forward to that. I don't dive, but I'll be just fine laying by the pool reading a book while he gets his bubble time in. I expect we'll both go snorkeling together a time or two. We'll be able to pamper each other a bit and enjoy some exploring at our leisure. We will go geocaching at some point.
Friday, November 17
We will got to the Sharm el Sheikh airport for our early flight to Cairo. We'll check back in to our hotel and leave our luggage, then head out for a full day tour. We'll go to the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities where we will see the treasures of the Tomb of Tutankhamen and the mummy room, where over ten mummies, including that of Ramesses II, are displayed in freestanding glass cases so you can see them from all angles. We will gaze into these 3000 year old faces and wonder what it would have been like to have lived in their time.
Next we go to Old Cairo and walk back in time. We'll visit the Old Coptic Church and the Ben Ezra Synagogue. Lunch en route. Next we continue to the Mohammad Ali Mosque so in the space of a few hours we will have payed homage to all of Abraham's children - touching Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
Later we will go to the Khan el Khalili Bazaar where I will do a bit of Christmas shopping for my grandkids.
Finally it is back to our hotel, the Concorde El Salam, for one last night on Egyptian soil. Many prayers of thanks and much amazement will be there, no doubt! They do have a typical Egyptian night club, but I suspect by that point I may feel more like pondering than dancing. But who knows? We'll see how it goes.
Saturday - November 18
We fly out at 3:45 AM so rather than get up early I suspect we'll just stay up through the night. We have a bit of a layover in Frankfurt, Germany, but will not be leaving the airport. Maybe we'll get to walk around and get a bite to eat.
We arriving in Pasco at 3:20 in the afternoon. It's another hour and a half drive from there to home.
Only our vacation does NOT stop then. I have taken off work the whole week after our return. So I'll have a chance to really process the experience, download all the pictures we took, write notes of thanks to people we met, and just catch up with my senses before hitting the grind again. I plan to have lunch with a couple of different friends I rarely get to see and take some long walks to ponder and remember.
Of course, I WILL have to do some stuff - grade papers for my two online classes that I teach, finish writing a research paper for my Advanced Human Development course, take care of some personal business... But it will be unstructured enough to allow us to ease back into our daily lives here rather gently instead of the abrupt shift I've usually had to do.
That is Thanksgiving week, and I am sure we will have MUCH to feel very thankful for.