Monday, July 28, 2008

Travel: Temples and hot air balloons

The Mirror (David Walker)

MEN have always been intoxicated by the heady trappings of power and ego.

The proof? Pretend youre Doctor Who and take a trip back in time to Egypt. There you can view some of the worlds most incredible temples and statues dating back over 3,500 years.

Invariably, the biggest and most imposing monuments will be in honour of Ramses II. He was the ruler who did everything on a grand scale including fathering 110 children by eight wives.

Our trip to Egypt was built around a cruise down the Nile on the Viking Premiere. We flew into Luxor to meet the boat and then sailed south to Aswan. There were many memorable moments, but the highlight has to be the sight of Abu Simbel. The great sun temple of you know who, Ramses II.

Ramses was adamant the world should be impressed by his power and glory. To emphasise the point he had four 60ft statues (of himself of course!) hewn from the mountainside in southern Egypt.

The scale is staggering. You're left wondering how did they do it. Then you realise that in the 1960s the awesome temple had to be moved. Yes, man can move mountains.

The Egyptians needed another water supply apart from the Nile, so they built Lake Nasser. Abu Simbel would have been flooded so was cut into 1,041 blocks, moved on to higher ground and a mountain constructed to match the original setting.

Don't think you're short-changed though. Its an epic place and the preserved, interior walls featuring scenes from battles are superb.

Getting to Abu Simbel isn't that easy though. The boat had docked at Aswan and we had a 3.30am start to join a convoy of coaches heading through the desert to reach Abu Simbel by 10am.

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