(The image above isn’t Vienna either, it’s Budapest. But that greeny/brown river is the Danube.)
And I was reminded of a trip on a river that is actually blue and which has inspired many stories over the centuries. This was my subconscious providing the inspiration. Again.
On the Beautiful BLUE … Nile?
The Nile, unlike the Danube, is mostly BLUE, as I discovered on my visit some years ago, before the troubles of more recent times made the river a less attractive destination for tourists.
Never mind the boring old pyramids. There’s a great deal to see from a vessel cruising On the Beautiful Blue NILE…
Visitors need to choose a travelling mode to suit their wallets.
There are modern vessels too but they’re much less attractive than this one.
Or maybe a traditional felucca, driven solely by the wind? The silence can be wonderful.
In case you’re wondering, that domed building on the top of the hill at Aswan is the Aga Khan’s mausoleum, dating from the late 1950s.
Choose one of the Gods of the Nile
There are many, many ancient Egyptian deities to admire.
I became very fond of Horus, the falcon-headed god, son of Osiris and Isis.
Horus was the god of the sky and the protector of kings.
But you don’t want to get on the wrong side of Egyptian deities.
This is Horus again, wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. Wise to be careful? He’s looking a bit cross.
Temples of the Nile
There are also many temples to see from a Nile ship.
You could visit Edfu, the temple of Horus; part of its great pylon is in the image on the left;
or what little remains of the temple of Esna (not shown) dedicated to the ram-headed god, Khnum, who guarded the source of the Nile and created the first man from clay;
or Kom Ombo, shown right, made up of two temples, one dedicated to the crocodile-headed Sobek, god of fertility and creator of the world, the other dedicated to Horus (again!)
Maybe I was wise to chose Horus to venerate above the others? He does seem to be everywhere.
Further up the Nile, at Aswan, is the island of Philae, sacred to the goddess Isis, bride of Osiris and mother of Horus. (In fact, Philae had to be dismantled and rebuilt in a new position in the 1970s to save it from erosion as a result of the Aswan High Dam.) Philae contains not only Egyptian but also Greek and Roman temples, easily seen from the Nile.
Pharoahs come in different shapes and sizes
Visitors to the Nile can’t miss the Pharoah Rameses II, also called Rameses the Great.
He lived to the ripe old age of 90 so he had decades to erect zillions of statues of himself. Karnak and Luxor are full of effigies of him, like the giant example on the left. On the right is a ram-headed sphinx.
But the greatest effigies of Rameses are probably at Abu Simbel on the Upper Nile south of Aswan. The temple there was hewn from solid rock and features 4 gigantic figures of Rameses, each 60 feet high. Alongside his leg, you can see little female figures, at least some of which represent Nefertari, his favourite wife.
To be fair, Nefertari did also have a temple dedicated to her at Abu Simbel though temples to wives were previously unheard of. That’s her, in the middle of the image below, shown as Hathor, the consort of Horus (again!) and the goddess of women, love, beauty, pleasure and music. But, although it’s Nefertari’s temple…
…Rameses is there again, right next to the entrance. And there’s another statue of him on the other side of the doorway (not shown).
Abu Simbel was moved to its present site as part of the international rescue operation in the 1960s when it was threatened by the rising waters of Lake Nasser at the Aswan High Dam. It was an engineering marvel but, for the tourist, it feels as though the temple complex has always been where it now stands.
The Nile from a different angle?
You don’t have to be on the Nile to admire these wonders. You can soar above it, IF you dare. Ballooning, especially at sunrise, is so popular that it leads to congestion, though.
That distant outline (arrowed) is the massive temple of the great female Pharoah, Hatshepsut.
Yes, there were female Pharoahs, though some of their successors tried to blank them out of history.
Hatshepsut has a wonderfully preserved obelisk at Karnak. It’s so well-preserved because her successor built a wall around it to conceal her name for all eternity.
Guess what? Didn’t work 😉
The crowds of tourists give an idea of the scale of Hatshepsut’s magnificent temple.
Coming down in your balloon can be a bit hairy. You want to be in one piece to explore the temples on foot. So…
Best not to hit those enormous statues?
The Colossi of Memnon, 60ft high statues of Amenhotep III
Busy, Bustling or Relaxing?
The Nile can be a bustling place, teeming with tourists and boats, though sadly with rather fewer tourists these days. But equally, the Nile can be…