Easily the most serene and beautiful part of the journey was our couple days in the city of Aswan, which was the furthest south we went on the Nile cruise. People, many of whom were Nubian, in this city were much calmer, and had a much more peaceful temperament. When walking around, they were far less in your face when trying to negotiate for goods. There wasn’t as much hustle and bustle as Luxor, and far less chaotic that what Cairo is like.
A few of the highlights of Aswan include the site of an unfinished obelisk. This site is a granite quarry where they attempted to carve a obelisk out of the bedrock. But once they saw that the obelisk that they were carving out was beginning to crack, they left it as it is. While the sight may not be mind blowing, the thought itself of how they carved and moved these giant obelisks back before they had cranes, drills, and scaffolding is.
A second highlight of the city is a trip out to the Aswan High Dam. This dam helps maintain the water level of the Nile River. If it were not for the High and Low dams in Aswan, much more of the areas along the Nile would be submerged. Think of it as the Hoover Dam of Egypt.
The third sight we saw was the Philae Temple. In order to get to the temple, we had to take a water taxi out to the island on which it stood. The water taxi ride itself was an experience. About twenty water taxis carrying various different tourists essentially played bumper cars on the docks while the taxis came in and out. There was no order in the process, but somehow we all got on board, and went on our way. Once we reached the island, the temple itself was very similar to the Edfu Temple. I won’t go much into the descriptions due its similarities, but I would like to mention one cool fact. The island where the temple stands today is NOT the original place where it was built. Amazingly, the temple was moved piece by piece to the island where it is today because the original location was flooding due to the construction of the Aswan Dam.
We were also able to have some of the best local fare we had on the entire trip. If you want to find a place that’ll serve authentic, local food, go to Makka Restaurant in Central Aswan. We had some lamb kofta, ground lamb patties, as well as stuffed pigeon. The stuffed pigeon is stuffed with a spicy rice and is eaten entirely with your hands. It was messy, but delicious. The mezze was also quite good, with the highlight being the Molakheya. Molakheya is like a spinachy, kaley, oil dish that you can either eat with flat bread, or just like a soup with a spoon. It’s a phenomenal vegetarian dish that any meat-eater, such as myself, would love.
Up next, the adventure to Abu Simbal