Introduction and Itinerary

Hi folks. I’m off this coming Monday to Egypt/ Israel for a whirlwind tour with Rikk Watts, Professor of New Testament Studies at Regent College. We’re basically going on a pre-trip to scout out a 2010 tour for a group of folks (mostly from the Seattle area) I have come to know and love over the years. The tour company is Ultimate Journeys if you are interested in taking in the tour next year (but I think it’s already sold out.) It’s going to be an amazing adventure – and an incredible learning opportunity for me. Rikk is a drummer, aeronautical engineer turned New Testament scholar who is undoubtedly one the most interesting and best teachers I have ever sat under. Well versed in the arts, philosophy, history and sociology he is also, quite...

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Day One / Flight and First Impression / Cairo

The Nile River – taken from my hotel room. First impression flying over the Nile delta and toward Cairo is the absolute enormity of the city. It took half an hour to fly over it to get to the airport. There, we were met by a rather striking man, both in features and in demeanor, named Hassan who guided us through customs and to the waiting vehicle to bring us to our hotel. It was hard to take in much information. Our flight was roughly 24 hours after the delays and missed connections. I didn’t sleep much and somewhere over the Atlantic I was suddenly full-on sick: headache, muscle cramps, hot/sweaty, cold clammy, alarmingly dizzy and nauseous. Ended up retching in the bathroom which was unique in that the plane bathrooms are so tiny you...

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Day 2 / Pyramids and Old Cairo

Great Pyramid at Giza Woke up this morning at 7am and by 8 had eaten breakfast, met our guide Magda, and were crossing the city to Giza to visit the three most famous of the 118 known pyramids in Egypt. First, let me correct last night’s description of Cairo. It is perhaps a bit more cacophonous and unruly than I had perceived in the dark the previous night. The population density is staggering. Most folks live in a sea of largely unfinnished appartment blocks (owners pay less taxes on an unfinnished structure) which gives the city a… well…. unfinished look. There is a lot of road construction to try to keep up with the rapidly increasing population. Egypt, though only one tenth the size of Canada has more than 80 million people, compared to...

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Day Three – Luxor

The Nile from my hotel room window in Luxor I’m going to try to be quick here cause it was a long hot day and I’m up again early in the morning. So I may leave out a detail or two for now and come back and fill in later. Rikk and I flew out of Cairo early this morning and landed in Luxor by 9am. Luxor is the great city of the Upper Kingdom (southern Egypt – I know it sounds wrong but trust me.) Across the Nile on the west bank is the ancient necropolis which is where we find the Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens and the tombs of the Artisans. As in the northern region, there is only a thin band of lush green farmland that divides like a ribbon the relentless desert and so within a mile or so on either side of the Nile you are into hot,...

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Day 4 / Back to Cairo

This will be very brief. We saw another amazing temple this morning before catching a flight back to Cairo where we were immediately taken to the Egyptian Museum for the rest of the afternoon. We saw, among other things, the contents of Tutankhamen’s Tomb. To see this stuff is overwhelming. Of course we weren’t allowed to take pictures (really this time.) Now Rikk and I are back at the hotel and have both been sideswiped with exhaustion so I’m not going to take any time now to describe the day. Tomorrow we leave at 4am for the Sinai where we’ll go to St. Catherine’s Monastery – the traditional site where Moses encountered the burning bush. We’ll then continue on to Taba (see map). The Sinai is the part of the trip...

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Day 5 / The Sinai Penninsula

Gulf of Aqaba It’s 6am and I’m sitting on my hotel balcony, drinking my morning ‘Nescafe’, and looking across the Gulf of Aqaba at the mountains of Jordan. But for the Nescafe, this could be a perfect moment. To the north east I can see the shores of Israel; to the south, Saudi Arabia. And I… am still in Egypt. This place is called Taba and we arrived here yesterday afternoon after a long driving day through the Sinai Peninsula. When the bible tells about the children of Israel wandering about the desert for 40 years, this is the place; roughly 24,000 square miles of rock, sand, scorpions and snakes. Here the sand sweeps up the mountains like the snows do at home and the sun bakes the stones with rarely a cloud to intervene (2 1/2 inches of rain...

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