After getting settled into our room, we took a walk around the downtown area to see what was there. While we made efforts to guard against pickpockets we felt quite safe walking, even after dark.
The next day we took a city tour. As we drove we came to a point where we got a view of one of Barcelona's most famous landmarks, the Sagrada Familia Cathedral designed by Antoni Gaudi. Construction was begun in 1882. By the time Gaudi died in 1926 only 1/4 of the building was completed. To this day it is still under contstruction.
The Sagrada Familia dominates the view of the city. Very intricate detailing on the outside.
The Valley of the Kings is a valley in Egypt where, for a period of nearly 500 years from the 16th to 11th century BC, tombs were constructed for the Pharaohs and powerful nobles of the New Kingdom (the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Dynasties of Ancient Egypt). The valley stands on the west bank of the Nile.
The valley is known to contain 63 tombs and chambers. It was the principal burial place of the major royal figures of the Egyptian New Kingdom, together with those of a number of privileged nobles. The royal tombs are decorated with scenes from Egyptian mythology and give clues to the beliefs and funerary rituals of the period. Almost all of the tombs seem to have been opened and robbed in antiquity, but they still give an idea of the opulence and power of the Pharaohs.
There is also a Valley of the Queens. One of the more prominent tombs of the Queens could be seen way up on a hill side before reaching Valley of the Kings. This was a monument to Queen Hatshepsut, meaning Foremost of Noble Ladies. She was the fifth pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty of Ancient Egypt. She is generally regarded by Egyptologists as one of the most successful pharaohs, reigning longer than any other woman of an Egyptian dynasty. The tomb looked enormous compared to the others that we saw. Everywhere we went there were stalls set up with goods to sell. Egypt was the worst for having people latch onto you to try and sell you something. We were told that you needed to not make eye contact with them and just keep walking. I did this and it seemed to work but Wayne had a hard time following this advice. He would look at them and tell them no and they would follow him and keep trying to make a sale. On the way back to the town of Luxor we passed more statues and temple sites. I think that if relics such as these had been found in the United States they would have been destroyed long ago and new buildings built in there place. I am so glad that other countries have protected and maintained such wonders as these, that we are able to go and see them. They are truly amazing to see. The next set of pictures was taken in Karnak. Although badly ruined, no site in Egypt is more impressive than Karnak. It is the largest temple complex ever built by man, and represents the combined achievement of many generations of ancient builders. The Temple of Karnak is actually three main temples, smaller enclosed temples, and several outer temples located north of Luxor, Egypt situated on 247 acres of land. This complex was built and enlarged over a thirteen hundred year period. From Egypt, we set sail for Aqaba, Jordan. Once on land again we boarded a bus for a 1 1/2 hour ride to Petra. Along the way, we passed through small villages, open land with camels and goats and every once in a while a bedouin camps. On reaching the town we drove down into the valley to reach the entrance to Petra. Petra means rock in Greek. The town literally was carved out of sandstone desert cliffs. It was founded by a nomadic Arab tribe known as the Nabataeans several centuries before Christ's birth. The Nabataeans were renowned for their great skills in trade, agriculture, engineering, and architectural stone-carving. For those who did not want to walk, you could pay about $38 to ride a horse drawn buggy down to the Treasury. Since the passage was narrow, those walking really had to listen for the sound of the buggy coming. Once you reached the Treasury area, you could pay to ride a camel down to the end of the city. At the entrance to the archealogical site, you can ride a horse down to the beginning of the narrow canyon area. We walked the 1.2 miles down to the Treasury and then another mile to the end of the city. On the return trip we made it back out of the canyon and decided to take the horses back the rest of the way. It was very hot, humid and tiring. A really good work out for the day. For the next six days we were at sea. As we left the Red Sea and headed into the Gulf of Aden we received a letter about Operation Safe Haven. It was a code name that would be given IF we met up with PIRATES! It seems that we were entering an area that had experienced high pirate activity and so a small boat came along side of the ship and dropped off "provisions" and 3 or 4 extra security guards. For four nights we were not allowed out on deck after 6pm as they turned off all the lights on those decks and instructed people with balcony rooms to make sure their curtains were drawn so no light could be seen. At all times, day and night, the extra guards were posted in various spots with binoculars watching for any suspicious activity. Each morning, we were happy to hear the Captain announce that all was well. Day 16, we pulled into Dubai. As we neared the city you could just make out the skyline through the dust. As we got closer we could see the Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world. Many of the passengers disembarked her and many new ones came on. Since we were staying for the next leg of the cruise, we decided to take a tour of Dubai until it was time to leave again. Our first stop was a huge mall where we waited for our appointed time to go to the observation deck of the Burj Khalifa. It is located on the 124th floor of the tower. There are another 44 floors above that. Example of the housing in Dubai. Everywhere that we went it seemed to be fairly recent construction. There is an old part of the city but we did not get into that part. So ended the first leg of our month long cruise. Stay tuned for India and Malaysia. If I am lucky, I will have it ready to post in another week.