March 28, 2010

Getting around in the Mideast

One of the more unique aspects of our trip to the Mideast was the many and varied modes of transportation. We flew there, of course, on Etihad, the Abu Dhabi airline. Long flight with fairly good leg room, good food and movies, and attentive flight attendants. From Dubai to Cairo, we flew Emirates, Dubai's airline, equally comfortable and accommodating. Then Egypt Air to Luxor--an okay flight. From Luxor to Aswan, we rode the train in a first-class car. Not so first-class by US standards, but apparently much better than second- or third-. One morning at 3:00, we rode in a convoy of trucks and vans from Aswan to tour the temples at Abu Simbel near the Sudan border. (more about that later).

All along the way, we rode cabs, horse carts, and an assortment of boats. Here's a gallery of modes we rode and some we didn't:

Horse cart in Petra--even more harrowing than the front seat of a Cairo taxi,
this ride was a true bone rattler. Much less enchanting than it looks!

After the horse cart and watching others climb on and off
camels, we decided to forego the experience and photograph
these all-purpose animals instead.

After a morning spent touring prehistoric petroglyphs in the hills outside Aswan, we were treated to some Nubian music and dance on a felucca ride back down the Nile to Aswan. We found ourselves on many different boats this trip--A dhow trip along the Gulf to the Oman coast; the ferry across the Nile in Luxor; and the abra that runs back and forth across Creek Dubai.

I was still recovering from the rattling horse cart and declined to ride a donkey the next day, but Peter rode one to the highest point in Petra and got some terrific photos--and I got a lovely necklace that he bought from a Bedouin woman up there.

This is a produce truck in Jordan and no, we didn't ride in one, but I enjoyed the decorations that the drivers used to identify their vehicle. The designs seemed to be made with a combination of plastic or metal magnetic pieces that gave each truck a unique design.

We rented a car in Jordan, so we did have the experience of exploring the countryside at our own pace with an expert driver--Gerry--and an excellent navigator--Kara. We also rode the rapid transit train in Dubai and a tram in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.

So there you have it. Our trip went beyond Planes, Trains and Automobiles. It also involved animals and water craft.

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