About yalla2013

Ya'lla Tours USA is a boutique tour operator offering top quality travel services in 10 exciting countries: Bahrain, Cuba, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. Ya'lla Tours communications director, Kyna Perry, writes this blog based on personal experience and the deep well of experience and knowledge of Ya'lla colleagues near and far.

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Plaza de la Catedral is one of many public squares in the capital’s old city. The square was a swamp until drained in the 16th century. In a city known for Spanish colonial architecture, the 18th-century Cathedral of the Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception is one of few examples of the local Baroque style. 

 

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A Solar Eclipse of Peace

 

Today at Ya’lla Tours HQ in Portland, Oregon, we have just come in from viewing the solar eclipse. It was awesome! Just north of the path of totality, we saw the sun 99% covered.

Some 2500 years ago, the Greek philosopher/scientist Thales of Miletus was the first person ever to predict an eclipse, according to the ancient historian Herodotus. If this is true, it’s a mystery how the prediction was made, as it was another 200 years before the Greeks understood what causes solar eclipses, the moon passing between the earth and the sun.

Legend tells that the Eclipse of Thales occurred during a battle in a long running war between the Medes and the Lydians near the Halys River in what is now Anatolian Turkey. Taking the eclipse as an admonition by the gods, the combatants dropped their weapons and called a truce. Both sides accepted the Halys River as the border between their lands and peace ensued. Based on modern scientific dating, that eclipse, and hence the battle, happened in 585 BCE.

Valley of the Kings, Egypt

Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Egypt

Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Egypt

The capital of the New Kingdom period of Ancient Egypt (approximately 1550-1070 BCE) was Thebes (modern-day Luxor) in Upper Egypt, about 300 miles south of Cairo. Southern Egypt is called Upper Egypt because it’s upriver from northern (Lower) Egypt. The Nile is one of the rare rivers that flows northward, from central Africa to the Mediterranean Sea. The 18th, 19th and 20th dynasties ruled during the New Kingdom.
It was the golden age of ancient Egypt, with expanded territory and increased political stability, wealth and power. The pharaohs of the New Kingdom used the resources they might otherwise spend on warring to build massive temples, colossal statues and obelisks. They also began to hide their tombs rather than advertise them with pyramids.

A valley deep within the mountains on the west bank of the Nile across from Thebes was chosen as the burial grounds of New Kingdom pharaohs, their families and members of the nobility. In general, burial places were located on the west bank of the Nile, where the sun “died” each day and temples on the east bank, where the sun rose. To date, 62 tombs have been discovered in the Valley of the Kings, ranging in size from a single chamber to sprawling networks of passageways with over 100 chambers.

Ancient Egyptians believed they would live on after death in an idealized version of the life they had known. They were buried with all the furnishings and fixtures of their life because they would need them. (That is, if they made it through the rigorous tests of character that led from death to the afterlife, but that’s a subject for another post.) Tomb robbing was quite an industry in those days. In the New Kingdom period, even common people took their worldly goods to the grave but, of course, the pharaoh had the best goods of all and royal tombs were hunted with singular focus by smart and daring thieves. The remoteness of the Valley of Kings was part of its security system. As a further precaution, the tombs were cut deep into the mountains and then constructed in complicated layouts, with the valuables stashed in the deepest, most out-of-the-way crevice. Despite all that, very few tombs survived unmolested into the modern age and most were pillaged within a few years of being sealed.

The tomb of Tutankhamun is the most famous intact tomb discovered. King Tut’s tomb can be visited in the Valley of the Kings and the tomb treasures can be seen at the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo.

Not all tombs in the Valley of the Kings are open to visitors and those that are open rotate to protect them from the impact of the thousands of tourists that come through every day. Admission tickets include three tombs. The admission to King Tut’s tomb is not included in the general admission to the Valley of the Kings.

What you’ll find in the tombs are intricately painted corridors and rooms. Walls and ceilings are covered in scenes from the life of the pharaoh, happy experiences that he would like to carry with him into the afterlife, as well as prayers and spells to help ensure that he reached his destination. The way to the afterlife was treacherous and tomb paintings envisioned a successful passage, with the help of various gods.

Click here to see tours to Egypt that include a visit to the Valley of the Kings.

Foto Friday – Israel

Some images from our friend Larry Bell and his July 2017 group to Israel ~

archaeological dig score!

archaeological dig score!

Bedouin lunch in the Negev desert

Bedouin lunch in the Negev desert

mural of the Cardo, the main thoroughfare of Roman Jerusalem

mural of the Cardo, the main thoroughfare of Roman Jerusalem

at the Harod Spring, where Gideon's army of 300 was selected to fight the Midianites (Judges 7:1-8)

at the Harod Spring, where Gideon’s army of 300 was selected to fight the Midianites (Judges 7:1-8)

in the Pilgrims' Tunnel in Jerusalem

in the Pilgrims’ Tunnel in Jerusalem

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In the coastal city of El Jadida, about 1.5 hours from Casablanca, the old colonial city of Mazagan is well worth some leisurely wandering. The fortified city was built by the Portuguese in the 16th century. It is full of period architecture, much of which is in need of restoration, but still lovely. Walk along the ramparts for views of the city, harbor and out to sea.

 

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