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From Alexandria to Amman: The Red Sea and the Rose City

March 6-23, 1997


Day 1 Thursday, March 6: Chicago

Depart Chicago in early evening on British Airways flight to Alexandria, via London. (Meals in flight)

Day 2 Friday, March 7: London/Cairo

Early morning arrival in London. The morning and early afternoon are free for shopping or sightseeing before a late-afternoon British Airways flight to Cairo, where you will be met and assisted through customs and immigrations and transferred to the Semiramis Intercontinental Hotel. (D in flight)

Day 3 Saturday, March 8: Cairo/Alexandria

After breakfast, gather in mid-morning for a tour of Cairo and the nearby Pyramids and Sphinx. After dinner, transfer by air-conditioned coach to Alexandria and the Cecil Hotel. (BB/L/D)

Day 4 Sunday, March 9: Alexandria

Founded in 331 BC to honor Alexander the Great, Alexandria remained the capital for almost a thousand years. Begin your visit at the site of the original village of Rhacotis, now a park featuring Pompey's pillar, raised in AD 300 for Diocletian, and the two red granite Ptolemaic Sphinxes. The well-preserved catacombs of Kom Al-Shogafa are next. After lunch, spend the afternoon touring the Greco-Roman Museum, founded in 1891 as a repository for artifacts from local excavations; most of the objects date from the Greek and Roman occupations. Your visit includes the Roman theater, street and houses at Kom el-Dikka. Evening at leisure, overnight at the Cecil Hotel. (BB/L/D)

Day 5 Monday, March 10: Rosetta

Transfer by air-conditioned motorcoach to Rosetta, most famous for the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, inscribed in ancient hieroglyphics, Demotic Egyptian and Greek, which enabled the deciphering of the pharaonic languages. There is, however, much more than this to Rosetta: since 1985, it has been the focus of a major restoration project of the Egyptian Antiquities Organization and possesses some of the finest examples of domestic Egyptian architecture. Our stops include the house of Ali el Fatairi, the covered market, the house of Arab Keli (now a museum), and the mosque of Zaghloul. Stop at Fort St. Julian, with its breathtaking views of the Mediterranean, before returning to Alexandria and the Cecil Hotel. (BB/L/D)

Day 6 Tuesday, March 11: Islamic Alexandria

Today features highlights of both secular and religious Islamic architecture. After breakfast, visit Fort of Qaytbey, built with some of the original limestone of Pharos Lighthouse, which was one of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World. The fort is especially notable for incorporating military innovations of the Muslims. The thirteenth-century Mosque of Abu Al-Abbas, restored in 1767 with four domes and tall minarets, is as much a masterpiece of its genre as the fort is of military design. After lunch, see the Royal Jewelry Museum, which houses the jewels of Egypt's dynasties from Mohammed Ali to King Farouk, and the former villa of Princess Fatma el Zahraa. The balance of the afternoon is free for exploring the grounds of the Montazah Gardens at the royal palace or elsewhere. Dinner on your own, overnight at the Cecil Hotel. (BB/L)

Day 7 Wednesday, March 12: Cairo

Early morning transfer to Cairo for a free day for exploring the ancients suqs, experiencing the city of Cairo, or for visits of individual interest. Lunch and dinner are on your own, though recommendations will be offered. Overnight at the Semiramis Intercontinental Hotel. (BB)

Day 8 Thursday, March 13: Cairo/Feiran/St. Catherine's

Travel by air-conditioned coach via the Suez Tunnel to the Sinai Peninsula with its splendid geographical variety and beauty. After lunch, we will stop at Feiran before arriving at St. Catherine's and Mount Sinai (Gebel Musa). Overnight at the Tourist Village. (BB/L/D)

Day 9 Friday, March 14: St. Catherine's/Taba

Those who wish may climb Mount Sinai at 2:00 am. After breakfast, we will all visit St. Catherine's Monastery, which has housed monks since its construction was ordered in the sixth century by Emperor Justinian. The monastery's treasures include the Chapel of the Burning Bush, the Mosaic of the Transfiguration of Christ and other icons and sacred art. After lunch, your coach takes you to Taba, near the Israeli border. On Pharaoh's Island, tour the twelfth-century fortress of the sultan Saladin, and take in a vista of four countries at once: Egypt to the west, Israel to the north, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to the east. Overnight at the Taba Hilton.


Day 10 Saturday, March 15: Taba/Cruising Gulf of Aqaba/Aqaba

After an early breakfast, return to Neweiba to board the ferry. Spend the afternoon on the Gulf of Aqaba, cruising to Jordan. When disembarking, receive assistance through customs; rest of afternoon/evening at leisure for the beaches and walks of Aqaba. Overnight at the Miramar. (BB/L/D)

Day 11 Sunday, March 16: Aqaba

Dr. Whitcomb leads you on a tour of his excavation of the Islamic port of Ayla, followed by a tour of the new Aqaba Museum, which includes finds from the site. Overnight at the Miramar. (BB/L/D)

Days 12 and 13 Monday-Tuesday, March 17-18: Petra

Early departure for Petra, Jordan's most illustrious archaeological site. Constructed by the Nabateans as their capital, Petra's treasures are too numerous to mention, but highlights include el-Khazneh (The Treasury) and El Deir (The Monastery), as well as the Triumphal Arch and Colonnaded Street. Lunch on your own both days; we will stay late the second day to experience sunset at Petra. Overnights at the Forum Hotel. (BB/D)

Day 14 Wednesday, March 19: Petra/Kerak/Madaba/Amman

Travel to Kerak and its elaborate crusader fortress, once the stronghold of the infamous Reynaud de Chatillon; its subterranean chambers are in an excellent state of preservation. After Kerak, visit Mt. Nebo with the archaeological site el-Makhayeyet and the Monastery of Syagha, featuring a spectacular view across the Jordan Valley. At Madaba, take in the celebrated mosaic map of the Holy Land. Overnight in Amman at the Intercontinental Hotel. (BB/L/D)

Day 15 Thursday, March 20: Desert Castles

Traveling to Azraq and back by separate routes, your day is filled with Umayyad sites. In the morning, stop at the castle at Hallabat before travelling to Azraq and Azraq Castle. The castle dates back to Roman times and was renovated by the Umayyads in ad 1237 before being used as a base by T.E. Lawrence during the Arab Revolt. After lunch, tour the bath house of Qusayr Amra, one of the finest Umayyad structures in Jordan. Before returning to Amman, visit the Umayyad palace at Qasr Kharana, dating from ad 771, which was used as an early caravanserai. Overnight at the Intercontinental Hotel. (BB/L/D)

Day 16 Friday, March 21: Jerash/Umm Qais/Pella/Deir Alla

The day begins at Jerash, a city of the Decapolis and one of the finest surviving Roman provincial cities anywhere. Visit the Temple of Zeus, Hadrian's Arch, the oval Plaza, Street of the Columns and the temple of Artemis. After lunch, stop at Umm Qaiswhich overlooks Lake Tiberias, the Yarmouk River, and the Golan Heightswith important archaeological finds such as the Basilica of Gadara and the Decimanus Maximus, a set of baths. Drive through the Jordan Valley through Pella and Deir Alla and return to Amman. Dinner on your own, overnight at the Intercontinental Hotel. (BB/L)

Day 17 Saturday, March 22: Amman

Full day of sightseeing includes the Citadel, site of the ruined Temple of Hercules and the Archaeological Museum of Jordan, and the Roman Theater, which was built to seat over 6,000 people. Farewell reception at Kan Zaman, overnight at the Intercontinental. (BB/L/D)

Day 18 Sunday, March 23: Amman/Chicago

Return to the United States, via British Mediterranean Airways flight to London and British Airways flight to Chicago. (Meals in flight)


Revised: March 3, 2009

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