Wednesday, January 8, 2020

the style saloniste: Travels with The Style Saloniste: My Recent Voyage...

the style saloniste: Travels with The Style Saloniste: My Recent Voyage...: I’m just back from Egypt, a highlight of a lifetime of travel. I traveled independently, with a focus on architecture and art, and the grea...

Travels with The Style Saloniste: My Recent Voyage to Egypt was Inspiring, Thrilling, Poetic, and a Vivid Encounter with the Ancient Pharaohs

I’m just back from Egypt, a highlight of a lifetime of travel. I traveled independently, with a focus on architecture and art, and the great achievements of centuries of Pharaohs. I loved every moment, especially a glorious cruise along the River Nile on the historic Steamship Sudan.

Come with me for a photo report. I visited temples you’ve never seen (only recently restored), and moments of beauty and reflection along the Nile.

More rare are some shots of me. My excellent Egyptian guide, Eid Mohamed Moawed Soliaman persuaded me to pose for a shot at Abydos temple, and later the Greco-Roman temple at Philae, and Luxor. 

I met wonderful, warm people at every turn. The weather in November/December was perfect, with 75 deg F days, balmy evenings.

Come with me to capture a dream adventure with time for research, study, and fun. 

Oh, and be sure to visit me on Instagram: @dianedorranssaeks for more images and reports.  All photos below by Diane Dorrans Saeks for The Style Saloniste.

“No other country but Egypt contains so many marvels and wonders, and so many works of art and architecture and sculpture that defy all description.” — Herodotus, fifth century BC Greek historian and the great traveler of Antiquity

Come me as I visit the Pyramids on the Giza Plateau. They are mystifying and elegant and a thrill. I stayed at the Mena Palace Hotel…and woke up the first morning with the pyramids right outside my terrace.

After time in Cairo, I flew to Luxor to board the MS Sudan, commissioned in 1895, and a rare travel experience. French-directed, superbly maintained, it glides along the river, and quietly sails to destinations the larger modern ships cannot visit.

Days were spent visiting historic sites, late afternoons sailing, gazing at the Nile.

Scenes along the banks of the Nile floated past. We never saw other boats.

The Sudan has 25 cabins. It was all very private. I was the only English-speaking passenger. Other passengers were French travelers, connoisseurs of luxury locations.



With my guide, I visited temples large and small, spending hours studying their hieroglyphics and and tilting my gaze upward to the soaring 60-feet high capitals, with original paint. Colonnades, sanctuaries, inner chambers, pylons, obelisks, some still show the palimpsests of the arrivals of Copts and Ottomans and Persians, and later Napoleon and Italian and Austrian and German archaeologists. And always the carved stones and painted bas-reliefs tell of a veneration and fervent belief in the afterlife, and desire of the infinite. Visiting the temples I was transported by the art of myths and legends, fantasmes, scarabs, sacred birds, secret languages, symbols, the perfection of craftsmanship, beauty, and a wild desire for ‘something beyond’.

“You ask me whether the Orient is up to what I imagined it to be. Yes, it is; and more than that, it extends far beyond the narrow idea I had of it. I have found, clearly delineated, everything that was hazy in my mind. Facts have taken the place of suppositions — so excellently so that it is often as though I were suddenly coming upon old forgotten dreams.” — Gustave Flaubert, Flaubert in Egypt: A Sensibility on Tour


I sailed along the Nile from Luxor to Aswan in Southern Egypt. The MS Sudan passes silently along the banks of a region where Pharaohs built some of the world’s greatest monuments.

Obsessed with eternity, they built crafted temples and tombs of great beauty and inspiration that have lived on for thousands of years. As we sail along this noble river, the light, the groves of palm trees, the shimmering and brilliant sun, all speak of time and eterntiy, indeed.

We passed a riverbank panorama of families fishing in little wooden boats, boys diving into water and waving ‘hello', sugar cane fields, fields of wheat, placid horses and cows in green fields, a herd of goats, Here, the magnificence of the Pharaohs seems far away.




A cruise on the Nile is essential. It’s romantic, practical, and rare.

I was told that MS Sudan on which I sailed is mostly sold out for 2020.

If you do travel on another ship, secure a private guide and driver at each destination. You will arrive earlier, visit before groups arrive. With your guide you can see highlights, linger at favorite places, stay late, enjoy a totally private visit. Alone with the guide, you are nimble, independent, and will have time to capture images and truly encounter history, myths, architecture, art, ideas, and memorable personal moments and pure enjoyment.

Timing is important. Spring, fall and winter are ideal. Summer is hot. November is perfect. February/ March. Clear bright days, golden Egyptian light, offer the best temple viewing.

For some travelers, traditional sailing boats, dahabiyas, are low-key and authentic. Several of my friends sailed with the Nour El Nil , and loved the relaxed atmosphere.

I loved MS Sudan and I booked it over a year in advance. Cabins are charming, authentic. It’s very well-organized, and directed by, a specialist custom travel French company that is the authority on Egyptian travel for over four decades.


Mena House Hotel, Cairo — ook a room with a view of the pyramids.

Old Cataract Hotel, Aswan — one of the great hotels in one of the most exciting locations. Historic, authentic.

Winter Palace hotel, Luxor — historic, faded luxury. I prefer a suite overlooking the garden and pool.


My favorite temples were the less-visited Abydos and Dendera (north of Luxor) , along with Philae in Aswan. Kom Ombo at night was a trip. The Ramesseum is small-scale, poetic.

Arrive early.

I also loved the Luxor temples, and Karnak, which are more visited. Go early with a private guide.

Edfu is impressive, a must visit. Kom Ombo and its museum devoted to Crocodiles were a quirky evening trip. I loved the Crocodile mummies. Sculpture.

The Valley of the Kings, with tombs, is best visited with a private guide who can select the best ones, and early arrival. Fascinating.

Ramesseum in Luxor: I love Ramses II and his artistic achievements, so I had to see his memorial temple. Eid, my guide, and I were the only visitors. Marvelous, intimate, a perfect capsule of pharaoh history.

In Cairo the Egyptian Museum is a voyage back in time. Enjoy the atmosphere, the dusty, fusty style. It is in transition now, and some treasures havebeen moved to the yet-to-open Great Egyptian Museum near the pyramids. Plan timing to avoid groups.

I dined at the hotels I stayed at, and on the Sudan. That left time for exploring, and for my research and study projects.

Sailing along the Nile and viewing Biblical scenes of daily life, farming, villages, lush palm trees and sunsets and early morning on the placid river—is one of the great travel experiences.

I hope you travel to Egypt soon.


Voyageurs du Monde


All photography shot by me. Images of me were by my guide, Eid Mohamed Moawed Soiiaman, who is based in Aswan, and guides private travelers and groups throughout Southern Egypt. 

 Contact: or message me via my Instagram site, @dianedorranssaeks

Bon Voyage!