Luxor was quite fun, as much from the people I met and hung out with as for the sites the town has to offer. I did do all the usual stuff, which includes half a day on the East Bank seeing Luxor Temple, Karnak Temple, and the Luxor Museum, and the West Bank which included the Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens, Colossus of Memnon, and the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut.
There are people who say “you can spend 2 weeks in Luxor and still not get bored.” I can only say in response “you are freaks.” Having been to the Pyramids and Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Abu Simbel, Temple of Philae, Kom Ombo, and Edfu already, by the end of the few days Luxor I have sworn “As God Is My Witness I will Never See Temples Again.”
It’s not that the they are not cool to see, but after a while they all just blur together. I was very glad that “my guy” (what I call Zizu, from the hostel who set up my trip) convinced me not to spend more than 3 days there, he was SOOO right.
I’m not going to go into the sites I saw here, I’m posting the photos (on another fabulous connection!) and will put anything noteworthy in the captions. The one exception I’ll tell is the story where a french archeologist somehow convinced the Egyptians to let the nile run through the Luxor temple (or maybe it was Karnak) to clean off the salt deposits. Well, he was right, it did clean off the salt deposits, and all the paint pigmentation, and collapsed all the columns which then cost a bazillion dollars to restore. I asked the guide if they kicked him out of the country and he laughed and said probably. You just can’t trust the French, I tell you.
One other note about the photos, at this point I no longer am able to tell the difference between some of them, so very well may have them mislabeled. Especially the Luxor and Karnak temples. I know some people will find this shocking, but honestly, I can barely see my computer screen for sunlight reflection and the temples really do just become one big blur after a while.
Now, on to the story….
My first afternoon in Luxor was spent seeing the Karnak and Luxor temples. On my tour were my 5 Chinese buddies from the cruise, and T, who is british but has been teaching English in a tiny village “off the map” in Eritrea. If the village is off the map in Eritrea, it really is off the map! Our guide, Marco, was very good and the complete opposite of the guide we’d had at Edfu. I nicknamed Marco “Speedy Gonzales” for how quickly he gave us information. The temples are really large and took most of the afternoon.
T and I had dinner at Jamboree, which is written up in the Lonely Planet and was near our hotel, it was very good.
The next day we went on the tours of the Valley of the Kings, Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, Valley of the Queens, with a quick stop at the Colossus of Memnon. The Chinese guys were gone, and in their place were two women, R and J, from Los Angeles! Not just LA, but specifically Westwood and Malibu. How is that for small world? In addition to them there was an older Australian couple and a woman traveling around the world with her 14-year-old daughter. J, the woman with the daughter, had also just come from East Africa, but unfortunately she stepped on a scorpion fish (or some sort of poisonous spike fish) in Zanzibar, and her foot was all infected and she could barely walk on it.
In the Valley of the Kings there are 10 tombs open, and your ticket entitles you to see 3. We saw 2 as a group, and then for the final one Marco (same guide as yesterday) gave us a choice of an easy ordinary tomb, or a hard-to-get-to yet pretty cool tomb. R, J, T, and I opted for the difficult tomb (Tomb of Tuthmosis, III, known as the Napoleon of Egypt). You had a climb a 30 meter high ladder, and then descend down into the tomb. The tomb did not have relief etchings as do most of them, but because he wanted much more info on the walls of his tomb, he instead opted for paintings/drawings instead. It was tough and hot to get there, but definitely worth it.
After the tour the four of us went to a very “local” place for lunch and then T left for Hurgada and R and J continued on for the Karnak/Luxor part of the tour I’d already done.
I spent the afternoon by the pool with J and A, the mother/daughter couple who are traveling round the world. They had a horrible trip and I’ll write more about them in another post.
In the evening, another really fun thing happened. I had been emailing with Steve who also has a bootsnall blog, www.steveislost.com. His blog is amazing, he’s been traveling solo now for 2+ years. He got the Luxor the day after I did, and he, R, J, and I went out to dinner and then went souvenir shopping. Steve regaled us with his best stories, including the maggots-in-his-head story. I must confess, it does trump my maggots-up-my-nose story, but I concede the floor gracefully. Below is our group shot in the “officially hassle free” store that we no doubt spent more money than if we’d haggled, but we were DELIGHTED to pay in exchange for no hassles.