Thursday, April 14, 2016

Egypt part 4 - Luxor

April 14 - 15

We left Cairo on an overnight train bound for Luxor. Shaun arranged for two sleeper cars. We divided and conquered, Shaun and Jordan had a room and I slept with Paige in the other. I had been on an overnight train before (a luxurious one in Europe) so I knew what I was in for. I didn't realise how old and run down the Egyptian one would be. Despite this fact we enjoyed the meal and solitude. Paige and I had a nice time to ourselves. The only person who slept was Jordan. It was an experience that will not be soon forgotten.

Cairo train station
Cairo train station
Jordan and Shauns car/sleeping area
train food (Paige was in heaven)
the hallway
top bunk
yes, I am the only one who slept, can you tell?
We rolled into Luxor two hours late as there were many stops throughout the night. With our hotel booking Shaun was ensured that we would have a driver waiting for us at the train station. Before our feet hit the dirt/garbage there was a fellow badgering us about a taxi ride. He swore up and down that there was no driver waiting for us at the entrance (he really just wanted the fair). We persisted through and found our driver waiting for us at the entrance with a sign for Nefertiti our hotel. We loaded our luggage and hopped into the vehicle and were promptly delivered to our hotel. Of course the driver wanted his baksheesh for bringing us.

Nefertiti Hotel was recommended to us by our Irish friends Joan and Greg (s/v Elusive) and we are super glad that we stayed here. If you ever get a chance to visit Luxor this is a great centralised, friendly, family run and accommodating hotel (Nefertiti Hotel - Upon arrival we were shown to a room for 3 persons. We explained that we had booked a family room. The front desk fellow explained that our family room was not available until tomorrow but that we could have two rooms for the same price. We chose a room across the hall and the girls slept there. We decided to keep it that way for the remainder of our stay instead of moving to a family room. It was nice for the girls to have separate beds and for us to have a separate room. They also have a wonderful rooftop terrace restaurant that overlooks the avenue of the Sphinxes in the Luxor Temple. It is quite the site in the evening after the sun has set and the lights are illuminate. Breathtaking! 

Once we were settled in we decided we would visit the Luxor temple ( across the street. As we made our way across the street we were offered many carriage rides, souvenirs and approached for baksheesh. We started to get the impression that Luxor was struggling without the tourism even more so than Cairo. The poor horses were so thin but were forced to work all day. We could tell that any monies made by the driver were not making it into the horse. It was hard to see. 

Once we made it into the temple there were fellows inside offering to take photos or to show where to take photos. We were warned about this as they would ask for baksheesh. We avoided them and took in the breathtaking surroundings. Incredible statues, columns and hieroglyphics.

two huge statues awaiting our entry

wonderful columns
the colours in this picture were wonderful

avenue of the Sphinxes

The following day Shaun booked a tour through our hotel to Hatshepsut's temple and the Valley of the kings.

On our way to our first stop our guide explained that everything on the East bank were living temples and everything built on the West bank were tombs for the dead. We visited the West bank.

We arrived at Hatshepsut's temple (  and were blown away by the beauty.

She rose to power quickly after her husband died (6 years after she married). Her son was still young and was rightfully the new Pharaoh. Hatshepsut liked the power so, like any power hungry mother what do you do? Exile your son. This soon came to bite her in the behind as her son became a warrior and came back to reclaim his throne. After she died he proceeded to wipe any evidence of her on items that would not put him in bad favour with the gods. Good for us as we were able to see her statues but many on the paintings of her were scraped away like she never existed.

model of Hatshepsut's temple 
look who's driving 
hold on everyone Jordan's driving (zig zagging)
view up to the temple 

beautiful colours

view up to the ceiling (it looks like stars)
names inside the cartouches

this fellow reminded me of a muppets character

statues of Hatshepsut
these statues still have their rose cheeks
she was so powerful that her statues had the fake beard

stairway down
Our last stop for the day was Valley of the Kings. No photos were allowed to be taken anywhere here. Our guide took us to three highly decorated tombs. It is hard to describe the tombs without the pictures to show the beauty. I didn't realise how far each tomb went inside the mountain. It was fascinating to walk inside each of them

The first was Ramses the VI, the colours and the hieroglyphics were unimaginable. Our guide explained that as soon as a pharaoh came into power their tomb was started. I can believe it, the amount of detail that we saw was striking.

The second tomb that we went to was first inhabited by a queen and later taken over/added to by a pharaoh. As we entered this tomb the first portion was ornate and colourful and then abruptly turned grey and drab. We later were told that the first portion was that of the queens and the latter portion was that of the pharaoh.

The last was the hardest to get to. It was hot, the girls were tired and it was the farthest away. That being said, it was one of the first tombs in the Valley. We had to climb a flight of stairs before descending three layers into the tomb. There were no hieroglyphics the pictograms were painted on a flat surface. Carved hieroglyphics came later. These images were simple pictures in a pattern using reds, browns and blacks to create an incredible scene. It definitely was a great way to end the day.

Follow our video adventures on our YouTube channel: Video adventures of s/v Element

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