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Tombs, temples and the Valley of the Kings


sunny 30 °C

We came to feel at home in Luxor moreso than anywhere else in Egypt. We found a great hotel (Oasis), in a great location and stayed for a week. Our first foray out was to see the Temples of Luxor and Karnak.
Luxor was a great temple, a little different from those we'd seen to date. As with many of these temples it was used by the local people way back when. They even built a mosque, which is still in operation today.
When then decided to walk to Karnak. Originally, the two temples were connected by an avenue of sphinxes which the Egyptian Government is currently excavating. We followed the route (though still mostly unexcavated) and discovered a fantastic felafel place. It was owned by a local Luxor man and his mum (who even invited us for tea). We seemed to be a bit of an attraction as we sat out front chowing down on some delicious felafel, beans and for Matt, pickles.
Well fed, we went to Karnak which was enormous. It was originally the main temple complex to the Theban triad and was enormous. We decided to go to some of the less visited areas first before checking out the main event. We wondered over to the much smaller temple of Khonsu. A guard waved us in and for a little Baksheesh took us up top to a great view over the complex.
Then into the most amazingly preserved room with beautifully painted pictures of Gods and Goddess. The colours were incredible. We made our way around the rest of the complex with some impressive obelisks and a veritable forest of columns. It was a spectacular site.


Our next adventure was across the Nile to the west bank, we got the local ferry and organised a taxi to drop us off at the main ticket office. We had decided to split the West Bank into two days, so on our first day we focused on the temple of Ramses III, the Tombs of the Nobles and the Ramesseum. The temple to Ramses III is apparently what the Ramesseum would have looked like if it had survived better. It was an incredible structure. Massive and beautifully laid out. There was still some paint preserved in the inner courtyard.
The Ramesseum was a lot less intact than the temple of Ramses III. A lot of the statues and original gateways had fallen down. It was still pretty impressive though. Despite being on its side it had one of the largest statues of Ramses sitting down. Even on its side the head was taller than Matt. It was a peaceful spot too, so we braked for lunch before tackling the tombs.
The Tombs of the Nobles were brilliant. We bought tickets to see eight. Each was different, but all worth it. They depicted fantastic scenes of hunting, harvesting, metalwork, winemaking etc. It was incredible being able to follow the processes so clearly mapped out on the wall. Unfortunately, we couldn't take any photos inside, but several of the tombs were amazingly well preserved and the painting on the walls looked like it could have been completed only a few months ago, not thousands of years. Truly amazing.
With a few days break in between to relax, we made our way back to the West Bank to see the Valley of the Kings and Hatshepsut's temple. The king's tombs were incredible. We saw four (Thutmosis III, Ramses IX, Ramses VI and Ramses III) Ramses IX and VI stood out to me. They were beautifully preserved. Ramses IX was painted virtually all the way with even the hieroglyphs painted. We spent ages pouring over it really. The guard even tried to hurry us along. Ramses VI though stole the show for me with an absolutely amazing ceiling of Nut encompassing the Book of the Day and Book of the Night. I could have stared at it for hours. It was incredibly beautiful.
We had hoped to walk over the mountain to get to Hatshepsut's temple, but they had closed the paths. We're not sure if it's just because there were so few tourists or if they've closed it permanently. We made our way back and haggled for a taxi to take us to Hatshepsut's temple instead. It really looked like a modern structure, which was quite amazing, though made it less exciting to see in some ways. It still had some beautifully preserved paintings and great scene of sea life.
The lack of tourists meant that tours to Abydos and Dendarra weren't running. We went to Sohag on the advice of the guy at the tourist office to try to organise a taxi but discovered on arrival that it was going to be prohibitively expensive. The train to Sohag was awkward because it was basically booked out and as tourists we couldn't book seats so Matt played musical chairs while I awkwardly occupied a man's seat next to his wife on his insistence. Finding a hotel was also difficult. It was clear several places had rooms but on seeing on our passports that we weren't married insisted they were full. We paid way too much for a hotel that didn't mind so much, but did have a brilliant dinner. Not being used to tourists they didn't try to rip us off, so we picked at all sorts of lovely things for a pittance.
From Sohag we found a coach to take us to Cairo and off we went.

Posted by Addy21 01:27 Archived in Egypt Tagged temple luxor tombes nobles west_bank ramesseum

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