Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Luxor and the Valley of Kings/Queens

Hi from Clare, Tuesday 24/6

Photo 1 - Karnak Temple Photo 2 - Luxor Temple Photo 3 - The girls with our tour guide Photo 4 - Tomb painting Ramses 1st

We have had some fun over the past few days, visiting the Temples and Tombs around Luxor, shopping and being harassed by the touts, staying in great accommodation and eating like kings. Definitely back on our diets next week.

We set out Sunday morning at 6.30am and toured the Karnak Temple and the Luxor Temple. I was impressed when discovering that Philae temple took 180 years to build and decorate. Just shows how little I know, the Karnak Temple took 2000 years to complete from 1500BC-500AD and encompasses 13 temples built by different rulers. The place is huge and very impressive with many statues to the Gods and carvings on both exterior and interior walls depicting their life style and mythology. The Luxor Temple is much smaller but still very impressive.

On Monday we toured the Valley of the Kings and The Valley of the Queens. Another early morning pick up to beat the heat of the day. We all like our guide in Luxor, she is a sweet little woman who speaks good English and giggles a lot, particularly at her own jokes.

In the Valley of the Kings we visited the tombs of Ramses 1st, 3rd, 4th and Tutankhamun. The tombs are surprisingly large with long passages, numerous storage chambers and a burial chamber. The length of the Pharaoh's rule seem to determine how elaborately the tomb was decorated. Unfortunately no cameras are allowed, but I'm sure we will never forget the grandness, the detail, beauty and colour of the paintings and carvings that adorned every inch of the tomb including the passages.

The Valley of the Queens is not as impressive as the tombs are much smaller. It is the burial place for a Queen, Princess or Prince. I thought the biggest difference was that in the children's tombs the paintings were bigger, more innocent, pretty and childlike which produced a real sense of peace and comfort.

Unfortunately we haven't done as much shopping as the girls would have liked to do. The prices are great and there are some really lovely and unique items to buy. However if the searing heat doesn't wear us down the touts certainly will. The minute we step on to the street, they are upon us. The shopkeepers aren't much better, there is no such thing here as "just looking" they are there to sell, sell, sell!

When visiting temples and tombs there is always a row of souvenir shops that have to be passed to enter the area. The touts are strategically positioned along the road and it is necessary to duck, weave and sometimes run to get away from them. I have developed my own defence by holding my sun umbrella between me and them and as they run around me, my umbrella changes sides. With my head down and umbrella up I charge through the line ready for defensive action. It must look pretty funny as yesterday even one of the touts laughed!

This is our last day in Luxor, we have left the cruise boat and are in a lovely hotel in the centre of town. This is the only place we have had a really cold beer since leaving Kathryn's home. The Egyptians have no idea about cold beer and sometimes I think they have been horrified that we drink from the cool bottle rather than use the warm glass provided. The good news is this hotel serves cold beer with chilled glasses. Woo Hoo!

We fly this evening to Sharm el Sheikh for a few days of touring, diving and snorkeling in the Red Sea.

love CANDY