Thursday, January 21, 2010

Karnak and Luxor

Today was another early morning and a very long day, though I was the only one going on the trip to Luxor. The meeting time was 7:00 am and we had a 3 ½ - 4 hour bus ride each way. The weather was noticeably warmer and clear blue skies. We both noticed the distinct landscape out of our window – very craggy mountains. Mom stayed on board ship and enjoyed a very relaxing and quiet day – reading, napping, etc. I met up with Bob and Marsha so that we could be in the same group. Mom had asked them to look out for me on the trip. Marsha sat with me on the way in and I really enjoyed talking with her. Our guide Noha filled us in on much of the history that we had heard the day before.

We drove through some of the most desolate areas I have ever seen, first through the mountains, then the desert and into the first small town of Kena and finally on to Luxor. It was a relief to see that this part of the country was much cleaner than Cairo. We must have gone through 20 or more check points in a convoy of 20 buses so it took almost 4 hours. We passed many fields where they were growing alfalfa (for feeding livestock), sugarcane, and tomatoes.

You noticed most of the farmers were doing all of the harvesting manually as very few have enough money to buy machinery. Again, it makes you very thankful for all we have in the States. I will say that there is one down side of being on a ship this large – too many people at these sites. We had over 1000 people all converging on the monuments and it was difficult to maneuver through the crowds.

Our first stop was the Temple of Karnak which is probably most well known for its hypostyle hall with 134 pillars. The sheer size and scope of this site was a lot to take in as it covers 60 acres.

There were lots of statues, hieroglyphics, and so on.

You could even still see the colors on many of the pillars. The temple was constructed over the course of 2000 years constantly being added on to bit by bit. We had just over an hour here which was barely enough time to take some photos while still trying to listen to our guide. It was sunny and hot and felt more like Egypt should feel, even in winter.

After Karnak we made a brief, as in 2 minutes, stop at Luxor Temple just to take a picture and finally it was on to lunch. We ate at the Nile Palace which was a very nice hotel located on the Nile. En route we passed about 25 different river boats that take multiday cruises down the Nile. We also saw a number of feluccas which are a type of Egyptian sail boat. Our lunch was similar to the day before and quite good. We even had a whole hour to eat lunch which was welcomed by all.

It was then time to get back on the bus to go to the Valley of the Kings which dates to the New Kingdom. Sadly, you were not allowed to take photos or videos inside of the complex or in the tombs. In fact, we were not even able to bring our cameras inside.

All I can say is that the tombs look as though someone painted them yesterday. The colors are so vibrant. We went into the tombs of Ramses I, III, and IX. Ramses the III had a tomb that seemed to go down and on forever. It is not easy to get down into the tombs as the shaft is very steep and you only have a wooden ramp with slats across it to help you down. There were small rooms off of the main shaft, some decorated, others not. The tomb of Ramses I had the most brightly colored tomb and it truly looked like the paint was still drying on the walls. It also still had the outer stone “vault” that held the sarcophagus. However, you had to go almost straight down 50+ steep steps in order to get to the chamber. It’s hard to imagine how these tombs were created with the tools that were available to the ancient Egyptians.

It was nearing sundown and time for us to leave. We did make one final stop at the Colossi of Memnon – two giant stone figures. It was then time to make the very long trip home. I did take that time to call my Dad and Hunter to see how things were going. I had hoped to take a bit of a nap, but that didn’t happen. I did chat with a nice gentleman from NY who is going on the full world voyage with his wife. We discussed the day and our thoughts on Egypt and the ancient Egyptians. I managed to use the light from my iPhone to read for the rest of the trip. I have never been so happy to see the lights of the ship as I was tonight! I finally returned to the room about 9:15 and was tired and hungry. Prakasan had already told my mom to give him a call as soon as I got in so that we could get some dinner. Mom had the canap├ęs a little earlier, but had not gone down to the dining room for dinner. She had dined alone at lunch and that was enough for her. She was able to enjoy the sun on our verandah and had even gotten a little pink. We ordered some dinner and had to catch up on the day. This was the longest we’ve been apart in weeks! I am exhausted but really want to take a shower before going to bed as you do get quite dusty going into these sites. It will be 1:00 am before I get to bed, but can sleep in tomorrow!

No comments: