December 1, 2014 First day of December and we’re up super early and off to the Cairo airport to travel on to Luxor for a couple days. Cairo has been an incredible experience in so many ways (read below to hear more about it), but I’m excited to get out of the noisy congested town and go somewhere a bit quieter and smaller.
The flight to Luxor was barely an hour… definitely nicer than taking a bus or train the 700kms!! Tired and still half asleep, we were picked up by a driver from the hotel we had booked. It was the oddest car service I’d ever booked in my life… picked up in a sporty little black car with some type of noisy muffler and skulls on the roof and blue-ish lights in the car… it was like a little rave party car!! Lol.
We didn’t have a long drive, maybe 20minutes from the airport, and the driver really was nice. But, when the car first stopped beside a little pharmacy and in front of a little alley, we thought maybe the driver was just getting cigarettes. But no… he was dropping us off. We’re here he proudly announced. Amelia and I looked at each other in shock/surprise/dismay/fear?! Not exactly what we had pictured although for 28$ for 2 nights we shouldn’t have expected more!!
However, we were ushered down the alley to the entrance of the Nefertiti hotel and greeted by the friendliest people we’d encountered so far. The staff of the hotel were absolutely lovely and super accomodating. Our room was clean and neat although small and very simple. But that’s totally ok! The hotel arranged a tour guide for us and after a short nap, we went to go check out a couple of Luxor’s temples.
First stop, Karnak Temple. Honestly, I’d love to be able to tell you everything the guide told us that day because he was so knowledgeable. But, my sleep deprived brain was still feeling the cultural/historical overload, so all I can tell you is that this is probably my favorite historical site of the whole trip. The pyramids where amazing but I just loved all the columns in this temple. You could get lost just wandering through and around all the columns. I think the guide said there were at least 130 columns! All of them covered with hieroglyphics and ancient symbols and stories in a “secret” language that I don’t understand.
This temple is one of the largest open air ancient religious sites in the world… after Angkor Wat… built over a very lengthy period of time with at least 30 Pharaoh’s contributing to it’s building… which enabled it to reach such epic proportions.
We entered the main hall of the temple down a long path lined with sphinxes. The sphinxes actually go all the way from Karnak temple to Luxor temple which is a good km +. But most of the sphinxes are gone now as the city of Luxor was kind of built over top of a lot of them. Ooops. History fail.
Near where we entered the temple, there was a giant statute of King Ramses I believe. Just guessing cuz he seems to be everywhere here. Apparently he was a big fan of creating things for posterity!
So the temple actually has 134 columns arranged in 16 rows… most of them with a diameter of at least 3meters and 10 meters tall… they’re massive and gorgeous and just incredible!
There was also a statute of King Tut… with some chick…
A giant hieroglyphic wall. Good luck reading that one. Let me know if you figure it out 😛
A couple obliesks.
And then this was a smaller exit that lead to the the city of the dead… Clearly not as many people wanted to go there. Obviously. 😛
Found piles of bits and pieces of artifacts and such that they don’t have a home yet… But walking around through all that rubble gave us a pretty great view of the whole temple grounds. Its pretty huge. Seriously!
Overall really this temple was just amazing!!!
After viewing Karnak temple, we quickly drove over to the next temple, Luxor temple… just a short drive away… The road once went directly from Karnak temple to Luxor temple and was lined with Sphinxes, but not anymore. Although there are still some areas of the road that exist with the sphinxes… It is not nearly so large as the Karnak temple complex, but it is equally as grand. I think anyways.
One of the first things we saw at Luxor temple was a very large sculpture of Ramses II. This guy exists everywhere!!! Just his head here…
Then we walked down a path lined with tall columns to a main square/court…
We saw more sculptures/statutes of famous kings/queens…
Over all it was pretty amazing as well. This temple specifically went through several different religions… it was a Christian area at one point… as in Christians hid out in the temple while they were being persecuted by some other religious group. There’s also a mosque built on top of another church in this temple also. So it definitely has some interesting religious history!
By the time we’d viewed all these temples, we were definitely history and culture overloaded so we went back to our hotel. Thought we’d wander around through the souq behind the hotel and find a place to eat.
We didn’t find a place to eat back there… everything looked even sketchier than the alley by our hotel. And we were constantly being harrassed by people trying to sell us stuff for ridiculous prices. “No hustle, no hustle” they’d say, but really, that’s exactly what they were trying to do! Hustle us!!! We did find a few beautiful scarfs though… and there were spice shops everywhere and shops selling hideously fascinating trinkets with very large male appendages… not sure what they were supposed to be or signify but they were odd!!!!
Eventually we wandered back to our hotel as there was a restaurant right beside it. And it was definitely a brilliant decision! We had seriously some of the best food we’d had our entire trip. And for dirt cheap yet too. And fabulous service!!!
We ordered mulukhiyah… a soup made from some green plant thats basically chopped up really fine with garlic and spices and such… quite delicious in small quantities!!
And then I had the best mousakkah I’ve had in a very very long time. And the chef even came out and presented it to us with great flair! Clearly took pride in his work and wanted to make sure we were very happy and satisfied with the food! And we were! It was lovely!
And… that was the end of our first day in Luxor!
Tomorrow… heaps more touring about to be done and then we’re out of this country!
Nighto… more to come.