December 2, 2014
The last day in Luxor… last day in Egypt…
We woke up to no wifi in the hotel. Ahhhh. :S And… almost no water pressure in the sink either. Not panicking yet though. Thought maybe it was just a bad morning and a bit of bad luck or something… should be working in the afternoon though. So we headed out for a day of touristy stuff.
Stopped at a random little coffee shop the guide took us to, because us nurses really can’t do without coffee in the morning!!! It was honestly absolutely the best coffee I’d had the whole trip so far!!!
The weather was gorgeous. Hot and sunny but not too hot. Just beautiful.
On the agenda for today… Valley of the Kings and Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple. We started with Valley of the Kings. A relatively brief drive up into the Theban hills… to the most desolate and dry place I’ve seen… outside of Saudi of course 😛
Then… We took a train up the hills into the center of the Valley of the Kings. Thankfully because it would have been such a long, hot walk up!!
The Valley of the Kings was a region where for a period of about 500 years, from the 16th to the 11th century BC, tombs were built for notable pharaoh’s and nobles. It sits on the West Bank of the Nile, opposite Thebes (the ancient name for the modern city of Luxor) in a large wadi (or valley).
There are 63 known tombs in the valley, some belonging to famous kings and others belongs to nobles and some of the elite or highest members of the royal family. 15 of these tombs are open to the public. They begin as long shafts that head deep underground and terminate in elaborate burial chambers. The walls and ceilings of the shafts and burial chambers are covered with paintings and drawings or engravings of religious scenes and texts to guide the kings into the afterlife. At one point there were many treasures and riches buried in the tombs but those have long since disappeared.
We visited several tombs… honestly can’t remember which. Probably a Ramses and King Tut I. Some of the tombs have large and noticeable entrances, but others are barely more than a little hole down in to the ground. Creeepy! (In the background of the picture above you can see a small dark square hole… that’s the entrance to one of the tombs we visited.)
Most of the ones we entered were quite large, with plenty of room to move about as you went down the shaft into the burial chamber. But I’d say they’re probably not good for a claustrophobe. The air is dense and heavy and warm… and it smells like ancient secrets and stories. Makes my imagination run wild.
The paintings and engraving are still brilliant with colour as very little light reaches down here so the colours haven’t been spoiled with time.
Sarcophagus selfie anyone??
Next up, Queen Hetshepsut’s temple, technically known as the Mortuary Temple of Hetshepsut. Another very dry and dusty and hot and lifeless place.
However, the difference here is that you could see life in the distance. The beautiful lush, green farmland surrounding the Nile River.
Side note: check out google earth sometime when it is night in Egypt and all you will see is lights tracing the path of the Nile River from Southern Egypt to the North and Nile River Delta where the water empties into the Mediterranean Sea. It’s a brilliant illustration of how innhospitable the majority of Egypt is… and how hospitable the land surrounding the Nile River is… as it’s about the only place in Egypt where people actually live.
Queen Hetshepsut’s temple. A beautiful temple… with a backdrop of stunningly steep cliffs… a yellow/brown color against a brilliant blue sky. It is located on the west bank of the Nile River and dedicated to the sun god Amon-Ra. It honors both Queen Hetsheptsut and the gods relevant to her afterlife.
In more recent history, it was the site of a massacre of 62 people, mostly tourists, in 1997 by terrorists.
We walked up the many steps into the temple… saw more beautiful murals and paintings… some also still quite colorful despite the hundreds of years that have passed since some ancient Egyptian splashed colors in a stunning pattern on the walls of the temple…
It didn’t take long though before we were so hot and dry and dusty that we were about to crumble and join the dusty ground here… so we left. Through this gate i think?
Our guide convinced us to stop at an Alabaster shop… where we learned how they make alabaster pots in a traditional way… and then were encouraged to purchase something… which we didn’t do cuz what a waste of space in a suitcase! :S
Anyways… we got back to the hotel, hot and tired and really just wanting a shower and wifi… only to find out that the water was still off and the wifi was still not working either!! ahhhh. It was a bit traumatizing… First world problems… I know. But I had flights to change as I was trying to go straight from Egypt to Bahrain instead of back to Riyadh.
So anyways… that was the last of our crammed tourism session in Egypt… early morning flight back in to Cairo and then on to our next destination… Sandyland for Amelia and hopefully Beachland for me!!! 😛
Moment of reflection:
Egypt. Momtaz!!! Seriously. It’s an amazing country to visit. Pretty sure that there is no where in the world with quite as rich of a history as Egypts.
If the pyramids are on your bucket list, definitely go one day soon and check them out. You will absolutely NOT regret it! Mind blowing. Really. It is worth every Egyptian pound which really is very little compared to American/Canadian dollars… or really almost any currency in the world.
And the whole trip was just incredible. All the history and the beautiful ancient buildings. The tombs where I swear you could feel the afterlife just breathing behind the walls… Definitely Cairo and Luxor are must see destinations.
Perhaps next time I’ll check out Alexandria and Sharm El-Sheik! Do the beachy Mediterranean thing… combined with a little history.
Anyways… hope you enjoyed seeing my pictures and descriptions of Egypt… there’s plenty more to come. As well as more on life in Saudi. (I’m technically at my 9month mark now… so I better seriously catch up on my blogging!! ooops…)
So. Masalaam for now!