The Glory of Thebes

Trip Start Oct 24, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Egypt  , Nile River Valley,
Thursday, November 18, 2010

I woke up feeling horrible again, but the same formula (a shower, ibuprofen, and decon) seemed to perk me up a bit and get me upstairs for breakfast. Konrad had starred all the kings' tombs he thought looked interesting, so I scanned through them at breakfast and we decided on the three that looked the best to both of us (the ticket was only valid for three tombs -- if you wanted to see more, you needed to buy a second ticket). We also planned to see Deir al-Bahri, Hetsheput's temple, which was over the "mountains" on the other side of the Valley of the Kings.

We made our way to the dreaded ferry again, which was actually much quieter. Hardly anyone was about, which was apparently due to people being exhausted from the two solid days of celebrating the holiday they'd done.

Over on the West Bank, we found someone to drive us out to the Valley of the Kings (the furthest point from the ferry) for just 15LE, and we were off. We chatted with the driver a bit and learned he'd spent a month in Turkey in the 1990's, and that he'd also worked for Bin Laden (was he trying to get a rise out of us or merely yanking our chains?). We climbed out of his car at the entrance and went inside the museum to have a look around. We then left the cool air-conditioned building behind and went out to the ticket office. They had a list of open tombs there, and we were disappointed to learn that the ones we had chosen were closed. We were still going to visit the tombs though, so we shuffled up to the window and requested our teacher-discounted tickets. Surprisingly, since the Valley of the Kings is one of Luxor's biggest tourist attractions, the ticket vendor didn't speak a word of English -- which meant that we couldn't get our message across and had to pay full price. 

We walked up the hill and took another look at the list of open tombs, finally deciding to check out Ramses III's, Thutmosis IV's, and Thutmosis III's. The first was plain and boring -- less artistic and impressive than the artisans' tombs we'd seen the day before, and the art wasn't even carved or etched into the walls -- it was just painted on. It was also crazy hot down there, and a stampede of middle school-aged boys was thundering down the steps behind us, so we made our way back to the surface very quickly. The second tomb we visited was definitely the best. There were beautiful carvings with nice colors, all very intricately done. 

In the third tomb, which was better than the first, but not nearly as nice as the second, we again found ourselves in the midst of what seemed like a giant school field trip, so didn't linger too long. Instead we set out in search of the path over the hills and down to Deir al-Bahri. While trying to find the path, we were approached by some Canadians looking for the same thing. Together we made our way there and began the climb. It was really, really beautiful from the top, and we had some excellent views of the surrounding area from up there. We took our time, stopping to take pictures and enjoy the walk. Once on the other side, the path became less obvious. We eventually figured our way there (though I'm not sure we chose the most direct path) and secured discounted tickets to visit the temple. 

Deir al-Bahri was gorgeous, and one of my favorites. The temple itself wasn't amazing (very nice though!), but the location was breathtaking.  It was carved into the side of the mountain and had towering cliffs overhead. We spent some time just taking in the peace and quiet -- at least until the culturally and architecturally insensitive Russians showed up, wearing hot pants and climbing all over the relics in the temple...

It was still early when we finished up, and we didn't have anything else to see, so we decided to walk back. Lots of people tried to give us rides, including a very nice young man with a donkey cart who walked and chatted with us for a bit. We declined them all and got to the ferry under our own steam around 4:30pm. We took it straight across, watching the sun set over the palm trees on the West Bank as the boat cruised to the East Bank. 

We'd talked about hitting the pool because my back was seriously messed up and I needed a good soak, but I fell asleep before ever getting to the roof, so no pooling was to be done that day. After a refreshing snooze, we headed back to the British part of town (seriously) and had dinner at Jewel of the Nile. It was simple, but good, and the English owner was lovely. She chatted with us a bit, telling us about trying to protect the street cats who were frequently kicked by the locals (another reason to love Istanbul!). Full of tasty food, we walked the whole way back to the hotel then conked out -- one day left in Luxor before taking the train north back to Cairo.
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