Weekend in Luxor!
Trip Start Jun 18, 2010
13Trip End Aug 26, 2010
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Where I stayed
Starting with last weekend - On Thursday, we scoured Alexandria for a place to rent sailboats, starting with the "Yacht Club," followed by "Munteza Water Sports," and finishing at the "Grand Cafe" and "Greek Club." Nobody had anything but overpriced windsurfing and jet-skis. So we settled for the beach at the Greek Club. Later that night, we went for a short 4 mile run along the Corniche.
On Friday, we went to the North Coast, near the city of Marina. We started at the Al-Alamein War Museum and Cemetery which commemorates the turning point in WW2 in North Africa, marking the beginning of a string of allied victories. It was a very interesting museum, with entire rooms dedicated to memorabilia from each army involved in the fighting, and a collection of cannons, tanks and planes outside
After the museum, we went to a beach resort near Marina, where we stayed for the rest of the day. It was a beautiful beach, and we all got a kick out of the mostly-Italian guests at the hotel, who were on the whole very leathery and wearing insufficient amounts of clothing. We returned to Alexandria that night, and went to dinner at Abu Nasser.
On Sunday, we went to Bamboo again for dinner, where we had yet another fantastic meal (though it wasn't what we ordered.) Susie came to take our order, but when we all asked for "Chikin Satay," she held her face in shock and told us she was too tired to make any more. I asked her to cook what she wanted, and she was very grateful. We ended up with some tasty Hong Kong noodles.
On Sunday night, we went for a long run, expecting about a 10-miler down to San Stefano and back. About 3 miles in, however, we were running by a group of kids passing a soccer ball, when Tyler called for the ball. He turned his head to receive the pass, and ran full speed into a wooden mango cart, breaking the cart and sending the fruit everywhere. He cut his arm a bit, but was more embarrassed than hurt. The owner was rightfully angry, and Tyler volunteered to pay 200 LE for the cart and mangoes, but as we were running we didn't have any money with us. So I ended up running back to the hotel to get money while Tyler and Brandon stayed with the vendor. 6 miles later, I arrived back at the spot to find them all chatting and eating mangoes together. Apparently while I was gone Brandon and Tyler were very well-fed, and after we ran back the last 3 miles to the hotel, we guessed that the 200 LE was probably quite a hefty profit for them, even with the loss of the cart
Last Friday, we took our second midterm, which was very difficult. We ended up doing very well though, because our professor helped translate the directions into English when we needed it. With the exam out of the way, and no homework to burden us, we went back to the hotel, packed a bag, and left for Luxor. We took a train from Alexandria all the way to Luxor over night (a 13 hour journey), where we arrived at 6:00am. Hassan, the owner of our hotel in Luxor, met us at the train station, and led us on foot to the hotel, where we were served tea and breakfast as Hassan explained the different itineraries we could do in our short time there.
We ended up letting Hassan organize our entire trip, which turned out perfectly and not too expensive. The first day, Saturday, we toured the East Bank of the Nile, starting out early at the Temple of Karnak (which has the famous Hypostyle Hall and is featured in James Bond's 'The Spy Who Loved Me'). The Temple was amazing and still retained some of its original vivid coloring. After the temple, we had lunch at the Oasis Cafe, which is a colonial/European style restaurant, where I ate American pancakes with maple syrup for the first time in a long while. The atmosphere was great, with old photos of the area in the 1930s, and our waiter wore a gallabea and a fez
After eating, we returned to the Nile for a Felucca ride. Our Felucca captain was also named Hassan, and he was great. We sailed to "Banana Island" which has a bunch of banana farms on it, where we ate some bananas and got a tour. We returned at a leisurely pace, and saw the sunset from the boat, which was absolutely gorgeous. As he rowed us in the last bit, our pilot Mohammed sang "Row row row your boat, gently down the Nile, merrily merrily merrily merrily, life is but a smile" in his heavy accent.
At night, we saw the Luxor Temple, which was all lit up with spot-lights, creating a very dramatic effect. Also, because it was so late, we were the only ones there, except for the police. I struck up a conversation with an Egyptian who I originally took to be a body-guard for a tourist group, but when the tourists all left and he stayed, I found out that he was a plain-clothes policeman (I was glad to find that bit out, because he was pretty heavily armed!). Finally, after a very long day, we returned to the hotel for a few hours of sleep.
On Friday, we left the hotel at 5:30am to go hot-air ballooning over the West Bank. We were ferried across the Nile, and on the boat we were served Nescafe and pound-cake for breakfast
After seeing everything from the air, we met a tour-guide nearby that Hassan had arranged for us. We went to the Valley of the Kings, which houses many tombs of ancient Egyptian Kings, including King Tut's. We saw three of the tombs, which were beautifully decorated. I was extremely surprised that the paint inside the tombs was still preserved after thousands of years - in many cases it was still so bright that it looked like it was re-painted last year! I particularly liked the way the ceilings were painted - deep blue sky with bright yellow stars.
We then went to an Alabaster Factory/gift-shop, and then on to the Temple of Hatshepsut, Egypt's only female ruler
Finally, to finish our tour, we went to Medinat Habu, which was a temple built to commemorate a victory over Syrian forces. The outside looked like a fortress, and inside there were beautiful, deep reliefs of the battle scenes. After Medinat Habu, we returned to the hotel to shower (it was 110 degrees out) and rest before our flight. We then returned to the Oasis Cafe for dinner, and then went to the airport. We flew to Cairo, where we were met by a car to take us back to Alexandria. I got a total of 10 hours of sleep throughout the entire weekend, but I am really glad we went on the trip - Luxor was incredible!
Tonight, we saw Toy Story 3 with Reem, Rania, and their kids. We all thought it was great, and a few of the girls (and Lange) cried.
In class, we are now just about finishing up our textbook. We are a bit ahead of schedule (we have exactly two weeks left from tomorrow) but it will be nice to have some extra time to review before the final exam. This upcoming weekend, we are planning a trip to the Siwa Oasis in the Western Desert by the Libyan border which has the unique Bedouin culture.