15 11 2007

Me and The Housemate have just been to Egypt, and bloody hell is it fantastic.  What an amazing country, but more on that later.

Right anyway, long story short, we got stuck in traffic, I mean really bad traffic on the way to the airport and panic was starting to set in.  Last check in was at 9, at 10 past we had just got to the car park, so instead of waiting for the bus we just ran to the terminal and got there as they closed the gate, we were the last people to get there and so had the last 2 seats (I got upgraded, get in, free meal and excess leg room).  The flight was uneventful and it got us there without stress or fuss and I had a nice chat to a mechanic about the fact that although Audis are more reliable than Alfas, they just dont feel the same to drive (sorry digressing I know, but I do love cars).

Anyway we got there and were taken to out hotel, the Pyramisa Isis in Luxor, a 5 (We will split the difference and call it a 3) star hotel where we were met by Khaled who then proceeded to rob me for all of the money that I had, in order to sign up for trips, to the Temples at Luxor and Karnak (A sound and light show here as well), a Hot Air Balloon ride and a visit to Valley of the Kings.

Anyway, first morning we woke at 4 am (Not intentional, there is a mosque with a loudspeaker pointing directly through our balcony window) so we got up and had a spot of breakfast and decided that we would walk into Luxor town and while we were there decided to go to the Temple.  As we were there quite early it was pretty much deserted so armed with our cameras we spent a while wandering around this amazing 3000 year old monument being guided by my Lonely Planet and mainly just staring open mouthed at the sheer complexity, size and colours of the place.  With brightly coloured artwork and giant statues and start of the 2 km long Avenue of Sphinxes, this is really a sight to behold.  After about an 90 minutes we decided that it would be a good idea to head back to the hotel for a swim, which we did, and then we went to Karnak in the evening for the sound and light show.

Karnak is amazing, dont get me wrong, its bigger than Luxor and has more features and it looks beautiful with its blue and green mood lighting, but if you go, take headphone and some atmospheric music (somthing like Sigur Ros may be quite good) because with the overly dramatic acting (One of the parts was played by Liz Taylor apparantly) it sounded like a deleted scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and I felt myself drifting off half way through.

The next day we had our guided tour around Karnak and it looks even more impressive in the daylight, thinking how imposing it must have looked in its full glory is mind blowing with its 40m high walls and hypostyle hall with 114 colums in it.  Aman our guide took us around pointing out the interesting features and the history of the place, then we went off on our own.  We actually tagged along behind a german tour group and got to see a statue that you had to pay to see for free.  Then back to Luxor for a guided tour around the temple, and this just doesn’t get any less impressive, infact once you know a bit more about it, some of it starts to make sense.  As turned out to be our usual afternoon activity,  we headed back to the hotel and hit the pool.

Saturday brought brilliantly hot weather again and yet another early start, but this time for a balloon ride with Ahmed the pilot and 12 other people.  Now I never realised that you could actually steer one of these things so that you don’t just have to go where the wind takes you, and we went in completely the opposite direction to all of the other balloons and flew over the west bank with Valley of the Queens and Hatchupsets temple, but most impressive of the lot was the Ramesseum with its massive archeology site and impressive colums, it gave the sheer scale of what the ancients could actually do.  Once we landed we were immediately swamped by kids wanting money from us, but we were warned not to as if we gave to one we would have to give to the whole village.  (A quick note on hassling.  In the Egyptian culture you will be hassled walking along the road, for Taxis, felucca rides, carriages, english newspapers, now ive travelled a bit and so am used to it.  Honestly I didnt think it was as bad as it could have been, but then I am not a woman.  One of the families in the hotel was there with their teenage daughter and she was pretty much scared to go out of the hotel.)

 After this we decided to go to the Luxor museum and take a gander at some mummies and artifacts going back way past BC (a note against this is what the hell were we doing over here during this period, ok we have stone henge, but its not exactly the most impressive piece of pre-christ arcitecture, and in both central and South America and Asia cutures were much more advanced than ours.).  This gave us our first taste of the finary of the burial tombs.

Sunday we headed to Valley of the Kings and went into 3 of the Rameses pharoahs tombs, and bloody hell were these decorated plushly with the ceilings covered with thousands of painted stars and scenes from the book of the dead depicted on every spare inch of wall, but as they have been robbed by unscrupulous heathens there isn’t a great deal else in them.  So anyway, hands up who thought that Tutankhamun was buried in a pyramid?  Well you are wrong, valley of the kings, 2000 years after the pyramids were built.  So there you go, the mummy is there, all of the acoutriments from the tomb are elsewhere, impressively robbed by the British (well actually, Carter tricked the Egyptian government into giving him 3 quarters of what he found).  After that we headed of to Hatchupsets temple to have a mooch about there and on the way back we stopped at the Colussi of Memnon, 2 enormous statutes that were the gateway to the cities of the dead.

During this visit we toured with a couple of ladies from Manchester called Glynis and Elaine.  They were excellent, and made great companions for this trip.  Over our dinner that night we got talking to Rachel and Nadia from Switzerland and we ended up going out into Luxor with them and some Egyptians and drinking into the wee small hours.  We also watched the football but that was a nil nil draw so not much to say there.

Monday was our day of rest and sat by the pool for the whole day nursing hangovers and I finally finished my book which I swapped for the excellent Moby Dick.  We had a lot to look forward to as we had booked a day trip to Cairo for Tuesday. 

We flew early morning and were met by our guide Eman and 3 others, talk about being treated like royalty, thats 2 people each.  The Cairo museum was superb, absolutely 100% brilliant, and Eman made this already fascinating subject come to life, she was so enthusiastic and so passionate about this subject that we didnt notice the fact that we had been in the museum for 4 hours, she is also tiny, about a foot shorter than me.  After this we headed out to Giza and went to the Pyramids and Sphinx, and yes they look like they do in the films so I wont bore you with those details, but I will yet again tell you that Eman went way above and beyond the call of duty by providing us with diagrams of how the pyramids were built and the the dynasties that built them.

On Wednesday we flew home to our cold and dreary nation, during which there was almost a passenger revolt as a couple of people didnt get the premium seats that they wanted due to it being a different type of plane.  It could have been worse, they could have waited for the correct plane and we would have been delayed for 6 hours.

Right enough of this, a special section on Brits abroad will come later but for now toodle pip.



One response

16 11 2007

Ah ha so you did got to the pyramids after all. So did you bring me one back?
I seem to remember having a rant about Brits abroad in a blog I did on Iceland, come to think of it I’m not sure I ever posted that. I may have to have a look.

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