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mistybleu Luxor - A travel report by Amanda
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Luxor,  Egypt - flag Egypt -  Qinå
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mistybleu's travel reports

Where the Kings and Queens are found...

  22 votes
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Egypt is the perfect place for a multi-city break. Each area is extreme, from the hustle and bustle of Cairo, to the desert of Luxor, further afield to the Nubian lands of Aswan and Abu Simbel or the coast of Alexandria.

Colossi of Memnon
Colossi of Memnon
We chose Cairo and Luxor: Cairo, the capital is the largest city in the Middle East and Africa. It’s a city where the past meets the present; on one side of the Nile over 2000 years of religion can be seen with the Islamic, Christian and Jewish cultures still flourishing and the other side ancient Egypt - Giza, (where the pyramids are found) is as known as the capital of the Old Kingdom.

With Luxor, I was under the impression that the entire areas was known as Luxor, however it is made up of 3 areas: the town of Karnak, Thebes (west bank of the Nile) and of course Luxor (east bank).

The area is like a museum; nearly every corner is laden with history or cultural relevance, with the Nile bringing life to this desert and everything surrounds it.

With the discovery (by Howard Carter - 1922), of the tomb of King Tutankhamun, the number of tourists has risen substantially which is a bonus as the Egyptians need tourism. The average population seem relatively poor. Some children can be seen either begging or working in factories – during a felucca ride [a felucca is a sailboat which has been used for centuries] children swam up to the boat saying baksheesh, baksheesh. Then going to a factory, watching the children making carpets, [we were assured that they attended school in the morning].

Useful tips: we were advised that we shouldn’t wear extremely revealing clothing, arms should be covered and short skirts mustn’t be worn. We were also told to wear a hat in the west bank and drink plenty of water as temperatures can exceed 44 degrees in the desert. Finally we were told not to drink any drinks with ice, or eat fruit that didn’t need peeling or eat salads that required washing in ordinary water. It is quite common for 8 out of 10 people to get sick while visiting Egypt. There was one other thing that I had wished they had told us about and that was about the flies - they we everywhere!

Favourite spots:
Entrance of the Karnak Temple
Entrance of the Karnak Temple
The Greek city of Thebes was once the capital of Egypt and stood where Luxor is found nowadays; not much is left of the city apart from the Karnak Temple. It is very impressive, the greatest of the temple complexes; it’s great Hypostyle hall has 134 huge columns (which symbolised palm trees) covered with hieroglyphics and designs.

The temple is associated with Re, the sun god after the New Kingdom pharaohs made him their national god. As you enter the temple you are greeted with a parade of ram headed sphinxes which was Re special animal.

As Luxor is flat it's an idea to rent some bicycles to get around. (But a word of warning as the heat is intense it’s always advisable to wear a hat and to drink plenty of water).

You cannot miss this temple on your trip and you should allow a day to explore it fully. The Luxor temple is nice, but after doing the Karnak Temple nothing compares.

What's really great:
hotchiksoup. Say it quickly and that's the name of this temple
hotchiksoup. Say it quickly and that's the name of this temple
The history and stories are fantastic, like that of Queen Hatshepsut, the first great female leader of Egypt; at the time the most powerful and advanced civilization in the world. She was married to King Thutmose II and decided upon his death to proclaim herself Pharaoh. A very controversial move as the king had a son who was the rightful heir. She reign for about 15-20 years, even though this move was unprecedented she must have been a very good ruler as to country flourished.

By her death, which is one of these great conspiracy stories the King’s son and her nephew – Thutmose III took his rightful place as pharaoh. But he held her in distain, and went about removing her name for the record ‘books’ in all her temples he had the face either defaced or destroyed.

But her greatest temple still stands, built by her lover Senmut; it is a 3-tiered temple which was found beneath hundreds of tons of sand.

hotchikensoup.  Say it quickly and that's the name of this temple
hotchikensoup. Say it quickly and that's the name of this temple
There are so many sights in Luxor that you need at least 4 days to get a sense of the area.

Day 1 visit KARNAK TEMPLE, day 2 LUXOR TEMPLE and the museum; day 3 cross the Nile to the west bank. The easiest way to do this is to take the early morning ferry which costs around £E1, then hire a taxi for a day which cost between 50/70 Egyptian pounds. Day 4 it's back across to Thebes, to cover remaining sights.

The major attractions are:
VALLEY OF THE KINGS: that contains 21 tombs of Pharaohs; including the Tomb of TUTANKHAMUN, RAMSES and SETY I.
The temple of HATSHEPSUT (the entry fee is £E12), famous female pharaoh. It’s possible to hike or take a camel ride between the two areas.
VALLEY OF THE QUEENS: the tomb of Queen Nefertari considered as the most beautiful in Egypt.
TOMB OF THE NOBLES, including the tomb of Menna.
DEIR AL-MEDINA – this was the home of the artists and tomb workers.
MEDINAT HABU which is dominated by the mortuary temple of Ramses III.


Novatel, Luxor
Novatel, Luxor
In Cairo we stayed in the Chateau Des Pyramides Hotel. It was centrally located, and had nice views of the pyramids from the rooms. I can't remember what the facilities were like, but it must have been pleasant enough; we were only there two nights.

In Luxor we stayed in the Novotel, an adequate hotel on the banks of the Nile. It had a pool which was actually floating on the Nile, as well as life-size chess set in the courtyard. We made sure that we got a room overlooking the Nile, because there is a romance about watching the sunset from our balcony sipping a mango juice looking at the Nile.

But to be honest, we spent little time in the hotel (a lot of the time hotels are incidental to the trip). What with the tours all day, going out to dinner in the evening, it was basically a place to sleep and shower.

Luxor travelogue picture
I didn't visit any clubs, but a great way to spend an evening is attend one of three Son et lumiere (Sound and Light) displays at the Karnak Temple. It's wonderful to hear the history of Egypt come to life, in dramatic fashion. The performance lasts just over an hour, and is performed in three languages.

Distant views of Howard Carter's last home
Distant views of Howard Carter's last home
Going to the Winter Palace for evening drinks is quite nice. It is a Victorian style building which was famed for where Howard Carter was then they broke through and discoverer of Tutankumun. While inside the hotel you don’t have the feeling of being Egypt but more of the colonial days and the imagine of 1920s brits talking is close to the mind. Or listening to some recount the story of the Pharoahs curse or Agathas Christies 'Death on the Nile'.

Eating out
Eating out
Many people who go to Egypt walk away with Pharaoh’s curse. i.e. some sort of stomach bug. We tried not to take many chances and eat all my meals in the hotel. Probably not the wisest thing to do, but it was the safest. We were told to avoid ice, salads and fruit (that didn't require peeling), or at least food that required washing that wasn't cooked.

To get a local feel, it’s nice to try snacks from a street vendor, but some stalls are so small they don’t have running water or fridges. Yet again were were advised to be careful.

Two of the local favourites are Falafel and Ful which is made from beans and is like a stew. Bread accompanies every meal and tends to be unleavened (like a round pita bread). But it is really yummy.

Other recommendations:
Pyramids of Giza
Pyramids of Giza
Going to Egypt without visiting the Pyramids of Giza, the last Seven Wonders of the World, would be insane. They have stood majestically at the edge of the desert since the 26th century and are guarded by the Sphinx.

The size of the pyramids are fascinating, with each limestone slab weighing more than 2 tonnes; how they manage this engineering feat is beyond me and it’s still not understood why they were built; if they were meant to be burial chambers why weren’t any corpses found? Also found at the site were boats which were believed to carry the sun god through the underworld.

Exploring tombs if you’re not claustrophobic is interesting, you have to hunch down and nearly crawl on your knees way down the dark deep chasm, until the empty chamber.

You also need to visit the many papyrus schools, seeing how the original paper was made from the reeds and then topping off the day going to world famous Cairo Museum with many sarcophagus and the mask of King Tut.

Published on Saturday April 29th, 2006

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Thu, Oct 11 2007 - 02:23 AM rating by downundergal

I don't know how missed this wonderful report - I was just looking for some ideas for my next trip and happened across it. full of info and backed up by some great pics. Well done!

Sat, Feb 17 2007 - 09:40 PM rating by travler

I thought your review was very informative and your pictures were great.

Tue, Sep 26 2006 - 07:54 PM rating by mrscanada

Thanks for the memories this review was fabulous.

Tue, May 02 2006 - 09:13 PM rating by eirekay

Oh, this sounds so cool! What a great trip! I am jealous! Thanks for a terrific report!

Mon, May 01 2006 - 09:25 AM rating by bear495

Thanks for another awesome report!

Mon, May 01 2006 - 03:29 AM rating by jwmarkham

Hi Amanda,

I really enjoyed your report on Egypt. It is one place that I have always wanted to see, but have not made it there yet. I was glad that you included so much practical information, as well as great descriptions of the different sights. Thanks for the information!

Jim Markham

Sun, Apr 30 2006 - 03:58 PM rating by frenchfrog

Woaw! Another Really great report Amanda! So many good ingo given, it is really fantastic, thanks for that.

Sun, Apr 30 2006 - 12:24 PM rating by rangutan

Very good Amanda! Not only about ancient history, some general info for travellers and about Egypts society and culture too.

Sun, Apr 30 2006 - 09:07 AM rating by horourke

Great practical report.
I am inerested by the mention of "Son et lumiere" (sound and light). I have only experienced two such shows, once in Fougere, Normandy, France in 1963 and latterly at Bruxelles in 1995

Sun, Apr 30 2006 - 07:19 AM rating by st.vincent

Very well written Amanda, and some good information for the prospective visitor. Egypt always crosses my mind when thinking of a holiday but I would definitely need a cooler month (if there is one!!)

Sun, Apr 30 2006 - 06:19 AM rating by davidx

As always from you - an excellent report. I should love the remains but all that sand, flies and heat -ugh!

Sun, Apr 30 2006 - 04:44 AM rating by marianne

Well-written and loads of background information. Maybe you could add the prices in Euros to give an idea of the price level. When we were in Giza I was amazed how close it is to Cairo, in fact we took the local bus to get there.

Sun, Apr 30 2006 - 02:28 AM rating by jorgesanchez

I love this didactic reports and the well chosen pictures ! Congratulations for such a masterpiece!

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