Luxor and Paris share some common traits. Both have famous obelisks, revered places of worship, Egyptian antiquities and major rivers dividing them into banks. In Luxor, the banks are East and West. Today we explored the great sites on the East Bank.
Our first stop was to visit a DHL shipping office where we offloaded 7 kilos of travel souvenirs. Our last shipment was from Bangkok so you may have an idea of what types of touristy trinkets were in that box. African mask…check, lion tooth necklace…check, stuffed camel…check. Tutankhamun bottle opener…check. How about a T-shirt filled with hieroglyphics which probably should read “As tourist I paid too much for this shirt but the vendor was really persistent and seemed very unhappy after concluding our difficult negotiations leaving the tourist proud of saving a few dollars” (translation not yet confirmed but experts are on the case)…check.
We didn’t appreciate how easy and relatively inexpensive shipping from Thailand to the US was. So we now are putting in a 3x multiplier for all street costs spent on travel souvenirs to account for shipping to the States.
We visited Egypt’s largest temple complex at 62 acres which is found on the East Bank of the Nile. This temple is called the Temple of Karnak.
On our travels through Egypt so far we had heard from guides, drivers and merchants that we were lucky to be seeing these sites now without the usual number of tourists. We learned today where all of the visitors had gone.
It seems as though the 23 cruise ships that had passed our felucca on Saturday were dumping all of their passengers off here this morning. We heard a dozen different languages spoken by guides leading groups of ten (or more).
Our guide had a much smaller and attentive audience. She was a Luxor local and an actual Egyptologolist. She has a PhD in Ancient Egyptian Culture and was knowledgeable and engaging in any area of inquiry that our group could throw at her. She was also shamelessly excited about what we were seeing with helped our Ancient Site-weary kids.
The entry to this temple is guarded by a number of Sphinx statues which prevent the commoners from receiving the blessings of the gods which is a royal privilege.
Our common Adventurers were not daunted by these statues and have received many blessings on this day.
Like Abu Simbel, this temple was also constructed under the order of Rameses II and there several large statues in his likeness. Despite there being dozens of similar statues most have been damaged through history. This one has a good version of his wife Nefertari.
This temple is home to several large obelisks which were quarried in Aswan. These pay homage to the Sun God Ra. The kids had fun shooting these images.
This temple is undergoing some restoration work so we weren’t able to visit all 62 acres but we did see the huge pool built to cleanse the royals and high priests prior to entering the temple. (Did they really need a 40m by 80m pool for that?)
Near the pool is a large statue of a scarab beetle. The scarab beetle is thought to have aided the sun’s motion through the sky. It has been told that anyone that circles this statue 3 times in a counterclockwise direction will receive good luck, 7 times for marriage blessings and so on.
Apparently Tiffany and Brian should be expecting their first grandchild soon as CreeperPuppy circled the Scarab 14 times to get that blessing long after the rest of us stopped. Good grief.
This temple showed us some additional colors that we had not seen before. The bees and the sun have been colored a rich yellow. Some of this has been restored through cleaning but no modern coloring has been applied.
We could have stayed a bit longer but we were eager to get to our second major temple attraction of the day, the Temple of Luxor. The entrance to this temple has 4 striking basalt statues of (no surprise) King Rameses II and 2 obelisks (1 remains, the Louve has the other).
This temple is smaller than Karnak but shows more living history. After the worshippers of ancient Egyptian deities, the Christians built a church in the temple. After 600 CE the Muslims built a Mosque on top of that church. It also has unique columns shaped like bunches of papyrus.
One more interesting note: Alexander the Great came to this temple during a campaign in the 4th century BC. He worshipped as an Egyptian and then commissioned a temple built inside the inner sanctuary and had his own image engraved on the walls in the same manner that an Egyptian Pharaoh would have before him.
We walked on a small part of the Avenue of Sphinxes, a 2.7 km (1.7 mile) long road built between the Temple of Luxor and Karnak Temple. It was re-opened to the public in November with great pomp and circumstance – effectively signaling the reopening of post-COVID tourism in Egypt. The excavation and restoration work for these 2000 sentries took seven decades to complete.
One can now ride a horse drawn carriage down its entire length. Something impossible for nearly 2000 years because of the hidden or “lost” segments buried under river silt, mud, roads and other developments.
Since the morning’s shipping adventure created some room in our suitcase, we visited the Luxor souk to see if there were any novel souvenirs or items for purchase. Luxor is know for it’s local alabaster deposits/mining so handcrafts of this translucent stone were on our list. We happily found a few things that convinced us to contribute a little more to the local economy.
We wrapped up the afternoon on the East Bank by taking a taxi back over to the West Bank. CreeperKitty was reluctant to get back on a boat but was not willing to get left behind and miss an Adventure on the boat called Alaska. It was a warmer cruise than on the felucca called the Nile Queen so that was good!
The outgoing customs are pretty tough in Egypt (to make sure no ancient relics go elsewhere) so we had some things not allowed in the box home. One was a bag of loose tea we’d purchased at the Spice Souk in Dubai. Since the evenings are getting chilly we decided to open it up and try it.
It has a smooth flavor and and is unique due to the addition of dried mango. We drank it the Egyptian way which is loose tea in the mug of hot water which you let settle before you take a drink. It made for an enjoyable end to the day.
2 thoughts on “Luxor, Egypt; Day 3”
I so love and enjoy reading of your amazing and often comical adventures… how fun! I am happy you all are deeply immersed in the full experience of each place your visiting, I have learned a lot and have expanded my interests as a result of your fabulous detailed e mails, Brian I am so happy to see you are recovered and doing so well! Everyone looks happy and healthy and even the smallest adventurer seems to be feeling better! I miss you all more than I can say… and I eagerly look forward to seeing your smiling faces in person soon! In the mean time soak up every tiny crumb of this fabulous tour and be ready to share stories of your most favorite places with me! I am excited to see all your cool souvenirs too! Much love to all 5 of you. I am with you in thought and love as you adventure on!