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PUBLISHED: December 4th 2008
Days 44-46, Fri 9th Mar - Sun 11th Mar:
Following breakfast Ruby and I were driven, again in a flat-back truck, to Edfu where I wholeheartedly thanked Ruby for giving me a fascinating insight into egyptian village life. We then parted and I was free to explore the temple there.
Edfu Temple, which is dedicated to the sun god Horus, is over 2000 years old, is very well preserved and similar in design to the temples at Komombo and Philae. Having had a good look around it I boarded a minibus, which was the equivalent to the one I would have taken the previous day, which took me to Luxor, the ancient city of Thebes, where I was booked into a 30 EGP (4.5 Euros) per night hotel. I explored some of the town, which felt much bigger than Aswan, and resisted the plaintive offers of felucca rides on the Nile as I'd just had one!
On the Saturday morning I went to the railway station to find out about westward travel, and then, having spent most of the night in the bathroom due to food poisoning or possibly heat-stroke, I returned to my hotel to catch up on sleep. In the afternoon I had part-one of a guided tour booked in which, in a group of about ten people, we saw the substantial, multi-columned temples of Luxor and of Karnak, which is about two kilometres from Luxor. Luxor Temple is at least 3000 years old and has very large pylons, of the design I was by now accustomed to, approached via a walkway between two rows of stone sphinxes. Interestingly we saw an islamic mosque incorporated into one of the walls in the courtyard at a high level. It was explained to us that its height was due to the level of sand under which the temple was buried when the mosque was created hundreds of years ago. At Karnak, an equally impressive temple, one especially interesting feature is that it is incomplete, thus revealing good evidence of the method of construction. Stacked up against one unfinished wall is a mass of mud bricks, showing that the builders probably transported the stone blocks to their final destinations via a huge mud-brick ramp.
In the evening I had a meal with two Canadians who I had met on the tour, Ryan and Ali, who had been cycling their way around Europe before coming to Egypt. Ryan was studying some kind of engineering, while Ali was hoping to pursue a career in illustration.
On Sunday morning we had part two of our tour which began at 7.30. We began with the Hapshepsut Temple which is cut into a rocky backdrop and has two large terraces extending forwards, each supported by a row of columns, some of which have statues in front of them. After this we drove for a few minutes to get to the Valley of the Kings, home to over sixty tombs of the kings of Ancient Egypt. We had access to only three which were those of Kings Ramses III, Ramses IV and Ramses IX, each of which was accessed via a downward flight of steps, thankfully taking us out of the unremitting glare of the sun! The tombs contained the best preserved painting I had seen so far with the usual hieroglyphs and illustrations of Deities and Kings, people giving offerings and the tomb's king traveling by boat into the afterlife. The Valley of the Queens followed which was a similar experience, although the tombs were less deeply buried.
I ate lunch with Ryan and Ali, prior to their early afternoon bus to Dahab, and then visited the Egyptian Mummy Museum, in which, as expected, I saw a mummified man and, more surprisingly, a cat and a fish, among other things! In the evening I went to an internet cafe where I became involved in a deep conversation with an enthusiastic Moslem, Mahmut, who I agreed to meet the following morning for further theological discussion.
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