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Published: December 27th 2017
LUXOR. A SURFEIT OF RICHES.
There are people today who have such excessive wealth you wonder what they do with it all. Billionaires. Bill Gates, the Saudi sheiks, institutions like the Queen of England and the Vatican. So much wealth its unimaginable and sickening. If Luxor was a person they would be one. The quantity and quality of antiquity here is unimaginable.
There is the East Bank
with Karnak temple,
the world's largest temple complex.
There is Thebes
the city of a hundred gates, and Luxor Temple
There are the West Bank
monuments with Hatshupset's Temple
aligned on a direct axis with the Karnak Temple on the opposite Bank.
There are the Colossi of Memnon j
ust sitting casually on the road leading to the monument area.
There is the Temple of Ramsis II
second only to Karnak in size.
There is the Ramesseum
There is Tutankhamun's tomb.
There is the Valley of the Queens
. This is a necropolis
so there are literally hundreds of tombs including royal Pharaohs, their wives, their families, governors, senior workers on the Temples and tomb structures, scribes, artists......
There are also avenues of sphinxes,
there are obelisks, sanctuaries, temples, chapels and magnificent columns, with carvings and exquisite paintings on the walls.
The necropolis era spans at least 30 Pharaohs. Here dead men do tell tales of the magnificence of Egypt in its golden age.
We drove in to Luxor as the sun was going down on the afternoon of my 6th day in Egypt. We had driven all day leaving Abu Simbel, near the Sudan border, at 6. 30am retracing my steps to Aswan then continuing north to visit sites in Kom Ombo and Edfu. We were mindful to avoid driving across the desert roads later in the morning when the sun was high in the skies and the asphalt surfaces become soft. Not good for driving!
It had been a long day. I guess it may have been about 5.00pm when we got to Luxor and my driver connected with Ahmad Almozamel, who would be my guide. Ahmad is an Egyptologist from Luxor. I was impressed to learn later that he had actually worked for a few years on Luxor excavations directly under Egypt's very famous, outspoken, nationalist Head of Antiquities, Dr Zahi Hawass. Wow! Pedigree doesn't get better than
We stopped once to ask directions to the Ammon Hotel. It's neither a large, famous nor international property, I never choose to stay at places like that. Instead I select clean safe and comfortable properties where I can get a taste of the local community. We found it at the end of a little dusty, unpaved back street. I admit to taking a gulp when we turned on to that street! But it was fine. Ahmed Soliman the owner (or his son?) was hosing down the dusty road in front the property. He checked me in, I checked out the property.
It was clean and seemed comfortable, with a pretty open air restaurant bedecked with rugs Egyptian style, in a courtyard surrounded by trees and potted plants. It felt like an Oasis. My room on the first floor was large, with a cozy balcony looking over the restaurant courtyard. The internet worked too. On the ground floor there was an indoor lounge and restaurant area with a library of books about Luxor its history and archaeology in several languages! That was unusual. I discovered that this hotel attracts guests who are international researchers from Germany, France and
The courtyard garden at Ammon hotel had a variety of plants which included the Egyptian cousin of our Silk Cotton tree.
Apart from having the same spikey tree trunk, there was no similarity... It's short, chunky and the branches aren't spreading.
other parts of Europe with Luxor as their focus. At breakfast I noticed a table in the courtyard with 6 earnest looking tourists in deep conversation. Probably researchers. And as I also discovered later the hotel is located mere minutes away, within easy walking distance of the banks of the Nile and a ferry crossing station right there. Making it simple to move between the treasures of Luxor and Karnak without getting in to road traffic.
After the lengthy day all I wanted was a meal and a shower. And my bed. Tomorrow Ahmad would guide me in exploring the necropolis.
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