Valleys of the Kings


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Africa » Egypt » Upper Egypt » Luxor
November 15th 2010
Published: November 29th 2010
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I arrived in Luxor at 5am, still not used to African buses arriving ahead of time. I needed to catch a taxi the 10km into the town, and a boy with a motorbike, both of whom were smaller than my bag alone, offered to take me. Safety first, I decided a minbus would be better, unless he fancied doing a wheelie for the whole journey. Suprisingly I avoided being ripped off by the bus driver - throwing the correct fare at him, and running away before he realised he hadn't fleeced me for all I was worth. Much to his annoyance.

When we arrived, the town wasn't yet awake, and I was walked past Luxor Temple with the streets to myself. It's pillars silhouetted against the morning sky, it was a magjestic way to enter a town. I found my way to the hotel - 1 truck, 1 car, 1 bus, 2 minibuses, 1 taxi, and 16 hours after I'd left St Catherines. Without thinking, and clearly still asleep, I agreed to go on an 8am tour of the Valley of the Kings - pulled in by the fact that the tour was only 8 people, and that two girls from the UK had just signed up for it too.

Lies. The tour group over 25 people. Crammed into 2 minbuses. And the only single women were middle-aged. And French. And very grumpy. Annoyed with myself for falling for the oldest trick in the book, we headed off to Thebes, and I tired to catch up on some sleep.

I may slate them all the time, but organised and guided tours are often actually pretty good. And this was no exception. The guide was funny. Meeting people was good. And we even got to ride a pathetic toy train 200metres up the Valley - the most expensive taxi in the country, and slower than walking, but enjoyably rediculous. The tombs, while lacking the the immensity and shock factor of other places I'd been to, were fairly interesting, and one carving - a blue winged deity underneath a sun - entranced me, and could have kept me occupied for hours. The lapiz lazuli still so vivid after 3000 years. And the detail incredible for something so old.

After finishing the tour, I settling down for some food and drink, before heading to Luxor Temple. The town planners had the foresight to base the town directly around the Temple. Handy for lazy (or drunk) tourists. And the tourist authorities have decided to floodlight it, and keep it open until 10pm. Also handy for lazy (or drunk) tourists. And so, after several beers, and a few falafels, I merrily, and haphazardly, wandered across the main square for some more sightseeing.

It might have been the floodlights. Or the dehydration. Or possibly the beer. But the temple was fantastic. I wandered down the Avenue of Spinxes lined with over 40 statues, through gigantic gateways, climbed over ancient building blocks, and walked around the base of 20 metre high pillars. My neck hurt from staring upwards so much (and I really needed the toilet), so after two happy hours, I headed back to the bar. And then decided I needed an early night.

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