6/16/10: Luxor, Egypt
I’ll admit that before we came to Egypt that when I heard the word “Luxor,” I, like Google, first thought of the glitzy hotel in Vegas. Having been to Las Vegas before and now having been to the real Luxor in Egypt, I can say with confidence that they are quite similar. Except the temperature here is twenty degrees hotter than in Las Vegas, there are some magnificent ancient Egyptian tombs and temples and there are no slot machines. Otherwise, they’re exactly the same.
We started off our day tour with a visit to the Valley of the Kings, which is the main reason most people come to Luxor in the first place. The Valley of the Kings is where kings and nobles from the New Kingdom were buried. (Don’t I sound like I know things? It’s a farce; I actually don’t.) These include such celebrities as Ramses II and of course, the boy king himself – King Tut. The complex is huge, containing 63 tombs, some of which are open to the public. Most of the tombs have been completely emptied, their contents on display in various museums, with a few exceptions. King Tut’s mummy is still in his tomb, and you can pop in for a visit with him for 100 EGP. So those are the bare facts; now, what was it really like? Well, let’s just get this first part out of the way. It was HOT. Really, really hot. In fact, when you picture us wandering around, always picture us completely dripping with sweat and on the verge of fainting and that’ll be about right. Got that picture in your head? Good.
Ok – so the tombs themselves. We visited three tombs, and all three consisted of a hallway and several empty chambers (that’s not the cool part). The walls of the tombs are completely covered with carvings, some with the original paint intact (that’s the cool part). It was amazing to see the amount of effort that must have gone into these tombs: the shaping, the sanding, the carving and then the painting of every single square inch. But what was really mind-blowing was imagining all of the relics that we saw in the Egyptian Museum piled into those tombs. Just completely mind-boggling. I’m shaking my head in disbelief just thinking back on it.
There was usually quite a lot of space in the tombs, and although most were underground, the halls were generally short. Walking around in them wasn’t nearly as scary as the Dahshur Pyramid (no tears today!). The only thing that did make me feel uneasy was thinking about poor Tut in the afterlife. It had probably been one big long party for him until Howard Carter discovered his tomb and carted all of his treasures away. And now Tut’s stuck in the afterlife all alone with nothing. I mentioned this to Kevin, who replied sagely, “Yeah, but Tut’s young. I’m sure he finds something to occupy himself with.” I suppose this could be true.
After we visited the Valley of the Kings, we drove over to the Temple of Hatshepsut. I’d like to tell you some interesting facts about it, but I was so occupied with trying not to melt that I couldn’t pay attention to our guide’s explanations. Hopefully a few pictures will make it up to you. (Just FYI – no cameras are allowed in the Valley of the Kings; hence, no photos.)
We then went to the Valley of the Queens, which was much like the Valley of the Kings, except(shocker!) the tombs were quite a bit smaller. The day ended with a visit to the Colossi of Memnon, which are, oddly enough, two statues that depict Amenhotep III. I’m not sure who that Memnon guy is.
I’d say that today was our best day in Egypt so far. Better even than the Pyramids. And you know the best part about it? Now that the day’s finally over, I will never have to be this hot – for this long – again. Ever.
Picture of the Day: Disney World-style trams take you from the parking lot to the entrance of the temple – 100 yards away.