Posted by: Anna | November 24, 2010

Luxor, Egypt

If you thought the Luxor in Vegas was commercial, you haven’t seen anything. Luxor is home to some of Egypt’s most famous ancient sites. Along with this distinction, Luxor is home to the most aggressive sellers of the world (I sincerely hope!). As you walk down the street, as a tourist, you are constantly accosted by a series of :

“Carriage ride? Only 5 pounds? Okay, 4 pounds? Where you from? Want carriage ride? We go to market, only open one day per week.” (Note: carriage rides actually go for 1 pound, behind a very sad and mistreated horse. Also, the market is open every day, but they tell you it’s only one day to get you go now.)

“Scarf? I make you cheap price because you lucky.”

“Taxi? Taxi? Taxi? Taxi?”

“Carriage ride? I make you cheap price…”

“Felucca? I have a nice boat. Cheap price? Where you from? America..(thumbs up). Sunset felucca ride, how much you want to pay? Good for you and the missus.”

“Look in my shop. Nice, cheap price.”

(Small child). “Hello!” me: “Hello!” child: (hand out) “Baksheesh!” (asking for a tip for being cute and saying hello)

“I take your picture.” This from police officers at tourist sites, who then demand baksheesh (tip).

And on and on and on. It’s awful and incessant. That said, there is some cool stuff in Luxor. We started out on a sunset felucca ride, which we massively overpaid for because we stupidly let our hotel book it. This means that the hotel guy gets baksheesh for booking it. It would have been at least half what we paid if we had walked to the dock ourselves. That said, sunset on the nile on a felucca (basically a sailboat) was absolutely stunning.

Felucca on the Nile

The next morning we joined a tour for the day to go to the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens, and Hatshepsut Temple. Valley of the Kings is where King Tut’s tomb is, along with hundreds of other royal tombs. Valley of the Queens is the next valley over, with, you guessed it, the tombs of queens and also young royal children who died. We did not enter King Tut’s tomb as it is not actually interesting inside and costs extra; it is famous because it was hidden and discovered later so the contents of the tomb had not been stolen already. They are now on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, which we will see later this week. All the tombs are empty of artifacts and mummies and the ones that still exist are on display in museums around the world. You are not allowed to take photos there, so these photos are from people on the web who don’t follow the rules.

Here you can see where you walk - the tombs are tunnels into both sides of the valley.

This is an example of the hiroglyphics that line the tombs. They are carved into the rock and then they were painted. You can see the color is still vibrant, which is amazing because they have never been restored and date from thousands of years ago.

Another example of the art inside the tombs.

We headed from there to the Valley of the Queens. More tombs, including one for a young boy who was 11, and when they were burying him, his mother miscarried, and so they mummified her 6 month old fetus and added him to the tomb. The fetus is the only mummy on display in any of the tombs we looked at – I found it really creepy. Tommy liked it. You are in luck because I couldn’t find a picture to include, so you can just imagine.

By this time, we were enjoying our group, for the most part. There were several fun people on the tour, including a South Korean guy named Danny (English name), a Czech couple named Monica and Tomas, and an American couple named Fran and Jeffrey. Not as fun were two Italian guys, who constantly delayed the group and were generally inconsiderate. The tour guide was awesome, and she finally left them behind after telling them where we were meeting and when, and they failed to show up. They showed up again, spitting nails about how the tour was too rushed, and so we got to enjoy their company (ha ha) for the rest of the day. But at any rate, we enjoyed most of our group and our guide.

We also visited Hatshepsut Temple, which was okay, but not the highlight of our visit. She was interesting: the first queen to be king of Egypt.  Her family story is an ancient soap opera, with incest, family murders, cross dressing, and much more. I admire her determination to be king, although I’m not sure I would go so far as to wear a fake beard like she did. At any rate, her temple is quite impressive (these are our pictures).

That was about the end of our tour. We arrived back at the hotel, and stopped for some street food. Tommy had three liver and green pepper pitas, and I had one meat (beef? lamb?) pita with spinach. Also offered at this cart were small fried balls of brains. Lunch was about $5.

The next day, we finished our trip to Luxor with a visit to the Karnak Temple.  The Karnak Temple is one of the most famous in Egypt.  It consists of hundreds of temples, columns and statues spread over 60 acres.  One pharaoh started it and each pharaoh after him decided to add their own temple, set of columns or giant statue.  The end result is pretty stunning.

Karnak Temple - 60 Acres of Temple...

For more Egypt pictures, here’s the Egypt Flickr set.

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Responses

  1. Luxor is as it has been described to me. Worth it to see the amazing sites but with the challenges of dealing with the aggressive vendors. I still would love to see it and am glad through you I get to.

  2. Tommy and Anna, are you RESPECTING THE SUN? Also, are you remembering to recycle? I’ve been putting all of my Heineken Light bottles in the recycle bin instead of the trash. What a world we live in! I texted Brett Favre to get his feedback on your Luxor trip. I saved the text message for when you return. Have you decided to buy any land in Egypt? You could be Egyptian Land Barrons.

  3. fried balls of brains AFTER swimming 100ft. down into a sunken battleship…you guys are SOOOOOOO brave!!!!! xoxoxo,kita


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