I think for many years my father and I have shared an interest in Ancient Egypt. Of course in reality actually visiting some of the temples we discussed when I was a child, never crossed my mind. One of those trips you think is out of reach. I think my Dad thought similar. Whether it was encouragement, persuasion or just how it happened though we ended up booking last year. My Mum wasn’t interested and on top of that didn’t really fancy it, so I was convinced into travelling with my Dad.
So, after waiting several months January 2011 seemed to be on us faster than I realised. Christmas flew by and before I knew it I was days away from heading off to Egypt. I have to admit I was more than a little excited. I also began to draw a few similarities between what I was about to do and my childhood hero Indiana Jones.
Then disaster struck just over a week before I was about to head off, around New Years I caught the flu really bad. It pretty much knocked me for six in fact. As I took time off work I began to wonder if I would be able to travel. Luckily I felt loads better, not one hundred percent, but on the mend. So the trip remained a go!
The first leg of my journey was to Wales to pick up my Dad. I left slightly earlier to have a full day there before heading off, so I could spend a little time with my Mum and Grandmother. Then my Dad and I left for Cardiff, as we were due to spend the night at my sisters before driving to Gatwick early on the Monday morning before our flight.
We finally arrived in Luxor late afternoon and straight away it was a little like stepping back in time. As the airport is quite small, the plane parks up and you leave via a staircase down to the tarmac where a bus takes you to the terminal. After sorting our Visa, heading through Passport control and claiming our baggage we headed to our coach. Although on the way some Egyptians tried to help us with our bags, which I had to remind my Dad not to let them otherwise most of our cash would be exhausted on tips!
After a brief coach journey across Luxor we arrived at the banks of the Nile and our accommodation, the Viking Princess. Incidentally she wasn’t docked directly quay side as they tend to dock them four to six boats deep.
That evening we chilled out on the boat getting used to our home for a week, which was very nice indeed. In fact it was pretty much a four star floating hotel, nice! We also met some friends during dinner as my Dad and I shared a table with two other couples.
The next day was an early start, in fact we got up at 5.30 am, not really a holiday start! However, there was good reason for this, as we had a lot to fit in on our first day. We had five locations to visit, all before lunch when the Viking Princess would begin its voyage to Edfu, down the Nile.
We left the Reception pretty much at 7am on the dot, boarded our coach and headed across town to the mighty Karnak Temple. Although the early start wasn’t something I would associate with a holiday, I didn’t really care as I had come to experience Egypt and its Ancient history.
As you walked towards the temple entrance through the avenue of sphinxes the true size of Karnak Temple began to become apparent. These Ancient Egyptians knew how to build impressive structures I can tell you! You’re first presented by the huge pylons either side of the entrance, which size alone is impressive. I think the only comparison’s you could draw in the UK is either Stone Henge, some of our larger more intact castles or perhaps a cathedral. In fact a cathedral is possibly the best one, as they also are as beautifully decorated as the temples and in a way built for a similar reason.
Check out the photo album below from Karnak Temple, though it may be easier than just places the odd photo here and there.
After we were shown around Karnak and our guide delivered some interesting background on the temple, he gave us a little time to wander around ourselves. Once we had finished it was back to the coach through the bazar! Now many places have gift shops, but this was a new experience for my Dad and I. They have plenty to sell you and don’t waste time in trying to get you to buy it. I have seen some hard sales in my time, but these guys really do go for it. Not to mention they start their prices high and barter down if you stop briefly! On this occasion though we decided to walk through and head straight for the coach.
We headed out of Luxor and over the Nile, where we stopped briefly to view the Colossi Memnon. Then after a little hassle from some locals trying to sell us maps and stuff, we climbed back aboard the coach and carried on.
It wasn’t long before we were off again and heading for our next stop, the Valley of the Queens. This was as odd as it was interesting I think. We headed in into the coach park and headed towards the entrance. The customary bazar was there and my Dad did get caught on the way in, but we left promising to see a guy on the way out.
As we walked into the area where the tombs were located it was eerily quiet. We had been told that we were not aloud to photograph or video anywhere in the Valley of the Queens, which was a massive shame, so no pictures I’m afraid.
Our ticket got us in to two tombs here, the first was that of Queen Titi (I think, its possible my spelling may be off on that one). This was a simple corridor to a burial chamber, but still it was impressively decorated. You have to respect the effort they made to burry their royals.
The second tomb was slightly more impressive and that of Amenherkhepshef (sons of Ramses III), which was bigger and better decorated than the first. However the slightly odd thing about this tomb, was the 7 month mummified foetus on display. They believe that this was a still born baby that as part of the family still found its place in the tomb.
As we left the Valley of the Queens my Dad bumped into a guy from the bazar again, to be honest I don’t think it was an accident, this guy wanted a sale. Suffice to say my Dad bartered him down and brought a book for a reasonable price. Then it was on the coach and off to our next stop of the morning.
We approached Al-Deir Al-Bahari Temple (the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut) and even from a distance it was impressive. With its terraces and layout all directly below sheer cliff which part of the temple is cut into. Our guide gave us a little information on the temple and then set us free for an hour to investigate the place ourselves. To be honest I don’t think an hour or even a day would really be enough, but my Dad and I done our best to get round what we could.
As ever here is a little photo album on the place, not that it does it its true justice.
Next up was the Valley of the Kings, once again we were not aloud to take photo’s or video the experience, which I have to admit was slightly upsetting. We headed in and were confronted with many tombs, including the very famous tomb of Tut Ankh Amon ( the boy king). However, our ticket on this occasion would allow us into three tombs, which our guide advised were very good. He should know, as he spent six years studying Egyptology. To access Tut Ankh Amon’s tomb it would cost an additional hundred Egyptian Pounds, which Dad and I decided against. After all the majority of the artifacts were now in a museum in Cairo.
We did spend our time looking in the tombs of Ramses I, Ramses IX and Ramses IV. Each of these were very impressive, more so from the first to the last. Also, as I guide explained to us the decoration and colour was amazing when you consider that these tombs are around three thousand years old. Impressive hardly describes the tombs and if you ever visit Luxor, this is somewhere you should go. Howard Carter must have been beside himself in 1922 (I think) when he discovered Tut Ankh Amon’s tomb here.
Any way following a quick walk through the bazar and a local Egyptian boy who was trying very hard to make a sale, we boarded the coach and headed back to the Viking Princess for lunch.
As we tucked into our three course lunch, they cast off and began the voyage down the Nile to Edfu. We spent the rest of the day relaxing on board following a very hectic yet impressive first morning.
I’ll post Day Two shortly so keep an eye out..