Ancient Splendour, Modern Havoc

Trip Start Feb 28, 2009
Trip End Mar 31, 2009

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Flag of Egypt  ,
Friday, March 6, 2009

From the felucca, we took a bus straight to Luxor, checked into the hotel and headed out to Karnak Temple. Now, when I say hotel I don't want to give the impression that we were traveling around Egypt in luxury. We stayed in fairly cheap hotels that were of the same standard as hostels in other places I've traveled. These hotels were perfectly OK to stay in, you just can't count on the availability of hot water, comfortable mattresses or a high standard of cleanliness

Karnak Temple is pretty much the largest standing temple in Egypt, and it's this sheer size that makes it impressive. There are over 100 massive columns in the hippostyle hall giving it the feel of a labyrinth and its really beautiful when the sunlight shines in on an angle and creating shadows on the walls. Its interesting to see that there is some of the colour remaining in certain parts on the walls and ceilings. Its quite faded and would have given the temple a very different feel when it was in use. The avenue of ram headed sphinxes and the remaining obelisks were also highlights, particularly the obelisk of Hatshepsut and the history behind this.

That evening we visited Luxor Temple. This temple was similar looking to Karnak Temple only on a smaller scale. However, the whole complex was lit up, making it all the more impressive.

The following day we headed back over the Nile to the Valley of the Kings. We had a tour guide for the day which was well worth it to get an understanding of the history behind all of the sites. First stop was the the Colossi of Memnon which are huge seated statues and the only remaining parts of what was an enormous temple. After this we paid a brief visit to Howard Carter's house, who was the man who discovered Tutankhamun's tomb and lived at the site for several years.

Once at the Valley of the Kings, we went inside the tombs of Ramses IV, Tutmosis III and Seti II. Ramses IV's tomb had the most amazing wall carvings and paintings with amazing colours that had survived thousands of years. Tutmosis III's tomb was accessed through a series of stairs and bridges non of which would have been there when it was first re-discovered. It was quite a surreal experience climbing through this amazing tomb that had been designed specifically to keep people out. I saw the tomb of Tutankhamun from the outside but I didn't get the chance to go inside as it wasn't part of our ticket. Since all the artifacts had been relocated to the museum in Cairo, there wasn't anything left to see other than his mummy.

Once outside the Valley of the Kings complex we passed by the Temple of Hatshepsut. It looked huge, with many different levels and a massive rock cliff in the background. Unfortunately I didn't get the chance to visit which was disappointing, but at this point I was starting to feel temple burnout and was happy enough to move on. Last stop for the day was the Funerary Temple of Ramses III. This temple had very deep carvings in the stone walls to prevent successive Pharaohs erasing his legacy. Like everything else I saw today, vey amazing.
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