(The temple of Karnak)
As promised, here is the second in a series of guest articles written by Marilyn Kamcheff on her Egyptian adventures, this time highlighting the fabulous temples of Luxor.
Egypt Part Two: Luxor
Story and photos by Marilyn Kamcheff
Early Monday morning we departed to Cairo Airport for the sixty minute flight to Luxor. The air route followed the Nile, and beyond the green flanked fertile river valley was mountainous terrain with no visible living vegetation.
(One good earthquake and…)
Once in Luxor we boarded another beautiful tour bus and were driven to Karnak Temple. We disembarked and went inside the gated ruins to begin a very long walk to the temple itself. Luxor is further south than Cairo and the temperature was much hotter.
(Walking to Karnak temple)
As we walked in the warm, mid-morning sun with one of our tour members, Frank, I said to Janet, “If this heat continues I’ll need to put on my shorts.” I then turned to Frank and said “You guys will have to look the other way.” His response was one that Janet and I laughed about the entire rest of the tour: “Oh, don’t worry. We’re used to seeing you fat ladies on the beaches in Mexico.” I just looked at him and said, “You know, Frank, I was just beginning to like you.” A credit to my self control that I didn’t whack him one across his fat belly.
The walkway to the entrance of Karnak is a combination of ancient blocks and modern fill-in of manufactured stepping stones. There were many examples of ancient craftsmanship. The picture below is of current excavations. Scaffolds were in place with workmen doing restoration on some of the entry columns.
The pictures below are carved animal gods protecting the temple.
(Animal Gods protecting the temple)
Hieroglyphs were carved to a rigid standard and only varied in the amount of paint that remained on the age old carvings.
There were several obelisks at Karnak, although there is evidence that many more had been there in the past. We saw both a standing pillar and one that was flat.
(Obelisk rising in the sun)
(Obelisk resting in the sun)
A scarab beetle was supposed to be a sign of good luck and is featured in many of the carvings and also the souvenirs for sale. There was a huge scarab in the center of an interior plaza and legend had it if you walked around it seven times your desires would come true. We tried to get a picture of each of us in front of the scarab block and this is the result. Although it looks like the unknown tourist “copped a feel” it truly is the angle of the picture. Jan and I decided the picture should be labeled “Boy, did I have fun in Egypt.”
(Feeling good in Egypt)
The next stop was Luxor temple, much smaller than Karnak, but unique in the fact that at one time there were three churches in the temple. Today, only a Mosque remains. While walking through the ruins, the call to worship could be heard from the Mosque. I noticed many tour guides stopped and were silent for a few seconds.
(Mosque of Luxor Temple)
These details remain of the Christian church.
(Remnants of Christian church)
(detail of Christian church ruins)
(Statues of Luxor)
(A little worse for wear, but better than any of us will look in 3000 years)
After we left Luxor, we went to the wharf to board our boat for the Nile Cruise portion of our tour. Once we disembarked the bus, we were assigned room numbers and told we were responsible for our suitcases. We were told to board the first ship anchored at the wharf and continue walking through each successive ship until we reached the MV Tuya. Each ship had the equivalent of sliding patio doors on either side of the reception area and we walked from one ship to the next which afforded us the opportunity to view many of the other boats that would sail the Nile. Once on board our ship, our cabin attendants quickly took our luggage to our rooms. The room was large and luxurious, with two queen sized beds, a table with two chairs, a large dresser, TV, fully appointed bar and a bathroom with a tub with sides so high you almost needed a step ladder to get in. The shower was interesting to operate. I finally figured out that you turned on the water, adjusted the temperature setting, then turned the water off, pulled the lever for the shower and held it up then turned the water back on and got water in your face. Our room was on the third, and last, floor of rooms. The dining area was below reception. A beautiful spiral staircase connected the floors.
On the upper deck was a sun roof with lounge chairs and restaurant seating. One of our lunches was served on the sun deck as we sailed between ports.
Once settled into our rooms, lunch was served buffet style in the lower deck. The variety of food was amazing and featured fresh fruits, vegetables, several kinds of breads, at least three kinds of meat, potatoes either baked, fried or mashed, often a roasted vegetable platter, and fava beans. Dessert varied from day to day but always there was fresh fruit and cheese available at the dessert bar, along with fruit breads, cake, and sometimes a custard dessert or bread pudding. The cakes and breads were very dry.
The rest of the afternoon was free until dinner at 8:30 p.m. There was tea at around 4 p.m. on sailing days, and this was a sailing day. I slept all afternoon. There was a show on board at 9:30, an authentic belly dancer.
(Ready for take-off)
Prior to the belly dancer coming on stage, a young man in a green full length dress-like costume came to the stage. He began to twirl in circles and the costume flared around him. The spinning intensified, going faster and faster, then slowing down as the costume changed into different shapes.
(Belly dancer and friend)
I was truly feeling nauseated by the time his dance was finished. After he left the stage, the belly dancer arrived. She had a cadre of friends at the performance and some of them she pulled to the stage to dance with her. She also plucked Jerry from our group to dance with her. I don’t know who laughed harder, Jerry, the audience or his wife. For the rest of the trip, he took a lot of good natured kidding about his “exotic” dance.
Coming Soon: Egypt Part Three: Valley of the Kings