We had a carefree night with the felucca parked-up and toilet tent pitched close onshore. There was a certain excitement sleeping aboard, we could spot beautiful stars and the drums from the cruise ship provided some entertainment. That morning we took off for Luxor. The bus ride was a drag with jolting roads. Still the pool and showers at the hotel were discovered with much relief. The town of Luxor appears affluent and vibrant.
Today has been filled with a variety of transport- mini bus, boat, hot air balloon and donkey. What made the it more spectacular it is lead us to the valley of the kings. What a perfect (but eventually unsuccessful) hiding place for hundreds of tombs. Incredible to see the contrast between different tombs in terms of art, size and perseveredness. You really need to visit the sight to grasp the concept of how these ancient Egyptians managed such marvels. Practical aspects like maintaining the secrecy of workers, lighting and lasting colour are still unknown. Such was my interest in the workers of the tombs I ventured to the workers village and tombs. It housed 120 people yet they accomplished such complex work in a secluded location. We were taken to a local home for an exceptional lunch. Following this was an alabaster factory where we saw the production of authentic items. A much needed swim in the pool on the roof over looking the city provided a reprieve from the 39 degree heat. Luxor’s centre is marked by the Temple with links to Hatshepsut and Amenhaopt III. Although largely in ruins it still has an imposing presence and very attractive night lightening.
A delightful day of sight seeing. I am afraid I am getting too spoilt with the stunning sights that my expectations will become too high on further travels. To describe Karnak Temple as imposing, gigantic and elegant does not go far enough. Even with the destruction of the site by man, earthquakes and time Alexandra’s temple especially is in good nick. ACE an animal charity, mostly for working animals was an inspiring next stop. We were shown how it provided some respite for injured donkeys, horses and others. It demonstrated the reliance Egyptians have on animals and the reliance Egypt has on the UK to fund it. Luxor museum was well presented with several significant items displayed. There are a variety of creative styles that evolved over the ancient Egyptians rein. Reluctantly I left the tranquility of the pool (save the encompassing call of prayer) to board the overnight sleeper train.
A visit to the Cairo mosques showed me the practical side of Muslim life. The interior design and beliefs are more similar to Christianity than I ever expected. Yet another Bazaar lead me into temptation. The Cairo market is less intimidating than others but repetitive none-the-less.
We arrived with hesitation at Mt Sinai. However after 8 hours on a bus we were ready to stretch our legs. The walk up the steps of repentance certainly had me repenting and willing for a cortisone stab in my hip. A bright sunset was worth waiting for and walking down the track with touches made it exciting. Pictures will tell the story of the most inhospitable place I am ever likely to encounter. The dramatic landscape of orange/brown shades covered miles with no plant life visible.
A beach hut has housed me tonight and the thatched roof made me feel on holiday. The red sea was a lovely snorkelling spot with gentle waves and abundance of coral kept me occupied. Unfortunately my skills at the nightly card games have not improved much but the company is the enjoyable part. With very few people and not close by township it has been a perfect spot to relax and contemplate the two weeks that have gone quickly and changed my perspective on life forever.
Sadly it is our last day and we have departed for our final return to Cairo. On the way we visited a special spot. St Catherine’s monastery may not only be the most important historical place on earth it is a quaint yet refined church. The well and burning tree are representations that mean a lot more than objects. A long ride back in a minibus got us prepared for our flights out. The last stop being a sound and light show illustrating the history in dramatic fashion.
Short and Sweet
I still am in awe of Egypt and will forever revel in my adventure for years to come
A place arouses many senses that I have tired to describe:
Constant beeping of horns
Clattering of donkeys
Arabic music on cell phone ring tones
Narrow dusty rubble streets covered in beige tones burred by the beating sun
Egyptians dress is a fussion of traditional and conservative western
Intense explosion of spices waft through the tipped up ashtray called the city centres
Infusion of tomatoes, garlic, coriander, egg plant lased with pita style bread. Filling lentils soups and heavy winter style food were never far from my plate. Drinks and food were never at the ideal temperature but just as welcome to my palate