We checked out of the Winter Palace at 6:45 a.m. to get an early start to the Valley of the Kings. It was once part of the ancient city of Thebes and is the burial site of almost all of Egypt's Pharoahs from the 18th-20th dynasties. So far 60 tombs have been discovered with the most famous being King Tut's which has been opened to the public recently. We were able to visit 5 of the tombs--King Tut, Rameses III, IV, V/VI, and IX. King Tut's tomb is the most famous and requires an additional ticket but it was extremely small and plain compared to the other tombs we saw. The others had long corridors decorated with heiroglyphics and colorful paintings, some in better conditions than others. The most impressive to me was Rameses V/VI which was amazingly well preserved and the colors were so vibrant. I particularly liked the ceiling mural of Nut, Goddess of the Sky.
Back on the bus to our next stop we saw a couple active digs going on. One was uncovering a village and the next was a temple. We stopped at the temple to view the work going on and to see the two massive statues at the opening to the temple. The whole process to recover and protect artifacts was interesting to see.
We then visited a farmhouse on the west bank of the Nile River. The east bank is very commercial with large hotels (including the one we stayed in), shops, and the Luxor Temple. Directly across the river on the west bank is farmland with small farmhouses, crops, and animals. We had lunch at the farmhouse and we were hosted by a woman who is unique in Southern Egypt because she divorced her husband. She explained that she had a very hard time at first because this just isn't done but she persisted and moved back in with her mother and 3 brothers. Her other sisters were all married and lived with their husbands' families. A German non-profit organization trained her in making crafts for sale and now she is training others and hosting lunches for Grand Circle Tours (with the help of her sisters and mother). This was a very humble home but she was a delightful, gracious hostess, a most impressive woman. And the lunch was delicious. Homemade sun-baked bread with hummus and 3 tangines--okra, potato, and beef. During lunch the village mayor's son stopped by to deliver a welcome message from the mayor. They are very proud of the fact that Grand Circle Tours has selected their village for the home-hosted lunches. Judi remembers that when she visited Egypt in 2011 her home-hosted lunch was at his home.
Now we had to get back to the hotel on the east side of the Nile where our bus is waiting. No problem--we were going to cross the Nile on a traditional felucca which is a wooden sail boat. We managed to get out to the center of the river in spite of the fact there was no wind but we were drifting down river away from our intended destination. Again, no problem. A couple motor boats came to our rescue and towed us to the dock along with the other 3 boats with the rest of the tour group.
Now back on the bus to the airport. Only two security scans and pat downs (100 yards apart) and we are able to board our charter flight back to Hurgada and our ship. But to get back on the ship it is another security scan but no pat down this time. JB