|At 5:00 AM we are awoken by a wake up call to prayer. There is a mosque right across the street and it is quite loud!! We had to be up anyway, so got dressed and stumbled to the elevator and had some breakfast.
After we all assembled at 6:00 AM we made our way to the hotel's dock and boarded a motor boat for a trip across the Nile as the sun was rising. Some spectacular views. When we got to the west side we walked up the street a little and saw our herd of donkies. The owner sized us up and gave us each a donkey, then off through the town, dodging cars and pedestrians and having a good laugh.
We eventually turned down a back alley – a dirt road next to an irrigation ditch and some small houses. Only a couple cars and carts and motorcycles and barking dogs interrupted our journey. We ended up, an hour later, riding next to a grave yard, where we met the mother ship, our bus. Everyone seemed to enjoy the ride quite a bit, but I wore a sore on my butt...
Next we drove to the Valley of the Kings – where the pharaohs of the New Kingdom tried to hide their graves. Most, of course, were looted, but King Tut was buried there and several pharaohs are still unaccounted for. Anyway, the big disappointment was that you could not take cameras into the complex – the flashes would fade the paint – most of which was still a vivid blue or red or green. The early tombs had carved and painted images but the later ones had only painted images. All were representations of the Book of the Dead, with the carved having only the first two chapters, and the painted the entire four. We also got to go into King Tut's tomb, and saw the original sarcophagus and his actual mummy.
By this time it was near 9:30 and about 95 degrees, so we got back to the bus and headed off to the temple of Queen Hatsheput, who ruled Egypt as a man for 21 years. An impressive temple used to mummify her remains, cut from the limestone of the mountain. It was badly damaged because her son was pissed because she kept him from the throne for 14 years, so most of her images are gone.
The temple and surrounding area have been built on form many centuries, but now they are relocating the village and uncovering innumerable tombs and burials. Luxor is doing what it can to preserve its past – and bring in new tourists! Quite remarkable what they're doing though – uncovering mud bricks over 3000 years old.
We then stopped in at an alabaster factory and saw how they made the alabaster jars – all by hand. Then, of course, into the shop... Although some of the stuff was nice, it was USA prices, and no haggling.
Back to the hotel. Alice ran for the pool and spent the entire afternoon there. I decided to look at the city and wandered through the back streets – the only person in shorts! No problems other than some hustlers offering tours and restaurant advice.
Eventually wandered my way to the Luxor Temple and about a block away was a bazaar that stretched for about eight blocks. The first few blocks were all tourist stuff – statues, bags, leather, scarves... Then into the local stuff with farm tools, meat, many fruits and vegetables, shoes, local clothing, food stands wit the menu in Arabic only. I had a man with a foot operated sewing machine repair a tear in my back pack, bought a glass of sugar cane juice, got hustled by a kid I took a picture of, bought some souvenirs after some heavy haggling (probably still paid too much) and then walked back to the hotel. I was offered a taxi or carriage or boat ride a little over twenty times. The folks have a nice routine – they offer the ride, then ask where you're from, then offer to shake your hand, the if you walk away they act offended and say “Excuse me?” If you keep walking they usually stop bothering you. Especially since there are tourist police about every other block, many armed with automatic weapons.
Got back to the hotel and Alice was still in the pool – and hadn't missed me at all. Back at the room our laundry had arrived. I was going to straighten it all out but my butt was still sore so I took a shower and laid down a bit.
At 6:30 we all met in the lobby and Said took us out to catch some local transport – one of the buses that carry the locals around the city. We all piled in and careened down the street to the Luxor Temple area, then went up five flights of stairs to a roof top restaurant overlooking the temple and the Nile. The two guys got camel and Alice and I tried a piece – like a mild beef. After watching the sun set behind the Western hills we walked to a local cafe and had milkshakes, then another harrowing ride in a “bus” back to the hotel.
Alice went to sleep almost right away. I will soon follo