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10 Days in Egypt & Israel – Day 4

By tam-admin | December 3, 2007

We arrive at the small, but very nice Luxor airport early Sunday morning.

Travel note: Egypt Air offers continuous 1-hour flights between Cairo and Luxor for about $90 US dollars. This is compared to the sleeper train between Cairo and Luxor which takes approximately 12 hours and costs about $60 US dollars. It’s worth noting that when you’re traveling through the Cairo airport, guards will ask for your tickets at a security checkpoint immediately after you enter. They apparently have yet to grasp the concept of e-tickets. And having been through this airport at least 3 times during our trip, we have yet to get a guard who understands English or the concept of buying tickets online. To combat this frustration, make sure you have a copy of your flight itinerary. If you don’t have one, you’ll be forced to go to their ticket office to have them print one for you.

Upon arrival in Luxor, we’re greeted at the airport and taken to the Sheraton Luxor Resort where we’ve reserved our 3-day stay. We’re given a room with a small patio and view of the Nile. Accommodations are much cheaper in Luxor. Napkins in the rooms are printed with the Charles Dickens quote, “The first rule of business is: Do other men for they would do you.” How appropriate for this corner of the world.

We enjoy breakfast at the outdoor café overlooking the Nile and then catch a quick nap before we meet up with our tour guide for the day.

The entire area of Luxor (ancient Thebes) is often referred to as an enormous open-air museum – from temples to tombs, you’ll find it here. This Upper Egyptian destination is significantly different than Cairo. Where Cairo is a monotone of browns – brown sand, brown buildings, brown landmarks – and crammed with people, Luxor is plush, green and far less populated. Even the Nile is more beautiful here. Feluccas and tour boats line the banks, farmland is plentiful, and the pace of life is slower.

Today we tour the East Bank. Our first stop is the Luxor Temple which sits along the Nile, most of which was built by Amenhotep III. We walk through the Avenue of Sphinxes and along the rows and rooms of pillars that make up the Colonnade and the Court of Amenhotep III. Here you’ll learn about the gods of creation – Amun, Mut and Khons – and witness layers upon layers of pharaoh history.

Afterwards we head north to the Temples of Karnak. It would take days for a detailed tour of everything here. One of, if not “the” largest ancient religious sites in the world, Karnak is a series of statues, colonnades, courts, chapels, pylons and obelisks with layers upon layers of history. From Amenhotep III and Seti I to Ramses II (also called Ramses the Great – it’s been rumored that he had somewhere between 40 and 110 children, although we heard numerous guides in Egypt use the number 200), you’ll find their memories preserved in stone here. Even Hatshepsut’s obelisk still stands, despite her sibling’s (Tuthmosis III) attempt to conceal it and destroy all hieroglyphs of her.

Temples of Karnak in Luxor, Egypt.

Photo: Temples of Karnak in Luxor, Egypt.

After a stroll past the Sacred Lake and a few turns around the Giant Scarab (it’s rumored that walking around it 7 times will bring you luck), we head back to the hotel for a short break.

7:15pm – It’s back to the Temples of Karnak for the sound and light show. A bit cheesy, but worth it to see the enormous structures at night with just a few lights to guide the way while booming voices over intercom systems tell the story of the ancient city of Thebes. Visitors are led through the temple to the seating area overlooking the Sacred Lake with a panoramic view of the temples while listening  to the rest of the history lesson.

After a hot day of strolling through temples and an evening listening to stories with the cool breeze blowing off the Nile, sleep comes quick. And tomorrow we have an even earlier day.

Check back to find out what happens tomorrow for Day 5 in Egypt!

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