Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cruising along the Nile: April 3, 2011

Cruise: Karnak and Luxor

After a fun evening in our galabiyas, we went back to the room for a good sleep. We are enjoying the cruise much more than we ever thought we would but are still a little sad that there are only 7 tourists on the trip. We’ve become friendly with Rob with whom I talked books!

After a delicious breakfast, we gathered with Mohammed for our tours of Karnak and Luxor Temples. First up was Karnak and most people are familiar with its incredible Hypostyle room with the enormous pillars. Mohammed explained that it is the second largest Temple complex in the world after a site in Cambodia, I think, and consists of over 50 temples. Obviously not all in good condition since it’s really old and all…
There were quite a lot of people here but Mohammed said it’s many less than normal.

Schematic of the Karnak Temple complex
The entrance is as usual through the throngs of guys hawking their wares. Mostly agreeable fellows who accept a “no thanks” with grace but there are a few more persistent and annoying ones that Mohammed has to shoo away…

Walking up to Karnak

Some of the sphinxes that line the entrance way to Karnak
We enter the complex, there is a lot of walking on mostly even stones. It’s immense and beautiful. I cannot describe who it was for and when it was built but I was very impressed by the size of the pylons, the details of the carvings, the immensity of the columms in the Hypostyle room, the cuteness of the kindergarden school, and feeling sad that Egypt’s obeliks have mostly been given or taken away to other countries.

We walked around the complex while Mohammed explained everything and then had a little free time to explore on our own. A guard sporting a machine gun showed me a few special spots--for baksheesh, although he was not rabid about it like others have been.

Statue of Rameses with tiny wife

Mohammed showing us addition in the "kindergarden classroom"

Color still remains

These boys asked for photos with us

Hypostyle Hall at Karnak--the columms are so huge

Lots of people but many less than "normal"

Open  Papyrus style columms


Amazing color after all this time!

The wall behind the Third Pylon at Karnak

One of the spots the tourist policeman led me to
We met back up with Mohammed for our short drive to Luxor Temple (first stopping for sodas and water at a little market).
Entering Luxor Temple
Luxor Temple, unlike Karnak, is just one temple and it’s really quite impressive even given all that we’ve seen so far. It’s big and carved and had a great statue of Ramses (I think) with a half smile and his ears out (to listen to the gods) which is one of a kind and very impressive. The mosque on the site is beautiful from the outside. Mohammed walked around the site with us and I can’t right now remember anything he said! I’m really a terrible student of Egyptology…I really liked Luxor Temple and found it more accessible than Karnak. Took photos with two beautiful girls who were there with a nice young man.

Luxor Temple

Luxor Temple

The city of Luxor surrounds the Temple

Christian frescos still remain

Two of the Luxor Temple guards

Pleasant face on this pharoah's statue
As an aside, since we’ve been in Upper Egypt with Mohammed we’ve had multiple requests for photos. They want pictures with them and us. Usually it’s younger guys but it’s also been girls. It’s all in good fun and we’ll have these pictures to show later.

Lovely girls

Another friendly Egyptian who wanted to take photos with us
After this we went back to the boat for the rest of the day. We were docked outside Luxor on a private slip--behind and in front ships were docked 4-5 boats wide but we had open Nile on our side. We also had a starboard room so we could see the water, not the corniche, which was nice. We enjoyed chatting with R at the pool and then a great al frseco dinner on the Sun Deck. The chefs were all out there cooking and it was all delicious (I really loved my honey and chocolate crepe). In my first “sorry,sir, this lobster is a little buttery” moment, I complained to hubby that the noise from the generators for the other boats was a little loud! It did keep me up a little so my night’s sleep was not as great as previously.

Our Nile Cruise boat--gorgeous!

The Sonesta St. George I gangway

Each time we returned to the boat, we were met with cool towels and tea

Mural in the stairwell

Piano Bar on our deck

Boats docked to the right

Boats docked to the left

Nothing in front of us except a great view!

Hanging by the pool with Dave and Rob

Beautiful sunset

The chefs: the food was outstanding!

We enjoyed our dinner on the top deck

Tomorrow is the Valley of the Kings, Hatpshetput, Medinat Habu and the Colossi of Memnon after we disembark at 8am. Will be very sad to say goodbye to this lovely boat.

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