Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Luxor: More tombs, please

Luxor: West Bank: Tombs of Nobles and Workers, Valley of the Queens and Carter House

Our room at the Old Winter Palace is really very nice. I have been able to sleep pretty well as the traffic noises quiet down around 10-10:30pm. We have enjoyed the view and the sunsets have been lovely. Today’s breakfast experience was the same as the previous day--no clearing of the dirty plates, hardly any server presence. Not a lot of people in the dining room at 7:15 am. Mohammed is coming for us at 8am.

Mohammed and our driver (same one from previous days, a very nice man) were on time as usual. We discussed the plan for sightseeing. We have the Ramesseum on the list but since it’s another temple, we changed it and added the Valley of the Queens. Mohammed cautioned us that the tombs there are not great compared to the Valley of the Kings but we decided to see ‘em anyway. We also added the Carter House (20LE to enter).

Our first stop was the Tombs of the Workers. We toured a small temple that had lovely painted walls. We got to see the amazing Final Judgement which was spectacular! After that we went into two tombs Seneghen and En Hr Khaa (I think). Both very interesting because they were so colorful and the scenes were different from the Kings’ tombs. Small spaces but well lit so no claustrophobia.

He sold us the fly "shooer"

Little "temple" with the Final Judgement scene

The Worker's Village--ruins of the house where they lived
 Next we moved on to the Valley of the Queens. I had made Mohammed chuckle earlier when I asked to see Queen Nefertari’s tomb not realizing that it cost $4000 plus a 100LE entry ticket. Obviously, we missed that one! From the photos in the Weeks book, it is spectacular. Mohammed teased us that putting even our hands on the rope barring the walkway to the tomb cost $1000! I think he finally realizes that we are really dumcof americans, as we have warned him!

We toured three tombs in the VOQ: two sons of Rameses II (both died as children, names were something like Khanwasp and Amonherkhepsheph) and wife Titi. The first tomb was the best but all three were interesting. We are starting to recognize some of the things Mohammed has pointed out (like how the hairstyle designates age). The setting of these tombs is lovely and very like the VOK.

Next we went to the Tombs of the Nobles and saw two there, Rekhmera, at the bottom of the hill, and Sennefer, up a hill, over an incline and down a long stairway with a rocky ceiling (hubby managed to hit his head!). These were also fascinating. The scenes of daily life were particularly interesting to see since the King and Queens tombs were more idealized--gods and goddesses stuff. In the gorgeous Sennefer tomb, the grapes and grapevines on the ceiling were lovely and so well preserved. I was glad I made it down there (but I was really tired afterwards…)

The guards at the Tombs of the Nobles were very nice and hubby asked how long they’d been working there. There were three guards and had worked there 30, 25 and 20 years. Amazing. They seemed pleased at our enjoyment of “their” tombs…

Hubby and bro have continued to contribute to the local economy by buying souvenirs (a fly shooer, a scarf, little statues, books, and a wall hanging). The sellers are really struggling since tourism is so down and these sights are not the big popular ones anyway. It’s too bad they’re so pushy though since we’d likely buy more if they were more low key. Part of the experience of being in Egypt!

They have guarded these tombs 20, 25, and 30 years respectively

 Afterwards was the Carter House. It’s where Howard Carter lived when he finally discovered the intact tomb of King Tutankhamen in the 1920’s. It is well worth the price of admission--there was a good show of him describing finding the tomb, his furnishings and photos were still displayed as when he lived there. Very interesting. Beautiful setting. There’s a very quiet cafĂ© on premises that would be a great setting for a tea break.

Howard Carter's desk. 

This was the end of our touring with Mohammed so we sadly said goodbye to him and our driver at the Old Winter Palace. He heads back home to Aswan. We enjoyed our time with Mohammed and wish him the best in his future--maybe we’ll see him again on our next trip to Egypt!

I've enjoyed the towel sculptures each day when we get back to the room.

It was late lunch time so the guys went to the pool restaurant and had burgers while I stayed in the room. I met them there later to hang by the pool. I absolutely adore the pool area--it’s just beautiful, like the rest of the grounds. It closes down at sunset and they set up the alfresco dining (Italian and Egyptian menus). We ate there our first night and it was very good.

Tonight we decided to try Jewel of the Nile. We found “our” cab driver (Mohammed Ali) and off we went. The restaurant is on a side street in a busy neighborhood. It had delicious food, very fresh and tasty. I liked that the food was not as highly seasoned or as garlicky as what I had at Sofra. The service was perfect. It is really a shame that such great food is found in such a strip mall like restaurant--it deserves an incredible location!

We had to wait a little while for cab driver to return but it was nice hanging outside with the sheesha smokers and friendly cat. It was a quick drive back to the hotel. Another beautiful day in Egypt was done. Just a couple more to go, sadly.

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