Thursday, February 18, 2016



Wake up call came at 4 am and we were in the lobby by 4:45. New guide and driver to escort us to the airport. Found a time of day where there is no traffic in Cairo. Made it to the airport in 45 minutes. Our guide did a great job shuffling us through the chaos of all the security checks. Since we were booked in business class - don't get too excited about Business Class - it wasn't much of a step up - but we were able to take advantage of the coffee and croissants in their small lounge. Very short and smooth flight. Landed in Luxor. Ash was waiting for us when we came out of baggage. Apparently he survived his over-night train ride no worse for wear.

There are two sides to Luxor: East and West banks of the River Nile. Today we explored the East Bank starting with the  Karnak Temple Complex. This complex is comprised of a wide mix of decayed temples, chapels, pylons, and other buildings.  Building at the complex began during the reigh of Senusret I in the Middle Kingdom and continued into the Ptolemaic period. There are many still beautiful cartouches (in hieroglyphics is an oval with a horizontal line at one end, indicating that the text enclosed is a royal name) visible.
The complex is a vast open-air museum, and the second largest ancicent religious site in the world, after the Angkor Wat Temple of Cambodia. It is believed to be the second most visited historical site in Egypt; only the Giza Pyramids near Cairo receive more visits. It consists of four main parts, of which only the largest is currently open to the general public. The term Karnak often is understood as being the Precinct of Amun-Ra only, because this is the only part most visitors see. The three other parts, the Precinct of Mut, the Precinct of Montu, and the dismantled Temple of Amenhotep IV, are closed to the public. There also are a few smaller temples and sanctuaries connecting the Precinct of Mut, the Precinct of Amun-Re, and the Luxor Temple.
Before leaving we made sure to walk around the sacred scarab beetle monument 7 times for good luck. The Egyptian Scarab was one of the most well-known and sacred of all amulets in Ancient Egypt. It goes back as early as 2345 B.C.

A stop for coffee at a very famous Luxor downtown cafe named after the legendary Oum Kolsoum. Finished our coffees and walked across the street to the Luxor Temple site. Standing in front of the sphinx-lined walkway, you can see across the way to the Karnak Complex.
The two primary cults temples on the east bank are known as the Karnak and Luxor. Unlike the other temples in Thebes, Luxor temple is not dedicated to a cult god or a deified version of the king in death. Instead Luxor temple is dedicated to the rejuvenation of kingship; it may have been where many of the kings of Egypt were crowned in reality or conceptually (as in the case of Alexander the Great who claimed he was crowned at Luxor but may never have traveled south of Memphis, near modern Cairo.)
To the rear of the temple are chapels built by Amenhotep III of the 18th Dynasty, and Alexander. Other parts of the temple were built by Tutankhamun and Ramesses II. During the Roman era, the temple and its surroundings were a legionary fortress and the home of the Roman government in the area. It is located in Egypt.
During the Christian Era, the inner section was converted into a church. And in the 10th century, the Muslims built a Mosque in the center of Ramses I Court, known as the Mosque of Abu Haggag. Ash pointed out several interesting things in these two sites. One very interesting thing to me was a depiction of the Jews crossing the red sea to escape the enemy and going into the mouths of crocodiles.

It was time to get on board our boat, the MS Semiramis III.  Well, again, my vision was not the
reality. Although adequate, this is not a first class ship. Like everything else we have seen, it is dusty and a bit aged. As with our Giza hotel, there are no other English speaking people, let alone Americans. That is not necessarily a bad thing. I'd rather experience a ship with many cultures than to feel like we are on a cruise out of Miami or New York!  We got settled into our room, and made our way to lunch. Food was pretty good. We tasted kushari for the first time. Pretty yummy.
Kushari, also koshary, kosheri or koshari, is an Egyptian dish made in the 19th century, made of rice, macaroni and lentils mixed together, topped with a tomato-vinegar sauce; garnished with chickpeas and crispy fried onions.
After lunch it was time to hit the deck. It is very quiet - not too many burkas by the pool. It feels so good to stop and relax and soak up some rays.  We are enjoying our 4:00 tea time on the deck right now. All is good.

Dinner was a race to the food. Our ship is filled with these little old Egyptian ladies that look like everyone's grandmother - but don't get in their way at the buffet!  They really are adorable.  Talked with a few over the dessert spread. Hope to get a chance to get to know them a little.

After dinner, Ash ordered a car and we drove into town to get a few night shots of Luxor Temple. Also picked up a few potable provisions for the boat. We were not in the mood to go to another bazaar. Think we are bazaared out!!  Sweet dreams...

Next time... Valley of the Kings


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