2005 Time-out Diary
Wandering around Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon

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19-21 October 2005

Wednesday 19th October 2005    day 100     whereami     Satellite view

Day 100! this sure beats the standard 2 week holiday!

Up at 6am - no breakfast as there was nobody about despite our special request last night. Out about 6:45 time everyone was ready. Donna, Anthony, Pete, Stuart, Alistair and I walked to the ferry and crossed for 1LE. Taxi'd to The Valley of the Kings 10LE between the 5 of us. Bought the various tickets we wanted 75LE.

Visited the tomb of Tuthmosis III. It's high up in a side valley - quite a climb up many steps to the entrance then quite a climb down inside the tomb. Inside was heavily decorated in heiroglyphic style with many small and simple stick figures. Interesting twists and turns between the chambers and all in pretty good condition.

Visited tomb of RamsesI back in the main valley. More sophiscated decorations and carvings in quite a small tomb.

Visited the tomb of Ramses IX. Big tomb with deeply carved art and heiroglyphics all in good condition.

No photos are allowed in the tombs as flashes will fade the artwork so just one pic of the valley.

Valley of the Kings

Walked into The Valley of the Monkeys and visited the tomb of Ay. We were the only ones to make the walk so had it to ourselves. The heavily carved sarcophagus was still there and the artwork was great. The guard was very good and let us take photos without flash - for a decent baksheesh of course.

walk to the temple of Ay   walk to the temple of Ay

temple of Ay   temple of Ay

Walked back into Kings, had an ice-cream and got a 10LE taxi to the temple of Hatshepsut a few km up the road. Very impressive again. This is where the Luxor Massacre happened a few years back.

temple of Hatshepsut   temple of Hatshepsut   temple of Hatshepsut

temple of Hatshepsut   temple of Hatshepsut

Taxi'd back near the ferries to look for something to eat. Found a rooftop restaurant in a hotel (all local's cafes closed for Ramadan). Had a nice meal but had to wait nearly an hour between ordering and eating. Stuart and Pete are on the 4:30 bus to Dahab so had no time to waste.

Another 10LE taxi to the Mortuary Temple of Ramses III at Medinet Habu. A big and impressive temple with many massive columns and very deep carvings. Really good.

Medinet Habu   Medinet Habu   Medinet Habu

Medinet Habu   Medinet Habu   Medinet Habu

Medinet Habu   Medinet Habu   Medinet Habu

Medinet Habu   Medinet Habu

10LE taxi back to the ferry to drop off Stuart and Pete, and then another 10LE ride to Deir El-Medina to visit the tombs of Sennedjem and Inherkhau. Both quite small but in really good condition. The paintings on the walls of the chambers were really good and very well preserved. The place was deserted so we had it to ourselves.

Deir El-Medina

Walked back towards the ferry as there were no taxis about, managed to get a 5LE ride in a pickup taxi. Back across on the ferry and back to the hotel at about 5pm - all absolutely exhausted. Quick chill-out on the roof for the sunset and everyone snoozed, showered, sorted photos and did diaries for a few hours. Joe and Yechi turned up for Yechi to say goodbye, she's off to Cairo tonight.

Luxor sunset   Luxor sunset

Went out in the evening for a walk and something to eat with Donna and Anthony. Had felafels and just wandered around for a couple of hours through the souq and around the shops. Good street-life and regular but only lightweight hustling. I still can't believe how Luxor is nothing like I expected. I expected a clean and modern tourist town full of posh tourist hotels and loads of hassle and high prices, but it's mostly pretty basic, most things are fairly priced if you're assertive with them, and the hassling is easily handled. I like it much more than I'd expected to.

Returned to the hotel and Anthony and I had a quick guitar session on the roof but we were knackered and soon crashed out.

      High: the great art inside the tomb of Ay
       Low: waiting for lunch was frustrating - some were in a hurry

Thursday 20th October 2005    day 101     whereami     Satellite view

Slept like a log and feel pretty good. Up on the roof for breakfast about 9am. Took ages with the breakfast crew to get it sorted and they still made 2 instead of 3 breakfasts. We had to ask about 5 times for our shays and each time we asked they responded as though the question had never come up before "oh, you want shay?" - egyptian amnesia.

Anthony and I went to the Museum of Mummification - really nicely laid out (by the Guggenheim Museum, NY) with illuminated cabinets in a dark room. A good and interesting display, and surprisingly we were allowed to take (no flash) photos.

Museum of Mummification   Museum of Mummification   mummified ram

mummified cat   canopic jars for storage of organs   mummified baby crocodile

an Ankh - the key/symbol of life

mummified gibbon

We then made a complete tour of Luxor looking for a bank. Stopped for a shay and some fruit juice in a nice restaurant - right by Luxor Temple and yet reasonably priced.

Walked the 3km to Karnak Temple to see it properly in daylight. Well worth the trip, we saw hardly any of it in the Sound And Light Show the other night.

Karnak Temple   Karnak Temple   Karnak Temple

Karnak Temple   Karnak Temple

Karnak Temple   Karnak Temple

Karnak Temple   Karnak Temple

Caught a 25piastre minitaxi back to Luxor Centre and returned to the hotel. Met up with Alex and Donna and 3 of us went to eat while Donna rushed off to sort a few things out - she's made a late decision to head out towards the Western Desert tonight. Had a nice lentil soup and kofta for 17LE.

Back to the hotel for a farewell drink.

farewell drink   farewell drink

Alex and Anthony got the 9pm train to Cairo, and Donna the 11pm train to Assiut. I'll miss this crowd, we've had some great fun over the past 6? days. Al, the Scot, is still around and we might leave on the same bus tomorrow. I'm hoping to get to Safaga and he's going further on to Hurghada.

      High: the Museum of Mummification was very good
       Low: goodbyes to good friends

Friday 21st October 2005    day 102     whereami     Satellite view

Met Al for slow breakfast about 9am, also gave some washing to the hotel ladies - 1LE per item. We walked up to a travel kiosk in town to get our bus tickets - 16LE + 5LE for the link to the main bus terminal. Went for a shay and just wandered around meeting up occasionally and taking street photo's (Al's a pro photographer).

Luxor street   Luxor street   Luxor street

Luxor street   Luxor street   Luxor street

Luxor street   Luxor street   Luxor street

Met back up at the hotel at 1:30 to collect washing and bags. To the bus station for 2pm and away about 2:20. I had to pay another 5LE as they'd mistakenly undercharged me. We travelled in a big circle, passing the kiosk again, for some strange reason. Onto the main bus and Al bumped into Arnold (french) that he knew from Siwa.

Snoozed for most of the journey until we stopped at a middle-of-nowhere café for break-fast at 5:15. Half hour stop and then back on the road.

We got to Safaga at 7pm, said cheerio to Al, only Arnold and I got off the bus. We went for a shay watched a rat scuttle very close by and into the shop next door. Then we rode up and down in minitaxis looking for a hotel. The very cheapies turned us away - they said full but it seemed like they just didn't want tourists. We ended up at El Yassmin hotel - 45LE for a twin room. We got them down to 35LE for a room we're sharing. Nice rooftop restaurant with a view over the Red Sea. Had a really good fish and rice meal for 15LE and I went back to the room to try and catch up some diary.
I'd forgotten at the time that Safaga is the main port for the boats to Mecca - so the cheap hotels are probably for egyptians on their pilgrimage, or "hag" as they call it.

Arnold came back and we started to notice several mosquitos about - we must have killed 40, it seemed endless but I think we finally won.

Carried on with my diary until nearly 2am.

      High: nice morning wandering around Luxor
       Low: the nearly endless mosquito war

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