27 July 2014
My holiday buddy and I fell into a routine of sandwiching pool days with cultural days. Since the day before had been spent by the pool, today we were being taken to the local temples and museum by the locals we had made friends with.
First stop was Luxor Temple in the centre of town. We wandered around the site, which was a decent size but didn’t take too long to explore. Again we had people attempting to tell us things in return for tips. The temple dwarfed us with its gigantic columns, etched with images, and statues. There was also an avenue of sphinx in front of the site, which in its heyday stretched the 3km to the nearby Karnak Temple. It is now being restored. It may be a cliche to say this but the temple was all I dreamed of when I fantasised about visiting Egypt- and more.
We had agreed to meet our friend, who hadn’t come in with us, after about 45 minutes at the site- but, after waiting for about a half hour or so, he wasn’t there and we had no way of contacting him. We started to get hassled endlessly by a horse and cart driver. We looked around for him and decided that we should just move on but, as we left, we bumped into him. He walked us to Luxor Museum through the local market. The first part was the souk perfect for tourist souvenirs, the second part was bustling with locals, buying everything from clothes to food- some which smelt good and some which smelt not so good. We grabbed a sugar cane drink on the way to re-hydrate. It did the trick and was pretty tasty as well. We walked passed a dog we’d encountered a couple of nights before- it didn’t like me then and now sensed I was back. It barked a lot for the second time.
The museum provided the perfect relief from the sun. There were several artefacts, including many statues and a few mummies. We must have spent about an hour in there- it wasn’t small but it also wasn’t so big that it took us ages to walk around. I think a lot of bits and pieces found around Luxor had made their way to the museum in Cairo. After we’d walked all around, we met up with the boys who took us to Karnak Temple.
By day, Karnak Temple looked completely different and was much more inviting. The complex was much bigger than Luxor Temple and we stocked up on drinks before we entered. There were even more giant columns here, more buildings, a lake and, again, several statues. I would have loved it if it wasn’t for the heat. As it was, my friend almost passed out as we tried to explore the site in the sun and I wasn’t far behind. I left her in the shade so that I could stick my head around another part of the temple where some restoration work was taking place. As I did, I interrupted a worker taking a shower. I hurriedly and awkwardly apologised and left. We made it to most parts of the temple but couldn’t face all of it. The sun was high in the sky and we ran out of drinks. As with everywhere we’d been, even the local guards had to spend their time laying in the shade on the floor in order to deal with the heat. In hindsight, we should have done Karnak Temple first, early in the morning, and then made our way to the museum and the smaller temple in the town.
It was a shame to hurry but we left and grabbed an ice cream and drinks before the boys took us back to the hotel. Once back, we launched ourselves into the pool and slowly started to feel better. We spent the rest of the afternoon chatting away with some of the people we’d met.
Back on form, the boys picked us up for our second dinner with the family. My holiday buddy gave driving the old taxi a go as we reached a quiet track. She did better than I would have done but wasn’t allowed to take it onto the main road. We’d offered to help cook this time but ended up just watching our friend’s mum work- picking up tips on Egyptian cooking. We did help stir some onions and I worked the blender. Dinner was another feast, including fish tagine, chicken and rice. Again there was so much food that we just couldn’t manage it all and we spent the evening happily full and relaxed. It was rather sad when it was time to say goodbye and thank you to the family for the last time.
We arrived back at the hotel and popped to the bar for a drink before bed.
Read about the rest of my trip:
- Luxor Part One: the river, the souk and a new friend
- Luxor Part Two: tombs, mummies and a family dinner
- Luxor Part Three: a pool, cocktails and some minor detours
- Luxor Part Five: feluccas on the Nile, Banana Island and results day
- Luxor Part Six: farewells and a day in Cairo