27 July 2014
As our holiday went on, The Flatmate 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.
Our first stop was Luxor Temple, in the centre of town. The site was a decent size but it didn’t take us too long to explore. Much like Valley of the Kings, we again had people sidling up to us, 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 sphinxes 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 exactly what I had dreamed of when I fantasised about visiting Egypt – and more. I was in ancient history heaven.
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 hadn’t showed up 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 finally bumped into him. He walked us to Luxor Museum through the local market. The first part of the market was the souk, perfect for touristy souvenirs. The second part was bustling with locals, buying everything from clothes to food – some which smelt good and some which smelt really 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 seemed to recognise that 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 lots of statues and a few mummies. We must have spent about an hour in there – the museum 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 in and 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 our final stop: Karnak Temple.
By day, Karnak Temple looked completely different than it had the night before. Now it was much more inviting. The complex was much bigger than Luxor Temple and so 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. After we ran out of drinks, The Flatmate almost passed out as we tried to explore the site in the boiling sun and I wasn’t far behind. Still, I was determined not to leave any rock unturned, so I left her in the shade so that I could stick my head around another corner of the temple where some restoration work was taking place. As I did, I interrupted a worker taking a shower. I should have stayed in the shade. I hurriedly and awkwardly apologised and left.
We made it to most parts of the temple but couldn’t face walking around all of it. The sun was high in the sky and, 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. We should have done Karnak Temple first thing, early in the morning, and then made our way to the museum and the smaller temple in the town – but that’s hindsight for you.
It was a shame to hurry through Karnak Temple but we really needed to leave and cool down. We grabbed an ice cream and drinks on our way out before the boys took us back to the hotel. Once back, we launched ourselves into the pool and slowly started to recover. We spent the rest of the afternoon chatting away with some of the other holidaymakers we’d met.
Now that we were back on form, the boys picked us up for our second dinner with the family. As we reached the fields outside the city, The Flatmate hopped into the front seat of the old taxi and attempted to drive it down 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 on all the Egyptian cooking tips we could. We did help stir some onions and I worked the blender – just to make ourselves feel marginally less than useless.
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.
After we arrived back at the hotel, we 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