Saturday, January 21, 2006

Up the Nile

I tried to post a camera phone pic but the local network doesn't like it.

We rose before dawn to watch the sun rise over Karnak temple. The complex is huge and every Pharoh added something to it so that the site is a bit of a mish mash. one could spend years studying it. We then visited the Luxor museum which houses some amazing pieces. I was very impressed with the chariot and bows found is Tuts tomb. The mummy of Ramesses I is here. It spent many years at a cheap Niagra Falls attraction before it was donated back to Egypt. It now lies in dignified repose near some few treasures that survived into this century.

We are now steaming up river towards Edfu. Our cabin was a bit of a disaster having no AC and a bathroom that was funky. We made a few calls and we are no longer sweltering. The bathroom is slightly less funky but I am planning on hitting a perfume shop to see if that will help any.

The Nile is smooth and the green fields and date palms glide by little changed for the last thousand years. Luxor is behind us but each new city seems to bring us bigger and more wonderous sites to explore.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Temples to the left of me...

Back on the West bank to see the Temple of Medinet Habu with a talk by one of the epigraphers from Chicago House, on to the Ramasseum (most impressive, some of the color is still on the columns and upper walls) and lastly the Temple of Hatchepsut (great Fung Shui). I have done my best but my poor brain is getting dangerously full of facts. This is a very rich and complex culture.

Still haven't had a chance to do any serious shopping. We did pop into a alabaster factory yesterday. They had a quick presentation about carving alabaster and their sales pitch was pretty good. In the end I bought a large scarab of unusually good quality and two Ushebti. Don't know what an Ushebti is? Go google it. We board our Nile steamer The Sun Goddess later today and depart Luxor tomorrow to head up river to Aswan. This will give us a much needed rest.

I will miss Luxor. I don't remember if I posted this but we took a horse drawn carriage over to the Winter Palace to enjoy a drink on the patio. It gave me a geeky thrill to sit where Howard Carter and most other early Egyptologists sat enjoying a drink, looking over the Nile and dreaming of finding unpilferred tombs in the Valley of the Kings.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Valley of the Kings

Blogging from my phone makes it hard to fully describe the things we have seen today. We crossed the Nile and took a bus to the Valley of the Kings. We passed through old Gurneh, home of the greatest tomb robbers of the 19th century, the el Rassoul fanily. The current residents refuse to move to the new town near by build by the state because their houses still rest on undiscovered tombs.

We hiked up to the top of the Valley along a path used 3000 years ago by the tomb workers who lived in Dier el Medina. Although it was hazy the view from the top was awe inspiring. We returned to the valley and entered the Tomb of Seti I, which is not open to the public. It is amazing shape with beautiful walls still showing vibrant co.ored heiroglyphs. One room is incomplete but shows where the workers had started to draw the figures before carving them into the linestone.

Dr Weeks then opened KV5. Two men from the Supreme Council of Antiquities are there. One breaks the small seal, the other notes the date. As assistent has to set up lights so we can see. The inside is hot. The floor and ceiling uneven. Bracing is everywhere. This tomb was filled with debris from floods over the last 3000 years. Removing it is like chipping out concrete. Except the concrete has valuable artifacts in it. Although this the largest tomb ANYWHERE in Egypt we could only get into four main chambers. There are over 150 rooms mapped so far, more are still untouched.

Tuts tomb is a dinky closet compared to KV5. At least size wise. The Sarcophagus and an outer case lie in situ and are stunning, but the wall paintings are more lower quality.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

My brain is now full

With Rossana on the mend I crossed the Nile at 5:30 this morning to take a hot air balloon ride over the temples of the west bank. The trip was great with unmatched views. After a harrowing bus ride back to the boat I returned to the hotel to find Rossana up and doing well. We visited the mumification museum and then the Luxor temple. We got to go 'behind the scenes' to see where they are repairing and arranging ornamental wall scenes.

Saw so much today. Must sleep...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Better now

Rossana thew up on the bus ride and immedietly felt better. We got to Luxor a short time later. The doctor promptly arrived and diagnosed inflamed lower intestines. She did everything right, staying away from salads and fresh fruits. She's an old pro at this. But it was the fish that did her in. He administered two shots that should have her back in shape by tomorrow (Inshallah!)

The Waddi Hammamat was a great journey. A trade and supply route between the Nile and the Red sea for the past 5000 years. A neolithic hunting ground over 8000 years ago. There are amazing heiroglyphs carved into the bassalt walls of the hills as clear today as they were when they were carved by expeditions sent to bring back materials for the temples of Egypt . These are mixed in places with ancient greek graphitti made by traders in Ptolomeic times.

I signed up for a sunrise hot air balloon trip over the Valley of the Kings and Luxor. So long as Rossana is in good shape I will again get up at 5 in the god awfull AM.

Luxor is much prettier than Cairo and the Nile is a real river here, not a dirty canal. Green and lush with huge sugar crops.

Not good

Rossana is sick. Not sure of the cause. Not taking any chances. When we arrive in Luxor we are calling a doctor. She is so upset and there's nothing I can do.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Departing Cairo

Bag arrived last night. Hattem, the local tour rep spent 3 hours at the airport getting it. The terminal was technically closed due to the Haj (Mecca pilgramage) he sneaks in but is told I have to get the bag personally, they need my passport etc. I am sure bribes were paid. Everyone amazed at how cool we are about this, but it wasn't the tour company's fault. Nothing is missing and I have my hat and chargers.

Short lecture last night by Dr. Weeks followed by dinner. Our last night at Mena house. We talked our way into a look at Montommery and Churchill suites. Amazing what $1450 a night gets you. Our rooms are in a modern (and much cheaper) wing but I will still miss this place.

Off to Hurhada by plane and then to Quisir. From thence to Luxor.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


There is word my luggage has been seen in Paris drinking absinthe and touring the Louvre. I hope it shows up soon. All my chargers are with it.

Visited Sakkara and Dashur yesterday. Amazing. Taday we rose at 5am to see the Sphinx and then watch the sun rise above the plateu. Toured the Phramid of Cheops (Khufu) inside and out, quite a climb. The Solar boat is no less amazing. Took many pictures which can't do the site justice.

Meals are excellent, travelling companions eclectic but friendly.