(October 20, 2011) Luxor: Karnak and Luxor temples
This morning we’ll check out from boat, but we will be able
of leaving the baggage there while dedicating the whole day to Luxor
The highlights for this day are temples of Karnak
and Luxor, which were not included on cruise’s program. We will have
time enough for Luxor museum, the city, a ride in calash and even,
perhaps, Medinat Habu.
Once at night we will go to the airport where we
will get the dinner and will board to our flight to Cairo, scheduled
for 00:20. 1:30 AM we will arrive to Cairo where the transfer to our
hotel will be waiting for us.
Spots marked at map:
1- Colossi of Memnon and visitor’s center
2- Valley of the Kings
3- Temple of Luxor
4- Temple of Karnak
5- Medinat Habu
7- Valley of the Queens
After breakfast we check out and deliver our
baggage to be
kept while we’re out at our own. Three days of rest later, I’m the
The first step is finding transport for temple of Karnak. At the moment
we’re out of the quay people start offering calashes from the distance.
But it’s mainly two children the ones at our side bargaining price. I
reach 40 pounds for the trip, which I know is a higher rate but I agree
to it because of the kids, who get very happy and bring their calash to
us for helping my parents to get it up. The horse is quite healthier
than the one in Edfu.
In our way, the older boy – and “older” means about 10 years
– start asking me about our plans for today. I’ve discarded going to
West riverside, so whatever we didn’t see yesterday, we won’t see it.
So I comment we’re going to Karnak to spend the morning, if we find a
good place to lunch there, we will lunch there, if not, maybe we will
go to Luxor museum and lung around there, or maybe we’ll go directly to
Temple of Luxor which, as it is close to our boat, will be our final
spot to visit today. He assimilates this vague plan and proposes being
our transport for the whole day. I’m shocked, so I try to make myself
clearer about this first visit: “Maybe we’ll lunch there, so we can
spend there 3, 4, 5 hours or even more! I can’t tell”. But it seems he
understood in first place: “I’ll wait. No matter, 3, 4, 5 or more. I’ll
wait”. ”How are you going to wait indefinitely for us until 6 hours!?”
And then he makes me understand the reason: “No business. I’ll wait”.
There is no tourism, therefore there is no business. It is worth
waiting all day long for a sure trip than being around looking for new
trips from non-existing customers. That breaks my thoughts, as I
accepted a higher rate for a one way trip, but now this rise is going
to be inherited for the whole day price, which is being set to 100
pounds. At least, I do a final move for including the tip on those 100
pounds, which is accepted.
When we arrive to Karnak
I try to pay the 40 pounds for this trip, but they don’t want to take
the money. I state it is for my peace of mind and, if they’re still
there when we go out we will keep with them, but they keep saying we
will pay at the end of the day.
Anyway, we’re at
Temple of Karnak’s entrance, or better said, the entrance to the
complex, as we cannot see the temple yet. There is a big open square
with stores at every side previous to the ticket box where we buy our
tickets in exchange of 50 pounds per person. We’re keeping these
tickets as collectibles, so one more to add.
we turn right into a big avenue full of vendors offering the same items
than everywhere else. This avenue loses its large width when reaching
the avenue of sphinxes, just before the temple’s entrance.
Then we get into a hall where the amazing row of sphinxes die
columns and colossi appear. Karnak is being the most crowded place
we’ve visited in Egypt. Tourists were all here!
And then, after passing by the big stone walls, we arrive to
most impressive place of this temple: the great hypostyle hall. A big
square shaped hall completely full of wide pillars. This is the place
where fails the first attempt of murder of “Death on the Nile”, the
movie about Agatha Christie’s novel. The second attempt succeeded
indeed because, in case it didn’t, Poirot had kept on holydays.
The concentration of columns in this room is spectacular. It is so
dense that you can get your lonely pictures although the hall is full
This is a good place for seating and
rest at shadow, looking this wonder around; and even getting your sight
up to the ceiling and admire the original yellowish colors.
Coming into this hall for its logical entrance we have two
out here: the one opposite to the entrance or the one at right. We
choose this last one because we want to look around the external
places, such the sacred lake, turned into “swamp” now.
This area was huge and pretty wonderful, with four pylons in
row, as the model at entrance showed, but it is the worst conserved one
too. The pylons are those symmetric walls where the door is put, as you
can see very clear on Philae or Edfu temples pictures. This is a
typical structure for the “Greek” period of Egyptian history, after the
Pharaonic times, when the country was conquered by Alexander the Great,
who left his friend Ptolemy in charge of it and, subsequently, his
We come back to the main way soon, after watching the famous beetle
figure and the only of the three obelisks drawing a triangle here which
Only one of my highlights still to be visited here, which is
at the end of the way: the festival hall of Thutmose III. This is a
unique hall, different than any other, full of columns too, but this
time they’re simple and painted in bright colors. The hall is
completely covered with a roof and it shows its original colorful,
fading now, though.
We start our return by following the main path, which has a
part that we skipped before, when choosing the other exit from the
hypostyle hall. This part is beautiful too, with the standing obelisks
and some tall “bricked” columns. We cannot resist, again, to the
hypostyle hall contemplation seated in there when seeing so few people
this time. We have no rush with our plan for today. That makes us look
for a place to take some drinks once out of the temple, but before
leaving the complex. All are expensive bars, but we choose the cheaper
one, identified by being the only one with people and the look of
backpacker of some of the customers.
We take a table outside, where is blowing a gentle
breeze which makes us being so confortable that we don’t want to leave.
When we finally do, we go to the exit, across the big square, with no
shopping and wondering if the kids will be waiting for us after more
than three hours. We indeed see them at distance and go closer to them
declining all transport offers we’re getting in our way, until they see
us too and bring the calash to us. The deal is definitively closed now
by 100 pounds, including tip, for going to Luxor museum, where we look
for a place to lunch around there, and then, going to Temple of Luxor
where the service would finish.
We chat with the boys in our way
to museum. They leave us in an alley in works, along a
big group of kids wearing their school uniform. I cannot see
any restaurant; it doesn’t seem a very touristic area. We avoid the
obstacles from the work in our way to the river and, just turning at
right, we find the museum entrance. It is a very new building. Our idea
is go in for a quick visit and go for lunch around temple of Luxor
because I cannot see any places for eating something around here. This
plan avoid too the situation of the boys waiting for us to finish our
lunch. Somehow, when I can see the entrance fee is 80 pounds, I become
indignant as it is almost the fee for Abu Simbel, so we turn back and
avoid my parents crossing the works to get here. It isn’t worth it.
So we go for our last stage on this calash with
the boys asking me why we didn’t go into the museum. I explain honestly
the entrance fee seemed expensive to me for such a short visit when we
couldn’t eat in there either.
When we can see the temple of Luxor, which we could
already see last night, the boy asks me about our following plans,
looking for a chance to keep with us, but now is indeed the end of
their service. I point to our boat in order of he can understand why we
don’t need more transport today and say goodbye.
Is a bit soon for lunching, so we go for a walk.
This area is full of restaurants – even is a McDonald’s here – along
this side off the road, while the last Egyptian temple we’re going to
visit can be seen, omnipresent, across the street.
Just when the plants appear as if it was the beginning of a park,
a vendor in the street offers tobacco to me and, after some bargain, I
buy a couple of packets of Marlboro. He offers too to go into the
restaurant which entrance is just here. As we see a huge place full of
tables between trees we go in. It is Restaurant Sindbad.
In that table area we’re fantastic and it is really cheap. We’re
surrounded by cats, though, and the tobacco man keeps coming every few
minutes to ask if we’re well to all of us and if the cigarettes are
good to me. It’s a bit strange all this, but we end by lunching pizza
and chicken, with soft drinks, by 200 pounds for all four.
We spend some time at table after lunching, once the tobacco man is
gone, and when we’re ready we go across the street to visiting Luxor
The entrance to the temple is more at North
than we thought when seeing a queue of people in a circular square for
going apparently into the side of the temple but when arriving there it
is really the entrance to a mosque integrated to the ruins, a bit above
them. It’s quite shocking.
We go on our way to the
real entrance and, after paying 50 pounds per person for our tickets,
we can add more collectibles and check there is more people in that
mosque than in the temple. Just from the entrance you can see the
avenue of the sphinxes in front, a bar and some souvenirs stores at
right, and the temple at left. We follow this last way
The entrance to the temple shows, in front of a pylon, two
Ramesses II colossus and one obelisk. There were two of them too, but
they were a gift to France. The first one is sited on Concorde square
in Paris, and the second one is this one, as the French government left
it after knowing the cost of transport it after the first one.
Once inside the temple, the first hall is a square area with columns
and statues at sides. After other two colossi and the strange mosque
sited here, we get the second part of the temple, where the columns are
fluted, and reckoning vegetal shapes. The walls are full of grabbed
images here. It is a small temple, compared to the others, but very
beautiful, and the light of the dusk helps it to look even prettier
When we’re leaving the temple, the sun is leaving too and our
plans are ending, but we have still a lot of time to spend in front of
us before even thinking about going to the airport. We come back to the
boat and seat in its game room, which always looked empty. There are a
lot of games there, but we play with our own cards.
We wait until 20:00 to ask for a taxi to the airport. When it comes, we
tip the men helping us bringing our baggage to it and go; leaving
behind the boat has been our home for three days, but leaving behind
Egypt too… almost, as we still have a quick visit in front of us. But
it is now when we have the feeling of returning to home.
We check in for the baggage and we’re in front of the boarding gates,
which are only four of them, at 21:00. We have still three hours and a
half to board our plane, four hours to taking off. A lot of time to
spend in this hall, full of seats and with: a coffee shop with food in
the way you can serve in a tray and paying at the end, a cheap
souvenirs store, an expensive souvenir store and a smoking room. This
is the whole airport. I’ve got all I need, at least. I buy a piece of
pizza, a bottle of water, some sandwiches, one box of chocolates, one
box of cookies stuffed with fig and another stuffed with date; by 160
pounds. The sweets are to take away.
We make our
dinner and watch tv, which is showing the goals of the premier league
as unique option. In the meantime, the people for the last flight but
one (ours) are boarding. It is going to Cairo too, but at 22:30. We are
completely alone after that.
And so it is until 30
minutes before the boarding time, when the rest of passengers for that
flight appear. Flight is short and while waiting for out baggage in
Cairo airport I’m going to check somebody is waiting for us there,
which it is. We’re taken fast to the hotel due to the absence of
traffic at this time and we’re delivered in front of a big building
which would seem to be miraculously survived to a bombing: fašade is
falling and there is not a single glass unbroken; but in this
environment, between buildings in similar condition or worst, it is
An elevator takes us to 15th floor,
where an employee of Hotel Isis helps us to save another floor to the
As I could read, interior is a lot
better than the external look of this hotel. The views are amazing and
the rooms are spacy and clean. Also, Archaeological museum is just one
block from here. It is what we needed.
We’re in bed a few minutes after 2:00, which is better than expected.