Thursday, December 23, 2010

Day 3 Cycling on West Bank (Top 10 temples from Luxor)

Taxi to the Winter palace, then local ferry (10p) to the West Bank where we hired spanking new bicycles for the day (£2.50). Off past the statues of Memnon, where some of the party swanned past us in two taxis, then bought tickets for Roy and Shroy tombs. These are quite far north and not often visited. In fact we were the only people there. The colour in Roy’s tomb was that fresh vibrant look you only get in the tombs of the Nobles, as if it had been painted yesterday (due to the fact that the paint is mineral based and not organic). The tomb itself, with its door and rock face behind were depicted, along with the stela that would have stood in front of the entrance, now in the niche at the back. She was buried with her baby, both hearts being weighed on the scales against two feathers, which suggests she died in childbirth.

Our first visit to the newly opened Carter’s House, which was a real treat. They really have done a good job here, with lots of original furniture in his study, meeting room, kitchen, dark room, bedroom (separate one for Lord Canarvon) and a lovely domed vestibule with arabesque corners, all set in a manicured green garden. There’s lots of old photographs, but it’s that 1920s feel and sense of place that matters.

The off up the road to the Valley of the Kings, the only cyclists on the hot road round into the valley. This is the way to enter the valley, as you get a real sense of how secluded the site was and the grandeur of the surrounding limestone mountains. First, Merneptah, 13th son of Rameses II, who came to the throne after outliving twelve of his brothers. Most notable were the scenes of decapitations and captives, as he had to deal with internal and external threats after the death of his warring father. At the far end of the valley is the tomb of Twosret and Setnakhte, Twosret was queen and ruled for only a year but her tomb was later used by Setnakhte. Then the tomb of Rameses IX, a typical Ramsean tomb with captives and decapitations. Cycled back to the ferry and caught the bus back to the Jolie Ville.

Dinner at La Fleur, a French restaurant in the grounds of the hotel. Our exertions eased by two bottles of Chateau de Reve, an OK bottle of Egyptian Cabernet Sauvignon, and sated by a full three courses of really fine food.

Top 10 temples from Luxor

Dendera

Abydos

Ramasseum at Abydos

Esna

Kom-ombo

Edfu

Tod

El Kab

Kharga Oasis (2)

All of these are achieveable on day trips from Luxor. Simply hire a taxi and off you go. Abydos and Dendera takes a full day. Esna, Kom-ombo and Edfu another very full day. Tod, Edfu and El Kab a day. Kharga Pasis, a very full day.

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