Luxor was our introduction to the Egypt we have all learned and read about since childhood. No amount of book browsing can prepare you for the real thing which is truly marvellous. The painted walls, the immense statuary, the decoration and design are indeed wonders of the ancient world. One can only imagine how it all sparkled with freshness and life when it was first done.
First day was a tour organised by Debs with a minibus and guide. Stop number one was the Valley of the Kings, itself an uninspiring valley in the desert beyond the green. Once through the entrance with all the hordes, you have to take a mini disneylandesq train pulled by ancient motors or smart new(ish) tractors. Heaven forbid that you would walk the 100 metres to the site! The entrances to the tombs are unprepossessing. Inside they are not terribly big, or at least the viewable area is not big, but the art work on the walls is magnificent. Having been hidden away from light they have, in many places, the freshness and colour of having been painted only, say, last year. From there it was a trip to the Temple of Queen Hatchetsup, a woman of questionable morals who apparently usurped her own son-in-law to take the throne. Her lust for power knew no bounds and when told she wasn't a man and therefore couldn't rule, she wore a false beard! She also claimed her father was a god, which would have been very handy in getting one's way. She liked to build big and impressive and she certainly impressed us.
And so, on to the Valley of the Queens, with the obligatory stop to look at an alabaster factory ("no obligation to buy, just look at my shop..."). Quite interesting but also a bit of a con, though we did end up buying something!
Back to the hotel for a rest stop after a buffet lunch at a restaurant on the banks of the Nile. An OK lunch but a terrific place to have it, watching the Nile cruisers sailing back and forth and the little feluccas and ferries plying the waters.
That afternoon, the best ... Karnak Temple followed by Luxor Temple, both within the city of Luxor itself. Karnak is simply stunning, much bigger and more extensive than I had thought from books and pictures. Everything is on a colossal scale and it is staggering to think that it was built 4 to 5 thousand years ago with mainly bronze tools. By the time we got to Luxor Temple, it was getting dark and we enjoyed the site all floodlit. Again, what a stunning site/sight. At these two sites our guide was particularly informative and we all gained some insight into the stories the pictures on the walls told.
A lot to pack into one day, but we survived!