Follow the fortunes of Muddyboots & Family on their East Yorkshire farm which has changed from dairy farm to luxury ice cream manufacture

Monday, 16 February 2009

Egypt - Luxor and Back

the Nile @ dusk

Holidays come and go, you look forward to them, struggle though the airport and then after a what seems like no time at all, you are back home faced with bags of dirty washing. is it really worth it? Yeap, it sure is, can't LIVE without my holidays, keeps me sane! In our line of work, holidays tend to be taken in January and again in September, the January break normally being a case of where do the special offer long haul flights go followed by a scramble around Trip Adviser for the out of the ordinary accommodation, normally some thing along the B & B lines whilst in September we do pre-book.


This year, after dying from flu over Christmas and discovering that the cheap flights might be cheap but the accommodation in US$ zone was not, it became clear that a rehash on destination was required pretty damn fast! Where was cheap then? Egypt. I have always said that 'if' l did a trip down the Nile then it would be with Bales in a dahabiya, traveling in style. This 'style' does not go with 'credit crunch', whilst teletext does! After much searching and cross referencing we narrowed the choice down to a £300 deal ex-Manchester, cruising down the Nile from Luxor or ancient Thebes to Aswan and back. At this price we were prepared to rough it for a week, and certainly the revues on Trip Adviser were not exactly raving, things like 'this boat most certainly isn't 5*' and 'All they [the locals] want are tips'........... What had we let ourselves in for?

Temple of Horus, Edfu

The plane landed safely at Luxor in the middle of a power cut, money was handed over for visas, transfers picked up and we were taken to our boat, well actually the wrong boat, the one WE were taken to had loads of marble and Waterford glass chandeliers, very QE2! Good start! An hour later the correct boat was found and our expectations were as expected, this boat was more North Sea Ferries than The White Star Line, pretty basic but spotlessly clean. We could only wait in anticipation! During the evening the boat started to fill with another 10 English travelers, who indecently were really good company - the rest of the passengers were french & Russian, of them l will say no more, bar that they would help themselves to pudding before mains? What about the food? Not gourmet by any stretch of the imagination, but wholesome and bland, International cuisine because not all nationalities like spicy food!

waiting for the lock @ Esna

Well, enough of the boat, we had come to overload on temples & tombs, which we most certainly did! I had booked the Maxi trip package back in the UK, which covered the main highlights, the temples of Edfu & kom Ombo, at Aswan Philae temple, whilst in Luxor the big ones - Valley of the Kings, Medinet Habu, Luxor & Karnak.

Art work on the pylons @ medinet habu depicting Osiris

The sights were truly awesome, l have always been an avid fan of programs like Time Team & anything to do with archaeology and here we were right, slap bang in the middle of one of the largest archaeological sites in the world. The tour package provided us with a guide who led us through the crowds to gawp at the huge lumps of stone whose every surface was carved with hieroglyphics, wall paintings and rock carvings of the gods and pharaohs.

the pylons @ Phillae

Best sites - edfu virtually intact and gives you a pretty good idea of the layout of the temples which are all built along the same lines, Valley of the kings - you get to visit 3 tombs in with your ticket, the colours inside the tombs are the first thing that strike you, they are so vivid, blues and golds, the the pictures, totally awesome, they could have been painted yesterday instead of over 2500 years ago, Ramses IV's tomb had frescoes of the pharaoh wearing a linen kilt, the art work was fabulous! Madinet Habu - a gem, often missed out on tours with people heading for the Ramessium, whilst karnak is, well amazing, despite the fact that restoration work is going on, with the aim to rebuild? The site is truly huge but you can wander to the perimeter and explore without the presence of too many tourists! Luxor temple, another interesting place, with hieroglyphs of Alexander the Great dressed as the Pharaoh.

queen Hatsheput temple

Things l did find interesting was that good old Emperor Hadrian, him of the Wall, had left an impressive entrance gate at philae temple, early Christians had plastered over the inner sanctuary at Luxor temple then painted christian saints over the top, the Greeks ruled over Egypt before the roman occupation, the Ptolemaic Dynasty. Most of the temples and tombs have been defaced by the early Christians who objected to the false idols so chipped out the faces of gods and pharaohs.

The not so goods - queen Hatsheput's temple is over restored and although looks good from a distance isn't, philae temple - this was moved due to the flooding from Aswan dam,good that it has been saved but it doesn't 'feel' right, you will be taken to perfume, alabaster and papyrus factories by your guide, well we didn't because we said we didn't want to go! We were a bit concerned with the plans in place to totally restore Karnak temple, the government, so we were told, are buying up land and properties between karnak & Luxor Temples with the aim of excavating and once again linking up the 2 temples.

valley of the kings new dig KV 64

karnak temple

Egypt itself is a fascinating country, we had previously visited the Gulf or Aqabar several years ago, but the Nile did feel more of an exotic destination. We personally had no problems with the locals constantly trying to sell you some trinket or other, we just said 'no' and emptied our pockets turning them inside out. We traveled around Aswan and Luxor again not having any major problem, shop keepers do call out trying to get you to buy and l guess you would''t really be able to window shop, now some people did find this hassling a real problem and vowed never to return as they felt that the place was full of people trying to 'rip them off'.

luxor temple - one of the sons of Ramses II

One point l would recommend, if you are thinking of traveling down the Nile, do your research thoroughly. read up on the boat, you get what you pay for, read up on the temples as it helps you to understand more about what you are actually seeing, take you digital camera as you WILL take loads of photos, for those extra trips not included in your 'tour' you can book at a fraction of the price in many of the travel shops in Luxor, & finally... watch what you eat and if you are female dress sensibly, loose linen clothing keeps you cool deters any unwanted advances by the local men!!

early morning hot air balloons over the west bank @ Luxor

Finally, sorry if this is boring but l was asked for an Egyptian blog!


Un Peu Loufoque said...

This brings back many happy memories of living thereand boat trips on the nile, it makes me wish I was going back soon ! So glad you loved it so much!

toady said...

We did a trip in 2002 for my 50th and loved every minute of it. We went with Viking which compared to the others was a bit of a tug boat, but it was spotlessly clean and the staff were wonderful, and food very good.
We did a side trip down to Abu Simbel which was a bit pricey but was absolutely magic and I wouldn't have missed it for the world.
Got itchy feet now.

mountainear said...

Sounds pretty good to me and definitely a change of scene. I would love to see all the sites you visited - someday maybe?

Pondside said...

Boring??? No way!
This is a trip I'd love to take. Perhaps someday......
I loved your take on the boat - as long as I'm comfortable and warm and fed, I could care less, when there are fabulous things to see.

seashell cosmos said...

Ohhhh, I'm speechless! Really. Thank you so very much for taking us along on this trip. How I would love to go in person, someday. I've always wanted to do the 'Cairo to Cape Town' trip. *sigh* Until someday comes, I dream and armchair travel. Thank You for sharing! xxx seashell

Exmoorjane said...

Yup, loads of happy memories here this going 'oh yes' and 'oh YES' very many times. That sounded like a serious deal and who cares what the boat is like when the sights are so darn fabulous?
Now I am having serious Egypt yearnings but not sure summer holidays are the best time to go!

Suffolkmum said...

I have always wanted to go to Egypt so that was fascinating reading. I'm like you - couldn't do without holidays, however broke we are!

Mrs ElderBerry said...

No dear, isn't that strange, you having also been to Egypt? So glad that you have had a wonderful time.

Fennie said...

Why didn't you take me with you. Have always wanted to do this trip, archeology being a sort of hobby and having read much about the pharaohs.
Lovely account and pictures. So glad you had such a good time.

Buggles Balham High Road said...

We also love Egypt. Another time I suggest you get the Prince Abbas vessel at Aswan and sail to Abu Simbel over Lake Nasser, stopping at temples along the banks, then back to Aswan.

The Prince Abbas is a very good boat.

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