Leisurely Luxor – Luxor, Egypt

I visited the Egyptian Museum which seems to be the other major thing to do in Cairo but then I remembered that I am not too much of a museum kinda girl. So I did the basics which included seeing mummies, shrines, ancient jewellery, tombs and lots of rocks. I ended up sitting and writing for sometime.

As I was meandering through, I saw a beautiful woman cleaning the display cases. I couldn`t take my eyes off her. She had the most amazing eyes and I was transfixed. Then the weirdest thing happened. She walked over to me and a little shy told me in broken English that she thought I was beautiful.

“Your eyes. So Beautiful. So beautiful.” she spoke softly.

I couldn`t believe it. It was like she read my mind. I didn`t even know what to say.

The next morning, I jumped on the train to Luxor which is a 10 hour ride along the Nile. I was surprised at how narrow the Nile got at times at only a meter or so wide. There were crops of sugar cane being harvested from the people who must have lived in the little mudhuts along the river.

I arrived in Luxor and immediately 3 hotel touts pounced on me. I walked around a bit and finally settled on a hostel in a somewhat quiet area. I dropped my stuff and then went out to explore. I wandered the streets for hours taking in the smells and sights. I ended up in an area where there were no tourists at all. Just alot of locals and I got quite a bit of attention, especially from the fascinated little kids who giggled shyly.

I stared in amazement as young boys rode their bikes through the hopping narrow alley like streets balancing a door size plank on their heads. On top there must have been hundreds upon hundreds of pitas, balanced about a foot high. It was truly a sight.

Ramadan was just ending and there was an energy building as people began to celebrate. I realized all of a sudden that I was quite far from home but all I needed to do is follow the horsedrawn carriages back to the center. There were heaps of kids on donkeys and horses prancing around giving rides to the younger ones.

I decided I should probably sort out my train ticket back as things seemed to be getting quite busy with the holiday and all. I made my way back to the train station but the guy wouldn`t let my buy a ticket for the train! He insisted that they were all full even as I insisted that the train I needed was not the one he was talking about. Because I had a flight to catch in Cairo I had to catch the 7pm train which happens to not be a tourist train. I really didn`t know what the big deal was but any other train would get in too late making me miss my flight.

I left the station feeling a bit dejected wondering what I should do. I walked to a nearby hotel and told the manager my story. He told me not to worry. Next thing I knew, I had a ticket in my hand on the train that I needed! I felt very grateful so I ended up booking a tour through them for the next day.

I woke up and ate a decent breakfast (most hostels and hotels include breakfast here) before meeting up with a busload of tourists. We chatted and got acquainted as we waited to catch one of the ferries across to the west bank. There were a couple of Americans who were studying Arabic in Cairo who helped my decipher my train ticket that I had gotten the day before, telling me what seat and car I was in. The ride across the Nile was short and sweet before we jumped onto another bus which had AC, very important on a hot day like this.

First, we stopped at the Colossi of Memmon, which are two big throned 18 meter statues. The Greeks thought they sang and wept but it was discovered that it was just some cracks in the stone creating this phenomenon. Next, we visited Deir al Bahri (Temple of Hatshepsut) which seems to grow out of the cliffs. I wondered about the tourist massacre that happened here 5 years ago but didn`t ask about it thinking it was probably a sensitive subject. I had a hard time believing that the colors painted on the walls hadn`t even been retouched. Surely thousands of years would wear the vibrant reds and yellows.

It was here that we lost the Canadian guy and the tour guide put the onus on us by making us “vote” if we should leave with out him. He was just no where to be found but it did feel a little like a reality show by voting him off the tour. One thing tho was that he was very friendly, talking to everyone, so we thought for sure he would get picked up by another bus.

We pushed on and next visited the Valley of Kings which is where the tombs of the powerful pharaohs are. We walked past the line up of vendors selling everything from postcards to statues of cats and pharaohs to pyramids and cottons. As we wandered around the hot and dusty sight, I squinted my eyes and regretted not bringing any h2o.

The tombs were quite warm and surprisingly humid but I think I would have enjoyed them more if I knew how to read hieroglyphics. They were preserved quite well and you could make out many of the picture stories but it would take years to understand the big picture. All the tombs were different sizes as they would only dig as long as a king was in power.

The Valley of Queens was more my size and I was delighted to see that the ceiling was just my height. I didn`t have to duck like the others and even the coffins were smaller. One of the tombs had a little mummified fetus of her unborn prince son which was kind of morbid but really well preserved. We went to an alabaster shop and we also learned how they make paper out of papyrus.

At the end of the tour, a small group of us decided to take a boat ride down the Nile on a felucca. But because I got held up in the very busy streets we just missed the sunset so I promised them all ice cream afterwards. The ride was really nice as a slight cooling breeze washed over us as we watched the city of Luxor light up.

We met up with some more people and then after our ice cream we visited the Luxor Temple by night. It was stunning and I was in awe of the sheer size of everything. I thought it was a bit strange tho that they had built a mosque right on top of the site. We said bye to the Americans at the train station then had a drink and discussed travel stories before I hit the bakery next door, for a bedtime snack. There was so much to choose from and my tastebuds were loving it as I sat on my balcony nibbling away enjoying the warm night air. After such a long siteful day, I was asleep nearly before my head even hit the pillow.

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