Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Egypt (7) - Another bloody temple and 52C!

This morning was an early start as we headed to the Colossi of Memnon to see the statues and pick up those that had been early-morning ballooning. From there we head to the Valley of the Queens where Marco gave us a talk about how and why these were built. I would have listened more but there was a shifty looking guy who came to sit next to me with a sub-machine gun in his belt loop. Security is pretty tight here.

Our first tomb was astonishing - cut into the rock with several rooms and inscriptions all over. There were more tombs but several were closed for restoration or to try and halt their decay.

Our next stop was Hatshepsut's Temple - a 3 tiered series of columns that at first sight I thought was modern. This temple was big and we took some time climbing around it. Whilst in this valley the temperature reached 52C - gosh it was hot!

We then skirted around the hills to the Valley of the Kings. K, L, M and I purchased extra tickets to go into Ramses V/VI tomb. This was HUGE. The main room was 5m high and 10m across. The roof painted with stars, the walls with spells and other carvings. In the middle were two massive alabaster sarcophagi. It was truly breath-taking. We had 3 other tombs to visit and we took Marco's advice and went for Ramses 1, 3 and 4. Number 3 was so steep and humid I wandered if we would ever get out.

We headed back to the boat for lunch after which 4 of us decided to go to Dendara Temple. This could only be reached via Police escort. Let me tell you, this was a lot of fun. We had armoured guards and at every road junction there were locals with guns stopping traffic to let us through. This is what it must feel like to be a president! Dendara was great - a copy of Edfu Temple but not in as good condition. Marco introduced it as '...another bloody temple!' (he meant to say 'lovely temple') which had us all laughing. As there were only 4 of us Marco showed us the crypts (we had to squeeze through a 1m tall opening to go underground - very Indiana Jones!) and also the roof buildings. It was brilliant.

A 90 minute Police escort later and we were back in Luxor. Dinner on board had a little surprise - Marco has figured out our wedding anniversary was the day after tomorrow and he arranged a cake with singing and drum beating for us. Later that evening we had belly-dancing (she liked K) and a Whirling Dervish dancer on the back deck. I sipped a G&T and contemplated the week we had just had...

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