Day 3

Tuesday 25th May 2010 – Luxor

A reasonably good night, I woke at 5am, with Tina waking shortly after. We got washed and dressed, far too early for a shower and so went to get some breakfast. The early morning meal was a buffet-style affair with a good choice of food (well good choice for a non-Coeliac). Tina had toast whilst I had a bowl of rice crispies then a cheese omelette. We grabbed some fruit for later in the morning and then returned to our cabin to get ready for our first excursion of the holiday.

Early morning balloon flights over the Nile

Early morning balloon flights over the Nile

We went up to the top deck to see the sunrise and saw a few hot air balloons going off in the distance. We then assembled in reception before boarding our coach. Our tour guide was Salwa, who stays with us throughout the week. She said we should be called Isis as a group.

We set off towards the Valley of the Kings some 30 minutes drive away. Salwa told us that where were visiting today was part of Ancient Egypt. The burial places on the West Bank of the Nile were chosen as they were remote locations and it was hoped prevent grave robbers. Unfortunately this did not work and only King Tut’s tomb remained undiscovered until 1923 when Howard Carter uncovered the treasures of the young king. We parked and were then informed that no cameras were allowed in the Valley, a bit of a surprise as I was hoping to take loads of pictures whilst we were here. I took a chance with my iPhone and managed to get a couple of snaps.

Valley of the Kings

We visited a number of chambers, all very ornately decorated. In one tomb I got ‘fleeced’ by an Egyptian who had a torch and showed us inside one of the sarcophagi; initially I thought he was part of the establishment just being helpful but then realised he wanted paying for his kindness. I gave him an English pound but he said not enough. I caved in and gave him five in the end. My bartering techniques were then further exposed when I got a guide book down from £200 EP to £100 EP. I later got a different one for £30 EP so I now know to bargain hard. We then visited the tomb of King Tutankhamen for an extra £200 Egyptian pound and saw his sarcophagus and mummified remains. He was very small and shrivelled. The walls were nicely decorated but seemed to be deteriorating. Whilst Tina sat under the shade of the resting area I went for a wee, costing me another pound.

As we left the Valley we came across our first lot of street traders. We were advised to ignore them, which Tina had mastered but I am just too English and keep saying “no”. This seems to get them encouraged and then don’t leave you alone until eventually they get the message that you are not going to buy. We boarded the coach, buying more water from the coach driver before setting off for The Valley of the Queens.

We arrived 15 minutes after leaving the Kings and walked the short distance up the Queens. There were only three tombs here that we could visit the best now closed due to erosion. The murals were very colourful in the tombs but not very big. We walked back to the bus, again dodging the street vendors as we went. One young boy trying to sell me some statuettes spotted I was carrying a fan and then decided it would be a good idea to trade with us. I said no a few times and eventually he gave in.

We then drove to the Colossi of Memnom where I got out and took a few photos. On the way back I spoke to Salwa about some of the murals we’d seen and she confirmed that the seal of the king or cartouche could be seen on many of the tombs.

Colossi of Memnon

We then drove the short distance back to the boat and up for a drink on the sundeck. Just before lunch the boat started to sail on its way to Edfu.

Lunch was at 1pm, this time a buffet, although once again I was given special treatment and had fish and rice served. Tina had chicken, rice and salad. We skipped desert. Tina wanted to have a sleep in the afternoon so I went up on the top deck with my camera and took some photos. Not surprisingly I didn’t stay in the sun for long as it was extremely warm. Returned to the room and had a small dose before going and booking the extra excursions, including the trip to Abu Simbel which is on Friday. Really looking forward to it although not the 3am wake up call. We also booked up the Sound and Light show at the Karnak temple in Luxor on Saturday. These two trips cost £1710 EP or £210, although £30 was the mandatory tips for the onboard staff and excursion tipping.

Cooling off in the Nile

Went up for tea and cake (or not) at 5pm just as we arrived at Esna Lock. As warned whilst the boats are waiting their turn to go through a number of traders on rowing boats start to throw goods up to those that show any interest, and to those that don’t.

Boat traders by Esna Lock

As there is an Egyptian party on Friday, I decided to give it a go and bartered to get two galabeya tops and a hat. Couldn’t resist and it was good fun getting the price down. Tina not too impressed though. We sat and chatted to a couple who sit on our dinner table whilst the boat went through the lock, two at a time, taking a few photos as well. We then went back to our room to freshen up and shower before dinner.

Up to sundeck to watch the sunset, which if you blink you can miss as it goes down very quickly. Took a few photos, watched a man walk around and around the boat getting exercise and saw minarets lit up with neon lights. Also heard the muezzin wailing from one calling the followers to prayer. It’s sort of singing but not musical if you get that?

Sunset over the Nile

Dinner was at 8pm, another sit down affair with candle. Asparagus soup was served first followed by salad, beef and rice and for me fruit. Tina had chocolate cake. We finished off the second half of the bottle of wine we started yesterday and then went to the sundeck to sit in cool air. The temperature was still warm though.
We were still cruising down the Nile towards our destination of Edfu, which we are supposed to arrive at around midnight. Tomorrow we get a lie in as breakfast is not until 8am and a later excursion.

Off to bed and unfortunately we could hear and feel the Cocktail Welcome Party going on above our cabin.

Click here for Day 4