december 16th : on to luxor

 

Today I bid farewell to several work colleagues who are staying in Cairo.  We met for breakfast, exchanging hugs and handshakes all around.  Really enjoyed working with this crew, and look forward to the chance to do it again sometime.

Viresh and I headed to the airport to catch a flight to Luxor.  The cab experience reinforced my belief that the drivers honk their horns in order to cushion themselves against the other vehicles.  Nothing else explains how so many cars can occupy such a small amount of space.  The sound waves also repel pedestrians who are foolish enough to cross the streets.  Side note – people cross the freeways here too – wonder how many die trying?

Owing to the apparently primitive nature of Egypt Air’s booking system, we needed to go to the airport to buy the tickets rather than booking online.  After roundtripping between two terminals, we managed to buy tickets and get to the gate.  Passing through security is a decidedly lower-key affair than it is in the states.

The flight was uneventful, at least until landing.  I probably don’t really want ot know why, but the pilot pulled up hard, just before we landed.  As we circled for a few minutes, my heart rate had a chance to go back down.

Finding the hotel was a bit of fiasco.  I’d mixed up "Hotel Mercure" and "Mercure Inn", so we got to hike ourselves and our bags about 1km to the south.  I guess it’s one way to work off all of the mezze and beer.

All of this meant we got to the hotel at nearly 16:30, not enough time to make it up to Karnak as I’d hoped.  We instead took in the Luxor Temple, more or less spitting distance from the hotel.  As this was our first one, I had no real idea how magnificent it is by comparison to others.  It certainly seems impressive.  As the sun goes down, the temple becomes lit for night touring – very nice.  I can’t really convey the scale of this and other temples I visited while here.  It’s enormous, with large likenesses of the king and queen, the king and several gods, and the walls are festooned with elaborate reliefs.  It’s really something to see.

After exiting the temple, we walked up the street through the market.  This one is perhaps more atmospheric than Khan al-Khalili, because it winds through residential neighborhoods that are active and vibrant into the evening.  I made a note to myself to walk back through with my camera in hand during the daytime.

Exiting the market, we oriented ourselves and walked back over to the river.  Walking south a bit, we found the Oasis Café, which had been noted favorably in the Lonely Planet Guide.  While the décor was as promised, very nice, and the atmosphere very sophisticated, the food was just okay.  Might try going back for breakfast, as they serve Turkish Coffee and have good magazines to read.

Then we checked out the excellent, but small Luxor Museum.  Highlights include two mummies, including one they believe to be Ramses I.  The interpretive displays about the Middle and New Kingdoms, and the roles of the different Pharoahs were also very good.

Until tonight, I’d not turned on the television much at all.  The only English options tonight were CNN Headline News, and "Kung Fu Hustle" (what a waste of effort – do people really enjoy this crap?). 

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