Luxor Temple and Museum

Monday 12 January 2009 – Luxor, Egypt

Early morning hot air balloon flights over the West Bank are a fixture of Luxor's tourism offerings
Early morning hot air balloon flights over the West Bank are a fixture of Luxor’s tourism offerings

This morning I lived dangerously and ordered an egg omelette for breakfast (LE12) to alter the otherwise unrelenting diet of stale white bread that is all that is on offer. We jumped on board horse-drawn hantours (known in Luxor as kalashes) for the short ride along the Corniche to the Luxor Museum, acclaimed as the best designed and laid out museum in Egypt.

The Corniche at Luxor from the Mina Palace Hotel
The Corniche at Luxor from the Mina Palace Hotel
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The Mina Palace is a dump, but it has a fine view of Hapshepsbut’s Temple across the Nile.

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Sadly this reputation was quickly undermined as the indifference of Egyptian service provision was in evidence. The ticket counter was unable, or unwilling, to change LE100 notes (the entry fee being LE80). Inside, guards showed little respect either for the contents or the visitors, gossiping across the halls at the top of their lungs.

However the exhibits were fine and included some wonderful carved stone works, mostly from the Amenhotep III, Akenhaten and Tutankhamun era. We then had a couple of free hours, so Chris and I headed to McDonalds to check email. We ended up in a local fast food joint next door called SnackTime II, which offered better food at good prices. We had tasty calzones with mushroom and cheese. Unfortunately the wi-fi would not let me connect to the internet, so we went next door to Maccas for an ice-cream while we did the necessary emailing.

Statue at Luxor Temple
Statue at Luxor Temple
Columns with lotus capitals at Luxor Temple
Columns with lotus capitals at Luxor Temple
Luxor Temple
Luxor Temple

After lunch we regrouped to see Luxor Temple by day, where Adam was particularly taken by the depictions of Amun Min, with his characteristic stonking hard-on. Following a coffee in the temple cafe, we strolled through the souk and stopped at a shop favoured by Mike and Patricia where, over tea, the owner treated us to a show of his Bedouin silver jewellery, then upstairs for a show-stopping look at his wonderful carpets. The silk ones were especially fine.

Patricia had promised a special treat for dinner. It turned out to be the local fast food joint we’d visited for lunch. Felafel roll and a Greek salad with some fried ‘appetisers’ plugged a hole. The rest of the group set off shopping. Chris and I were going to follow, but they escaped while we were in the loo!

Magic carpet salesman at the Luxor souk
Magic carpet salesman at the Luxor souk

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We shot about looking for them but to no avail, so we strolled back along the Corniche and went to the shops in the Mercure, where one trader gave us a tour of his ‘shops’ (in fact two narrow display cabinets of junk) and did a wonderful spiel trying to convince us that the mass-produced tatt therein was hand-made by his family. A small statue of TE Lawrence riding a camel was touted as ‘my grandfather, Rameses II’!

We found the others back near the Mina Palace, where Adam and Chris joined me for a drink.

Today's towel art at the Mina Palace
Today’s towel art at the Mina Palace

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