Thebes was once the old capital of the New Kingdom and is now part of the modern city of Luxor. Some of the most famous ancient Egyptian attractions are to be found in the area including the Luxor and Karnak Temples and the Valleys of the Kings and Queens. Not all of the monuments are open and there is so much to see that once again we have to pick and choose, leaving the rest for a future visit.
In Karnak only the main east-west axis of the precinct of Amun Re from the first pylon to the temple of Ramesses II, including the open air museum to the north of the courtyard between the first and second pylon, are open to the public. Further north the precinct of Montu is closed. To the south the precinct of Mut is closed, which is particularly disapointing. Even within Amun Re along the north-south axis we only got as far as just beyond the eighth pylon before being turned back. There was however still plenty to see and by early afternoon hundreds of tourists were there. We had'nt seen as many since Giza.
The town of Luxor itself is not particularly attractive. One exception being the gardens of the Old Winter Palace Hotel which are open to the public. In one of the arcade shops below the hotel terraces left and right of the portico are the original premises of Gaddis and Co. founded in 1907. Attaya Gaddis, was a Photographer who documented not only the contemporary archaeology of Egypt but also the every day life. Over 3000 glass negatives survive and a few are together with some of his cameras, photos and equipement exhibited in the shop and well worth seeing. Prints and books containing his work are available amongst the usual souvenir assortement.
We discovered our quarters in Luxor for the next eight days completely by chance whilst searching for somewhere else. The Villa Diletta is a small house with two appartements and a courtyard. It is owned and managed by an Italien Egyptian couple and was by far the best accomodation we had found up till then. Simple, practical, and functional, self contained, clean, hot water, affordable and with a strong wifi. Unfortunatly the van had to stay outside which I try to avoid whenever possible but readily made an exception here concidering the other positives. We had no issues. Mr. Mohammed, co owner and manager came every morning on his Haojiang and again late in the afternoon to see after us and was very compliant, reliable and competent. The next few days were very demanding, Karnak, the Valley of the Kings and Abydos all had to be seen and afternoons we were allready experiencing 47°C. The tranquility, seclusion and shade offered at the villa was exactly what we needed after a long day. Thankyou Mr Mohammed.
The Nile flows through Luxor and so to get back and forth you either have to drive (or go by bus) via the bridge which is several kilometers upstream or go by boat. The Villa Diletta was situated only a few minutes walk along the south bank from the quay. There are many small colourful motor boat proprietors offering their services. For 10 USD (I'm not sure if that's per person or not) they will gladly take you over. After a few days they got used to us and we were by and large either ignored or made fun of. As a rule they work together with hotels and agencies that bring bus loads of tourists inspite of the bridge. We used the public ferry for 2 LE per person (middle photo) that runs from the quay just opposite the Luxor Temple. The crossing takes a few minutes and as with public transport anywhere in the world entertainement at its best.
Our dwellings being on the west bank meant that we could drive to the Valley of the Kings via the Colossi of Memnon as early in the morning as possible before the heat and tourist convoys caught up with us. We reached the Colossi of Memnon which were only two kilometers away even before the hawkers had oppened their stands. Allthough early it was well after dawn and the Colossi were absolutely silent. The whole area is under reconstruction and other statues are currently being errected. In the Valley of the Kings the buses had not yet arrived, very few people were there and in KV 62 apart from the warden we were for a while completely alone. Well not completely, Tut was with us, a very eery sensation.
- Thankyou Mr Mohammed