Home -> Africa -> Egypt -> Travelogue Egypt -> 14 January 2004
Wednesday 14 January, to the westbank of Luxor: Medinet Habu and the Valley of the Queens
Again, we start the day very quietly. After breakfast we first go to the Nile (just 100 meters away) and have some coffee in the sun. There is enough to see, just by sitting here and watching the traffic on the Nile and the people walking by. After that we take a taxi to the westbank of the Nile, but the cabdriver refuses to discuss the price. Money isn't important, he says, we will see afterward. That is a pity for him, since we know the 'normal' price and he won't get more! It is 40 pounds for half a day plus maybe 10 extra as bakshiesh or tips.
First we go to Medinet Habu, the mortuary temple of Ramesses III although more kings have worked on this monument. It is another huge complex where all walls are engraved with hieroglyphs and wall paintings, especially about the king crushing his enemies. A lot of propoganda as we still know it today.
The inner courts show more paintings of the king worshipping the gods, but the outer places, which were accesible to the public, had to show the power and the vigilance of the divine king. Such things will probably never change. And again we see beautiful decorated pillars, like in all temples.
In this temple a bit more of the original colours have been preserved on the walls then in most other temples in Luxor. To the right the god Anubis (god of the mummification). The jackal was his holy animal, representing the god, therefore he is portrayed with a jackals head.When we return from the temple we have to wait for our driver since he went to the mosque for his prayers and we take a cup of mint tea. It is quite warm but regularly there are clouds drifting before the sun and there is a lot of wind. One of the reasons why we didn't take a ride on a bicycle today. Another reason is that we just are too lazy today.
Then he brings us to the Valley of the Queens where some wifes of pharao's have been buried but also a lot of princes who died earlier than their fathers. The tombs here are smaller than the ones in the Valley of the Kings but the colours and the paintings have been much better preserved. Unfortunately, we have to hand in our camera at every tomb, so we can't take any (illegal) pictures. The best tomb, of Queen Nefertari, wife of Ramesses II is closed and it is uncertain when it will be opened to the public again.But we see some nice tombs and we have been away for some hours before we return to Luxor. The nice tombs of the nobles and the workers will have to wait for our next visit, since we don't have enough time to see them as well. We ask the driver to let us off at the Mövenpick hotel, well-known for its icecream. When we arrive there I give him 40 pounds plus 10 as a tip and then he starts complaining that he needs at least 20 pounds more. In simple arabic I explain him that I happen to know the prices and he lets us go, there is nothing else he can do. Considering the fact that a lot of people, like waiters in a hotel, earn not more than 200 pounds (€ 30) a month and gas is dirty cheap, 50 pounds is very reasonable.
We eat a small meal and sparrows are waiting for the leftovers. They are like jetfighters that fly in as soon as people leave a table. Waiters try to chase them away with newspapers, with not much success. This is quite a decadent place, but very pleasant to stay for a while and recover a bit.
And of course we have to take a real Mövenpick sorbet, with coffee-caramel ice. We get a large mug for less than 2 euro that we eat together.
Today we watch the sunset from a terrace along the Nile and it gets noticeably colder when the sun disappears behind the horizon. According to the weather forecast we see on the internet, it will be warmer the next few days with 25 degrees Celsius.At night we eat soup at the hotel and we are served by a waiter who keeps telling us he will be back 'tomorrow'. Finally we understand he means 'shortly' instead of tomorrow. He just doesn't know the meaning of the word! Do you want the soup now or tomorrow, do you sign the bill now or tomorrow? Almost everyone here knows some English words, but it is difficult for them to make whole sentences. I know my pronunciation of English has been ruined by living here too long, since I started to speak back to them in the same way. Egyptians have problems understanding people who speak fluently English, like the English themselves and the Americans. But we don't care, it gives us a good laugh.