Finally the day had arrived, time to head north for Egypt. A long delay in departure put us under pressure, as we only had a short turn around between our arrival in Cairo and our departure to Luxor. In Cairo it appeared that there had been a sudden influx of travellers as Egyptair was doubling its scheduled morning southbound flights from the capital. Some of us made the mad scramble from international arrivals through passport control to the far end of Terminal 3 and domestic departures, while others were not so lucky and were obliged to get the next flight. Needless to say, nobody’s luggage made that initial connection.
After several hours waiting in the Luxor Airport arrival halls, we had our starting group and all our luggage. Two more people were to join us over the next couple of days. As we walked out of the airport to our patiently waiting transport the heat hit us like a wall. It was over 40 degrees Celcius!
We got to our West Bank hotel, dropped off our luggage, and immediately set off across the river to get our Luxor Passes. We had secured the services of a local motor boat owner who became our ”fixer” for our time in Luxor.
(If anyone needs such an aid while in Luxor, please email us firstname.lastname@example.org for his details. We also used a Luxor based company for airport transfers and for a full day to the Valley of the Kings. Again, email us for details)
Although it felt cool while crossing the Nile, the temperature had reached the mid-forties, and we were all feeling the effect of the heat combined with the weariness of overnight travel.
The Luxor Pass office consists of a couple of small rooms in a small alleyway just behind the Luxor Museum. The process was fairly simple, just make sure you have your passport, a copy of your passport and a passport type photo and the required fee. Unfortunately, news is that the price of the Pass is to increase from November, however it is still good value if you plan to use it to its fullest extent. It also saves a huge amount of time at the entrances to all sites.
The Luxor Museum being closed in the afternoons, we took our boat upstream to Luxor Temple. For most of our group this was our first introduction to Pharaonic Egypt. The imposing pylon built by Ramses the Great with its colossal statues and its one remaining obelisk are certainly awe-inspiring.
Further into the temple, one cannot fail to notice the change in style as you move back in time from the relative crude work of the 19th Dynasty to the lighter and more graceful work of the 18th Dynasty.
Although tired and weary, there was still more to do, and after a short refreshment break in the gardens of the Winter Palace, it was time to head downstream to the now open Luxor Museum. Although small, the Luxor Museum is one of the finest, with its well laid out exhibits covering the New Kingdom and in particular the 18th Dynasty. Highlights must be the Kamose Stela telling the tale of the expulsion of the “vile Amu”, the recreation of a talatat wall from the early years of Akhenaten, and the below-ground display of the various statues discovered in the Luxor Temple cache.
Once more across the river to our West Bank hotel (mail for details) and a delicious spread to round off a long hot first day.