"Just home from Egypt with Ted! Absolutely wonderful. I highly recommend the trip. Would do it again with Ted, in a heartbeat." Eve, Oct 2023​

Booking for the GnT Egypt Experience November 2024 tour is open – limited places

Includes a day at the Grand Egyptian Museum

Egyptian Museum

Egyptian Museum

The sun and its daily journey have played an important role in all civilisations and none more so than Ancient Egypt. As the new day begins with sunrise in the east and ends with sunset in the west, so life followed the same course. The temples and palaces were all on the east bank of the Nile. while the west bank was where the journey through the underworld.
Across the Nile from the hotel lies the Valley of the Kings, a then secret valley where a large number of New Kingdom kings, queens and nobles were buried in an attempt to beat the grave robbers of antiquity. A ruse that failed as most of the tombs were robbed by the families of the artisans who had worked on the preparartion of the tombs and knew their locations precisely.
The first tomb I entered was that of Rameses III. A massive tomb that seems to go on for ever (actually 188 metres). The wall paintings are unbelievable. Most of the ceilings are painted a deep blue with golden stars, so that the king would know he was still part of the world.

The next tomb was that of MerenPtah, the son of Rameses the Great. A vast descending corridor, painted with spells and incantations leads down over 150 metres to the burial chamber and additional rooms. Everywhere are depictions of the gods and the rituals to be followed in the journey to everlasting
life. The third tomb to visit was of Rameses IX, slightly smaller but still magnificent, a lot of graffitti from early Coptic Christians and Romans.

Finally a visit to the tomb of the boy king himself, TutankhAmun. As it was never built as a royal tomb it is comparatively small – still big enough to house a small family. After a short descent you reach a T, to the left stands a glass tier with the Royal Mummy and to the right the place that held the Royal Shrines, which in turn held the sarcophagi that eventually held the famous 110kg solid gold coffin. Impressed the tomb guardian by reading the king’s titles straight off the wall. I have to say my tattoos have often caused a bit of banter with the tomb guards. Valley of the Kings – Dig it!

On to what I believe is one of the finest temples. Djsr Djsru – the Holy of Holies – Queen Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple. This vast construction has three floors with a central ramp leading to the second tier. Hatshepsut ruled as Pharaoh for 21 years and was responsible for re-establshing the trade routes that made Egypt the richest and most powerful of nations. She led an expedition to the lost land of Punt and recorded the entire story on the walls of her temple. You can see the ships being loaded, the trees and animals she brought back including cheetah and giraffe as well as Myrrh trees. The depictions of flora an fauna are so accurate that is possible to identify individual species of fish and plants. She is important to my story, as are all the powerful women of the 18th dynasty.

A short stop at the misnamed Colossi of Memnon, actually what remains of the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III, grandfather to Akhenaten. Another massive restoration project underway here to restore the ruined temple.

Last stop of the day was back in the land of the living and the vast area that makes up the temple complex of Karnak. This is such a huge area that it was impossible to cover all of it. The famous Hypostyle Hall that featured in the James Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me dominates with its 134 columns arranged in rows. Most of these columns are 10 meters tall while 12 of them are over 20 metres tall.

There was a temple built by Akhenaten but it was completely destroyed after his death. The hope is that the rubble has been used to fill something else and will turn up in the future like the “Wall of Akhenaten” in the Luxor Museum. The obelisk of Hatshepsut is also a highlight.

The dreaded night train to Cairo awaits. Actually it was much better than the trip to Aswan – shorter for a start and a smoother ride. Still 11 hours though.

Next stop the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. On the edge of Tahrir Square, scene of so much unrest these last couple of weeks, stands the Egyptian Museum, a vast store house of over 170 000 relics from ancient times. It is a vast collection and unfortunately a lot of the exhibits are not labelled which makes it a little frustrating.

What is fascinating, and this I discovered on my second visit on my own, was the collection of everyday objects that people used. It is by looking at the tools of the artisans that you get a clearer idea of how life was for ordinary people rather than the rarified atmosphere inhabited by royalty. Pots and wine jars, farm implements like sickles, surgical instuments; these all give one a feel for the level of technology employed by the man in the street.

The New Kingdom exhibits cover a large area with a special room devoted to the Amarna period. It makes me laugh listening to guides telling their parties that Akhenaten was suffering from some deforming disease and that’s why Amarna art depicts him the way it does, if they look at the depictions of the Queen they will see she is shown in the same style. Look at the famous bust of Nefertiti in the Berlin Museum and tell me she was deformed. Idiots.

Strange to see the gold mask of TutankhAmun, it was almost emotional. It has been forty years since I saw it last and it has resurfaced so dramatically in the last couple of months. Good to see it still shines. Delighted to see several thrones that still bear the name TutankhAten, as was his birthname.
It was about now that I declined rapidly and spent the rest of the day quite ill. Some stomach bug thing. Much concern from fellow travellers and spent the next day recovering. Unfortunately I missed out on the trip to the Khan El Kalil, the massive shopping bazaar. Still, I didn’t come here to shop.

This was my last day with the package tour, but sadly I was back at the hotel sick as a dog. I am glad to say that I am still in touch with those who sat at the back of the bus.

Tomorrow, a new adventure starts, as I will now be on my own. Christmas Eve at Giza and Christmas Day at Akhetaten.

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