After arriving in Luxor (ancient Thebes) we rested, then went out to a nice, Egyptian dinner. This restaurant was a little more tourist-friendly than others, partly because it was in a very touristy area. Pizzas were listed on the menu right next to camel meat. I did try the camel meat, and it tasted a lot like beef.
Luxor’s population is almost 32% Christian, though nation-wide Muslims make up about 90%. It was immediately evident by the number of church towers throughout the city. We stayed in Emilio Hotel (a nice option for people on a budget, so we recommend it) just a block from the Nile and the ruins of the Luxor Temple. While we could’ve paid to get into the temple area, instead we walked around the perimeter and saw everything we wanted to see.
In the morning we went to the Valley of the Kings. This is rather expensive, but it’s also a must-see, so we tried not to grumble and went in. For a donkey ride to the valley and a three-tomb ticket, we paid roughly $56. There are over twenty tombs to pick from, some of which are open or closed depending on the season. Our guide suggested that we try KV14 (Tausert and Setnakht) or KV 15, KV11 (Ramses III), and KV6 (Ramses IX), because they have the most color in them. Really, it was amazing to see colorful pictures and hieroglyphics. Only two of the three tombs we went in had glass covering the walls.
“It’s really incredible,” Jordan told me. “There’s nothing here to keep me from reaching out and licking these walls!”
He didn’t. Don’t worry.
There’s a running joke among all tourists in Egypt that nothing in Egypt is free. Ever. Period. People will randomly come up to give you direction to a place you don’t want to go and then ask for a “baksheesh,” or tip (Except for in Aswan, we noticed). So while we were down in one of the tombs, a corridor was without light. A French tourist had a flashlight with him and shined it down for everyone to see. As we passed by the platform and then went on, I thanked the man for the light. He said “you’re welcome,” then laughed and stuck out his hand. “One euro,” he deadpanned. We just laughed together and moved on.
The Valley of the Kings is incredibly strict about no photographs, so I have none to share this time. Jordan was quite bereft without his cameras and made many comments about how he wished he could sneak something in. On our way out of the grounds we had to pass through a tourist bazaar, which our guide jokingly called the “Valley of the Hunters.”
After the Valley of the Kings we visited Hatshepsut’s partially restored temple. She was a very successful pharaoh and the one of the only woman pharaoh, her reign lasting around 22 years. She began as the primary queen of her half brother, Thutmose II (both children of Thutmose I) but outlived him. After a few years of acting as regent to her stepson/nephew (Thutmose III, her husband’s son from another wife) she grew tired. She then said she was supposed to have been the heir of her father from the beginning, as she was older and the child of his father’s primary wife, unlike her deceased half-brother/husband. After she died her stepson/nephew took over the throne and tried to erase most images of her as pharaoh in the country.
Once we finished up in the desert, we had lunch with a local family in Luxor (whose dish of mixed vegetables was sublime) and later spent some free time bartering in the markets. I’m still practicing my bargaining skills, but was able to team up with a girl in the group who has a first-class poker face. I think we did well together.
It was our last night together, and we spent it hanging it out at the train station waiting for the overnight train to come. From there, we went to Cairo, the beginning and end of our journey.