Sunday, April 3, 2011

Deluxe Luxor, Day the second

Hatshepsut's Temple
On my second and final day in Luxor, I opted to take a tour through my hotel to see the Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens, Hatshepsut's Temple, and other things.  It was a wise choice, barring the fact that our guide, though lovely, kept trying to sell us things, like necklaces of our names in Ancient Egyptian script.  That whole area is HUGE!  You can spend all day there and not see it all; we just did the alleged highlights.  By us, I mean myself and the only other person on the tour, a truly lovely Nicaraguan woman from, get this, my mom's hometown: Coral Gables, FL!  Photography is not allowed at all in the Valley of the Kings, which is for the best.  All the tombs there still have the original, beautiful, full color paintings decorating the walls.  I assure you, they are gorgeous to behold.  Our guide didn't go into the tombs with us; I kind of wish I had done a little preparing on my own to refresh myself on Ancient Egyptian mythology and art.  I later discovered that there is a whole section in the Lonely Planet Guide...oops.  I encourage you to check out the super cool Theban Mapping Project website if you are curious about the Valley of the Kings.  Of course, we could not spend all day at the Valley of the Kings, so off we went to Hatshepsut's Temple, where photography is allowed!

Does it look like it could be the background in an Indiana Jones movie or what?  Also, I almost expected the dune people in Star Wars (so I don't know the real names, forgive me Star Wars nerds) to come piling out of the holes (doorways to uncovered noble tombs) all around the perimeter of Hatshepsut's Temple.

Also, this is not a tree.  It is a root and it is very very dead.  Wishful thinking, whomever made these signs.

Did you know there were Polish Archaeologists?  Me neither.  I had falsely assumed it was a field reserved for old English/French speaking men wearing safari pants and hats.  As my PopTart loves to say, when you assume, you make an ass out of u and me! 

 Here is a little fun fact you can read more about on the interwebs if you'd like to in your own time if my decidedly historically inaccurate and seventh-hand account makes no sense (likely).  Hatshepsut?  Total badass female Pharoh.  That's right, not a queen, but a PHAROH.  As in, she was the king.  As such, she apparently insisted on being depicted as a man, thus leading to the bearded ladyboy figures at her temple.  As in, those that were not destroyed when her stepson/brother (kind of unclear with the potential for gross) took over after her death and decided to wipe all references to her off the face of the earth.  Only a few statues survived and her mummy has never been discovered.  That is why you never piss off your little brother!
 These are the Colossi of Memnon.  They are big.  There is an archaeological dig going on behind them.  There is not much else to say; I was super tired and hot and in need of a water filled sugary beverage at this point.  Thusly, they were just whelming.

Later in the afternoon, post tour and bargaining for and buying a papyrus painting that I wanted but wasn't planning on buying, on the recommendation of my guidebook,  I took myself out for an afternoon tea and sunset cocktail on the Terrace of the Old Winter Palace Hotel.  It was exactly the relaxing pseudo glamorous experience I was craving after a solid 8 hours of running around touristing. 

I mean....COME ON.  
Isn't that the greatest looking afternoon idea for tea/gin fizz in all the lands?  Incidentally, another restaurant bar in this very very posh location does a traditional afternoon tea.  Next time!  I do love my afternoon tea!

The lovely doormen told me to check out the gardens, which I never would have know about otherwise!  They are very beautiful and perfect for a short, unbothered afternoon stroll.  They also feature a shesha bar, a pool w/bar etc.  More importantly, I'm pretty sure they took design ques from the Mad Men set.  Or the 1960's in general.

I dawdled as long as I could in the gardens before heading back to my own hotel to pick up my bags.  The overnight train to Cairo doesn't depart until like 10:40, so I had to get creative in killing time.  I went to another guidebook recommended restaurant for a late dinner, and let me tell you, it was amazing.  Sofra does delicious, decently priced Egyptian food.  The menu is extensive and has many many options.  I was planning on opting for either rabbit or pigeon, things that are not easy to come by at home, and ultimately settled on pigeon.  It was tasty, but the work to meat ratio required to eat it is not good enough that I think I'll make a habit of it!  Also, it just became ridiculous to try and cut slivers of meat off of bones, so I gave up on manners and started gnawing.  Whatever, horrified old Brits.  You enjoyed my show of American hunger. 

Most people will go an entire life without being pooped on by a bird.  I can't seem to go a year of life without being pooped on by a bird, often a pigeon or other mangy cur of the city skies.  I felt pretty good about eating this one.
 Thusly, my time in Luxor came to a close and I headed back to Cairo on the overnight train for my very last day in magical Egypt.  Single tear!

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