Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Valley of the Kings

After a restful night at the Queen Valley hotel (with an incredible rooftop view of the Nile and the Temple cliffs beyond), we rose early for our tour of the Ancient city of Thebes (Luxor, called by the really old Egyptians Ba-Ra, house of Ra, the sun king).  An extremely knowledgable local guide/Egyptologist joined us and led us into the tombs of three ancient pharaohs, one tomb only recently re-opened (like, 4 days!) to the public.  The sights were amazing, entering the wide tunnels carved into the sides of the cliffs, with carvings and paintings on walls and ceilings (and well-lit, airy too).  We were glad to have avoided the high tourist season, as there were crowds but we understood it is usually way worse, and way hotter.  From the tombs, we visited an alabaster vase carving house, with beautiful glass jars I would have loved to take home, but can't since we aren't headed there....)  Then to the incredible Temple of the Egyptian Queen Hush.... gotta look that one up....) then the Colossis of Memnon back on the East bank of the Nile, and after a quick bite to eat, one more stop. 
The grande finale was the greatest monument in Luxor, the Temples of Karnak, a series of spendor with each pharaoh outbidding the one before to create the best spire, statues, columns, etc to the main god, to guarantee their own eternal life.  Absolutely breathtaking, and 3500 years old, to boot.  Talk about a lesson in history.
We are very glad we have taken our path in the order we have, from Inca to Roman, Greek to Egyptian, because the Reverse Time Machine gave good perspective on the ages of the monuments we have seen.  I think the kids were impressed by the scale, by the obvious expertise these ancient cultures had mastered.  And we are all inspired.

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