Dear Sirs and Madams,
This morning, I woke up bright and early at 5:00 am to make an 8 O’Clock flight from Cairo to Luxor. Once we got there, we hopped on our new buses and made our way to the worlds largest temple complex: The Temple of Karnak. Afterwards, we followed the two-mile-long Avenue of Sphinxes to the Temple of Luxor, before boarding the Sonesta Star Goddess at 1:30.
The temples are known for their extravagant detail – mostly the ginormous pillars flanking the halls, the top of which still have remnants of color. When you look up, bright reds, blues, turquoises, yellows, greens, and occasionally violets color the detailed cartouches, nature scenes, and religious depictions on the walls. It took my breath away. Luxor and other southern cites are much warmer than Cairo- and since theres little shade found in the open-air temples, I had to watch out for sunburn. My friends and family know well tat I can turn from my natural over-ripe-peach color to having the skin cherry tomato in less than 20 minutes at the right angle.
Anyway, the temples were hot and crowded- but there were a significantly fewer number of salesman, which was a nice change. I could walk through the halls of the temples in mostly peace.
One thing that struck me the most- well, irked me the most at the temples was the huge amount of graffiti on the ancient walls. And I’m not talking about today’s tourists. Most of the graffiti- especially in Karnak- was done by excavators and adventurers. Names like David and John are inscribed on the sides of the colonnades about halfway up- seeing as that was how much was covered in sand in the early 19th century. But come on, really? Was that necessary, David? *sigh*
Later, at the temple of Luxor, our guide, Ibrahim, took us to the back room. I was confused for a moment- seeing specs of 3 different layers of plaster on the walls, and two, random, corinthian columns (studying those columns for the NLE Magistra Ruff 😉 ) in front of a concave curved mural – looking quite Roman in style. What happened was that during the early days of Christianity, a Coptic church was established in the back room of this temple! It was interesting to see such a classical art style preserved next to the hieroglyphs of Ancient Egypt.
What I mentioned previously, the one thing linking these two temples, is the Avenue of Sphinxes. This two-mile-long street was uncovered and set to be excavated around 2006. The government tore down modern buildings built on top and is almost done fixing the actual road, along with uncovering the 8 feet tall sphinxes representing the 8 pharos who helped build it. Even King Tutankhamen has one. If you are coming from Karnak temple, it is the sixteenth one down on the left. It was used in a special procession marking the height of the Nile’s flood season. it is such a sight to see.
Sadly, I am currently having trouble uploading pictures to my blog while on the ship’s wifi – I’m trying to figure something out. Hopefully I will have pictures from today and yesterday on this page in the upcoming days.