Time to Explore Luxor

July 7, 2007

The Egypt Chronicles, Part 5

When the day had dawned and the night train has stopped rolling, we arrived in the city of Luxor, which is more commonly known throughout history as Thebes. Outside of what we had read in our Rough Guide and what we had heard in Todd’s lectures, we knew little about the city we were about to explore.

We did know that our first order of business needed to be finding a place to stay, since we would not be leaving Luxor until the next evening. With the help of our Rough Guide, we had selected a couple good possibilities, including one hotel named Fontana. Immediately as we walked off the train, we were greeted by a man named Magdi, who just so happened to own and operate the Fontana. He gave us a free taxi ride back to his hotel, and we quickly decided to stay there. Magdi would become an important character in our adventures.

After taking our first showers of the trip, we laid out our plan (with the help of Magdi) for the next two days. That day we would explore the temples and museums of the East Bank (of the Nile) on our own, while the next day we would investigate the temples and tombs of the West Bank. So we gathered our cameras and set out on rented bicycles for day one of our Luxor adventure.


I must admit that riding bikes through this Egyptian town was one of the highlights of the trip for me. As we made our way to the Karnak Temple, we cruised down the main street the parallels the Nile River. As I looked to my right and saw the Luxor Temple and then to my left to see the vast Nile River, I thought to myself, “How cool is this?”

We finally did arrive at the Karnak Temple with directional help from a few locals. This temple spreads across 65 acres of land is the best preserved temple in Egypt. We saw nothing of this size or magnitude in Israel. Here is a shot of the front of the temple.


The Pillared Hall stands as the most impressive architectural feature of the temple. 134 columns fill this hall and would have supported a massive roof in the ancient times. This ruins of this temple were impressive enough; I cannot imagine what it must have looked like in its old splendor. Here is Whitney amidst the forest of giant pillars.


By the direction of Todd’s Egypt Guide, we found a few carvings in the temple with biblical implications. Here we are in front of Shishak’s city list, which lists the cities Shishak conquered as he invaded much of Israel during the fifth year of Rehoboam. This is mentioned in 1 Kings 14:25-28 and 2 Chronicles 12:1-12.


After leaving the Karnak Temple, we made our way back into Luxor and ate lunch at McDonald’s before checking out a few museums. We found the Luxor Museum to be much more user friendly than the museum in Cairo. All the artifacts had clear labels, and the museum was well organized. The most impressive items in this museum were two mummies, one of which is possibly is Ramses I. I still remember one of these antique corpses having a very vivid facial expression. Sorry, no pictures were allowed. We also visited the Mummification Museum, which had a mummified crocodile on display.

By the time we finished scoping out the museums, we were all ready for naptime. The nap was great—except for the few minutes PC were awakened by a loud call to prayer at a mosque down the street.

After this refreshing oasis of time, we set out for a more relaxed evening around the Luxor Temple. The Luxor Temple is very similar to the Karnak Temple—lots of pillars and statues—but observing it at night gave it a different feel. Here is a picture of the front.


Inside we explored, took pictures, and even ran into another group from IBEX. Here we are having some fun with the old self-timer.


We left the temple and rode across the street on our bikes to a restaurant called Snack Time. While inside the restaurant, you could have easily felt like you were in America, with menus in English and smiling teenage employees in uniform. PC and I taught them how to make Coke floats, and our group sat up on the fifth story rooftop that overlooked the Luxor Temple. We enjoyed the good ice cream and excellent conversation before heading back to the hotel so we could rest up for a second day of adventure in Luxor.



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