Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Valley of the Kings and Queens

Khaled, our guide, picked us up early from our hotel - he was pretty excited because they had just opened up Horembeb's tomb for 15 days. This is a tomb from the 18th dynasty and he was going to show us tombs from 18th, 19th and 20th dynasties so we could see just how different they were. At the entrance to the Valley of the Kings you can buy a ticket for 80L.E. which gives you access to any three tombs. Derrick wanted to see Tutankhamen's as well and that cost an extra 100L.E.
So, you cannot take any photos within the tombs and you get bombarded with people trying to sell you postcards as a result.
After the Valley of the Kings we went to the Valley of the Queens, and Queen Hatshepsut's triple temple oversees everything. You can get up close and personal to the carvings and paintings - this is one I liked of her army (the paint is still so vibrant):

These are the steps leading up to the main temple - it faces east across the Nile and lines up with Karnak Temple - pretty imposing, eh?

The 'cafe' here has to pay an exorbitant rental, which of course is passed on to the consumer, for example, to buy 1.75l bottle of water cost 25L.E. the day we were there (less tourists). The same size bottle cost us 1.75L.E. at a little shop by the railway station! We took a backpack with a bladder and filled it everyday with cold water, plus had 2 smaller bottles filled with Gatorade - it was so hot, it was necessary to drink every 20-30 minutes.
Now this photo is of a cartouche at Medinet Habu Temple, the mortuary temple of Ramesses III - the engravings are very deep - guess he didn't want his memory erased to easily!

Later in the early evening we had a felucca ride on the Nile - here's a shot of the West Bank:

Things I would recommend: get a good guide - there's so much information, you can't read it all and decide what to visit and then enjoy it. If you have a preference discuss it with the guide first.
Find out the cost (including tips) for everything - there's always something else to visit, or ride a camel/horse and buggy, etc, that it seems like a scam - cause it's all family, too!
Even if your taxi driver doesn't speak much English, he sure as heck understands money.
Always check what currency you are negotiating with.

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