Now in my 30's I have settled in Egypt with my husband & 2 children. Being married to an Egyptian for 15yrs is interesting enough but combining it with discovering the hidden Egypt life is never dull!!!
Have you ever thought something was a really good idea then half way through thought may be not!!
Today I had one of thoughs days except now sitting here nursing a sore behind and sun stroke it was a pretty amazing day even if it didn't feel it at the time!
Let me explain!
Saffy and I woke up at 5am and decided to leave the children fend for themselves and take a bike ride round the West Bank in here in Luxor.
As we mounted up on our trusty steeds the morning air still cool, we set off heading from our lovely little village and cycled our way to Luxor bridge, turning on to the main road and on ward for the West Bank Monuments.
It really is amazing how much you miss when in a car. As we rode along we saw the farmers in their fields tending to their crops some hard at it while others sat in the shade drinking there morning tea and gossiping like old woman!! Over in the distance we could see the morning balloon flights 8 in total taking off they looked so far away. When I pointed this out to Saffy he laughed and reminded me that was where we where going!! I should have realised then that this was going to feel like the impossible journey!
On we went deciding not to take the usual road to the West Bank but to go cross country to see more of the real life and real people.
We passed the children going to school laughing and playing around and the woman hanging out washing there seemed to be so much going on and it was only 6am!!
Saffy at the beginning to the Ancient Sites!
As we got closer to Malqata we cycled through the gates marking the beginning of the Ancient sites and to my surprise just past the gate over on the left hand side was a small temple.
As we approached the temple guardian came over and started given us information on the building.
Later I discovered that about 50% of this information was correct! but it all added to the magic of the day.
I have since discovered that this temple as dedicated to Isis and called Deir El Shlwit never missing an opportunity out came the camera!
The entrance to the Temple of Isis
A sample of the inscriptions
We said a fond fair well to our guide and mounted up and started to make our way towards Medinet Habu.
As we rode off Saffy asked me what the mound in the distance was and pointed towards Birket Habu or the canal of Amenhotep III, so instead of taking the obvious route to Medinet Habu we decided to investigate further!
Amenhotep III Canal
From this vantage point we really did have the best view in the house! It was truly amazing and for a second took my mind off the start of my sore parts!
We decided to ride the lengh of the canal at which point Saffy said that if he died now he would truly be proud of being Egyptian. Even with the bits of rubbish strewened all about it can not take the magic away from this place.
The sand was hard going and the fact that at one point we had to ride past a pack of wild dogs who where not best pleased to see us it truly was worth the effort.
As we rode out of the canal we past what I only know as the French house and on to Medinet Habu by now the heat is starting to come in to the sun and the plate of honey and yogurt seemed hours ago it was time to stop and have a coffee and some cake to recharge the batteries and I really need to get off and give my poor behind a break!!
On the path leading down next to Habu we managed to pick up a passenger
Green Bee Eater
This little fellow followed us all the way from the French house to our coffee shop out side the temple in Habu he must have smelt my breakfast!!
Temple Medinet Habu
Out Side Medinet Habu Temple
We sat out side my most favourite place in the whole of Egypt ( So Far!!) watching the world go by drinking coffee and eating cake! It is the simple things that make life worth while.
Stealing ourselves for the second leg of our journey we mounted up again and headed for the ticket office up until this point we had not been approached by any one but as soon as we arrived to buy our tickets the fun began!!
Purchasing our tickets I managed to fend off an old man wanting to buy me for 10 camels and rode off at speed it was only when we had made it half way up the rode I realize the mistake I had made as I couldn't breath from the effort!! Not wanting to loss face I peddled on while trying to wipe the sweat from my eyes and taking deep breaths plus trying to peddle good job i'm a woman other wise I may not of managed it! As we rounded the corner on the last push up to Deir El Madineh I had to stop much to Saffy's amazement! Ignoring his attempt at wit I pushed on until we reached our destination.
Saffy At Deir El Medineh
Deir El Medineh gives you such a different taste of the Ancient world it is like stepping back in time just a snippet of the real life from the past with out the grandeur but with no less charm.
We descended the steps in to the first of our tombs the tomb of Inherka dating back to the 20th dynasty this tomb known as the 'Vice Master Of The Double Land In The Place Of Truth' decorated beautifully in some cases better than any of the tombs in the valley of the kings!
Scene from The Tomb Of Inherka from Wiki!
The paintings on the walls just take your breath away and have a look of only being done yesterday!
Scene From The Tomb Of Sennedjem From Wiki
Next we went in to see the Tomb of Sennedjem.
Sennedjem had the title, "Servant in the Place of Truth", and lived during the reigns of Seti I and Ramesses II of Egypt's 19th Dynasty. In here you can see scenes from the book of the dead and the book of gates all beautifully painted.
The one thing I will say about going in and out of tombs is if you are short you are at an advantage this I find certainly is the case for me! How ever on the flip side why oh why do they make the stairs so high!! going down is fine but coming back out feels like a work out on a stair master! and after the journey I had had so far it wasn't helping!
Back out in to the light of day we made our way across to the small temple at the back of the workers village. This really is a treat even though relatively new in ancient terms the scenes and hieroglyphics are amazing.
The temple is Ptolemic and dedicated to Hathor and Maat even though only small it really is worth the walk around.
The Entrance To The Temple
Just Some Of The Amazing Scenes
Once we had finished in the temple we decided to collect our bikes and walk from Deir El Medineh to the main road just in front of the Ramesseum this was one of my better ideas as now not only was my behind hurting to the point where I couldn't even lift my leg to get on the bike but my hands where killing me too!
The Back Of Deir El Medineh
Taking a deep breath and mounting up again we headed out for the last stop on our tour Carter house.
Biking past the temples and tombs made easier to see now most of the houses have gone from Gurna which in some ways is sad but also just as mind blowing as you really couldn't imagine before the magnitude of monuments and tombs hidden among the houses! Peddling on past the alabaster factories with the patrons out side trying to intise you in! Needless to say we managed to resist. I think one of the many highlights of the day happened as we approached the turning for Hatshepsut.
Saffy was stopped by a taxi driver and asked if we wanted a taxi. this was all done in English as the driver thought he was a tourist! even when he spoke back to him in Arabic he wouldn't believe he was an Egyptian. I said it must have been because no right minded Egyptian would be out on a bike in the heat of the day! At least now he has had a taste of what I have to go through most days!!
Carter house is situated just off the turning for the Valley Of The Kings with a lovely plush green lawn out side the house was wonderfully cool. If only the walls could talk what stories would they tell! It was incredible walking around the house of the man who brought us Tutankhamen! I was amazed by the dark room he had for developing his pictures. You could go and see his writing desk and some of the correspondences truly amazing.
Back out side I took a seat as I had to contemplate my next move. We had made it this far but could I make it back? My face started to tingle which could only mean one thing sun burn!
Saffy In Howard Carters House
Out Side Howard Carters House
Saffy Me And our Bikes!!!
As you can see a rather strained smile for the camera!! But in good old British fashion I rode on!
The first bit was easy as it was all down hill but then it really did go down hill as we started going up hill!!
In my defence I made it back to the Ramesseum before I started giving up! Saffy could see that if we tried to make it all the way home there was a possibility of death (mine not his!!) so we admitted defeat and called a taxi. Crushed by my own weakness I shed a tear then quickly got over it as Saffy promised an ice cream if I could make it as far as the Colossi of Memnon. So on we went the car was waiting for us when we limped in or should I say I limped in Saffy sickeningly looked like he could have done it all again!!
So as I climbed in to the back of my pickup/ taxi I waved good bye to my biking adventure and sat back to enjoy the delights of my pretend magnum!
The Road Home!!
So here I sit now typing this little adventure with my ice pack feeling proud of what I achieve not only have I got sun stroke but also the pride in biking 10 miles and seeing some of the beautifulest places on earth.
What are you going to do today???
Well you would think after my last adventure I would be a bit more sensible on my next outing! But seeming sense has never been my strong point I decided to take a trip to the lovely Temple of Tod in the middle of the afternoon with the family!!
So off we went this time driving to Tod as the temple is about 10 miles out side Luxor on the road to Aswan, first of all we stopped off in Luxor to pick up the tickets from Luxor Temple then off we went to Tod.
When we crossed over in to Tod we all realized no one knew how to find the temple only that it was in Tod some where!! So we asked one of the police men at the check point who was unusually helpful and pointed us in the right direction.
As we entered in to the village it was like entering another world entirely even for me who lives in a remote village on the West Bank of Luxor. The people seemed untouched by tourism there was no hassle as the car drove past just mild looks of interest.
One of the Side Streets In Tod
As you drive around you are surrounded by mounds of sand and rock with the houses sourounding them you would think they would dig in to the mounds but they haven't really botthered!
After about 6 wrong turns and asking loads of people directions! (Question why is it when you ask an Egyptian directions even when it is quite clear they have no idea they still give you them even though they are totally wrong!!!)
We find the Temple, from the out side there doesn't seem to be much its when you enter you see the temple for its utter charm.
The Entrance To The Temple
We were amazed by the row upon row of stone all with a hieroglyphic here and a picture there all unique. The problem with wanting to see everything is I tend to take my time looking at each individual stone to which Saffy asked if we were ever going to look at the temple itself!!
The Temple although small is just wonderful with only a small section still standing the depictions on the walls and hieroglyphics are beautiful. You can see the different periods in history and it is so very quiet that with a little imagination you can imagine what it was like all thoughts years ago.
It felt like the Temple had been opened especially for us there was no one else there but us even the Temple guardians kept their distance with no hassle at all!
Our First Look At The Temple
By now it was 12pm and the heat was starting to come in to the afternoon but that was not going to deter me from investigating further!
The Temple is dedicated to the God Montu and sits directly opposite Armont Temple on the West Bank and there really is a simlar feel to the two Temples. Like so many other Temples the village is built around it which makes you wonder exactly how much is still left to discover?
My two trouble makers loved the Temple and go looking round at the pictures on the walls my son thinks he is the king of the castle!!
King Of The Castle!
She Thinks Without Help It May Fall Down!
As we make our way to the rear of the main Temple Structure over on the left you can find the crypt which looks out of place as it is raised higher than the main building.
Everywhere within the Temple complex you can see date trees but the largest of these sits in the centre just behind the main hall. It is a wonderful place to sit in the shade out of the mid-day sun which was now makings it's way in to the 40's!!!
The children and I left everyone else (light weights!!) under the tree while we made our way to the back of the Temple we were rewarded for our efforts by the fantastic hieroglyphics on the left over walls.
Hieroglyphics On The Back Wall
The Wonderful Tree At The Back Of The Temple
View From The Back Of The Temple
As you can see from the above picture the Temple guardian always kept a respectful distance away and never tried to sell us anything!!
On our way back we walked around the far side of the Main Hall and saw two what look like the start of underground passage ways which are now mostly filled in when we asked about them we were told that they had been investigated by the archaeologists and they found the tunnels went on so far underground that it was unsafe to go further so gave up! Nothing makes me feel more like getting my shovel out than a story like that!! Have no idea if it is true but nice to imagine of course the children thought it was a great story and spent a lot of time looking at them in more detail.
The Mistry Tunnel!
Walking Back round to the main entrance we come across the real guardians of the Temple take a break from the heat of the day ready for their night shift!!
The Real Guardians!!
You know the time has come to go when you are producing enough sweat to power the Nile! And your hair that way sitting nicely earlier that day is now looking puffy and strange!
Hot Sweaty But Happy!!
The Temple of Tod was a wonderful place so if you have a chance go an visit it I would however recommend going early in the morning as even 5ltr of water can't keep you cool and that was drunk just by me!!
Having spent the last 2 years working with no break, we decided it was high time for a bit of R'n'R! So we packed up a suit case and headed for Hurghada a lovely town situated on the Red Sea just a 4-hour drive from Luxor.
You can fly there but I find it more fun to take a car as the roads along the way are something special :)
We left Luxor at sunrise bleary-eyed with two very excited children in tow! As we made our way out of Luxor we saw the hot air balloons taking off from their launch site on the West Bank it is amazing how many balloons their are now I remember the days when we only had one or two!
As we headed down towards Qena it amazed me how much the landscape changed from the stretches of Lush green running along the River Nile to the desert wastelands that we found ourselves heading towards.
We passed through the city of Qena, home to Dendara Temple and was stunded at the difference between Luxor and Qena.
Here the street seemed cleaner with roads just for the public cars. Once outside Qena we continued are journey on towards Hurghada.
Half way through our journey the landscape changed again with the mountains closing in around us the rock faces all jaggered with an almost menacing look about them it was like being in a different world completely with what I can only describe as desolate beauty.
The feeling as you travel through here is the sense that there is still so much to be discovered hidden in the mountainous rock that surrounds you as you drive through.
It amazed me to see the Bedouin people still living within these mountains people walking along the roads seemingly on the road to no ware! We passed a Bedouin woman carrying water on her head while leading her donkey, with her thick black clothing and a long head scarf made of the same material. I couldn't understand it as there I was sweating in a light cotton shirt and trousers in an air conditioned car, while outside it must have been 42c and she was dressed like it was winter!! I guess there is method in this madness.
What was just as amazing about her was when the wind got up you could make out the amazing colours of another dress beneath the black very different in deed from the woman of Luxor.
As we came out of the desert we sighted our first glims of the beautiful Red Sea in Safaga we knew then we only had 45 minutes before we reached our destination!
As we entered in to Hurghada you can see all round the amazing hotel complexes lining the beaches, it was only then we realized we had no idea where are hotel was or how to get there!!
After asking 6 taxi drivers and made 20 wrong turns the pyramid entrance of our hotel came in to view and at last our holiday (even if only for 4 days!) could begin.
Are hotel was the Sonesta Pharaohs Hotel 5* All Inclusive and from the onset it looking impressive.
Once we checked in we made our way to our chalet and as we walked wondered why they had golf carts taking people around it was only once we found are chalet that we realised why!
When we booked the hotel they describe them selves has having everything within walking distance which is true to a point. You have to not mind a 10 minute walk from the main building to your room bearing in mind that the main building houses all the restaurants and entertainment! The beach was another 5 minute walk from our room but if you where staying in the main building you would defiantly need the golf cart!
Not to be deflated as lets face it we are still on holiday we quickly changed and headed to the beach.
One of the many things I love about Egypt is the Red Sea it is stunning and you don't have to go on the trips to see the wild life, all you need is a good pair of goggles!
Unfortunately to get in the Sea you needed to walk down a pier so the children couldn't go in the water by themselves, but we didn't mind as the sea was amazing with roped off coral areas that if you had your google you could see the amazing aquatic life swimming about.
In all the years I have lived in Egypt I have never caught the sun so decided on a low factor as didn't see the point in anything higher!
Never ever EVER underestimate the power of the Egyptian sun yes you have guessed it I was just a little sun burnt after only 2 hours in the sun!! Be warned all you sun worshipers out there if you are intending to come and stay on the Red Sea make sure you pack you factor 50!!!
Yes that is lotion to stop the burning!!
In the evening time we saw to my injuries!! and headed up to dinner. This was lovely plenty of choice for all. The house wine is not bad either and it is great that the children can go and help themselves. We didn't get to watch the show that night as after the travelling we decided on bed.
The next day we stayed half the day by the pool and the rest down on the beach. Now for an all inclusive hotel they sure do like to try and sell you something which started to get on my nerves.
There was no fresh juice unless you paid for it and in the afternoon went around with trays of ice cream for the children which when we said oh yes please ended up saying no thank you as it wasn't for free!
The cleaning staff did an amazing job and left this on our bed which of course Saffy found wonderful! ;)
The worst came that night, it was advertised Mexcian night and the cocktail of the evening was mohito I love them so thought we would have one after dinner. The barman told me to sit down and he would bring the drinks over, on their arrival the drinks looked nothing like what I ordered plus he put down the bill!!! it was at this point i spat the dummy! and called for the manager.
Please if any hotel owners are reading this remember if you are going to advertise all inclusive make sure your hotel is all inclusive as for the rest of our stay I was so stressed out I didn't know what to ask for and what not to just in case in cost something!!
The animation team worked very hard and my two loved the Micheal Jackson night they put on I can't remember to much as was taking red wine for medicinal purposes !
On the last day we spent it by the sea me covered from head to toe to keep the sun off! with camera at the ready below are just some of the amazing bits of wild life that we found on our trip.
Until I went to Hurghada I never really appreciated the phrase swimming with the jellies! but these guys are every where it is a little disturbing at first as being taught from a young age that jelly fish sting I was amazed that these didn't I am sure they do have a sting but was touched by loads of them and came out fine!
The fish amazed me he/she was swimming close to surface of the water making it a great picture moment ! I have no idea what it is but it is beautiful.
We found lots of star fish to under the pier.
On our way home we came across a shopping mall with a proper supermarket!! I know amazing !! you have to live in Luxor to understand the importance of a real super market! lol
We stocked up on provisions and made our way home.
Even though our hotel choice was all wrong and they need to take it from a 5* to (at the most 4*) we had an amazing time in Hurghada and will be back again next time I going to go swimming with the dolphins!
It is so totally different from the hustle and bustle of Luxor all you have is the sea and sun you can go out if you wish or stay in your resort the choice is yours.
On our return journey home we watched the sun go down over the Theban Mountains making me appreciate how wonderful my home really is.