West Bank Adventures!!!

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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???

Lesley Hammam

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!!!

Website: www.alwaysegypt.com

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