2010-06-06 -- Luxor

A half day tour of Karnak Temple and Luxor Museum.

We took horse carriages from the hotel to Karnak Temple. It was about a twenty minute ride. The carriage drivers didn't give a hoot about traffic. If they wanted to cut across all lanes of traffic to make a U-turn, they just did it -- without looking. Two things seem to have made this OK; first, that's how they drive cars, and second, there seems to be an unwritten rule that slower vehicles get the right of way. On our walk back from dinner tonight, we (mostly) walked in the street, blocking half a lane of the two lane street, with no complaints from the (admittidely light) traffic.

Karnak Temple is large, but (as expected) mostly a pile of stones. The temple was built over a span of many (~15?) centuries, by each pharoah trying to outdo the previous. One exception is Tut, who had one tiny sphynx sculpture, where Ramses (one of them anyway) had built gigantic columns, obelisks, walls, gates, etc, etc.

The Hypostyle Hall with 134 pillars representing the papyrus stalk survived mostly intact, and is easily the most impressive thing in the temple. You can read all about the hall at the University of Memphis Hypostyle Hall Project.

One big problem with taking the horse carriages to the temple, which we found out shortly before the end of the walking tour (at about 10:30am) is that we didn't bring or get any water. Luxor, in case you missed it, is in Egypt, nowhere near the water, and is both very very hot and dry. No big problem, we took the bus from Karnak Temple to Luxor Museum. The bus had the water, and we all sucked down half a liter.

Luxor Museum, unike the museum in Cairo, shows the pieces as if they are works of art. The Cairo museum is...a warehouse. Dusty, dim, hot, and full of people (ok, warehouses usually aren't full of people). Luxor Museum, on the other hand, was clean, air conditioned, and empty. It was still dim, but each piece had a spotlight, emphasing the shape of the sculptures. No photos allowed, though many other pages have some available ( 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 ).

The rest of the day was spent napping, floating in the pool, and lounging.

We took another boat to dinner, this time sailing up the Nile (to the South) under wind power, then following the current down (to the North). Or, that was the plan. There was no wind, so we got a tow up river from a tour boat. They cut us loose near the west (undeveloped) coast....in a spot with both no wind and no current. The boat men tried hard to catch wind, Jeffrey gave a mighty AHOOOOOOOOOOOOOY, but eventually the men had to use push rods and rows to get us back to the east side.

Dinner was at the Winter Palace, a grand and glorious old hotel (Sofitel's page). We walked back from dinner in 15 minutes (compared to the hour it took to get there).


Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II at 16.0 mm; 1/100 sec, f/8.0, ISO 200
Papyrus stalk pillars in the Hypostyle Hall with some humans for scale.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II at 16.0 mm; 1/250 sec, f/8.0, ISO 200
The bottoms of the ceiling supports aren't exposed to weather, and are in great condition. Even being used to large structures, this was awesome. Easy to understand the name "forest of columns".



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II at 16.0 mm; 1/640 sec, f/8.0, ISO 200



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II at 25.0 mm; 1/400 sec, f/8.0, ISO 200
More supports for the ceiling in the Hypostyle Hall.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 28.0 mm; 1/1600 sec, f/4.0, ISO 200
Reconstructing the temple, with modern technology.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM + 2x at 140.0 mm; 1/400 sec, f/14.1, ISO 400
Swimming on the Nile, shot from my seventh floor hotel room. Wonderful contrast of lush river and desolate desert.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/160 sec, f/8.0, ISO 80
The boat we "took" to get to the restaurant. It took an hour. We walked back (after dinner) in about ten minutes.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 45.0 mm; 1/50 sec, f/8.0, ISO 100
AHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOY!



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 105.0 mm; 1/500 sec, f/8.0, ISO 400
If only just a few moments earlier or later, and this would have been quite nice.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 24.0 mm; 1/25 sec, f/8.0, ISO 400
The boat dock was a bit scary. Gives a new meaning to walking the plank. Our boat was at the very end, parked in with all the garbage and debris that floated by and got stuck.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 0.3 sec, f/2.7, ISO 200
Chicken and Prawns with Curry Sauce. The combination of banana and curry amazingly worked well. Very well.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/15 sec, f/2.7, ISO 800
Apple tart.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/15 sec, f/2.7, ISO 800
Pineapple and Coconut.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/15 sec, f/2.7, ISO 800
Carmelized sugar, up close.



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