Day 4: The Ruins!

The sleeping train was awesome. We got on, and were packed into a small room with bunk beds which came out of the wall. We played a few games, read through our travel guides, and had great conversation. Even the food was pretty decent! I’ve never been on a train, much less a sleeping train so the trip was pretty good.

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Friendly Indian couple who were on holiday from Bombay. Their 'cubby' was next to ours on the train.

As soon as we got to Luxor, we hailed a cab and set off for a hotel. Our cabbie knew some hotls of his own (which he probably made a commission off of), and we looked at his first, and ended up going with the ones in our Lonely Planet.

As soon as we got ready and came downstairs, we saw an ad for a hot air baloon by the countery and made an appointment to speak with someone the next day. A hot air balloon sounds real nice and it had to be cheap… after all… we are in Egypt.

Our hotel guy called us a cab, and he took us across the Nile to check out the ruins. They left me speechless. It’s amazing how a people so ‘primitive’ could build structures so magnificent AND they lasted until today!

Note to all: Prices in Egypt are LITERALLY different for locals and for tourists. They will post a local price and they will post a tourist price. There is no way around it, unless you can present identification. However, if you are a student, make sure you have an ISIC card before you go. The prices can be half off sometimes. They will not accept your university card, and will ONLY accept an ISIC card. Click here to find out more.

Check out the pictures and the video and let your imagination wander. It was truly an experience being around such history, and especially the type of history you learn growing up in school and on TV.

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Afterwards, our cabbie took us to the Valley of the Kings, where the Pharoahs are buried. When you get towards the mountain range there is a giant office where you have to purchase a ticket for entry, and unless you want to walk half a mile to the location of the burial grounds themselves, then you’ll purchase a separate ticket for the giant golf cart vehicle. Spend the extra cash and buy the transport. You’ll have to walk a long ways around as it is.

The Valley of the Kings is the location of where many of the Pharoahs are buried. Not all of them were buried in the Pyramids, and here in this valley they have their pets, their slaves, their artwork, their jewels, and much more. By the way, this city wasn’t always called Luxor. Prior to modern day, it was actually called Thebes, and was one of the most powerful cities in northern Africa. Inside, the royal tombs were decorated by scenes from their religion. All sorts of artwork, and heiroglyphs were painted very very beautifully everywehre. This is also where the grave of the child king Tutankhamun was found, and archaeologists continue to dig.

Note to all: If you are claustrophobic, then these ruins aren’t for you. 98% of it is below ground, and there are no elevators. Just very very steep climbs in very very narrow passageways. On busy days you will be back to back, crouching and walking at the same time, while being brushed by people going the opposite way, and everyone is angling their neck to breathe.

Afterwards our cabbie took us to another location which isn’t visited often. I don’t remember the name (sorry), but pictures are below. We met a kid, who offered to take us through some of the archeological ruins which are cordoned off. Not for public view. Have to have Indiana Jones clearance to see them.

Fortunately, we had two american dollar bills at our disposal. Just as good.

Unfortuantely, President Hosni Mubarak’s cousins had just arrived to take a tour of the same place we were going to, and all of a sudden a battalion of police arrived to make sure no one assasinates the family of one of the worst dictators and criminals on this planet. The cop quickly realized what the boy was doing for us and yelled at him to get off.

We tried.

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Our fearless guide. Two dollars was enough.

After wandering through the ruins, we headed back to the hotel, not before grabbing some juicy food. All the food outside Cairo seems to be extremely delicious. Later that night, we walked down the main road and got a cabbie to take us to the best looking hotel (Sofitel). We made our way past the security guards and took a stroll behind the hotel. It had a beautiful view of the Nile, the Nescafe was served steaming, and the atmosphere was perfect.

Note to all: If you speak FLUENT English and can get by as a westerner, you have access to EVERYTHIGN. However, if you have a non-western accent, EXPECT to be given a rough time. We saw several non-Westerners hassled by authorities because of their language in their OWN country, whereas we were trespassing and no one even looked at us twice specifically because we speak English.

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Tomorrow: Maybe the hot air balloons, ruins in Luxor, off to Horghada en route to Sharm el-Shaikh.

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