The Haunted House

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Trip to Egypt

On September 20th Me, my wife Amanda, and two friends Andy and Elaine set off for a 2 week holiday to Egypt. The first week we was staying in Luxor, and the second week the Red Sea resort of Hurghada. This trip was special for me and Amanda as it was our first years wedding anniversary. It was also my birthday and Amanda carried a small cake all the way from England to Luxor. We had the cake for dessert after our dinner on the first night.

The sun in Luxor was insanely hot. I don't think I have ever experienced heat like it. The temperature would reach around 45 degrees Celsius. But to make things even more extreme, there was no breeze at all. One of the bar staff by the pool in our hotel told us that this was not the hottest that it got. The hottest months were July and August were the temperature would go over 50 degrees.

We stayed in the Novotel Hotel, which is about a 5 minute walk from the Luxor temple, so we was quite central to everything. From our hotel room you had a view of the River Nile. Past the hills on the other side of the Nile there was the Valley of the Kings.

The river Nile.

The first week of our holiday would mainly be sightseeing. And we went to places like Luxor Temple, Karnak and the mummification museum.

The river Nile at sunset.

We also took an internal flight to Cairo to go and see the Pyramids and the Cairo museum. We had to get the flight to Cairo very early in the morning. We arrived at the domestic departures gate and sat and waited for our flight to be called. Unfortunately our flight was delayed due to fog, so we was about an hour late in departing. When we arrived in Cairo, our tour guide was waiting for us at the arrivals gate. She took us out to a minibus, and the driver started making his way to the town of Giza. The guide started telling us a bit about the city. We found out that it is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, and I can quite believe it. There were cars and people everywhere. It almost makes London look like a ghost town.

I can't quite describe the feeling as we drove through Giza and the pyramids came into view for the first time. I have always had a little obsession with Ancient Egypt ever since my dad took me to see the mummy exhibition at the British museum when I was a kid. The pyramids are HUGE I really couldn't believe it.

The pyramid of Khafre

What I found strange was, if you stood facing the pyramids you got a view just like that of a post card, but If you turn around, you are right next to the town of Giza. It was quite strange to see how close the town is to the pyramids.

We was hoping to get tickets to go inside the great pyramid, but unfortunately they only sell a certain amount per day to reduce the amount of people causing damage to them, but luckily we managed to get tickets for one of the smaller pyramids (Menkaure). The entrance to the pyramid was a hole about 5 feet square. When you walk inside, their is a wooden ramp with slats across it that runs down hill. Because of the height of the entrance you pretty much had to go through the tunnel whilst arched backwards. On the left you had a stream of people entering the pyramid, and on the right a stream of people exiting the pyramid.

One thing none of us will ever forget about going into the pyramid was the extreme heat. I was expecting the pyramid to be fairly cool due to the huge amount of stone around us, but the pyramid was very very hot and humid. When we got back outside we were absolutely soaking wet. It looked like we had just taken a shower. It was very uncomfortable in there but I am certainly glad I did it. There wasn't that much in the pyramid except a burial chamber, but again it is good to say that I've been there.

Once we had finished at the pyramids we got back on the minibus and headed back into Cairo for lunch at a hotel. After lunch we headed off to the Cairo museum.

Cairo museum
The museum was massive, and there was certainly a lot to see. I think we must have been in there about 3.5 hours. Again the building was quite hot as there was no air conditioning, so that made us tired, but we were determined to see as much as we could. The most amazing exhibit was the golden burial mask of Tutankhamen. This mask really does look as good as it does in the books. This room was the only room with air conditioning which was to protect the mask more than it was for our benefit. I think I must have spent a good 20 minutes just staring at the mask. I was totally transfixed.
After walking around the museum we got back on the minibus and headed back to the airport. We had to wait a couple of hours for our flight, but luckily Elaine had an Uno card deck with her, so we played that to kill some time. We got back to our hotel about 10pm and we were all totally knackered.

Temple of Karnak
The day after Cairo we didn't do that much as we wanted to relax, so we spent a lot of time by the swimming pool. The next day we took a trip to Karnak. This was about 5km away from Luxor but we made our own way in a Taxi. The Karnak site is huge and it took us a good few hours to get around it. Luckily we went early in the morning when it was cooler.
The next day we got up nice and early and went on a tour of the Valley of the Kings and Queens. And we also went to Hatshepsuts temple.

Temple of Hatshepsut
Valley of the Kings was quite interesting, and there was a lot too see in the temples, but like the pyramids, the temples were very hot. Atleast we got there around 7 in the morning, so it wasn't too bad.
One thing that struck me as a bit scary in Luxor was the amount of armed tourist police. I've never seem so many AK47-s and Uzi's in one place. But I'm glad they were there, as it is only to protect the tourists. Every hotel and building that had public access would have an armed guard at the door and a metal detector. This all felt a bit threatening to start with, but you soon get used to it.
On the last day in Luxor we had to join a coach convoy which would take us to the 2nd week destination of Hurghada. It is standard policy to get the tourists to travel in a convoy. At the front and back of the convoy there was jeeps with guards and machine guns, and each coach would have at least 1 guard with a machine gun. I dread to think why they needed that much protection.

The 4 of us at Karnak.

Obelisk at Karnak.
The 2nd week of the holiday we didn't intend to lift a finger. This week was all about relaxing as the first week in Luxor was quite tiring with all the sightseeing. Me and Amanda were in a different hotel To Andy and Elaine, as they booked their holiday after ours, but we all still met up regularly.
Our hotel was very nice. It was a 5 star all inclusive hotel, so in the hotel you have to pay for hardly anything. We spent a lot of time by the pool or on the beach reading and soaking up the sun.

Amanda waiting at the marina for our submarine trip.

Towards the end of the week all 4 of us booked onto a small submarine trip to take us beneath the Red Sea. We got a boat from the marina and this took us out to the sub marine platform. It took about half an hour to get there.

The submarine could seat about 50 people and everyone had a good view out of the windows.

We saw lots of different kinds of fish and there was a guy who would scuba dive around the submarine and feed them.

Another trip that we did was a boat and snorkeling trip. Unfortunately there was a bit of a mix up with the bookings and the trip was over booked. So instead of going out with the other snorkellers we was put on a boat with some Dutch and German divers. This was actually quite good, because when they stopped to do a dive, we could swim over top of them and watch them on the bottom. This was really interesting to watch. The water was so clear, you would look out of the boat and it looks about 2 meters deep, when really it was about 35 meters.

One of the scuba divers let me have a go on one of his spare respirators and he took me down only a couple of meters to have a look, and the view was stunning of the coral. It's a pity I couldn't go down further, but I had never done scuba diving before so that would have been really dangerous.

We all really enjoyed this holiday to Egypt and I would recommend anyone to go. But I would definitely do Luxor first and then relax on the 2nd week.



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