Not a single piece of material culture – not a single object – has been found at Giza that can be interpreted to come from a lost civilization.
Valley of the Kings
The Great Pyramids
The Great Pyramids
Sharm El Sheikh
Sharm El Sheikh
St Catherine's Monastery
St Catherine’s Monastery
We chose to spend our honeymoon visiting various bits of Egypt. It promised to be hot, dry, and busy.
We started with a flight on EgyptAir from Heathrow to Luxor Airport. EgyptAir proved to be quite good. They upgraded us to business class as we checked in, and a part of their special honeymoon service was also that they suplied cakes for us. We were feeling a bit special just then.
The flight was about 4 hours and when we landed at Luxor we had a fairly quick turnaround and met the driver who was transferring us to our boat.
The boat itself was really luxurious and it proved to be a very welcome resting place after what proved to be some pretty hot and tiring days. The food was really good and so was the bar. The cleaners did have a bit of a habit of making strange characters out of bits of bedding and clothes in the room though, which was a bit weird.
We had a dedicated tour guide with us on the boat (from our tour company Kuoni). Only a dozen or so people on the boat were on the same tour as us. The others had their own itineraries and guides, albeit obviously that we all stopped in the same places at the same time.
For the first day or so we sailed precisely nowhere because our first day was spent in Luxor visiting the local sites, and especially the Luxor Temple and the complex at Karnak. The temple was quite impressive for a first sightseeing trip. It was also though our first introduction to the heat. Oh, the heat. It was hot.
In between visiting temples we were spending a fair amount of time on the boat, generally drinking, relaxing, and attempting to get a suntan.
On the next couple of days we were “templing” early in the mornings and cruising the rest of the time. First up was the Temple of Khnum at Esna – a fairly small temple nestling in a big hole. Presumably, it was excavated out while the town around it was being built upwards. Next on the list was a trip to the Temple of Horus at Edfu. We parked up here early in the morning again and were taken over to the temple through the town in some horse-drawn carriages. I remember on this day also that one of the older couples in our party had a bit of an incident with the heat. Well, it was really hot that day.
Aswan is one of the major settlements in southern Egypt and we spent a couple of days there seeing the sights. We went to a quarry where they’d found a half-carved obelisk. We also went on a trip on a tiny boat into the river to the island where they’d moved the rather excellent Philae Temple. And finally we took another small boat onto the river near the centre of town to have a walk around the gardens on one of the islands there.
From Aswan, we sailed all the way back down the river again in a single go so that we were in Luxor again. When we got there we had probably the hottest day we’ve ever had, up at the Valley of the Kings and the Temple of Hapshepsut. It was about 45 degrees in the shade when we started, despite being only 9 in the morning. It got hotter as the day progressed.
And having done all that, we were thoroughly templed out, so we hopped on a plane and went to Cairo instead. OK, so the quantity of ancient buildings is similar there, but they are more pointy.
About two weeks before the holiday we’d been called by the tour company and told that our chosen hotel was in the middle of a refurbishment and whilst they assured us that we wouldn’t be bothered by the noise, they asked us if we’d rather change. One of the options they offered was the Mena House, a very historic old hotel right outside the pyramids at Giza. It was full of quite posh looking people, including Claudia Schiffer. It also had a fantastic view of the pyramids from the balcony.
Meanwhile, back at the plot, on our first evening there we went to a son et lumière show at the Sphinx just like Roger Moore in The Spy Who Loved Me. We didn’t see any big blokes with metal teeth or any female KGB agents though.
On our second morning there we decided it was time to heed advice and get up really early to go into the pyramids. We heard they sell a handful of tickets each morning to allow you to get into Khufu’s Pyramid, so we got up to the ticket office for about 7:30am and were lucky enough to get some. Sorted ! We grabbed some bottles of water and set off for a bit of pyramid action.
They really are quite impressive in scale.
The inside was a bit claustrophobic but I’m glad we went. We had to leave cameras at the entrance though, so no photos. While we were in there, we took the opportunity to walk down to the Sphinx again for a quick look around in daylight. By this time we were getting a bit hot and sweaty so we retired to the hotel and were just in time to get breakfast. Yes, we went out early, and got back for breakfast.
The following day we had a trip over to the centre of Cairo to visit the Egyptian Museum. Strangely enough, it is packed with antiquities from ancient Egypt, including some impressive Tutankhamun stuff.
We went diving one day, but not before we’d had to go to a PADI approved doctor in town who gave me a certificate to say my use of prescription nasal spray wasn’t a problem. We scoobed in a pool. We tried some snorkelling in the sea too.
On one day we took a short cruise in a glass-bottomed boat, which gave us more of a view of the excellent diving conditions that we didn’t quite get down to.