Friday, January 16, 2009
Sunset on the Nile.
What can I say about Luxor? What is it not? Vegas. No pyramid and no huge beam of light shining from it. What is it? A city filled with history, tombs, ruins, and falafel. I really can't stop eating the falafel. We found a street place that sells a half a pita with falafel and this jalapeno-eggplant mixture for 1 egyptian pound. That is about 16cents. So for two falafels and a soda or bottle of water, you can eat for about 80cents. For some reason though, I can't stop eating them. First of all they are delicious. Secondly, I have been trying so hard to keep some semblance of a food budget while in Europe, where a simple cup of tea averages about 2.5 euros (just over $3). So here I find myself with enough money to eat, and eat, and eat some more. Whoever thought traveling would mean losing weight never came here and ate street food. It couldn't be more delicious. And now the guys at the shop know us and wait for us a few times a day to pass by and stuff our faces...again. Oh how I a poudly living up to the excessively gluttonous American reputation! There is a McDonalds down the street and they sell McDonalds-Egypt beach towels, in three different colors. I guess they had to branch out to keep some business since the food elsewhere is so good!
Luxor itself is a pretty big place, overrun with tourism, but with so much to offer that you can't really help but like it. We are about two blocks from the Nile and can see the Luxor Temple ruins from our hotel as well. Yesterday we went to the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Workers, Queen Hatsepshut's Temple, and the Colussi of Memnon. Today we went to Karnak Temple. Everything is very surreal here. Heiroglyphics everywhere and it is amazing to see huge statues and painted tombs that have lasted for over 4000 years.
Luxor Temple at night.
The gnome (yes...he still is with us) and the Colossi of Memnon)
In Karnak Temple.
The spices, especially the dried hibiscus, in the streets of Luxor.
It gets a little old being hassled all the time here, and the concept of walking just to walk seems foreign to all taxi drivers, minibus drivers and horse-drawn carriage drivers. We have tried being polite, ignoring them, speaking spanish, not speaking at all, and even being (what feels to us) rude. Seems like they all keep going, lowering their prices for things you don't want. It can be a little entertaining though. Jenny (who is half Chinese and half Hungarian) has had loads of people here think she is Egyptian. Rahima (who is Egyptian) shocks people by saying she is actually the Egyptian in the group. I (of course) get "tourist" all the time, but when I say nothing and am in my sunglasses get called Shakira. Go figure. Everyone loves Obama and hates Bush, and wants to make sure we are the type of Americans who agree. Amazing how much common ground that gets you once you leave the US.
Rahima, me and Jenny at Hatsepshut's Temple.
Tomorrow we head to Cairo for a few days. After being around all the tombs (we didn't go to King Tut's because everything has been taken out of it to the Cairo Museum so there isn't all that much to see but they charge you extra to do it anyway), I can't wait to get there and see all of the contents of the tombs. And to see the pyramids. :) Maybe I'll even get a few more falafel sandwiches in before we go.