Now the sun is finally shining in the Netherlands it’s time to tell you about our trip to Luxor in February. Again we stayed at the Nile Valley Hotel overlooking the Nile, which is both close to the ferry and to the monuments on the West Bank. We inhabited the brand new ‘penthouse’, with its lovely domes and a private balcony chamber where we spent many hours relaxing, reading and musing. While we were there, a new lounge area was being installed on the roof terrace, and a dainty little shop on the ground floor now sells clothes, jewelry and trinkets.
This time we again made use of the Luxor Pass, which provides five consecutive days of entry to all the sites and museums in Luxor, for 160 dollars/150 euros including the tombs of Seti I and Nefertari. Students pay 80 dollars/euros upon showing an international student card (ISIC). Note that when you’ve reached the honorable age of 30 years, there is some skepticism against your being a student… The pass can be bought in an office around the left corner of the Luxor Museum. Bring euros/dollars in cash, your passport, copies of your passport and a passport photo.
A great new feature is that you can buy photo tickets for 300 Egyptian pounds, allowing you to take photographs of three tombs per site. Note that in the Valley of the Nobles, each ticket is considered a different site. There’s no mixing and matching unfortunately. In the case of Rekhmire and Sennefer, this means you only get to make photos in two tombs for the price of three. But for the rest it worked like a charm, and it seems there is overall less antipathy against taking photographs.
We were especially pleased to visit the newly opened tomb of Nakhtamon (TT 335) at Deir el-Medina. It has an absolutely splendid monochrome burial chamber where you can simply see the nonchalant brush strokes made by the painter.
Another surprise was the tomb of Amenemope (TT 148) included in the ticket for Roy and Shuroy (Dra Abu el-Naga). It contains two massive rock-cut statues of the tomb owner and of the tomb owner and his wife, which I had never seen before. You can see images of it on Osirisnet.
At Deir el-Bahari, the Main Sanctuary of Amun-Re was recently opened to the public. It housed the sacred bark of Amun on its annual visit from the Temple of Karnak on the opposite bank of the Nile. It is very pretty with its painted relief decoration. You can download a booklet about the sanctuary published by the Polish mission working there.
For the first time, I visited the tomb of Aye. The West Valley or Valley of the Monkeys is a lovely deserted wadi with the tomb of Aye at the very end. A team of archaeologists led by dr. Zahi Hawass was digging there, looking for the wife of Tutankhamun?
The tomb’s decoration is quite similar to that of Tutankhamun, which is interesting to compare. The walk back through the valley was also a treat. So different from the hordes of tourists in the Valley of the Kings! It makes you feel how Carter must have felt when he started digging there in 1914.
Another monument I had never seen before was the little Ptolemaic temple of Qasr el-Aguz near Medinet Habu. Especially the uncut decoration, showing the underlying drawing in red, is interesting to see. The temple lies in the middle of a residential area and a little boy went to fetch the gafir with the key to open it for us.
Food was an important part of the holiday of course. Pasta and tiramisu at Pizza Roma (El Mahdi Street), delicious ice cream in local flavours (doum, hibiscus) at Wenkies (El Gawazat Street), fruit juice and pasta at Aboudi Coffee Break (above Aboudi Bookstore behind Luxor Temple) and splendid lunches at Marsam (Sheikh Ali on the West Bank).
I am in love with Luxor and hope to spend many a holiday there. There is always something new to see, discoveries to be made and lovely people to meet. This treasure trove of Egyptology is really just a hop, skip and a boat ride away.