Al salaam a’laykum Ocean City. Greetings from Luxor, Egypt! Luxor is the third largest port on the Nile after Cairo and Alexandria. Cass and I decided to start our Egyptian odyssey in Cairo and decided that a Nile river cruise would be a brilliant adventure. A 90-minute flight south took us into Luxor. From there we boarded our luxury vessel, the MS Royal Ruby. The Ruby holds about 60 passengers. Most of them were British (including Cass) and I was the only American on board.
Life on the Nile is serene and we had an enjoyable float through the desert. Luxor’s main attraction is the Temple of Karnak. Karnak is the first city in the world to develop aquatic engineering. They developed a system of dams and aquaducts that provided irrigation to the outlying lands.
Luxor was a thriving city during the reigns of the pharoahs, over 2000 years prior to the birth of Christ. Back then it was known as Thebes and has been described as the “world’s greatest open air museum”. The architectural engineering feats of that time were amazing. Gravity defying obelisks still stand today. When the Roman Christians sacked the city, they defaced as many of the “pagan” relics and heiroglyphics as they could. Fortunately, a few survived not only the Christian onslaught but also the test of time.
We sailed across the river from Luxor to the west bank and the Valley of Kings. The Valley of Kings was the burial ground for Egyptian royalty from the 16th to the 11th century BC. So far 63 tombs have been discovered including a new one last year. The most popular tomb to visit is King Tutankhamun (the boy King). Though the most famous, King Tut’s is not nearly as elaborate as some of the others. We thought Ramesses III and Amenhotep I had the nicest cribs. The Egyptians believed that whatever you stocked your tomb with would come with you to the underworld. Unfortunately, tomb raiders looted many of the graves and stole the treasures. We were still able to get a good grasp on what life was like then based on the spectacular heiroglyphics painted on the cavern walls. Taking pictures is forbidden in the tombs and is cause for confiscation and dismissal.
The actual city of Luxor is still lost in a time warp. They have a few internet cafes and respectable plumbing. A taxi consists of a horse and buggy. The food is pretty basic – mostly fish from the river and a lot of flat bread and hummus. There is not much livestock in the desert so you don’t see meat on many of the menus. The souks (shops) sell unique handcrafted goods. I bought a really cool snake-headed walking staff to go along with some traditional Arab dress and headgear – they have an Egyptian dress-up night for the passengers on the ship.
The city has a lot of charm and exotic palm and date trees line the river banks. Tourism is the number one industry – Egypt is considered the birthplace of tourism as it was the first inhabited place with something worth looking at. Luxor is truly a desert oasis, like none other in the world. The Luxor in Las Vegas is nice, but Luxor, Egypt is the place to be for exotic adventure. It is truly the birthplace of civilization. We enjoyed our quest so much we named one of our cats Luxor. Ma’ Alsalam! (Peace Out! in Arabic)
– The Rox