05/14/2011 80 °F
Today we had a leisurely morning: slept in a bit, had some breakfast, and packed up for our flight this afternoon.
We have hired a taxi driver to take us out to Hatshepsut’s Temple and Carter’s House on the West Bank before our 2:10 flight to Cairo. We were hoping to rent bikes and ride out to the West Bank using the local ferry but we can’t find an open rental shop. Darn it.
It’s an incredibly beautiful day - barely 75 degrees. Once the driver drops us off at the parking lot, we purchase our tickets and decide to walk up to the temple instead of taking the tram. I guess the tram makes sense on really hot days but it travels all of a couple hundred yards: from the parking lot/ticket office to the “visitor’s center”, a visitor’s center that is mostly made up of souvenir shops.
Here in Luxor and in Aswan I have overheard a lot of people speaking German but Hatshepsut’s temple is the first place in Egypt I have run into an Australian tour group. They’re pretty funny. (Get your arse in here! Now take the bloody picture already! Haven't you got enough pictures? We’re heading to the pub next, right?)
The actual facts of Hatshepsut’s reign are few and far between; there have been many theories offered over the years that make for fun reading (palace intrigues, murder, and romantic love affairs between royals and commoners). We know that Hatshepsut lived 1473-1458 B.C. and was the daughter of Thutmosis I. She married her father’s son and heir, Thutmosis II (yes, that would mean she married her half-brother but the Egyptians did not make such distinctions). Thutmosis II died before she could provide him with an heir; one of Thutmosis II’s secondary wives gave birth to the heir, Thutmosis III. When Thutmosis II died, Hatshepsut did not step down but continued to reign as the king’s widow (technically a co-regency with Thutmosis III but he was too young to be bothered with such details.) A number of years later she had herself declared pharaoh.
The temple is amazing to see and it’s no wonder it is considered one of greatest architectural masterpieces of the world.
Next up is a visit to Howard Carter’s house. It is located on the West Bank near the entrance to the Valley of the Kings; it has only been open as a museum for about eighteen months.
We should have purchased tickets at the main office a few miles down the road so our taxi driver will run over there to get our tickets while we relax on the grass at the entrance to the house. The grass is so green and lush – it looks like a golf course. And the weather is still wonderful. There’s a nice breeze blowing; it might be about 80 degrees.
It is nice to see how Mr. Carter might have lived his daily life while excavating in the Valley of the Kings. None of the furniture is original but they have done a nice job fixing it up; it is obviously a labour of love. The highlight of the tour is a "visit" from Howard Carter himself. They have set up a presentation in the formal living room using a Pepper's Ghost effect. An actor portraying Howard Carter comes in and describes finding Tutankhamen's tomb. It's really cool! I enjoyed it immensely!
During the renovation a café and patio were added to the back of the house – it’s very nice but unfortunately we don’t have time to enjoy it. We need to pick up our luggage and head for the Luxor airport for our flight back to Cairo.