What's New On Tom's Travel Blog?

Flickr has been improved! Almost all photos on this blog come from my Flickr Photostream. You can now go directly to a page that shows all of my Flickr photo sets by following this link. It's the easiest way to navigate in my on-line photos.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Valley of the Kings - Two More Tombs

Only a select group of eleven tombs are open for viewing at the current time.  The base admission ticket costs 240 Egyptian Pounds (about $15) and allows you to visit any three of eight tombs.  For an additional 100 pounds you can visit three special tombs, including King Tut's.  You can take pictures with a mobile phone (except in Tut's tomb) for free but a "real camera" requires an extra 300 pound ticket of its own.
KV2-1 VK2-14

If you are a serious student of the pharaohs, there is a multi-day ticket available for everything in the Luxor area for 100 U.S. dollars.  Wikipedia has a nice overview of each of the tombs such as Setnakht's KV 14 which we are headed to in the pictures below.  Just click on the desired tomb number at the bottom of their page.  This includes a nice 3-D depiction of the tomb.
VK2-04 VK2-05

The color inside the Valley tombs is surprisingly well preserved.  These are much better examples of color than you will find at most sites making the Valley a "must see" location on any visit to Egypt.

VK2-07 VK2-09


Finally reaching the king's sarcophagus at the bottom of the tunnel is almost a disappointment.

Wikipedia lists the overall length of the tunnel at 112 meters, and there are more than enough pictures and hieroglyphics to keep you occupied for fifteen minutes or an hour depending on your interest.
VK2-11 VK2-12

Outside the tomb, workers are still excavating.  It's all hand work, one basket at a time.  New discoveries are expected to be minor, but there is still one tomb, Ramses VIII, that has not been uncovered according to this National Geographic article.
VK2-13 VK2-02

KV 11, the final resting place of Ramses III, is another tomb with a very long passageway.  This one seemed to be particularly popular with people taking photos on their cellphones.  Lots of selfies were being taken near the best wall paintings.
VK2-15 VK2-16




VK2-22 VK2-23


VK2-25 VK2-26

VK2-27 VK2-28

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Valley of the Kings - An Introduction

It has been almost two weeks since we stepped onto the overnight train to Luxor at the end of the "Whirlwind Tour of the Pyramids"  post below.  It's time to catch up.  Early the next morning, our porter knocked on our door to wake us and deliver tea or coffee along with a breakfast tray.  As Linda describes it, "the breakfast consists of bread, bread and bread."  That's not fair.  There is also butter, honey and cheese to spread on the bread.  The menu hasn't changed for many years.

We were picked up at the railway station in Luxor before 8:00 a.m. by the driver assigned to us by our travel agency.  We dropped off our bags at our cruise ship.  I'd love to include a picture here, but I never was able to get a picture of it.  There are so many cruise ships on The Nile that they are lined up four abreast along the shoreline.  Passengers pass from one to another through their lobbies after boarding the one closest to shore - in this case, the Nile Vision.

There is quite a variety to the lobbies of the ships, some with dark wood, others bright and modern.

After checking in and dropping our luggage, we returned to our van and headed out to the nearby Valley of the Kings.  Our first stop was at the Colossi of Memnon, the two giant statues that greet visitors to the ancient burial grounds on the west side of the river.
ValleyKings1-08 ValleyKings1-09

This made a good backdrop for our first group portrait.

You probably noticed the hot air balloons.  Riding these is a popular activity for many visitors to the area.  Mornings usually have calm air in this area.  These are very large balloons carrying up to twenty passengers.  We didn't take advantage of this - their safety record is not particularly good.

The Valley of the Kings is the burial ground for dozens of the Egyptian pharaohs who ruled from about 1600 to 1100 B.C.

The visitor center has an interesting 3-dimensional map of the valley with the tombs and tunnels displayed beneath the surface.

Your admission ticket includes entry to three tombs - King Tut's is an extra cost option.  I chose three that were typical.
ValleyKings1-12 ValleyKings1-13

The tombs are labeled KV 1, KV 2, KV 3, etc.  Each one has a sign nearby showing which king was buried there and has a diagram that points the highlights to be found along the tunnel down to the king's burial chamber.
ValleyKings1-14 ValleyKings1-15

KV 6, the burial site for Ramses IX, is distinguished by a very long entrance tunnel.

The colors and well preserved drawings are very impressive.  The crowd of tourists almost guarantees plenty of time to take in the sights.  Ceilings often have particularly well-preserved inscriptions.

Valley3-3 ValleyKings1-16


Saturday, January 25, 2020

A Whirlwind Tour of the Pyramids

Following our guests arrival on Saturday evening, we got off to an early start Sunday on their Egypt tour.  We had arranged for tour guide Roshdy Rashad Khattab of Rashid Tour Egypt to guide us for the next two weeks.  We began at the Great Pyramids of Giza.

It is hard to grasp the size of these pyramids, roughly the height of a fifty story skyscraper until you have a human in the picture or are standing next to the first course of stones.


It takes a couple of hours to properly tour these monsters and the Sphinx without even taking in some of the peripheral tombs and the Solar Boat museum. Traditionally, most tours include a stop at the Panorama which is a good chance to take in the Giza Pyramids with minimal background obstacles for a photo.

We next headed south about fifteen miles to the royal burial ground at Saqqara and the Step Pyramid of king Djoser - generally regarded as the first of the Egyptian pyramids.

Day1-Pyramids-07 Day1-Pyramids-08

There are many tombs to be visited at Saqqara.  We spent some time looking at one of the newly discovered ones a year ago.  This time we took only the "short tour" but saw plenty of color in the wall drawings.
Day1-Pyramids-09 Day1-Pyramids-10

Along the way we stopped for lunch at a typical tourist restaurant in the area for an excellent lunch with freshly baked bread.
Day1-Pyramids-04 Day1-Pyramids-05

As the day drew to a close, we headed back into Giza to the railway station where we waited for the southbound overnight train to Luxor.  Egyptian trains are not easy to sort out at the station.  Local trains mix with express trains.  Trains frequently run late.  There is no master schedule board or English on the P.A. system.  You are probably going to need help!

We were booked into a compartment on a sleeper car.  I got the top bunk and actually slept most of the night.  Dinner was served shortly after we began moving - we were barely beyond the Ring Road,
Day1-Pyramids-12 Day1-Pyramids-14