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The Temple of Hatshepsut must have been amazing. The surviving reliefs carved on the stones are excellent, depicting the voyages that Hatshepsut sent while she was acting pharaoh. However the vast majority of the current structure has been reconstructed, and although the reconstruction is well done (so that you can see what the structure originally looked like, but it's still clear what is really original) I don't like reconstructions much. Kind of had a strange feeling when I realized that this was the temple where the 58 tourists were gunned down last October. It's only 9:30 in the morning and already over 100° F (37° C)!
The Tomb of Ramses IV goes deep into the rock and was thus some reliefe from the heat. The walls of the tomb are carved with elaborate views of the gods and quotes from the book of the dead. Some of the carvings still show enough color to give a good idea of what the tomb must have originally looked like.
The Tomb of Ramses VI is amazing (and again cool). The carvings again cover the walls, but in this tomb lots (most?) of the original color still survives. The ceilings are fantastic and include two huge depictions of the master story of the godess of the sky, Newt (my favorite). This is the one tomb that I wish I had bought a camera ticket for.
The Tomb of Ramses I was supposed to be the best. I found it very disappointing. Ramses I was quite old when he began his reign and thus didn't have much time to construct his tomb. Hence it is quite small and simple. There are no carvings on the walls, rather they are painted. It's the state of the paint that makes the tomb remarkable, it's still very bright and vibrant. Unfortunately I don't think the work is as nice as the other two tombs. Our guide said that these paintings are as nice as in the tomb of Nefertari (which costs an additional 100 pounds egyption, $30, for ten minutes), so I decided not to see her tomb.
The Tomb of Amen Khopshef (the son of Ramses III) was very colorful with good carvings. All the walls are behind glass which is good as it will help preservation, but gives the tomb a sterile feeling the others didn't have.
The final tomb to be visited was the Tomb of Titi (the wife of Ramses III).This tomb has been extensiively damaged (apparently it was used as a dwelling for a while), has little color, and is behind glass.
On are way out we stoped at the Colossi of Memnon. It was so hot at this point that it was a very brief stop. All that is left are the two giant sitting figures.
Once again I was reminded of how much I hate tours. I just don't like moving in a group of people and having to spend too little or too much time everywhere. I also didn't apreciate the hour we spent at the payrus museum and the alabaster factory (clearly our guide gets a percentage). However given my time restrictions I think it was the right thing to do. It wasn't much more expensive than I would have spent on my own, and the taxi, ferry, and airconditioned bus were all aranged saving me time. Also the A/C was very important since the temperature outside the tombs was 113° F (45° C) as we were leaving!
After the tour it was way to hot to do anything. I spent the afternoon folding laundry and packing, drinking (water, soda, anything wet), and reading. When it started to cool off a little (unfortunately only a little) I walked in to town to see Luxor Temple. Honestly I was very impressed. It's not that big, and having walked around it a few times (it's right in the middle of down town) I wasn't expecting much. I was very pleasantly surprised. It's excellently preserved, and it's on a huge scale. Karnak is huge, but it's also cluttered and there is so much. Luxor on the otherhand is clean, simple, somehow pure. The giant statues of sitting Pharaohs, standing guards, and the towering pillars are just perfect in their composition and symetry.
Walked through town to the train station at about 10:30pm. It is amazing how much life comes out of the walls at night in areas where it is this hot. It almost felt like a carnaval with kids running around, live music, and all the stores ans stalls open. I had a huge grinon my face and everything felt just so right. Got on the train, and tomorrow when I wake up (or shortly after) I should be back in Cairo.