Well, after what can only be described as a RUDE 3:45am meeting time, we headed to the airport for a very early flight from Cairo to Luxor. I don’t think I was smiling…despite the sign. I needed coffee!
While it was very pleasant when we landed, the forecast for today was looking toasty!
With that in mind, we headed first to the Temple Complex at Karnak. This massive complex was THE place to build if you were an Egyptian Pharaoh, and for over 2000 years, more than 30 pharaohs did just that. This is the religious center of Ancient Thebes and this 200 acre site is still nothing short of awe inspiring.
What is does not have, is shade. Which is why we were there by 8am directly after our flight landed. After a brief orientation, we headed into the complex. The entry processional is flanked by sphinxes on both sides that once ran all the way to Luxor Temple, roughly 1.5 miles. This was the road used by the pharaohs to take the statues of the gods that resided at Karnak to the temple at Luxor for the annual Opet festival (more on that when we get to the Luxor Temple).
From there we move into the Great Court and the Hypostyle Hall. This place is massive! Giant columns, some even still have their original color paint on them, huge statues of gods and pharaohs, its overwhelming. To think how this must have appeared in its day!!
A ceremonial Sacred Lake still lies within the complex, it is actually a salt water lake but sadly, without all the ceremonies, the lake looks a little worse for wear. I offered to re-enact the festival of intentional drunkenness, a tribute to the Goddess Sekhmet, but since it was only 8:30am, we decided to pass for now. Probably smart, I would hate to fall in that icky green sacred lake!
By about 9:30am, it was already starting to get pretty warm, and the massive tourist crowds were starting to arrive so we loaded back onto our van and headed to our lodging for the next two nights, The Winter Palace.
While this was never actually a palace, it is certainly grand enough to be and housed many a notable visitor…and now us!
The hotel is absolutely beautiful. We were offered a cool beverage while our rooms were being prepared. It was some kind of juice and I can’t for the life of me remember what it was. There was also a standard lemonade or something like that, but if you give me a choice between something normal and something I’ve never had before, guess which one wins!
Then, I decided to take a walk around the ground…holy smokes the grounds!
Aren’t they amazing!! Here’s some more.
After a little while, the rooms were ready and I headed up to take a shower before our Home Hosted dinner that evening. This experience is something that OAT (our travel group, Overseas Adventure Travels) does on every trip so that not only do you get to see all of these amazing places, but you get to meet and spend quality time with people who actually live in those places. More on that soon…first up? The aforementioned shower and…A WINE TASTING!!!!!
Yep, that’s right! Right here in the beautiful Winter Palace in Luxor Egypt, I was able to find a local wine tasting. The Royal bar, an absolutely beautiful space with red walls and dark wood, with super comfy leather couches offers a wine flight with three wines in your choice of red or white. You know I like both, but with the heat, I chose white.
And those glasses! So pretty! Okay, so Egypt is not known for its wine so they threw in a South African wine with this tasting, but that’s okay. So how were they? The Cape Bay from South Africa I have had before, heck they sell it at my Harris Teeter. Its a perfectly serviceable wine (if I liked Chardonnay). Omar Khayyam is the most prolific Egyptian wine available and it is pretty darn good. I had the rose in Cairo and now the Pinot Blanc. It is light and fruity. Good for fish. The last, the Grand Marquis is light and crisp. All three go perfectly with 103 degree temperatures!
We would spend more time in this lovely Royal Bar later, but for now it was time to head to our Home Hosted Dinner. I will admit, I was not looking forward to this. I felt weird about the whole premise of going into strangers homes for food. However, the Jordan dinner was fantastic so I went into this one with an open mind. The houses we were going to were too small for all of us to go to just one, so we were split into two groups.
My group visited the Monsour family. The food was spectacular! Light and flavorful soup to start:
Then a CRAZY good meat pie type of dish…I seriously could have eaten this whole plate!
Then some stuffed veggies
And another, thicker and heartier soup.
Followed by hot tea and a honeyed dessert.
After dinner, we all sat around and asked questions of the family about their daily lives. We viewed mama’s wedding album and eventually devolved into dancing. I will spare you those pictures, but it was an absolute blast! I am thrilled to say that I am still in contact with two of our hosts on social media and get messages from them every now and then. It always brings back fantastic memories!
Holy smokes is tomorrow busy…but it is the day we have all been looking forward to…We visit the Valley of the Kings!