Saturday morning we had arranged, through our hotel, to take a hot air balloon ride at sunrise. That meant waking up around 5:00 am. So doing that, getting dressed, eating something and finally getting downstairs, a person from the balloon company was there to tell us that the police had said that there would be no hot air balloons today. No reason why, just that they couldn’t do it. And so Nora and I trudged back upstairs, definitely disappointed, to sleep for another three hours.
After having a bland breakfast at the hotel we got into our hired car for the day and headed into the West Bank treasures. First, we went to the Valley of the Kings, which is where the pharaohs were buried thousands of years ago. Admission allows you into three tombs of your choice (or least of the ones open for that day). Here is where Nora and I should have done so more planning/research. Our guidebook suggests the best and longest tomb and then goes on to say that it has been closed since 1991. Fail. At least one of the other tombs our guidebook suggested was also closed. We ended up going to the tombs where there were the longest lines. And so we visited a Ramses tomb, a Seti tomb, and, my favorite, the tomb of Twosret and Setnakhte.
Setnakhte had “stolen” Twosret tomb, digging deeper into the hillside and placed his tomb behind that of Twosret. There were not many people there (as the entrance to the tomb was farther away from the entrance of the Valley of the Kings and so tour groups and others didn’t want to walk that far).
All of the “attractions” in Egypt have a Student price (about a 50 percent discount), which is great! So, rather than getting into the Valley of the Kings for about 10 dollars, each of us got into the valley for 5 dollars. Issues arose though for many reasons. The first: Nora accidentally forgot her American University in Cairo student ID back in Cairo. Luckily, I had two different student ID’s: one from CalPoly and one from Pasvik. However, the Pasvik ID is written in Norwegian and also is just a piece of paper that had been laminated, not the most valid looking ID. Also, both of my ID cards have no expiration date, something that many of the ticket people couldn’t understand. And so we were questioned on these two points and were, luckily, always able to weasel ourselves out. The funny part was they never questioned the pictures on the ID, which are both of me and neither of Nora. Silly.
After the Valley of the Kings we headed to Hatshepsut’s Temple which is a temple built into the hill. It had been the thing I was most excited to see on the West Bank and was slightly disappointed in it. But it was still cool. Nora and I were probably also getting tired and hungry at this point so we became sluggish.
We then headed to Deir el-Medina, which has the tombs of the workers. We were able to go into two tombs that were a lot smaller than the pharaoh tombs. They were in good shape though. The only problem with this place was that, while we had a ticket to go into the tombs, they were locked and so you needed someone to unlock them for you and they were “guide” you through the tomb expecting a tip at the end. Nora and I did not have any single Egyptian pounds with us and so we weren’t able to tip them. And really, it’s their job to open the tombs for us so they shouldn’t get a tip, but we pissed them off by not tipping and, after two tombs, they were done with us.
And so we walked around by ourselves for a little bit. We found a temple which was really nice and shaded = relaxing. The “guide” for the temple was eating lunch and so he did not bother us and we were able to explore by ourselves before heading back to wait for our driver. Nora’s roommate had recommended we go here and while it was interesting, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have your own tour guide with you or and Egyptian. They weren’t that friendly.
Finally, the last stop for the day was Medinat Habu the “mortuary temple of Ramses III.” We, originally, had not planned on going here but the guy at the hotel suggested it and I am glad we went. It is huge! At this point though, for me, all the pharaonic stuff had begun to blend together. But this place had a really cool corridor that would open to a courtyard and then go back into a corridor.
But finally we were done and we headed back to our hotel to eat lunch and waste four or five hours before we needed to start heading to the airport. We ate an ok Egyptian lunch on the terrace/roof of the hotel and then sat around. I “stole” Nora’s pictures and a movie. There were also lots of birds around so I had a fun time taking pictures of awesome birds.
To round off the trip with complete stereotypes we also watched Aladdin! Hopefully, none of the Egyptians saw this because it is such a racist movie. But then we were slowly off heading across the ferry once again to catch a taxi to the airport.
We were too early for our flight so we weren’t even allowed to collect our ticket yet, which I think is super weird. The same thing happened to me in Cairo and, originally, was not allowed out of the check-in area. Weird policies. But finally Nora and I were back in Cairo and she was off to her apartment while I got to wait in the airport until my 3 am flight began to board.
To get back to Kirkenes, from Luxor, I flew on 4 planes, stepped foot in 5 airports and was either in an airport or an airplane for over 24 hours. But I arrived “home” safe and sound if not dirty, exhausted, hungry, and cranky!
All in all, a super fun trip with my sister and sunlight!