Earlier in our Egyptian travels we had been given a carriage ride from our boat to Edfu Temple as part of our tour package. We got a second opportunity for a carriage ride in Luxor on our own dime. The plan was to drive around for an hour and a half to give us a closer look at the city, with a short stop to stretch our legs in the market.
We left our cruise boat, not always docked in the most pristine of places:
And met the men, horses, and vehicles to whom we would entrust our lives for the next two hours:
We started out in the less populated area near the dock and headed for the city center.
Thebes was the capital of Egypt from the 16th to 11th centuries BC. Some of Egypt's most famous pharaohs ruled during these years, including Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Amenhotep III, Akhenaten, Tutankhamen, Ramses II ("the Great), and Ramses III.
In the 14th century, Thebes had a population of 80,000, making it possibly the largest city in the entire world at that time. The great temples of Luxor and Karnack were built here, enveloped today by the modern city of Luxor, somewhat like an art museum in the downtown area of a large city. It is the standard Egyptian potpourri of ancient and modern.
BUT WAIT. As my sister Chris notes in the comments at the end of the post, she got a picture of that motorcycle from the front, and their were not FOUR but FIVE riders! I missed that little patch of blue you can see in the driver's armpit. Here is Chris's much more impressive photo:
Egyptians like to use their horns:
Did you notice the vans passing us with their side doors open? As far as we can tell, those are their buses, and the open door allows passengers to hop on and off quite efficiently. They can squeeze a lot of people into one van:
|I've never seen a Toyota Hiace before.|
We passed all kinds of shops:
My favorite was the butcher shop:
. . . although the tchotchke stop was also appealing:
As usual, we saw an interesting mixture of traditional and modern. This traditionally dressed man is looking at his cell phone:
We noticed at least two Christian churches.
Oh wait. Maybe that's one very large church:
Here's the other Christian church, probably Orthodox, judging by the pictures on the wall that hides the bulk of the church from view:
Later on we saw a THIRD Christian church, this one a Franciscan Catholic church. Is it possibly the same church as the one above? Who knows. Too bad we couldn't stop:
This graffiti didn't give me any warm fuzzies, especially since it seems to be a message directed at English speakers:
There was also plenty of pressure to buy. If we even slowed down to look at a display, the shopkeepers were upon us, shaking out scarves and holding out trinkets. It made exploring a little difficult.
It was a relief to get back out into the open air again:
We passed by the Luxor Temple complex, a site we would visit the following morning:
It was hard to reconcile scenes like the one above with this billboard and other modern sights:
Back at the carriage parking area, we saw several horses hauling their own dinner:
It was time to go back to our berth and get some sleep.