TODAY: Libya is now a battlefield as supporters of Moammar Gadhafi try to halt a revolution that is spreading across the country. NBC’s Richard Engel reports.
Wednesday, November 30th, 2005 Luxor night light ends our day…..
We set the alarm and had the desk give us a wakeup call for 3:00 am; since we’d made such an issue about the balloon ride we wanted to make sure that we were up and ready for the bus! The chef had breakfast ready for us…seems like we just finished dinner! By 4:00 am we had the luggage in the hall and boarded the bus for our second bus trip to Luxor. Another nail biting experience of driving rapidly down the highway in the pitch black night without headlights most of the time!
After a brief bus ride back to the Nile River, we boarded motor boats for a short trip across the Nile River to our new hotel known as the Sofitel Pavillion Winter Palace. During the boat ride we were presented certificates and tee-shirts from Captain Bob to verify that we had indeed completed our ride in his balloons while we sipped our coffee and tea. We arrived at the hotel about 8:00 am and Rita had made arrangements for us to get into our rooms when we arrived. That gave us an hour to rest before the rest of the group arrived and we began another day of touring in Luxor; it’s going to be a long day!
Our group of fifteen reunited in the lobby and we boarded our bus to go to the gigantic Temple of Karnak. It was built by a succession of rulers starting in the eleventh dynasty and was expanded and redesigned over a period of fifteen hundred years. It laid buried under sand for over a thousand years before excavation work began in the mid-nineteenth century; an on going process that will take many more years to finish. One wall was left in an uncompleted state; showing how the heavy blocks of granite were lifted into position with the aid of a ramp the length of the wall that continued to grow until completion. After completion the ramp was totally removed. Karnak Temple was connected with Luxor Temple by an avenue lined by Sphinxes that stretched 1.2 miles. Many of the Sphinxes have disappeared but many have been preserved. The plan is to eventually restore this broad avenue between the two famous temples. We viewed the tallest obelisk in Egypt, cut from a single piece of pink granite and raised by Queen Hatshepsut in honor of Amun. It still stands almost one hundred feet high. Many of us also walked around another relic located near the Sacred Lake the required three times for good luck. We made sure we walked counter clockwise, had we walked clockwise we would have been assured of fertility!
Lunch today was at the nearby Sheraton Hotel; buffet style with the opportunity to wander about the hotel and grounds for another view of life in Luxor. We enjoyed time for an afternoon nap for several hours before pairing off in our horse drawn carriages after dinner for a two hour tour of the back streets and bazaars of Luxor after dark. Comparing notes later we learned that nearly all of our drivers were named Abdul and the horse was named Sonja. I think we “was” had! But, it was a fun evening and included a stop at a coffee house where we enjoyed Turkish Coffee or hot tea and the opportunity to puff on a water pipe. Yep, we had disposable tips and at least ten of us partook with a few puffs…even Jim! I could still taste the tobacco two days later when I took a deep breath. Opps…maybe I inhaled a little too much but I felt it necessary to make the water bubble in the pipe! By 9:00 pm we were safely back in our hotel after completing a very fun but very long day in Luxor.