RTW Trip Luxor, Egypt Day 59: Visiting the Second Largest Ancient Religious Site in the World

Boomerang Hotel is a backpacker’s dream. It is cheap, clean, with an awesome breakfast. While the breakfast is separate, it is an all-you-can-eat dream with yogurt, cheese, meat, bread, cereal, fruit, and vegetables!

Luxor is overwhelming, with all the incredible ancient sites, all crammed into one city. If you are a huge buff, you could probably see different monuments for days. Our first full day consisted of us getting kushari at a local joint for a quick and filling bite.

Kushari - pasta, lentils, tomato sauce, fried onions.  You can't be afraid of carbs to eat this.

Kushari – pasta, lentils, tomato sauce, fried onions. You can’t be afraid of carbs to eat this.

We then hopped on a local shuttle to Karnak, which houses decayed temples, carved hieroglyphics and statues, and is one of the largest temple complexes in the world. Imagine an open-air museum with a bunch of ancient temples. It is actually the second largest ancient religious site in the world, after Cambodia’s Angkor Wat. It is definitely worth it to check this out for the day if you are in Luxor.

Karnak

Karnak

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Karnak

Karnak

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Alien looking carvings at Karnak

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The local shuttle to get here was a total of 2 LE for the both us. It can be confusing, as you basically flag down a large van, hop in, and hope you are going in the right direction. We decided to skip taxis and the emaciated horse carriages and were so glad we did, since it was crazy cheap.

Greg in the local shuttle van.

Greg in the local shuttle van.

We took a shuttle back to where our hotel was, grabbed a bite of kofte and a chicken meal at a place that seemed rather busy with local men, and then picked up snacks. While we mostly ate vegetarian, I definitely regretted ordering chicken for dinner, as my stomach was not too hot after this.

Don't be fooled by the chicken restaurant by the station.

Don’t be fooled by the chicken restaurant by the station.

On our walk back to Boomerang Hotel, we noticed there were some bright lights and music down an alley. We thought that perhaps there could have been a festival, so we walked down the street to check it out. As we approached it, we saw a bunch of blinking Christmas lights, some music blaring, a bunch of chairs filled with locals of all ages, and a stage at the very end of the lane. We were instantly welcomed by a local man who spoke a bit of English, and had us sit with a group of Egyptian men. They welcomed us with Sprite and beer, and were very happy we were there. It was nice to know that they were just as curious about us as we were about them. As many of these boys, teenagers, young men, and elderly men became comfortable, we all started taking pictures of each other, and with each other. We later found out that we were actually at a local wedding, yet the bride and groom had not yet arrived.

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The bride and groom

The bride and groom

Another young boy brought me closer to the stage, where there were a bunch of kids and women dancing, all who actively had me participate with them. I must say I was a bit relieved to join other women, but then some of the dancing children were getting a little too excited. There was some grabbing, some pulling, and some pushing. Many of the children wanted my individual attention, and wanted to dance with me and me only, which started to create a sort of mosh pit. I quickly escaped back to where Greg was, and when I did, we saw the bride in her makeup and hair, and the groom in his dapper suit. Even though we were having a ton of fun, we definitely didn’t want to overshadow the couple, so we said our good-byes and left. It really was an amazing experience though, to be hanging out with locals, at a wedding nonetheless!

Costs:
Boomerang breakfast 20 LE
Boomerang Hotel 120 LE
Water 7 LE
Kushari 12 LE
Shuttle to and from Karnak 4 LE
Karnak admission fee 160 LE
Beer 15 LE
Snacks and pastries 15 LE

Total cost: 353 LE / 2 = $23.26 per person

What I learned: Take advantage of your curiosity and see where it takes you. Pleasant surprises are ahead!

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Actual date of travel: Nov. 1, 2014

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