Here are my postcards from Egypt. There are a lot so it took some time to get them all uploaded. Hope you enjoy them! You can read about my trip to Egypt here.
To view some of my other postcards click here
Here are my postcards from Egypt. There are a lot so it took some time to get them all uploaded. Hope you enjoy them! You can read about my trip to Egypt here.
To view some of my other postcards click here
Sorry that I haven’t written in a while. Just needed a break this week. Let me get back to my adventure in Egypt. Last time I left you I was in Luxor visiting the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut.
We got off the bus and walked through the vendors. I saw a shirt I wanted and made a mental note that I would try to get it on the way back to the bus. We went to a big room, which had a model of all the tombs in the valley. Sherif spoke to us for a bit there. I paid to use the bathroom and then went outside to join the group. We had to catch a tram to the tombs. However, some of the vendors got on the tram, which they aren’t allowed to do. So we stopped and had to wait for them to get off. Sherif handed us our 3 tomb ticket. Michael, Paul, and I purchased tickets to see King Tut’s tomb and Ramesses VI’s tomb. Sherif wasn’t allowed in the tombs so he showed us which ones to go into and gave his speeches outside of the tombs.
The first tomb we went into was KV 2, which belongs to Ramesses IV. The tomb has a red granite sarcophagus and has many smaller side rooms. The images of Nut on the ceiling were incredible. Paul and I noticed a decoration on one of the walls that I thought looked like papyrus. Sherif didn’t know what it was, but in the end we found out I was right. The entrance to this particular tomb seemed very long. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to take pictures in the tombs. The Theban Mapping Project provides images, descriptions, and diagrams of the tombs. They are definitely worth looking at.
Next was KV 11, which belongs to Ramesses III. Sonja decided to pay the tomb guy to guide her. I didn’t need that, so I left them. When they were building this tomb they actually hit KV 10 and had to shift the tomb over a bit. This tomb had a lot of cobras in it. It also had a wonderful scene of Ramesses offering Maat to Osiris.
The next tomb was KV 16, which belongs to Ramesses I. This one was very deep and had a lot of steps to get in. The tomb guard wanted to show me around, but I kept shooing him off. I didn’t want to pay. The scenes in this tomb were so vivid! There were beautiful images of Horus, Osiris, Atum Ra Khepri, Maat, and more. All of these images were on a blue background. There was even a sarcophagus that filled up almost the entire room. It was so dusty and Michael put his hand prints on it. The guard came over and started talking to us and at this point I decided to leave. I wasn’t paying him. At the top of the steps I didn’t feel well. The heat, the depth, and the stairs were starting to get to me. No wonder Alli got sick when she came out of this tomb. I started to walk away and got harassed by a vendor. For once my Arabic wasn’t working on him. I didn’t have the energy to fight with him. He eventually gives me a book as a gift and refuses to take it back. At that moment Paul and Michael come out of the tomb with the guard. I could tell right away that something was wrong. The guard wants to get paid and the boys don’t have money. I’m forced to pay him. I’m not happy. Now the vendor sees I have money and demands to be paid for the book he shoved in my hands. I was eventually going to buy the book anyway so I look through my wallet for money. The smallest note I have is 20LE, but the book is 5LE. The vendor takes the 20LE out of my hand and refuses to give me change. I cause a scene. He gives me another book. Now he owes me 10LE. I want my change and he claims he doesn’t have any. I’m not letting him get away with my money. So I demand he at least give me more merchandise. He gives me two postcard books. I’m pissed at the whole situation.
We go into KV 9 and I am beyond agitated. This tomb belongs to Ramesses VI and was never finished because he died before it was completed. The ceiling was incredible and showed Nut swallowing Ra. There was also very colorful cartouches. The room at the end was quite large and there was a piece of a granite sarcophagus. Sherif had told us there would be images of strange guys on the ceiling, He said they looked like aliens or Buddha. He was completely right! There was a great double image of Osiris. There was also a memorable image of Meretseger. There was just so much to see.
Last but not least was the long awaited tomb of King Tut otherwise known as KV 62. It was only fitting that the last historical thing we will be doing in Egypt would be Tut’s tomb. The tomb had a short staircase entrance. On the right of the tomb was the room Tut was originally buried in. His gold sarcophagus was in the middle of the room under the glass. On the back wall there was an image of Nut greeting Tut, the opening mouth ceremony, and finally Osiris, Tut, and his ka. On the other side wall was a scene with 6 baboons. Tut’s mummy was in the antechamber. Thank goodness I had my flashlight otherwise you wouldn’t be able to see it. I couldn’t believe I was staring at Tut after all this time. I was surprised more of the group didn’t want to see this tomb. After all, this probably the most famous tomb in Egypt.
We headed back to the “visitor center.” I wish I could have seen more tombs. I easily could have spent the whole day there. I used the bathroom. I then went to that t-shirt vendor. He wanted 170LE ($34) for the t-shirt. I got him down to 25LE ($5). The funny thing is I walked away and he followed me all the way to the bus. I wound up buying the shirt right as I got on the bus.
I wake up, put on the clothes from yesterday and a pair of airplane socks. I wash my socks from the day before and blow dry them. I head down to the lobby and no one is there. I check the bar, restaurant, and the street. Where is everyone? There’s a girl I don’t recognize in the lounge and after 20 minutes I go and talk to her. Turns out she’s on our Contiki and missed last night’s meeting. So we now have 7 guys and 7 girls. Each girl gets 1 husband. The girl’s name is Nicole and her bag is lost as well. She’s also American. It turns out that my cell phone alarm messed up and set itself to an hour earlier then we were supposed to get up. So instead of 7am I woke up at 6am. Lovely.
The Contiki group eventually comes down. I pay for my optionals (tip, Luxor/Karnak, Light and Sound, Abu Simbel, and Edfu). I also give the girls the stuff I got them in NYC. I sit with them while they have breakfast. I take some bread for later though I doubt I’ll eat it.
We board our bus, which is nice and roomy! We each get our own row, which will be perfect for the rides to and from Hurghada. Next stop the Egyptian Museum! I knew the museum wouldn’t have AC, I had prepared for that. No, I had packed for that. My plane clothes made the museum very uncomfortable. However, I sucked it up and didn’t complain outside of my head.
Sherif ushered us past the gates for the museum because across the street was Tahrir Square. There was a mini fire by the gates and Sherif told someone to put it out. Sherif collected our cameras and checked them in. A lot of groups tried to get into the museum at the same time and one group cut in front of us. Sherif argued with that tour guide. After that we went through security.
When we walked into the museum I thought I had stepped into one of my TV programs. How many times had I seen Zahi and other Egyptologists on TV in this place? It was like I had been here a million times before. Sherif took us to the King Tut floor first. After seeing hundreds if not thousands of pictures of these items it was strange to think they were now right in front of me. The condition of everything was fantastic! Everything had his cartouche on it and the detail was incredible. I loved his gold throne that showed him and his wife sharing a pair of sandals. I was amazed at how many shawabti he had in his tomb. There must have been 2 full walls of them. We saw his fold up beds, some statues, and alabaster items. We also got to see his canopic jars, which were beautiful. They were also made of alabaster. Next we looked at the solid gold encasings that housed the sarcophagi. They were enormous and the work on them was mind blowing. I have no idea how they got them out of the tomb. Many of them featured Isis with her wings spread out.
Onto the big moment, King Tut’s golden mask. The mask, jewelry, and two sarcophagi were in a separate air-conditioned room. We walked in and I immediately went to his mask. I must have stood there for 2 minutes before moving. It was mesmerizing. I eventually moved around the room to look at the jewelry, the crook and flail, and the 2 sarcophagi. After walking around the entire room and be amazed at everything, I decided to go back to the mask. I made a point to stand there and stare into Tut’s eyes. After a minute or so, I closed my eyes and tried to make a mental image of the mask. After another minute I said farewell to the mask and joined Sherif outside.
On our way downstairs Sherif showed us some papyrus pictures. Many of them dealt with the sun rising. He also showed us a famous one of the heart being weighed against a feather. Next we stopped at a large tablet and the cartouche was broken and only setepenre remained, which would be half of Ramesses II’s name. I muttered his name and Sherif heard me. He asked if I could read it and I said I could. The next statue we went to was of Ramesses II and Horus behind his head. Sherif showed us many other statues and as we turned into a room I spotted Ankhnaten. It was the Amarna room. There was a mini bust of Nefertiti. Later we saw a lot of statues of scribes and we saw Rahotep and Nofret with their amazing glass eyes. We also got to see organs in canopic jars, statues of Hatshepsut (with her false beard), a wooden statue of Cheikh El Beced, scenes from the Book of the Dead, a seated statue of Tuthmosis III, and the palette of Narmer.
After Sherif finished with our guided tour he took me over to the image of the Rosetta Stone. We discussed it for a while and then I went to the small gift shop. I purchased a pack of King Tut postcards for 10LE and when I went to say thank you in Abrabic the guy freaked out on me. He insisted I was an Arab and that my pronunciation was perfect. He offered to teach me more Arabic words, but I wanted to catch up with the girls.
I caught up with the girls going into the mummy room. After I paid and said thank you this guy also insisted that I was an Arab. Strange. The mummies were amazing! I loved the idea of being able to look into the face of a man or woman who ruled thousands of years ago. You could make out every detail of their nose, mouth, and eyes. Some of them even had hair and eyelashes. The mummy I was most excited to see was Hatshepsut’s. In her case was the box they found her liver and tooth in. After watching that particular episode on Discovery and National Geographic a million times I couldn’t believe that I actually got to see the mummy and the box. VERY COOL!
Then we went into the jewelry room, which had AC. The room was kind of boring and we spent most of the time discussing the cartouche we wanted to buy on the boat. Then Janelle and Megan wanted to leave, so we started to look for an exit. We went to the bathroom, which wasn’t awful and then found the exit. We were all very hot and thirsty so we stopped at an outdoor café area. We spent a lot of money on overpriced water and snacks. Supply and demand at its best. We met Sherif and got our cameras back. Then we waited for everyone to come back. I spoke to Sherif about his education and the different languages he could speak and read. He has a very fascinating background! There were a couple of bees that were freaking me out and I just wanted to go at that point, but we were still waiting for Paul. Sherif sends us to the bus and there’s Paul. Where’s Paul? became our bus joke after that.
Only two pictures because we weren’t allowed to bring our cameras inside.
As I have previously mentioned I am studying for my certificate in Egyptology. So I try to see as many museums as I can that have Egyptian exhibits. I had never been to the Penn museum so we decided to go and take a look. The Penn Museum is on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania so we got to look around as we walked to the museum. The museum has a discount for AAA members, which shaved off a couple of dollars.
We started with the Egyptian exhibit. They have a great timeline that I took pictures of and still refer back to. There was a giant sphinx and there were several architectural pieces that belonged to Merenptah. There were numerous statues of the gods. They also had several mummies, some had undergone the artificial mummification process and some had gone through the natural mummification process. Additionally, there were artifacts from the Amarna period. There were some large busts but some were replicas. There was a copy of the Narmer Palette and of the Rosetta Stone.
After looking at the Egyptian exhibit we walked through the rest of the museum. There were some great pieces from Asia. I enjoyed looking at the dragons and Buddhas. There was also a copy of Hammurabi’s code. I spent a lot of time looking at the Greek statues. They also had a large collection of Greek Pottery. There were so many that it reminded me of the museums in Greece that were filled with them. The gift shop is small, but it has an entire room dedicated to Egypt. Many of the items were expensive and that was because many of them came from Egypt. I owned several pieces so I only bought some postcards. We eventually ran out of time in the Mexican and Central American section.
The museum is definitely worth seeing and is easy to get to via public transportation. I would allow at least two hours here.
July 29 2012
We had breakfast at the hotel again. It was so delicious. I had my fill of croissants, mini baguettes, brioche, sugar rolls, and cheese. I asked them for ice this morning because I was getting sick of room temperature water. What a difference! Paris needs to learn about air conditioning and ice.
We took the metro to the Invalides stop where we purchased tickets for a train to Versailles. We didn’t have to wait long before the train arrived. The train wound up being packed! Unfortunately we chose seats that were facing the wrong direction. So we rode backwards. The train was stuffy and riding backwards was making me sick. We passed Paris’ copy/version of the Statue of Liberty. I took a really bad picture of it because I wasn’t expecting to see it. The train ride to Versailles was about an hour long.
My mom and I crossed the street and she stopped at a Starbucks to use the ladies room. Then we walked about four blocks to the chateau. I knew it was huge but a new word needs to be invented for how big Versailles really is. It was an incredible sight to see. We passed a guy dressed as King Tut which was super random and funny. We saw two enormous lines. I knew one was for ticket holders and one was for people with tickets. I got on line and sent my mom to make sure we got on the right line. We had. I had purchased an all access pass online for a lot of money (either 25E or 50E a piece-I think). The line moved very slowly. I was glad we already had tickets or we would have had to wait on two lines. About an hour later we were in. At that point I needed to use the ladies room. Time to wait on another line. There was no paper in the bathroom and I only knew this because I overheard the ladies speaking in Spanish ahead of me. However, they had their own. When they were done and told me to go in next. In Spanish I turned to them and said but isn’t there no paper. Then they bust out laughing. I waited for a stall with paper. While I waited I watched several women walk into a mirror at the bottom of the stairs.
I met up with my mom who was not happy that an art exhibit was being displayed in some of the rooms in Versailles. The art was loud and ostentatious and took away from the beauty of Versailles. We waited for our headsets that were included in the price. The headset was like a walkie talkie and I didn’t like holding it up to my ear so I took out my headphones and plugged them in. They were worked beautifully. Versailles was packed, but the beauty and architecture of the place was incredible. The audio was very informative. I just couldn’t believe that I was walking around in Versailles. I had seen these rooms in movies, documentaries, and in books. I could feel the history around me. I easily could have closed my eyes and pictured King Louis XVI and his contemporaries around me. The Hall of Mirrors was exquisite. There was a random pair of giant high heels in the room. Another room contained a pink helicopter. It seriously was a strange art exhibit.
We saw a sign for Angelina. We have been trying to get to the one on Rue di Rivoli but kept missing it because they close early. So I was like lets do this! We don’t normally eat at places that are part of historical sites because of the cost, but you only live once. There was a short line. You had to tell them whether you wanted to go to the restaurant portion or the quick take out area. We chose the take out bakery area. My mom grabbed a table and I waited on the line for food. About 15 minutes later I emerged with a water bottle, their famous Mont Blanc, and a chocolate macalon (which is basically a long chocolate macaroon). Our deserts were delicious! Now we could say we ate at Versailles. The bathroom had the cutest sign (see the picture below). There was no toilet paper again.
Next we finished up the top level and went downstairs to the children’s bedrooms. Then we did the gift shop. I got postcards and a book. We returned our headsets and went out to the entrance of the gardens. We showed our tickets to prove that we had paid the gardens entrance fee. We went on a day where the fountains were on and music was playing. I wanted to take a hop on hop off tram to see all the sites, but my mom felt 10E a person was too much (even though I was going to pay for it). Hours later my feet would regret listening to her. THE GARDENS ARE MASSIVE! They are also beautiful. You are definitely transported to another time. We posed for pictures with the fountains and statues. Then we started our long walk to the Grand Trianon. About 30 minutes later we still weren’t there so we sat on the side of the road and ate some food from breakfast. We kept going and finally saw it.
The building has a pink hue to it. We showed our all inclusive ticket again. The interior looks a lot like the interior of the chateau, but with a little less gold. They had a lot of portraits out for us to see. It was commissioned by King Louis XIV and was residence to mistresses and many of the royal maidens. Next we walked to the restrooms which weren’t the best but they got the job done. There were bees so I was seriously freaked out. We walked further down the road and saw a sign for another Angelina. That sign made us completely miss the sign for the entrance to the Petit Trianon. So we never went in there, which meant I missed seeing the theater Marie had built. We kept walking to the Hamlet (about 3.5 miles from the beginning). We were beyond exhausted at this point. I felt I could collapse right there and then. We showed our tickets again and spent about 5 minutes walking around. It felt like a zoo and we were too tired to pay attention at this point. We walked back to the area outside of the Petit Trianon (again not realizing it). We waited for the tram and paid 5E to get back to the entrance of the gardens. As we started to drive away it started to rain. We walked back to the train in the pouring rain. We decided to stop at the McDonald’s to get out of the rain and to use the restroom. This was not your average McDonald’s. It was clean and modern looking. They also had a bakery. We bought a box of reasonably priced macaroons.
We boarded the train back into Paris and it was packed. My mom and I took a seat on the floor. We didn’t want to stand for an hour. We got off at Gare d’Austerlitz. Then we took two trains to get to the Moulin Rouge.