The next day, I left Aswan for my next destination, Luxor. On my way I visited two more temples. The first, Kom Ombo, is dedicated to both the crocodile-headed god Sobek and to Horus. Its courts and sanctuaries are all duplicated for its two gods. It was built around 100BC by Ptolemaic pharaohs. Although damaged by earthquakes and by builders seeking materials for other projects, the temple has a great site on a bend in the Nile, and I found its ruins very beautiful.
Near the temple was a museum with mummified crocodiles – sacred crocodiles used to live in a pool on the site.
The second temple on my route to Luxor was Edfu, which was built from 237 to 57BC and is dedicated to the falcon-headed god Horus. Like the Great Temple of Ramses, it was forgotten and covered by sand until it was excavated by a French archaeologist in the mid-19th century. It’s long period of burial means that it is very well preserved, and unlike most other ruins, still has an almost intact roof. As a result, the interior of the temple was dark and atmospheric, quite unlike all of the other places I visited in Egypt, which were open to the skies.
Edfu was a very impressive temple, but I felt I was reaching saturation point for seeing ancient ruins. This was a little worrying, since I was due to spend four days in my next destination, Luxor – home to some of the world’s most famous archaeological sites.
As we approached Luxor my driver scratched his head and looked hard at his sat-nav. We were heading for the west bank of the Nile, not the busy east bank where most of the hotels are. We entered a village-like area with narrow dirt tracks and simple buildings. We had to turn around once, as the route indicated went down a street too narrow for our car, but finally found my hotel – a huge place looking like an Arabian palace, totally unlike the modest houses all around.
The hotel had been constructed by an Egyptian architect and his English wife. Neither had ever managed a hotel before, never mind built one, and the place had some quirks resulting from their inexperience. However its plus points easily outweighed these disadvantages. It occupied a huge plot, and behind the main building was a long strip of land with a pool and gardens, reaching right up to the River Nile. On both sides were fields with horses and buffalo.
I was a bit worried about our remote location, but the hotel owner came to greet me and told me that they operated a free ferry across the Nile to get the city. After enjoying my room for a while, I decided to use this facility to cross the river to check out the centre of Luxor. It was now dark, and on the way to the pier, I got to enjoy another aspect of the hotel’s design.
The ferry dropped me off in a particularly drab part of Luxor to the south of the centre, and as I explored on foot, I was continually hassled by taxi drivers and the owners of horse-drawn carriages. I got a bite to eat in a pasta restaurant and headed back to the comfort of my hotel. My lodgings were really nice, but I had not liked my first impression of Luxor, and wondered whether I really wanted to see even more ancient ruins…….no matter how impressive they might be.