The Orton's on the Nile - 2005

Karnak, Luxor and fancy dress

Karnak, Luxor and fancy dress

Karnak, Luxor and fancy dress

The last day/night on the Sherry Boat was to be Egyptian Night barbeque. We would have the day with a leisurely ride round to the last and probably the most spectacular temples, both in Luxor a.k.a Thebes. There would be the latest ever start with us doing Karnak in the afternoon. By eck it weren't half hot mum!

We were still not used to the scorching heat, although we sould now handle the early morning sun, the afternoons were only tolerable lounging in the pool or drinking cold beers and casually tossing Scrabble letters into the Nilee. The temperature got to a level were we would all swear you could fry an egg on the floor which was Adam's big holiday ambition.

He had heard stories of tank men from the 8th army frying eggs on the armour plate and he persuaded the waiters to give him three raw eggs. The great Egg experiment was set for our return at about 14:30 hours when the sun was high above with not a splash of shadow to be seen. To my surprise this caused unprecedented excitement amongst the Brits, the Dutch had gone off home the day before. Bob was dead keen, so was Vanessa and the Irish girls. We even lifted some butter to grease the surface and stop the egg sticking. The waiters were amused and bewildered.

We'll come back to that because we were off to the temples once again. To hell with the damn Americans, the view of Luxor's temple was blighted by a giant red M in the background which was just about out of place as you can get for additional features in Egyptian temples. However, on the plus side if you are stuck for a meal you would not believe the value you get compared to UK. More on that latter.

So we whizzed past all the traders and onto the coach to drive about four hundred yards to the temple. Security and comfort were the only reasons for not walking. This was the business, and it had who I think I can honestly say is my favourite Egyptian god: Ming (the merciless). The whole set up is amazing and the temple is freely adorned with surviving bits of paintwork, even some Koptik Christian over paintings of the Gospels. The carvings were in deep relief, harder for your successor to noble them by having them removed and the temple was clearly built in the empires prime.

There was even a great cordoned off section where they were piecing together some of the columns that had been destroyed by floods and earthquakes centuries ago. What fascinated me was the traditional wooden scaffolding around a partial finished column. There were the workmen in the blazing heat of the day perched high on planks of wood tied together with bits of old rope.

Inside the temple itself there were signs of the brick ramps of Moses fame"....and the Pharaoh got mighty miffed with the Israelites and said; Oy, get yer own straw to make bricks wiv mate...". You know how the story goes, but to the point you could clearly see the bricks were made of mud and straw.

Now here we saw our first glimpse of Ming (the merciless). One wall was decorated with the less than traditional Ramasees kicks ass paintings and more with a one armed one legged man with an enormous stiffy. The legend has it that all the Egyptian males went of to war and left the women and children under the care of Ming an old man (rather like me). They were away for several months and on their return were surprised to see all the women were with child!!! They were so enraged at Ming's merciless behaviour that they cut off an arm and a leg. Mind you I bet he thought it was worth it!!! Hence the saying "it cost an arm and a leg." Of course no one thought the women should have crossed their legs or anything. Oh no; blame the bloke!!

The temple is one of the most complete and from the one end their leads an avenue of small Sphinx's that once stretched the three or four miles to the temple at Karnac. They are only now beginning to excavate the entire route or as much as is available and not buried under the new road system. We thought it was hot there but, when we got to Karnak we new the heat was on.

Perhaps it was the shock of getting off the air conditioned coach back into the blazing heat, but it felt twice as hot and we did not really do Karnak justice. It has a large green slime filed stone bath that was once a quayside for the Pharaohs and linked to the Nile by a canal. Royal barges (probably with old chariot wheels on the side to stop bumping) used to lead ceremonial processions from the river into the centre of the temple.

This temple too is pretty spectacular, but as it had an ice-cream stall most of us wimped out and tried to find some shade once we had walked through to the quayside. The other feature that makes this stand out from the other temples, if it needed one, it was well worth a touch of sunstroke to wander around, was the giant statue of a scarab beetle. Legend has it that if you walk round the statue seven times anti-clockwise and make a wish it will come true. Yeah, of course I did it, I was under the spell of Egypt. What did I wish for? Well if you see me without an arm and a leg one day.

It was mixed feelings that we left this the last temple of our visit. It was a relief to escape the sun and we calculated it must be prime frying temperature, but I did not feel I had seen enough, it really was something. Back to the ship and the cool flannels to wipe the sweat away and some cold beers. Twenty minutes later we are on deck and preparing a smoked glass table top for our egg number one.With Bob's help we found the hottest and carried it out into the direct sun. You should know that it was impossible to walk on the carpeted deck without some sort of footwear without burning your soles. Adam cracked the egg and with a flourish dropped it onto the table. Was it really hot enough to fry an egg.

Find out next time.

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Copyright 2005 D.J.Orton and A.G.Morris