Journal: Tuesday 30 November 2004
We had quite a lazy morning today as Sam & I got up late. At breakfast we decided to go over to the West Bank again, this time to the Seti Temple at Qurna. It is supposed to have recently been re-opened, but I have never known it to be closed in the past eight years. I did notice that the processional way is more complete and new trees have been planted along the route. There are also some very nice blocks, now on risers and a good plan of the temple for visitors. The German restorers have done an excellent job. We began by looking at the many royal stelae near the remains of the first Pylon. I had never looked at these before.
We spent a lot of time in the chambers on either side of the hypostyle hall. There is always scaffolding in at least one of these rooms, making it difficult to take pictures and they are pretty dark and gloomy. We noticed one curious relief I’ve never paid much attention to, in the middle right-hand room. Seti is offering to a god, seated on a throne with an iunmutef fetish behind him. The peculiar thing about him is his headdress, which I have only ever seen on Meskhenet, a goddess of childbirth and destiny. Unfortunately the hieroglyphs are too high up and not clear enough when blown up to identify him. When I got back to the hotel I checked in Porter & Moss and they say this particular relief is Osiris! Isis and Anubis are behind him. I’ve never really noticed the lovely lintel in the Sanctuary either, with cartouches of Seti & Rameses.
There were many other interesting little scenes to look at. Every time I go to any of the temples there is always something else to see and I think it will always be like that. I was only a little disappointed because all of the outside scenes I wanted to photograph were bisected with deep shadows, so no good for pictures. We must have spent about three hours in the temple – so long that the gafir had given up trailing around after us and gone to sleep in a corner. He turned up for his baksheesh however, just as we were leaving.
Today was much hotter than it has been recently, just about perfect for me. We thought about calling in at the Ramesseum, but decided the Rameses Cafe at Habu was probably a better bet, so ended up there again around 3.00pm. Had a couple of drinks and chatted to Salah and Shahat for a while before leaving the West Bank, back across the bridge. Sam seems to be getting the hang of this driving business – she can even anticipate when a donkey-cart is about to do a U-turn on our side of the road or a tourist bus will try to run us into a canal! I really don’t know why they bother having two lanes on a road as nobody takes any notice of the white lines. You realise this as a huge truck comes hurtling towards you on your side of the road, stepping on the gas to overtake an invisible vehicle on their own side. Yesterday the police at the checkpoint had made a problem with Sam driving the car, wanting to see all her papers etc. (apparently there’s another one she’s supposed to have especially to drive in Luxor, but doesn’t). Today they just waved us through.
Back to the hotel for few hours to download pictures, have showers and chill out for a while before going for dinner. We ate at a new (to us) place below the Corniche called el-Khabagi. It was OK but quite expensive and a bit touristy. I’ve never known Luxor to be so quiet, except after the Deir el-Bahri incident a few years ago. The reason for this apparently is because there are no cruiseboats here, as the lock at Esna is closed and they are all staying upriver on the other side of the lock. There are hardly any tourists in Luxor at the moment. It’s like a ghost town at night. We had arranged to meet Abdul and the others at el-Kalaa coffeeshop at 10.00pm, but they didn’t turn up until almost midnight. Meanwhile we were the floorshow in an all-male coffee place where few tourists go, though it was OK because the staff know us now, though there were a few sly looks from the young guys playing dominoes. Another late night.