Journal: Friday 25 November 2005
Staying on the East Bank in Luxor today, Jim and Jane, Fiona, Malcolm and I set off together for a day in Karnak Temple. Getting there around 12.00pm is about the best time of day to visit the temple because the tour groups are generally leaving and it gets gradually less crowded as the afternoon progresses, until around 4.00pm when the next groups arrive.
We began our tour together, but as always at Karnak because there is so much to see, we gradually drifted off into different directions. I took my camera on a walk-through of the Amun Temple and spent quite a lot of time in the Festival Temple of Tuthmose III. The ‘botanical reliefs’ in the back of the temple were beautifully lit by the afternoon sun. Later I went into the open-air museum to see what was new. The Chapelle Rouge, the barque-shrine built by Hatshepsut has been reconstructed by the French team working in Karnak over the past several years and now completed, it looks magnificent. I spent a long time photographing each block in the shrine, remembering those that used to be stored on risers many years ago. It is a work of pure dedication. The portico of Tuthmose IV at the back of the museum has also had much more added since I was last here. The colourful reliefs of the King and the Gods, today shining in the sun, really bring it to life.
We had arranged to meet up in the cafeteria later in the afternoon, but getting side-tracked on the way, I began to photograph the reliefs of Rameses II on the southern girdle wall as the light here was perfect. Surprise surprise, I met Jim who had the same idea. After a quick drink in the café it was time to leave. The sun was low as we left through the main entrance, stopping only briefly to say goodbye to the ram-headed sphinxes that lead up to the first pylon.
In the evening we all went out to eat together at Farag’s open-air restaurant in the bazaar, which is set in a little garden festooned with coloured lights. Sitting chatting about Karnak in the cool of the evening was a perfect end to another good day.