Luxor with TNS Frankfurt

Check out the pictures of the Luxor 2004 trip

6 - 13 february 2003

Composition, Text and Photo's : Jan Feijes copyright, February 2003

6 february

Flying to Luxor

It seems kind of strange to go skating in february. The weather tends to be quite harsh in that season in the year. In case of Germany and the Netherlands that is very true, as we saw on Munchen airport.
The airport was hit by a snow storm and we had to wait quite a while for another plane from an airport which was closed beacause of the snowstorm. Through the snowstorm the missing passengers ran in the plane, the runway was cleared by several dozens of snowploughs and we were off into the skies.
After a swift flight to Egypt, we were met with the warmth of Egypt. No we were not in Alaska any more, we are in Luxor, Egypt.

7 february

Luxor Marathon

Skaters are a strange breed of people. They go on holidays to the most beautifull places in the world to "relax". In the advent of a marathon the rise early like four or five in the morning just because a normal marathon starts that early.
Everybody turned up at the breakfast. The people who didn't put their clock one hour forward were a bit more in a rush at the breakfast.

At about 6 the busses picked us up at the hotel to drive us to the start of the Luxor Marathon: The Luxor Temple. After the ceremonies the race was off. Apart from our group there were three other skaters along with the marathon. The crowd was great, especially in the way they reacted to the skaters.
The race consisted of four rounds in the vincinity of Luxor. After the finish there was time for the prizes and the festivities.

After the Marathon, Prizes
Of course we went back to the hotel by skates. We crossed the Nile by a small boat and went off for a shower and some rest. After all we had to compensate for the very early morning. It was also time for a short stroll through Luxor.
At night it was time for a dinner party in the honnor of the Marathon.
Here more prizes awards, medals and so on were given. It was quite a good meal with Egyption dishes and a good party complete with a cute belly dancer and a scary snake who had to dance (but the snake was actually quite tired and didn't feel like dancing).

8 february

Going to Karnak temple

Apart from all the beatiful things Egypt has to offer, one of the main attractions are the people of Egypt themselves.
For the Egyptions a skater is a very, very rare seen phenomenen. Therefore they don't want to miss anything of a skater passing by, especially not when a bigger group passes by. When skating along the villages (or slums) you see people coming and running out of their houses to come and watch. The kids try to pretend they are skating by making the skating movements in the dust.
At a railroad crossing the group of skaters is also in the center of attention. The police, which is always there to give us an escort, is always trying to give us way at crossings.

Karnak Temple
There is undoubtly written quite a lot by the Karnak complex. I think that in the Luxor area it is one of the most impressive complexes to wander through. You can spend hours over there. And that is exactly what you should do.
Take your time to feel the grandness, and let yourself be lured into a "don't pass" area by some local trying to earn some baksish (tip) for some "spectacular view".
The area behind the temple with the man made swimming pool / lake is especially worthwhile.

9 february

Skating over the Nile to the Valey of the Kings
Whenever I talk about skating in Egypt. The question I always get in return is : can you skate in Egypt ? The whole country is just a plain of sand? Do they have roads ?
Wel actually Egypt does have very nice roads, especially in the neighbourhoud of Luxor to transport all the tourists back and forth. This means that the asphalt is close to perfection. And that apart from the occasional bus, the road is used by donkey carts, a few taxis and some public transportation busses.
In general the roads are free to use for skating. And this is not limited to roads in the city, also the highway is there for skating. There are very nice bridges to cross and the landscape is pretty amazing. I did not see any sand, the soil is more gravel like. The sand has probably all been blown to Europe (the dust on your car).

Climbing the valley and going into the tombs
The valey of the kings is known for the tombs and all the beatiful paintings inside and of course the tomb of Tutanchamon.
But what is equally worthwhile to take a look at is the landscape around the valley. You can climb pretty easy on the hills and get a wonderfull view over the Nile valley. Remarkably is the sharp border between the green fertile land and the kind of dead land which is stoney hard and rough.
The tombs themselves are equally impressive. You descent into them through very steep stairs through narrow passageways between the rocks. The paintings on the walls are so sharp and so colorfull that you can hardly believe that they are so old. There is still work being done on the tombs, so maybe in the future we can visit a new yet undiscovered tomb.
After all the tomb spotting it was back down the valley on the skates . A really great downhill from the valley of the kings. If they would have know that in the old days ...

Luxor Night Skate
Some traditions are just too good to break. Such a tradition is a night skate.
So on the tuesday night we went skating through Luxor. And on this day the Luxor night skate was born. With our group we left from the hotel of to the Luxor temple, trying to take a sneak preview of the night show of the Karnak temple. We continued our trip through the city center and along the train station. The trip through the tourist bazar was great, pretty funning skating through all those busy streets. It made a lasting impression.

10 february

Luxor temple, Bazar

The Luxor temple itself was one of the temples where one of us succeeded (for a while) in skating through the entrance and then to the temple. The lines of guards are pretty impressive as are the carvings in all the walls.
Fascinating were all the "no entry" signs where locals waved to you that for a few baksish you could go past the sign for an unique picture. Well ... . It took me not that much time to check this temple out and headed for the bazar to do some souvenir hunting. We were recognized by the people over there because of the night skating the day before.
Some good deals can be made on the bazar, like lamps water, pipes stone artefacts and so on. I've got some really neat stuff. Take your time to negotiote your way down and enjoy the tea you get in the process.

Skate tricks and Karnak by Night
In the afternoon it was time for some skate instructions. We got some speed skating instructions, how to go faster mainly and how to improve your stroke. Some real good practice runs were made which look remarkably simular to the exercises which I also make on the ice skating ring here in The Hague.
And really, it works. We returned to our hotel over the Luxor bridge (highway), and prepared ourselves for the nightlife. With the familiar Peugot taxi, they all seem to drive, we went into the city center to have dinner.
After the dinner it was time to go to the Karnak temple again for the night show. First of all you walk in complete darkness to the temple. The light and the sound leads you through the temple while you hear what has happened in the complex and you learn about the history of the kings their intrigues and so on. No soap stories were not invented in the 20th century. As with the daytime Karanak is equally impressive or maybe more impressive than during the daytime. The darkness leaves more room to wander away with your thoughts.

11 february

Hatschepsut - Getting there
At the other side of the valley of the kings is the Hatschepsut temple. The best way to pronounce it is to say "hot chicken soup" and then fast. That looks the most like saying the name of the temple. The best way to get to the temple is, of course on skates. Then you can really experience the grandness of this temple which seems to be a part of the rock formation. In some way it belongs there, the whole valley leads to this temple. It was also the starting point of the marathon we had a few days ago. With our group we were quick on the uphill to the temple. Dropped the skates in the taxi bus and we were off to explore the temple.

Looking at Hatschepsut and the village
The 11th is a national holiday in Egypt. Everybody was dressed up and the whole Hatschepsut site was filled by Egyptian tourists from Cairo taking pictures looking, you know, the thing tourists do.
The temple is more spectacular from the outside than from the inside. But the statues are still massive and impressive when you stand right next to them or right beneath them. After taking a look in the temple we went to a small village.

Here were also some smaller tombs to take a look at. When walking into the village we were met by a bunch of children all too interested in the foreigners (and of course the bakshish they would bring for sure).
The tombs down here were smaller, but somehow this gave a more "real" atmosphere. Furthermore I saw some real mummies after we crawled on hand and foot for a few metres. After looking at several tombs in the village, we were off on our skates back to the hotels over the well paved highways Luxor had to offer.

Tuesday Night Skating in Luxor
Only one night skate is of course not enough. Especially when it is tuesday night and when you are on the move with TNS you can't stay sipping on your waterpipe on a tuesday night. So the question what shall we do tonight was answered pretty fast. With quite a big group we went skating to the train station, where we picked up our escort policeman and attracted a lot of attention by all the local beauties. With our motorized companion we toured through the city. Of course the trip through the bazar was'n missed. This time we could enjoy even more spontanious reactions. People were running along, kids were pretending they were skating themselves.

12 february

Souvenirs in Luxor
After all the skating in, through and around Luxor it was time to do some relaxing.
The numorous horse carriages can take you anywhere for very little. We dicided to go into the city center for some lamps, stone stuff, herbs and other very usefull stuff. The market is quite a sight. Here you can see how your furniture is being made by hand. Where meat does come from (no not from the supermarket packed in some plastic, but really from an animal. Here you can see it all live.
It is also to a good time to buy this real special waterpipe, to enjoy it back home. We enjoyed it all and afte drinking a lot of tea, with lots of bags we returned back to the hotel for the afternoon program.

Sailing the Nile
As I stated before, it was time to relax. And where to do this better than on a sailing boat on the Nile.
And so we did. After supplying the boat with enough drinks and food to last us during the trip to the sunset we set of. We were towed by a boat upstream, and after we were in position the sail was being raised, and so were the drinks.
It was a relaxing trip where we could enjoy the shores and everything on it of the Nile. The drifting on the Nile, combined with the company and drinks made us ready for the night life.
Here we could enjoy our Hotel belley dancer in the Hotel Discotheque. Here we could exchange culture, disco dancing versus belley dancing.

13 february

The end ?
Early the next moring it was time to say goodbey to the hotel, the hotel musicians, the metal detectors which make such a nice sound when you wizz through them with your skates and all the signs which we don't have back home. The luggage was neatly stacked on the roof as you should in these countries and we were off to the airport.
In the plane everybody was talking about how great it was and that we now were flying back to the cold home country, which seems a lot like Alaska when you compare it to Egypt. The snow had melted away a bit. So also in the north the signs for the oncoming skate season were looming.
I think that Egypt is the perfect way to start of the skate season. It seems a mix of a feast of everything : mind, skates, eyes and actually everything. The asphalt of Egypt is too tempting to me, just to enjoy it once.

Useful links

Short clip: Skating Luxor (TNS-Video)
Pictures made during the Luxor trip (TNS action press)
Common information from the city of Luxor
Official site of the Egyptian Marathon
Information about Hatshepsut (family tree etc.)
Information about the Karnak temple complex
Weather forcast of Luxor

Pictures of the Luxor 2004 trip

Remarks ? Mail me!