LUXOR AND ASWAN DECEMBER 2011
I flew with Easyjet to Luxor with my friend Karin. Our original plan was to go to Aswan, but the direct flights were cancelled. We stayed at the Winter Palace Pavillion Wing, where the rooms are very comfortable and well soundproofed. It would be my top choice in Luxor in future, subject to getting a good deal of course.
Hassany met us and the next day his driver took us to the West Bank where we saw Hatshepsut’s temple, Seti 1 temple (very good, don’t know why it is not more popular) Howard Carter’s house, very sweet guardians and quite interesting, and the tomb of Ay.
Our first evening a strange thing happened. WE went out for dinner to a respectable restaurant in the southern cluster, and when the waiter had taken our order he said something about a drink. We thought he was offering us a tea or coffee on the house after the meal, and thanked him. Then it emerged he was asking out to go somewhere else with him on a personal basis. Rather embarrassed, we then had to say we were too tired to go out. He looked cross and it rather spoilt our meal. We could not understand what it was all about.
Our second evening we met up with Edward and Freda and had a very long chat. We told them about the waiter and they said that it quite often happens that older foreign ladies will take up with an Egyptian man and and spend money on him. If this happens to anyone else, I strongly recommend a polite but firm refusal, no reasons necessary. After this conversation Karin said I started mentioning my husband a lot whenever talking to taxidrivers, etc “First time in Luxor?” “No, I often come here with my husband”.
Day three, Hassany’s car drove us down to Aswan, stopping at El Kab where we saw the tombs and the two small temples about 3 km from the main road. You really felt miles from anywhere. There were no police checks on the route any more, but I thought more speed bumps. Arrived at the Isis Island in time for the pool. I have posted a separate review. I think it offers the best value in Aswan, if you overlook a few typically Egyptian flaws.
In Aswan we saw Phil and Allison who were in the same hotel with their son and his girlfriend and often had a chat with them.
I had had a very challenging year in 2011 and really wanted a rest so we didn’t do very much in Aswan. Dinner at Chef Khalil twice, prawns fantastic. I went to the Nubian Museum and they more or less had to turn the lights on specially for me; they certainly had to open the ticket office specially. WE also visited the Cataract in our best clothes, not sure if they would let us in, but the gatekeeper welcomed us with open arms and insisted on driving us 50 yards to the entrance in his little electric train. I stayed here once before the renovations and the staff were always particularly nice. We had a glass of Egyptian wine on the terrace which was the same price as anywhere and included fancy nuts and nibbles. The staff told us there were only six rooms occupied, but they had bookings for Christmas. It looks incredibly plush, with alabaster staircases and sunken lights in the floor. The second night there was a sprinkling of other guests and we had dinner there as well. It was good, but Western style and London prices, not really what I go to Egypt for. Anyway I was interested to go there. I suppose if they get busy they may restore their old policy of restricting access to non residents.
Our last day Hassany’s driver collected us and drove us straight to Luxor, lunch at the Winter Palace pool bar for a last shot of sunlight, then straight to the airport where we got home without incident. The flight took 6 hours which I think is a bit longer than usual. Six hours does feel longer than five and a half.
People in Egypt were watching election broadcasts on TV, and the word democracy brought thumbs up - everyone said they had voted - but apart from that we saw little indication that things were in any way different from the last years. One stallholder in the souk did shout out “Oh my God – a tourist!” when he saw us as it was so quiet. But this is always a quiet time of year. While we should all keep an eye on the news, as things stand I would not have the slightest hesitation in recommending anyone to travel to Luxor and Aswan.