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Trip Report (our stay) - May 2009 (LONG!!)

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Edinburgh, United...
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Trip Report (our stay) – May 2009 (LONG!!)

Hello again folks

Well, to be honest, when we go to Luxor these days it’s mainly for rest and relaxation, but this year we done slightly more than normal – all in the interests of TA I may add!!

As I said in my arrival report, the weather wasn’t very good during the first week, so one day we walked along to the museum. In all the years of travelling to Luxor, we have never visited the museum, so that was a priority this time – we were not disappointed. It is well worth a visit – we loved it. You are not allowed to take photographs inside, but we were approached by the guards on several occasions saying “you take photos?” which I presume would be them wanting baksheesh to turn a blind eye, but I was taking no chances! I just told them photos were not allowed and walked on.

We took a taxi along to see our friend Yousef the jeweller in Karnak also with the intention of visiting the newly refurbished Hilton where a friend of ours works. Well, there’s just one word and that is WOW!!! We were given a tour round the hotel, grounds and spa and it’s just wonderful – truly five star (with five star prices to match!). I took some photos and also have information regarding the spa with prices, which I will try to post at a later date. I think I'm right in saying that if you’re staying in the Hilton you need to pay 25 US Dollars for entry into the Spa and you also then get a discount on treatments available. If you are staying outwith the Hilton you need to pay 35 US Dollars to enter the spa and the treatments will be full price. You also have the option of actually staying at the rooms in the spa (at least that was my understanding of it all). It’s a pity about the old wrecks of boats that are moored just a little upriver of the spa infinity pool though – not a pretty sight!

One day we took the local ferry over to the West Bank (1LE per person each way) and had lunch at the Nile Valley Hotel – well worth the trip over. There’s lots of work going on over that side though to upgrade the road etc. so the ground is a bit uneven and rocky when getting off the ferry. I think it should look quite nice though once the work is complete. There are three new ferry boats – very smart indeed (I have already posted a couple of photos, which you can see on my profile page).

During this first week we were invited to our friend’s house in El Kobhy (Village of the Cobras) where the women of the household laid on the most fantastic meal for us. Soup, chicken, beef, salads, dips, bread etc. with loads of mineral water and soft drinks. We were stuffed at the end!! Then of course, all the family came to see us, all dressed in their best clothes wanting their photos taken! We obliged by taking 78 photos between the four of us, which we then had printed off at a photo shop near the back gates of the Winter Palace Hotel. We find this is the best idea as photos we have sent back to Luxor from the UK in the past have never arrived.

In our second week we took a trip along to Karnak Temple as we haven’t been there for years. It was quite a shock to see all the demolition that has taken place in Karnak, but the Temple itself is still awesome. We didn’t hire any guides so that we could wander where we wanted to – and avoided the guards who wanted to take you into obscure places to get the ‘best photos’ (usually NOT the best places to take photos – they just want the baksheesh). At the moment they seem to be clearing out the lake, which has been drained of a lot of water, and there were workers in there just with overalls on up to their waists in very smelly water raking out vegetation with their bare hands (Yuck).

Another thing that we had never done while in Luxor was to visit Luxor Temple at night, just as the sun goes down and when the floodlights are switched on, so we done that on our second week also. What a wonderful sight that was – truly awesome and quite magical. Totally different from visiting during the heat of the day and another thing that is well worth doing. Again, we avoided guards who wanted to lead us off the beaten path and also guys who were offering their services as ‘guides’ for 50LE. I took loads of photos here too, so will also post some of them once I get more time.

I had a back and neck massage at the hotel on the second-last day, which was quite good – the girl found sore bits that I didn’t know I had!! (½ body massage 115LE, full body massage 230LE).

Now, as to the hassle, in my opinion it was very minimal and no worse (maybe even less) than I have experienced in the past. Yes, on the Corniche or outside the hotels you did get hassle to take taxis, calaches or feluccas, but a simple la shukran usually sufficed unless you got someone a bit more persistent. We did not experience any unpleasantness from anyone we refused. We did have someone come up to us saying he knew us from the Mercure Hotel, which was totally wrong in any case, so we sent him packing! We walked almost everywhere and made sure we walked towards oncoming traffic and that way we ensured that taxis or caleches could not stop or drive along beside us, which worked very well. We spent a lot of time walking in El Medina Street or Television Street where we encountered no hassle whatsoever – just the occasional woman or child begging, but that wasn’t obtrusive. I did hand out pens to some children and that was met usually by their eyes lighting up and a big thank you (in English). I felt safe at all times and even when my friend and I were out without our husbands, we had no problems whatsoever.

Having said that though, there was one small incident as we were walking towards the Iberotel from the WPP where a guy approached my friend and I not realising that our husbands were only yards in front of us. He offered us a service that we surely did NOT want and when we pointed to our husbands he made himself scarce. (And yes, we were appropriately dressed).

We used the following restaurants for which I will do reviews later: Puddleduck, Dean’s Bistro, The Lantern, Snobs, Nile Valley Hotel, Emilio Hotel, Mandarin Chinese (Iberotel), Taste of India and Kababgy. (The only ones I wouldn’t really recommend are the Mandarin and the Emilio – but lunch at the Emilio wasn’t too bad). We also used Arkwrights Supermarket a lot – fantastic! I’ll probably do a separate report on that too.

See, told you – when I start writing, I forget to stop!! Will do more later …

Arizona
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1. Re: Trip Report (our stay) – May 2009 (LONG!!)

Great Post, Cannot wait to visit Luxor in November.

Bolton, United...
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2. Re: Trip Report (our stay) – May 2009 (LONG!!)

Great TR Marlscat, can't wait to read the rest.

Quick question regarding the West Bank roadworks. Has access to the Memnom Colossi changed at all? The reason I ask is that the SCA is meant to be starting fresh excavations there, following the discovery of a cache of statues there, a couple of years ago, that the workmen building the old road had found, but decided to rebury & put the road over the top of, so there's a strong chance of therre being more to see at this site, either now or in teh near future.

Thanks again.

Glen

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3. Re: Trip Report (our stay) – May 2009 (LONG!!)

Hi Glen

I am really sorry, but I don't know the answer to that question - hopefully perhaps KV-explorer or some of the local residents of Luxor can help you with that. The only roadworkings that I saw were at the ferry terminal on the West Bank, and sadly that was the furthest that I got onto the West Bank!!

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4. Re: Trip Report (our stay) – May 2009 (LONG!!)

Hi Glen,

I travelled to the Hatshepsut temple area for my usual treks thru and over the Theban mountains and I did notice that each time the drivers took a different route to the usual one past Memnon.

Although I did not question it, or see more into it at the time, it could mean your suspicions are correct.

Also, when high on the cliffs, I usually spend a half hour or so scanning the whole area as far as the Rameseum and the Colossi with my binoculars, so perhaps would have seen what was going on, but it was particularly warm up there last week and at the times of day I was up there, there were no areas of shade, so I kept on the move.

I do know (as I'm sure you do) that they have been excavating the field behind the Colossi, where the temple of Amenophis III once stood, for a couple of years now.

Bolton, United...
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5. Re: Trip Report (our stay) – May 2009 (LONG!!)

KVExplorer:

Well, the statues they found a couple of years back were more of the Sekhmet pieces; later many were moved to the Mut Temple, at Esru, Karnak & the Amun-Re temple; Amun-hetep did make 365 of them, so I guess there were plenty to go around (LOL).

I did notice that parts of his mortuary temple site had been screened off, last June, so it's fairly obvious that the temple is being given a good deal more attention than would have been the case 21 years ago, when I first visited; the standard line then was that there was nothing worth excavating.

Perhaps, what's inspired the renewed interest is the fact that Merenptah's temple has, finally, been properly excavated & this has given us a much better idea as to what potential wonders the Memnon Temple would have held.

(For those who may be unaware of this, Merenptah built his mortuary temple by reusing material from that of Amun-hetep III, which had been destryed by floods, by the time of the reign of the later King.

Even the famous "Israel Stela" is actually caved on the back of a mmuch earlier stela from Amunn-hetep III's monument & much of the statuary to be found in the Merenptah Temple Museum, again, also came from the same source.)

Marlscat:

Interesting that you should have had the offer of the distinctly unwanted service in that area, between the two hotels.

I can assure you that this is something that doesn't only happen to women. The same thing happened to me a couple of times last year; young lads, come down from Aswan (or so they claimed), & I'm a balding, middle-aged man. Thankfully, adopting an air of being extremely insulted & telling them in no uncertain terms to go away, had the desired effect; though some seemed to think that they should receive baksheesh for doing so (not a cat in hell's chance of that).

Didn't ruin the holiday, but it was a distinctly new & uunwelcome development over previous years' other hassle having been much less than had been the case.

Glen

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6. Re: Trip Report (our stay) – May 2009 (LONG!!)

Glen,

Just to expand on your reply to Marlscat concerning hers and your own 'unwelcome' invitations, it was becoming increasingly more noticable over the last few years, that the number of mascara wearing 'pretty boys' who hung around the railings along the Corniche, making 'gestures' to visiting male tourists was growing, especially late at night.

I did read on an Egyptian info web-site I found that this 'problem' was being noticed by the relevant authorities.

This trip however, I noticed none of this and no 'obvious' perportrators either, so maybe the situation, although not completely eradicated, has been somewhat cleaned-up.

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7. Re: Trip Report (our stay) – May 2009 (LONG!!)

Hi Glen

Yes, the unwanted attention was a bit of a shock, although in no way did it spoil the holiday - I have heard of this happening, but this was the first time I had been confronted with such an event. We then decided that if it happened again if us ladies were out on our own we'd head for the nearest male tourist claiming that he was one of our husbands!! Good job it didn't happen again or some poor unsuspecting bloke might have got the fright of his life!! lol.

I had also heard about young lads hanging about the Corniche area (can't remember who from now) but we quite honestly didn't see any signs of that while there.

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8. Re: Trip Report (our stay) – May 2009 (LONG!!)

Great post Marlscat! I cant wait, as I will be on my own, good to know about the "unwanted" offer;)

Could you put up the details of the jeweller, have to buy something for my daughter this trip and will be there a couple of weeks.

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9. Re: Trip Report (our stay) – May 2009 (LONG!!)

Great trip report, Marlscat. Will be heading there in September, so can't wait to read your next!

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10. Re: Trip Report (our stay) – May 2009 (LONG!!)

Hi Nefertari

The jeweller that we use is Yousef from Yousef Baazar in Karnak village. We first met him in the days when he stayed at the Hilton and he always seemed to give us a good price. If you were to come up the Hilton driveway and turn right, his shop is about 500 yards or so along the street on the same side as the Hilton. He has lots of silver, some of which is Nubian, and he had started selling gold before the Hilton closed for refurbishment. However, now he has only a little gold and it's not on show, so you'd need to ask for it. Business is poor even now that the Hilton is open.

He won't know our names, but if you tell him that the four Scottish people who visited him in May and brought him Scottish tea towels told you to go there, I'm sure he'll give you a good price. He collects tea towels and has them displayed in his shop. His English is excellent.