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 …