We arrived for our 3rd visit this year on the 7th November, via Thomas cook from Manchester, the flight was full.
Not many tourists getting visas from the kiosks but plenty getting herded by the reps to the long queues, where the price is inflated.
We had pre arranged a taxi with our local driver who we use when in Luxor. We have built up a relationship with him. I know there is much discussion on the forums as to what is a cheap price, what is a fair price, ect. So we pay him what we think is fair wherever we go. We never discuss money. I suppose sometimes on short journeys we pay a pound extra, but if we ever go by taxi to the west bank and he waits for us we probably get a bargain so it works both ways. We pay him LE50 to the Sonesta.
We check in and go for a drink at the Kings Head, there are offers of taxi and calleche as we leave the hotel but a shake of the hand and a simple shukran and there is no more hassle.
Even walking to the local ferry there was barely any hassle, we usually expect some from felluca and motor boats around the Iberotel, but nothing, a few offers of a calleche around Luxor temple but nothing other than friendly banter.
We crossed by local ferry, hired local bicycles and cycled all over the west bank, had a brilliant time. I can really recommend it as a excellent way to get around. We cycled up to the Valley of the Kings, we've done this before and although it looks flat, it's a little deceiving as it's on an uphill incline and hard work when peddling into the sun, but on the way back, you can free wheel all the way back to carter's house!!
Everyone is so friendly, we kept stopping off for drinks and just to have a breather, can't recommend it enough. We did notice there are many more cyclists on the west bank now, its a great way to get around. I can remember being one of those tourists on the big coaches being bussed around the west bank, it's great to see so many back again passing us while we are sat enjoying a fanta through a straw.
The other tourist restaurants that we ate at, other than the Kings head during our stay were the Lantern and a Taste of India. I have got to say that both were absolutely superb and I shall review both seperately.
The banter around the Little Britan area was just that, banter, rather than hassle, although I did have a run in with one calleche driver and his very very thin horse late at night, I'm sure most of you know the story. He just needed to give up a packet of cigarettes and spend the money on giving the horse a meal.
In the middle of our stay we used a local agent well known to this forum who arranged a Lake Nasser cruise for us, we had not been on one for 4 years. For anyone interested in more temples and utter piece and quiet I cannot recommend it enough, it really is a must do. We got the train to Aswan, were collected by taxi and taken to our cruise boat the Prince Abbas, a Death on the Nile type cruiser with outside cabins and polished wooden steps. Believe it or not the boat sailed with only 16 passegers on board, we had silver service meals and our Luxor agent arranged an upgrade to a junior suite on the upper deck. Only 2 boats were sailing on Lake Nasser and when we arrived at Abu Simbel it was amazing, better than I can ever remember it. We had our own personal guide for two who was excellent and the boat was truly a 5* boat.
We study heiroglyphics and are members of an egyptological society during our stay we spent time in Karnak, Luxor and Habu, studying our gyyphs, just sitting for hours and I have to say that duing our time we were never hassled by anyone.
I sat alone in Luxor temple one day and was joined by school girls from Qena, they sat with me for 30 minutes, they did not speak much English, but I speak hardly any Arabic at all, but we really enjoyed each others company. They were staying in Luxor for 3 days and visiting the temples and they were lovely girls and full of life.
We ate local food, walked through local areas, the local souk, i would like to try and hire a decent bike on the east bank.
Our next visit is Januaury with our Egyptology group, of around 16 people which will be fun, although January will be a first for me as I think it will be too cold. The good thing about Egypt is whatever we see during the day, the pool is waiting when we get back.
Another thing I should mention, there did seem to be more tourists around. However when alone in local areas, just use common sense, dont display your valuables. Put your wallet/purse in a zipped/trouser pocket, not in a back pack on your bag.
We had a fantastic time, can't wait to return, looking forward to January.