Travelling to Egypt
Egypt trip - Luxor
I arrived at the St. Joseph Hotel in Luxor, Egypt in the summer of 1998. The hotel rooms were adequate for a three star hotel, and of course the variations from hotel to hotel are immense depending on location. But for now it was fine – it had beds and bedding and I wasn’t planning to spend much time in the room apart from to sleep at the end of a long day sightseeing. The first few days I did the typical touristy activities, visiting the Colossi of Memnon, the Valley of the Kings on the West Bank, the Avenue of the Sphinx and also the Head of Ramses. These took me back to primary school, where we had done a project on Egypt and had made a clay model of the Nile, all happy days consisting of fond memories. The Valley of the Kings was blisteringly hot, at around 40 degrees centigrade, and yet because it was a dry type of heat it was not so uncomfortable as one might have thought. If it had been humid then I think I just might have asked to cut the trip short.
Inside some of the monuments you can find ancient hieroglyphics, which again took me back to primary school. Those of you who also practised hieroglyphics at school might like to try to decipher some of the fabulously artistic ancient writing of the Pharaohs. Back at the St. Joseph Hotel, I sat down to dinner everyday being asked whether I would like ‘rice or fries’ with my food, two foods that I particularly like so was happy that it was offered everyday. I used to eat the bread rolls everyday as well until one afternoon as I was passing by the kitchen door outside I spotted a long line of bread rolls sitting happily on the dusty floor of the kitchen, without any sheeting underneath, just sitting there ready to be eaten by the holiday-makers who were blissfully unaware of their origins. Needless to say, I no longer required bread rolls at dinner.
The hotel also had an entertainment night, with a belly dancer, and some Egyptian dancing and a horse that came into the dining hall! The female belly dancer danced mainly around the women, I believe so that it wasn’t perceived as anything sleazy as it was a family hotel, so that was good. There was an English tea shop which was rather pleasant – a reminder of home, where you could purchase sandwiches and tea and sip away the afternoon as if you were in London. In addition, there was a jewellery shop called ‘Yorkshire Bob’s’ which is hard to resist venturing into just out of curiosity and also to meet said Bob.
There is a small annoyance which is the horse and carriage riders that continuously ask if you want a ‘Calesh’ so just to warn you about that one. You can take a Felucca boat along the Nile, as I did, and reach a place called ‘Crocodile Island’, though I don’t remember seeing many crocodiles. If you do decide to go you do so at your own risk (of not seeing any crocodiles). Taking a Felucca boat in the nighttime along the Nile is a must for any traveller to Luxor because the night lights and activity seem far away and yet nearby at the same time. When you arrive at the West Bank you can take a camel ride into some Nubian villages and see how the Nubians live.
A trip to the Red Sea is also a simple pleasure, where one gets to scuba dive and view the underwater creatures close up. Mind you the boat that we were on decided to empty the toilet whilst some of us (I mean I) were still swimming towards the boat. Picture a scene out of Jaws as I swam my fastest away from a log with sharp teeth. The Aswan Dam is also a place of interest for all you architecture fans. It’s a short bus ride away, which is a good excuse to get to know some of the other tourists around and perhaps some of the inhabitants. It is worth a look really just to cross off the checklist I suppose, unless of course as I said you are a huge architecture fan.The Luxor Museum and the Luxor Mummy Museum saw the end to my insightful an interesting trip to Luxor. I had planned to visit Cairo, but was warned about bandits on the train, so thought it best to leave Cairo, the pyramids and the Sphinx for another trip, this time hopefully without any menacing Jaws logs! :)