26 July 2014
The morning started with a big breakfast with the addition of pancakes to my regular pastries and melon. That day was most certainly a pool day and my holiday buddy and I spent the majority of the day in the whirlpool with two people we’d met in the hotel. It got off to a positive start- with morning cocktail- and we chatted away in the sun for hours. The thing with summer in Egypt is that it is so hot that you do need to spend some time somewhere cool and make sure you are covered in sun cream. After day one, I swapped my standard stuff for my friend’s extra strong lotion- thankfully, that did the trick. Eventually our pool closed so we finally moved to the pool by Nile, where we watched the sun set over the river.
In the evening, we decided we should actually leave the hotel grounds and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to go to the light show at Karnak Temple. There were several shows each night, in different languages and we left for the English one an hour early so we could grab some dinner en route. We agreed with our driver to come and pick us up a few hours later and went off to buy our tickets. We arrived an empty ticket office with a few men lounging around outside. They told us that we could only book tickets just before the show and that we’d have to come back. We were also told the show would only run if a certain number of people turned up and there was no way of knowing if that would happen. Considering the fact that we hadn’t seen nearly as many tourists as we had expected, we were not optimistic.
Another person turned up the show and we explained the situation before suggesting we find food. He ended up ditching us. There didn’t seem to be much around the temple but we noticed somewhere that looked like a restaurant and asked if they were serving food. They said yes but we seemed cynical; there wasn’t a menu and they didn’t seemed unsure and reluctant. In the end we decided to leave. More people had turned up to the temple. We tried to discuss the situation with them but none of us were impressed with the attitude from the men by the ticket office. For the first time, I felt uneasy in Egypt. The area was dark and empty and the people were not friendly. In the end, we all decided to share a taxi back to town.
We decided to try our luck with a bus. We had caught one with our local friend the other night and it had only cost 1 Egyptian Pound. They are basically mini buses that drive around with the doors open and you can flag one down and hop in it until it fills up. We made the mistake of asking the price, even though we knew. The driver then chatted away in Arabic to the other passengers- I would be willing to bet that he was asking “how much shall I charge them?” I don’t think tourists usually hopped on his bus. I forget whether it came to 10 Egyptian Pounds for each of us or between the two- either way, it was much more than the previous night but it was still cheap so we just paid. We were then taken all around the houses, including to pick up the driver’s friend/son so that he could stare at the Western girls in the backseat. That was a tad awkward but we were starting to become used to it and I can’t say I particularly minded. We started to worry that we weren’t being taken to our hotel but then we were the last to jump in the bus. People seemed to be dropped off in order and our hotel was on the outskirts of the city centre. Eventually, we started to recognise the streets and we were finally back in our hotel home.
Back at the hotel, we managed to find our taxi driver to tell him not to come and pick us up at the temple. We then weren’t really in the mood to head out again, so we ordered a comforting batch of spaghetti bolognese each to reboot at the hotel restaurant. It was exactly what we needed.
Our day got back on track that evening. We went to the hotel bar and met a group of guys from our plane. We ended up gatecrashing their card game and joining in, with a cheesy club playlist pumping in the background. The night had ended up the way it was supposed to be, although we did later hear that the Karnak Temple light show was worth sticking around for. I think the answer is to go in a bigger group and eat before you go. Well, maybe next time.
Read about the rest of my trip:
- Luxor Part One: the river, the souk and a new friend
- Luxor Part Two: tombs, mummies and a family dinner
- Luxor Part Four: temples, museums and another family dinner
- Luxor Part Five: feluccas on the Nile, Banana Island and results day
- Luxor Part Six: farewells and a day in Cairo