Luxor Part Three: pools, cocktails and a failed show

26 July 2014

The morning started with a big breakfast, with the addition of pancakes to my regular pastries and melon. The day was most certainly a pool day and The Flatmate and I spent the majority of the day in the whirlpool with two people we’d met in the hotel. Things got off to a positive start – with a 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 the horrible sunburn I managed to get on day one, I swapped my standard stuff for The Flatmate’s extra strong lotion – thankfully, that did the trick. Eventually our pool was closed so we moved to the hotel’s main pool by the Nile, where we watched the sun set over the river.

In the evening, The Flatmate and I 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 that he would 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 closer to the time. 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 in Luxor, we were not optimistic.

Not long after, another person turned up to see the show and we explained the situation before suggesting we all 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 were cynical; there wasn’t a menu and the staff seemed unsure and reluctant. We decided to leave. More people had turned up to the temple and we tried to discuss the situation with them but none of us were impressed with the attitude of 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 skip the show and share a taxi back to town.

Once back in the town centre, The Flatmate and I decided to try our luck and get a cheap bus back to the hotel. We had caught one with our local friend the other night and it had only cost 1 Egyptian Pound. They are basically mini buses/people-carriers that drive around with the doors open and you can flag one down and hop in it until it fills up and the driver will drop you off on a first come, first serve basis.

After we’d clambered aboard one, 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 they thought he should charge us. 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 but, either way, it was much more than the previous night, however it was still cheap so we just paid up. 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. After a while of driving, we started to worry that we weren’t being taken to our hotel – but then we were the last passengers to jump on the bus and our hotel was on the outskirts of the city centre. Eventually, we started to recognise the streets and – relieved – we were finally back in our hotel home.

Back at the hotel, we managed to find our taxi driver to tell him we no longer needed picking up from Karnak Temple. By that time, we were hungry but not in the mood to head outside again. Instead, we threw ourselves into chairs in the hotel restaurant and each ordered a comforting batch of spaghetti bolognese to reboot. It may not have been the most cultural choice but 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 who had been on our flight over. We ended up gatecrashing their card game and joining in, with a cheesy club playlist pumping in the background. We did later hear that the Karnak Temple light show was worth sticking around for but we were happy with the way our night ended. If you do want to go to the show, I think the answer is to go in a bigger group and eat before you go. Maybe next time.

Read about the rest of my trip:

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