Total Pageviews

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Hamish also enjoyed his stay at the Winter Palace Pavilion

We had a small extra passenger with us this year - Hamish the Heilan' Coo (translation for the non-Scottish - Highland Cow) and he too enjoyed his stay at the Winter Palace Pavilion

Hamish quickly secured a little bit of Egypt to be known as 'Little Scotland' for two weeks!!
A very brave Hamish perched on the balcony

Hamish had to sit down after perching on the balcony!!
Remember to take high factor sun screen on holiday to make sure you don't burn in the sun

Be safe at the pool and adhere to the guidelines (see below)
Be sure to keep within the rules of the pool

Luxor Street Scenes

I have included some street scene photos here, but there is a whole album full of them at

There are sometimes questions about what type of shoes to wear in Luxor and, while high heels and dressy shoes are OK in and around the hotels, you'll see from these photos that in many streets of Luxor, high heels are just not practical at all.  There are many broken pavements and very high kerbs, some of which can be seen in these photos.

The Butcher

Fruit and veg stall

One of the many back streets

Fruit and veg shop
Motor cycles everywhere!!

Fruit and veg seller

Fruit and veg shop

Live food!!

Street food sellers

The bakers
Typical pharmacy - this one is on the Lower Corniche

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Personal Views

Prior to this holiday I had read about all sorts of nasty things happening in Luxor so was very wary about walking about as normal and for the first few nights kept a good hold of my handbag and kept my camera out of sight.  However, after that, although I did still keep an extra tight hold of my handbag, I took my camera out with me to take some photos of the fascinating streets that are just teeming with local people and found no problem at all.  You need to bear in mind though, that this was in the local back streets and not in the more 'touristy' areas.

One thing I didn't like too much was the large amount of motor cycles speeding around with no obvious respect for anyone walking on the road - and that's where everyone walks, including the locals and their children!  They sometimes also had two or three or more people on them, and some were showing off doing 'wheelies' and suchlike.  I didn't see this myself, but our friend saw a driver of a motor cycle change seats with his pillion passenger on the move!!  At the head of one wedding parade we saw a number of motor cycles 'escorting' the cars, then they stopped, made a circle and one chap started whizzing his motor cycle round and round in circles, with the engine still running, surrounded by locals.  It was quite scary as I thought it would only take one little slip and that motor cycle was going to crash into the crowd - as it happened, he did make a slip but the bike crashed into another bike and didn't injure anyone.  On a few nights however, a few days into the holiday, we did notice a larger Police presence, some on motor cycles themselves, and there was a new tow-truck on show.  On those nights, there was a marked difference in the amount of motor cycles being used in the streets. One of the locals did tell us that the hospital has had to cope with a large increase in the number of people being injured in motor cycle related accidents.

I did not see or hear of any thefts of handbags by motor cyclists during my stay.  I did however overhear a conversation between a tourist and a local felucca captain stating that someone had tried to pickpocket him near Luxor Temple.

I did find that the vendors, some of the children and some guardians were a little more persistent than on previous visits and it was a bit more difficult to get them to take 'no' for an answer.  I saw many under-nourished horses - more than on previous visits.  I found that the local cafes seemed to be short of supplies and only went out for them when they had customers to serve, which made service a lot slower than normal and some of the food was not really up to usual standards.  I did not walk anywhere on my own but on one short distance where I did, I was shouted at and laughed at by local youths but, of course, I had no idea what they were saying, so just ignored them and kept on walking, but I have never experienced that kind of attitude in the past.  We were chased along Medina Street one night by a youth wanting money but, when he saw nothing was forthcoming, he soon left us alone.

On the whole, I got the impression that the local people were pleased to see us, and things weren't really that much different from previous years.

And, lastly, we were all quite careful handling money and used the wet wipes and anti-bacterial spray lots, but there were one or two occasions where 'Antinal' was called for!!  The tummy upsets weren't too severe, but as we had lots of trips arranged, I did use a few tablets to make sure I wasn't going to be troubled while on my trips, particularly up in the balloon!!  These tablets are available at the local pharmacies and are cheap to buy.  You just need to be aware however that this is an antibiotic so you need to be careful if you are taking other medication that might react badly to it.  This is what the packaging and tablets look like

Monday 10th October - the journey home

It was an early start and up and away from the hotel without breakfast and then off to the airport.  It was a breeze at the airport with no hassles from anyone, no arguments about overweight cases, in fact no complaints about anything!  Was it all too good to be true - well, yes, it was!!

Our departure time with Egyptair was 08.45, but that time came and went with no explanation as to why.  Another passenger asked what was happening and announced to everyone that there was a delay due to not having a time slot for flying into Heathrow.  It turned out that there were problems over European air space and we had to be given another time.  We saw the departure time change to 11.00 and, when we eventually took off at 11.15, quickly realised that there was no way we would make our flight from Heathrow up to Scotland which was scheduled to leave at 16.35.  However, to give Egyptair their due, they did give us a free drink of juice while we waited at the airport.

Farewell Luxor (if you look really closely, you can see Karnak Temple)
 The flight was fairly uneventful apart from a few bumps on the way, and we arrived at Heathrow at 15.45 and headed for the baggage hall as our luggage could not be put straight through to our final destination.  The luggage, of course, was late in arriving (16.20) so there was no way we could make our connecting flight.  After our cases eventually arrived, we headed for the BMI desk where we were unfortunate enough to be served by a totally unsympathetic member of BMI staff.  The four of us had to pay £189 each for our one-way flights home!!  However, two ladies in exactly the same position as us has been served by a different member of BMI staff and he had given them their flights for £50 each.  To say that I was angry was a big understatement!!  Not wanting to create a fuss at the airport, I resolved to sort it out by letter once I was home and in a better frame of mind!!

Cutting a long story short, we were eventually able to make an insurance claim - but it took absolutely ages for confirmation to come through from Egyptair to explain what the delay was, and we were unable to make our claim until we had that information. Surprisingly, our claim was subsequently successful (minus the usual excess of course!!)

Although we had had a really great holiday and were sad to have left Luxor, it was still nice to be home and there's always something comforting about being able to sleep in your own bed!!

Sunday 9th October

Our last day was here!!  The holiday had passed so quickly, especially since the arrival of Suzie and her mum, Mr and Mrs KV-Exlporer and Mr and Mrs Bob 62, but I was so grateful that it had been a busy holiday after having received the terrible news about my aunt's death at the beginning of the holiday.  All of these guys, and my hubby and friends helped me through those first days and I will always be grateful to them for that.

Needless to say, after such a hectic holiday, which is unusual for us in Luxor as we normally spend our time relaxing at the pool, we spent our last day at the pool and I made a start on the packing.  For some reason, it was a nightmare this year - it all came with me so it surely must all fit back in the cases!!  I hadn't really bought very much and, in any case, there should have been some room as I had brought presents out for the family we visited.  Eventually, it was done!!

I'll include more photos here of the Winter Palace pool and grounds just to show you why I love it here so much!!

Tonight was to be our farewell dinner over on the West Bank at the Nile Valley Hotel.  We all met on the front terrace of the Winter Palace Hotel then walked along to the ferry point to meet Mr and Mrs Bob62.  One more 'must do' tonight was to try and get photos of the West Bank with the Theban Hills illuminated.  I had been here for two weeks and had never yet captured them!!  They look lovely all lit up but I don't think they seem as bright as I have seen in other photos.

We all clambered aboard the motor boat to be taken over to the West Bank but, in the middle of the crossing, the boat captain allowed KV-Explorer to take the helm!!  This was not a good idea - he had us spinning round in circles so that we were all dizzy, but it did get the evening off to a good start as we were all laughing our socks off!!

After a nice meal, I surprised Bob62 with a Scottish tea towel as a memento of the holiday and to make sure that when he was drying the dishes when he got home he would remember us all fondly!!!  I won't repeat here what he said to that, but it also got KV laughing as well - however that soon stopped when I presented him with a Scottish tea-towel too!!!  All in all it was an excellent end to the holiday with good food and great company with memories that I shall treasure.

Looking over to the East Bank

After our journey back over the Nile back to the East Bank, we all said our goodbyes and went back to the hotel for an early night as we were up early in the morning for an early pick-up to be taken to the airport for our journey home.

I went to bed with a heavy heart that night.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Saturday 8th October

Another early start today as our Scottish contingent headed over to the West Bank!!  The plan was to visit the Workers Village, Medinet Habu, The Ramesseum and Carter's House before heading to Al Moudira for lunch.  As these were all places that I'd not seen before, I was really quite excited about the trip. We all piled into the mini bus and headed off, stopping off to buy our tickets, then it was time for our first stop at the Workers Village ("Deir El Medina") where we also visited the tombs of "Sennedgem" and "Inherkhau", which are quite spectacular.  No cameras allowed in them though, so no photos of that part!!  

We all then walked through the village area towards the Ptolematic Temple dedicated to the Godess "Hathor", which was all very interesting, and I was again busy with the camera!!

Workers Village

Panoramic view of the Workers Village

Ptolematic Temple

Ptolematic Temple

Ptolematic Temple
Ptolematic Temple
It was only me, Suzie and her mum that had gone to see the temple, so we walked back up towards the Workers Village where we met the rest of the party and set off towards Medinet Habu.  I had already seen pictures of this place and had always wanted to visit, so it was fantastic to actually be there!!  The carvings here are so deep and just wonderful.  I'll include a small selection of photos here but all the main ones are in my albums on Webshots

Just look at the load this donkey is carrying!!
The others in the party had gone off for a welcome cold drink at the nearby cafe while Suzie and I took more photos, and when we met up with them I found that I had missed a real good photo/video opportunity where they had been having a laugh and a dance around with the police guards, all singing an Egyptian pop song!!!  I wish I had been there to see that!!

After we caught up with the others by having a long cold drink, we set off again on our travels, passing by the Egyptian craft shop called Caravanserai where we hoped we could buy some presents to take home.  It was disappointing to find that it was closed, but our driver spoke to some of the locals and, like magic, someone appeared with the keys and opened the shop for us!  Wonderful!!  We crossed the wooden bridge over the irrigation canal and entered the shop, which was like Aladdin's Cave!!  You need to look past the dust to see the beauty of some of the objects for sale, but there is no hassle or pressure to buy.  Everything has a fixed and reasonable price and it was a pleasurable experience just to be left to wander around to choose our purchases.  So, if you pass by here and find it closed, ask your driver to ask the locals and someone will come along and open up for you.

After that little spot of retail therapy, it was off on our travels again, this time to the Ramesseum.  Suzie's mum had told me about the bee eater birds that lived here and I did catch sight of some.  I knew there was one in a nearby tree and focused in and took a photo but had no idea if I'd actually caught one on camera or not.  I was lucky, and I had, which was more by good luck than anything else!!

Bee eater
Almost the second after we got there however, a very persistent guardian attached himself to us like a limpet to me, Suzie and her mum, which was very annoying.  No amount of telling him that we wanted to be on our own seemed to get through to him.  However, after the inevitable hand out for a tip we told him that we were three Scottish ladies who did not carry money with them. Well, that seemed to do the trick, he stomped off in a total strop and left us alone to wander around and take our photos!!

Our next and last stop of the day was Howard Carter's House.  The house is now a museum and still has some of Howard Carter's possessions on show inside.  It was fascinating to see inside the rooms - like taking a step back through time, and photography is permitted, so I got a bit snap-happy again!!  After wandering around the rooms, which were remarkably cool considering we were there during quite a hot part of the day, we were then taken into a room where the 'ghost' of Howard Carter gives a 20 minute talk.  It was really quite interesting, but it's quite a confined space so I'm glad just the six of us were there as this room got quite hot and stuffy despite a fan being switched on. 

Just like a little oasis




Dining table

'Ghost' of Howard Carter giving a slide show

It's such a shame that the cafe isn't open here now.  I had read so much about it prior to our holiday and was looking forward to lunch here, however for a little baksheesh, the guard made us a very welcome cup of tea (well, glasses of Egyptian tea, not tea as us in the UK would know it!!).

The empty cafe now it is closed - very sad
As you can imagine, after a busy morning of sightseeing, we were all getting a bit peckish so it was time to move on to lunch at the Al Moudira Hotel and, despite the disappointment of Carter's Cafe being closed, we had made a good choice!!

This hotel looks just beautiful and very Arabesque in design (I hope that's the correct description I've used!).  The staff were very pleased to see us and we ordered lunch which was just delicious.  As we wanted to have a look at the grounds and the pool area, a member of staff was summoned to show us around, which is just as well as we might just have got ourselves lost on the many pathways around the lovely gardens.  I'm not sure that I'd want to stay here for a whole two week holiday as it is a bit out of the way, but for a few days of pampering and relaxation I think it would be just perfect!!

A peek through the windows to the bar

Cool archways

Lots of leafy areas and fountains

The Scottish contingent!!

Luxurious lounge

Inviting pool
Quiet seating for meditation or reading
From here we headed back to the hotel for some rest and relaxation at the pool while contemplating where we would go for dinner that night.  We decided to go to Puddleduck once more and say goodbye to Jill and Mick as this would be our last dinner on the East Bank having arranged to be at a 'farewell dinner' with Suzie, her mum, Mr and Mrs KV-Explorer and Mr and Mrs Bob62 the next night on the West Bank.

We again had a fantastic meal at Puddleduck and said our goodbyes.  On the way back to the hotel, apart from buying our rolls at the local bakers (still 2LE for eight rolls), we stopped off at the ice cream seller and bought some ice-cream - yummy!!  I wish we had done this before!!

Decisions, decisions - what flavour to choose??
As ever, you will have guessed by now that it was straight back to the hotel for a nightcap and I think I was almost sleeping before I even got back to the room that night as I was so tired after a long and satisfying day of sightseeing!!