Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Egypt

The trip to Egypt, or more specifically, Luxor.

Luxor was the capital of ancient Egypt from the 18th through the 20th dynasties, from around 1550 BC to 1050 BC, so the ruins are "only" 3000+ years old. Unlike Cairo and other areas in the north of the country Luxor does not have any pyramids, instead it has a number of huge temples as well as hundreds of tombs dug into the mountains (easier to do than build massive pyramids I guess). It is here that Tutankhamen was buried, in the Valley of the Kings, as was Ramses II, another well-known pharoh. Nowadays Luxor is a city of ~400,000 people with farming and tourism as the main industries.

Mum and I stayed in a nice hotel recommended by a colleague, the Steigenberger. Decent size, had a pool of course, and most importantly I think six or seven different restaurants. This was nice since we were there for five days so it offered variety. Going outside the hotel and walking around was not all that fun as you would get bothered by taxi drivers, store owners etc. It was not as much hassle as other places (I have heard Cairo and other places in North Africa are much worse, the Bazaar in Istanbul was definately worse) but it was still kind of annoying and you did not get to enjoy walking around. So once we finished our tours of temples and monuments during the day we would just stay in the hotel and have dinner there. Mum would wander out of the hotel more often than I would but she stopped doing that after two taxi drivers started arguing with each other over who she should go with -- and she was just out for a walk so wasn't going with either of them!

Anyway, here is part one of the itinerary:

The Flight: Qatar Airways flies direct from Doha to Luxor, three-hour flight. The airport in Luxor is actually very new and comfortable. We had to change money at one of the moneychangers before going through immigration and the guy made a mistake and originally gave me about half of what I should have received (at least, I will assume it was a mistake). When I pointed out what he should have given me based on the exchange rates he apologised and gave me the correct amount. So here's a tip -- make sure you know the exchange rates before you arrive so that you have a rough idea of how much money you should get when exchanging. If I hadn't have known or paid attention to the posted exchange rates I would have been about US$80 in the hole.

Taxi from the airport to the hotel was in a beat up old car driven by a very pleasant Egyptian man with good English. There was no meter but I don't think I ever saw a taxi that did have one. He made sure that we had his phone number and if we ever needed rides anywhere or tours to let him know. During the course of our vacation we figured that every taxi driver probably does the same. I decided to pay him 50 Egyptian Pounds (~$9) for a 20 minute ride, which I'm sure was far more than locals would pay but he was a nice man and drove carefully. Life is not easy in Egypt so every dollar counts.


Oh, gotta go. I'll post more later.

1 comment:

Karen C said...

Happy Easter Glen, Thanks again for all the wonderful information that you share with us.

I also hope you are going to get to enjoy a good Canadian Easter Dinner.

I am glad to read that you and your mum are feeling better and back to good health.

My daughter is off to Jordan and the Dead Sea on the 10th with a co-worker for her Easter break.