Friday, January 05, 2007

Egypt - Day 2 - Haggling begins,calesh chaos

Haggling begins
Down to Jolley’s by bus to get a feel for prices to
Abu Simbel – negotiated down from £80 to £60 and £32 for balloon rides – we had the numbers (27) for discounts. Last year we got great deals to Cairo (£60) and Kharga Oasis in the Western desert (£15). Everything else we did by taxi - Abydos, Dendera, West Bank, Aswan.

Then a walk down past the temple to the Jamboree restaurant,
where we negotiated a 25% discount (never taken up). Water for 2 EPs ( 20p we bought 16 bottles!) then back to the hotel for a swim. Luxor takes a little acclimatisation and an hour or so was enough on our first day.

Pool
There are two pools in the hotel (one reserved

for adults!). This is largely populated by overweight pensioners, who obviously hate the company of anyone under 20.
This is Gil at the edge of the other pool. As you can see, the huge infinity pool shades off into the Nile. The sunsets are very special here. Every night you see this view as the sun sinks behind the palm trees of the West Bank over the Western Desert. The north-south axis of the Nile and the east-west axis of sunrise to sunset gives the location a unique feel. It's easy to forget that you are literally in the middle of a vast desert, made habitable only by a river that comes from deep in central Africa. There's nowhere quite like this island on the Nile - after four visits we all feel very content here.

The Lantern and Calesh chaos
All 27 of us descended on The Lant
ern restaurant, stretching the kitchen staff. It is run by a friendly English woman and the food was good and cheap. Beer at 120 EPs. The Shish Tauk was especially fine. Back by calesh – usual race, arguments over fares, Ferrari jokes etc. Fun stuff. Our horse was running so fast we overshot the Movenpick entrance. The driver had to haul back on the reins , then do a 360 degree turn on the narrow road to backtrack to the entrance. John’s ran into a ditch and the canopy collapsed on top of them! The drivers did their usual refusing to give change and claiming that they had not been given the agreed fare. They’re mostly rogues – but harmless.

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