Friday, December 26, 2008

Egypt Day 2 – Royal Meal

Up early in the morning sun to see the birdlife – little egrets, purple gallinules, bluethroats, moorhens, kingfishers, swifts, hoope, grey herons, and squacco herons, then a full breakfast in the sun on the terrace.

Took the boat into town and walked from Luxor Temple to Karnak along the avenue of the sphinxes. Lots more of this Necantebo monument has been uncovered, with houses being demolished to reveal the full processional way, and the original limestone road is in great condition, but access to Temple of Mut was not possible, so we walked up to the two southern gates at Karnak, where we saw a grey fox and a beautiful bee-eater. Eventually, one will be able to follow the route the barques made on their round trip to and from Karnak. We popped into a Coptic church which was busy and well guarded. These communities are under siege but sizeable populations of Christians still live in Egypt.  We headed back along the corniche, had a beer by the banks of the Nile then back ot the hotel.

A swim in the afternoon then table tennis and a game of giant chess in the gardens. While Ken was playing Callum various guests came up and made comments, holding their hand to their chin and shaking their heads at ken’s moves, even suggesting he plays their six year old son!

That evening all 23 of us got a fleet of taxis to the local ferry (1LE each) where we crossed the Nile. This is a great way to get to the West Bank at night. We walked to Tutankhamen’s restaurant, favoured by West Bank archaeologists and we’ve eaten here before. It’s good Egyptian food on a terrace overlooking the Nile. After negotiating a discount (35 LE each down from 40LE) we settled down to a huge meal of salad, chicken, rice, spicy tomato potatoes, spinach and chickpeas, spicy vegetables, beef and cauliflower, then fruit and date cake, followed by mint tea and coffee. Royally stuffed we negotiated a boat (100LE) that took all 23 of us back 2/3 kilometres up the Nile to our hotel. It was dark but as the cruise ships passed and buffeted our small boat, the lights on both banks lined our voyage, until we sailed past Luxor to Crocodile Island – pure magic.

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