[Saturday 11 February 2012]
Breakfast ca.7.45pm. Back to room. Ca.9am, we went to the hotel bank, but they don’t cash travellers’ cheques. We went by the motor boat shuttle, which the hotel provides twice a day (as well as a minibus shuttle twice a day) and this went first to a landing on the west bank and dropped off a couple of passengers, then across to outside the Winter Palace in Luxor — some 40 minutes in all. First stop for us when we arrived: the Bank of Cairo to cash a travellers’ cheque — a straightforward process now we’re used to it. Then we braved the barrage of grey galabeyas and others pushing their taxis, horses and carriages, trashy wares — whatever — on a ca.1km walk in the sun to cool Luxor Museum (80£E each to get in), where we spent ca.2hrs.
There were similar things to what we’d seen in the Museum of Antiquities in Cairo, so this was almost “revision” of what we’d learnt — e.g. we recognised the head of Akhenaten when we saw it, for the style was different from that of everything else. I was interested in a fairly large exhibit of coins. I couldn’t make out the inscriptions on some from the Roman period, till I realised they were in Greek and saw the word “ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ” (“of the king”). Greek, not Latin, was the language of the eastern part of the Roman Empire. That’s why the New Testament was written in Greek. Then we went out in the sun again — we wanted to find a place we liked the look of to eat and drink — and rather circuitously found our way, via the Nile side of Luxor Temple—
—to what on our first day David had dubbed “the American temple”, on the other side of Luxor Temple: the McDonald’s! Wouldn’t normally have considered Ronald McDonald a saviour, but he was today! It was patronised by locals; we didn’t see any tourists, save ourselves. A group of young women and a baby were at the next table. One of them asked if she could take a photo of us with her phone-camera, so I also took a photo of them. Then the baby was thrust into my hands for another photo! Scary moment for me, a non-parent!
13:54:31 Rather unlikely-seeming backdrop!
Back ca.3pm to a seat in a shelter on the upper promenade above the landing-stage to wait for the return boat. I did so wish that the bloody grey bastard galabeyas would leave us alone! We thought: we don’t want a ride in your poxy carriage: not now, not later, not tomorrow, not ever! Ca.3.30pm we went down steps and onto the long landing stage — we don’t want a ride in your felucca either! and no, you’re not getting any “baksheesh” from me, urchin! (I don’t think, actually, that “baksheesh” is Arabic; he probably got the word from a tourist.) We had no problem, though, agreeing to an Egyptian man and his son being photographed with Janet by his wife. Strange that he, and the young women previously, should want such mementos! The boat arrived, and we went back, without a stop on the west bank, to the hotel landing. So we survived our unguided outing unscathed! Ca.5pm we met David in the lobby — a welcome face, because his was the first one we’d seen on arrival in Egypt. He was with a new customer, so we sang the praises of Egypt to them (but did tell them “the only ‘down side’”, suggesting that even to answer was to invite conversation). We paid for our balloon ride with travellers’ cheques, as the Hayes & Jarvis leaflet the other fellow had given us said we could. Dinner — and another lukewarm half-cup of coffee. Back to the room — early to bed.
[Monday 13 February 2012]
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