Email sent 16 January 2009 from Luxor, Egypt
Well, folks, settle back this travel tale is a bit of a saga…. and one that I reckon not too many will have experienced.
Our home in Luxor has been the (maybe) one-star Mina Palace Hotel – surly service and eccentric plumbing (to say the least), but with a prime position on the Corniche overlooking the Nile and with a view to the West Bank (on a clear day from my room I could see the Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut). All this for around AUD$30 per night.
Well, it seems that the Egyptian Government has plans for Luxor. Among these are widening the Corniche. With the Nile in its somewhat historic position on one side, the only possibility is the other side, on which sits our home-away-from-home. A lot of shops have been demolished – Chris has really noticed a difference from the last time he visited. Rumour also suggests that the real reason behind clearing all this real estate is to allow the construction of new five-star hotels and resorts in this prime part of town.
The other morning just before breakfast, we were in our hotel when a small earthquake hit and shook things up quite a lot. It transpired that the earthquake was in fact an adjacent building being demolished, and the resulting dust cloud inspired a flurry of hosing, sweeping and mopping.
Unperturbed, we set off for a day up temples and down tombs on the West Bank. We returned to the Mina Palace at around 3pm to find that the power had been cut off and were told we had an hour to pack and get out. This came as a bit of a surprise, as we were booked in for another week, but the nice man from the Tourist Police was insistent.
The Aussies were out so that the place could be demolished this week, apparently in time for a visit by the Egyptian Prime Minister, who had, it was said, personally directed the hasty removal of the place in the name of progress. (The question of how the Egyptian PM had time to give such personal attention to such matters given his nation’s key negotiating role in the whole bombing of Gaza situation was left unanswered.)
So there we were, cast out and homeless. ‘Welcome to Egypt’, we thought. With the power off and thus no lift working, it was a long heft with my and Chris’ bags from the fourth floor (the one and only porter being otherwise engaged on lower floors – cunning these Egyptian tourism professionals….). Fortunately we found rooms (at around twice the price) at a nearby hotel with slightly less eccentric plumbing but similarly surly guest relations.
So, dear friends, I ask you, how many of you have been forced to find new digs while on your travels for a reason that tops the impending demolition of your hotel?
Naturally we are still seeing and doing wonderful things, but this story has understandably been the highlight of the week.
All is good here, hope it is there with all of you too.
Love from Andrew