Monday 19 January 2009 – Luxor, Egypt
A cease fire was declared in the ongoing situation in Gaza, brokered apparently by the Egyptians. BBC World News is also full of anticipation of tomorrow’s inauguration of President Obama in Washington. The tour headed out of Luxor to visit more temples – Dendara and a previously unvisited ruin at a place with the unlikely nominal of Tod. I chose to stay in Luxor and rest – my cold is clearing but still feeling a bit wrung out, and also have frankly had enough temples to last a lifetime. Chris confirmed on returning that I’d not missed out on anything spectacular – the major excitement was the bus driver getting lost on the way to Tod, and they returned quite late in the day.
I walked the length of Luxor, down Five Star Alley to the Sheraton complex and back, filling in a couple of hours, and browsed a while in the major Gaddis bookstore and souvenir emporium adjacent to the Winter Palace. Then to Maccas for emailing – it took a couple of hours to upload a few photos to Facebook, but for the price of a hamburger, it was a clean and reasonably peaceful place to sit and gaze out at Luxor Temple. It is a pity that SnackTime’s wifi won’t let me access the internet for some reason – other patrons seem to be getting through. Their food is infinitely preferable.
Had been considering some shopping – some more woollen scarves as gifts – but a short walk through the Souk decided me against this. Will do any remaining shopping in Cairo, where there is bound to be greater choice. So went back to the hotel and read, but was soon asleep. Woke about 4pm feeling much brighter.
For dinner we bundled into taxis and headed across town to Sofra, a traditional Egyptian style restaurant – all big old fashioned furniture, lanterns and sheeshas. The food was very good – I had Basra, a warm dish of mashed beans and char grilled onions, as a dip or starter, and a mixed grill with felafel, kebab and chicken – very nice. Unfortunately the menu is arranged as a western starter-entrees-mains, when in fact the food is designed to be ordered for the group and shared; our group does not seem to be very good at this and the waiters scarcely had any English so could not really help. So I enjoyed my meat with out any rice or salad, which were separate orders. But if all the cooking in Egypt was to the standard of this restaurant, I could almost cope with the food.
Back at the Emilio, Chris and I finished off Aunty Mary with a cup of decaffeinated coffee. Chris has been asking for decaf at virtually every restaurant we visit, but the best they can offer (and this is only those with a real focus on high standards and with good English) is decaf instant… well, I suppose its a bit much to expect. This country has only had two hundred years to get its tourism act into gear.