Thursday, August 14, 2008

Another Recommendation on Trip Advisor

This new post on Trip Advisor deserves a bit of a plug as Mahmoud gets a mention. He organised the cruise, hot air balloon and trip to Abu Simbel for them. Flats in Luxor is not just about apartments and flats but tours as well. I know he is a bit elusive at times so here is a photo.

We were talking by the pool and they said they had a quote from one of the agents on the Corniche and could we match it. So Mahmoud made a few phone calls and low and behold we had an offer they could not refuse. They were most impressed how easy it was for us to organise this. As I always say if Mahmoud can't fix it, it can't be fixed. Anyway here is what they said, BTW my name is spelt wrong Ashkar lol
Having been a lurker for over a year and just returned home; I wanted to write of our fab time in Egypt. I may go on a bit.

For those of you considering staying on the West Bank, do so. Like all villages they soon know who you are and you are left alone, apart from the offering of taxis to VOK when we were walking back to the flat.

We stayed at Flats in Luxor run by Jane Ashkar and her husband Mahmoud. Our choice of flat was the fourth floor of the original flats and the view from the balcony was to die for. Believe me, drinking a Pimms looking out at the Theban Hills morning or evening was something else. By the way Jane told us that in addition to your duty frees from England as long as you do not exit the airport building, you can buy a further 4 bottles per person upon arrival. Back to the balcony - watching the hot air balloons was fun particularly when my husband watched the balloon of myself and son. Following on from the discussion a while back about various balloon companies, we were booked through one company but ended up making up numbers in another companies balloon so I think they are all much of a muchness.

Apart from having booked a flight to Cairo to spend the day with a cousin and visiting the Giza and Sakkara pyramids plus the museum; we had arranged nothing else before we left. We are fairly independent types. Most of the tombs and temples we had an a/c car and the Kent Weeks book on Luxor treasures that I highly recommend but physically too heavy to take on the day.

We did pick up a boat and travelled up the river to visit Karnak picking up a caleche for the return journey and ending up that days sightseeing with breakfast at the Old Winter Palace.

We also had a lovely evening when Jane's husband Mahmoud (what a fixer) arranged for a service car (They must have known I wanted to have a ride) to take us down to the Nile where a launch took us across to our felucca and ending up with a wonderful Egyptian meal on board.

Let me see what else did we get up to. Oh yes, Jane and Mahmoud arranged for us to experience a three day cruise...request of son...and we had a relaxing!! time travelling down to Aswan on the Solaris. No complaints there, great boat, food hot,service friendly and courteous, rooms clean and a mini balcony. Joined the convoy down to Abu Simbel and the time flew by and didn't take long. AS is a wondrous place.

Our first day we took a donkey ride up into the hills behind Hatshepsut's temple. The views were superb and the chance of looking down on the temple scary but wonderful.

Baksheesh and hassle. You don't get it in the village but what we did sites and the advice is to don't get uptight about it. We smiled but we were firm and there were no hard feelings on either side with the exchanges ending in an enjoy your holiday message.

We didn't experience any stomach problems, thank goodness and took basic precautions ie antisceptic handwash.

I took along the suggested pencils, pens, sweets and notebooks and once I overcame my reticence of physically handing them out; they were much appreciated from helpful temple guardians when I had no small notes to security guards, from the smiley woman in our local, small room supermarket to the village children. I wished I'd started handing them out earlier.

I had arrived with a list of recommended restaurants but we ended up going across to the East Bank twice in two weeks...we found there was no need. There is a burgeoning of small hotels with restaurants on the West Bank. We laughed our way through an evening at Tutankhamun. We ended up with a table groaning under the weight of the food the owner wanted us to try. The view is gorgeous too. The Nile Valley has a great roof top restaurant where the views are astounding - over the shoulder there was Luxor Temple lit up. There is a lane about half way up the village that leads to El Nakhil..again a great rooftop restaurant where the waiter hurried to set up the fan behind me...I don't do heat particularly well. El Fayrouz is fairly new and they were serving meals in their luscious garden. We found this place the cheapest. A copious breakfast for two came to £3 sterling total. And a two course meal with drinks for three came to £14.80.

I did say this may be a long report but I hope it is of some help to someone as all of your contributions have been to me.

Signing off with many thanks to all.

Maclean family

Actually changing the subject for a second the photo was taken by my mate D and she played about with it in photo shop as a birthday present for me. Do you know who's tomb this really is?

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